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Montana Politics & Legislature

Keep up with the latest Montana politics and Legislature news. Get updates on your radio during Morning and Evening Edition, or online any time.

Follow the news from the 2017 Montana Legislature, with coverage from MTPR Capitol Reporter Corin Cates-Carney; Sally Mauk and the "Capitol Talk" panel; Yellowstone Public Radio's Jackie Yamanaka; and reporters from the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

Lawmakers, reporters and other Montana Legislature accounts to follow on twitter: Montana Legislature twitter list.

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"Herd Bull," a bronze bison skull sculpture by artist Benji Daniels on display in front of the Montana Historical Society in Helena, MT.
Eric Whitney

Montana's Historical Society has been asking state lawmakers for help to build a new building for years. In the last legislative session it narrowly missed getting the okay to issue bonds for construction. Now, a Republican lawmaker is proposing it sell off parts of its collection to pay for a new museum.

As state lawmakers debate larger budget and infrastructure bills, Billings Representative Dennis Lenz is proposing letting the Historical Society sell art and other objects to generate up to $50 million for construction:

Greg Gianforte (L) and Rob Quist (R) are running for Congress in a special election to fill Ryan Zinke's seat.
MTPR News

Today news broke that the two major party candidates in Montana's special election for Congress have had tax liens filed against them in the past.

The Associated Press says that, "a group seeking to influence the May 25 special election" gave them information about liens against Democrat Rob Quist. The Democratic Party responded by providing information about Republican Greg Gianforte.

Bill Could Strip Worker’s Compensation For Failure To Disclose Medical Conditions

Mar 21, 2017
Montana Capitol dome, Helena.
William Marcus

Montana lawmakers heard a bill today that would add another aspect to worker’s compensation cases. Senate Bill 116 could strip employees of worker’s comp eligibility if they knowingly or willfully failed to disclose a medical condition pertinent to a job in any pre-employment questionnaires.

State Employees Seek Modest Pay Raise

Mar 21, 2017

The House Appropriations Committee is expected to vote this week on a bill that would give a one-percent pay raise for state employees.


The House Appropriations committee unanimously approved a bill to pay for some capital improvement projects for numerous state facilities.  The committee’s action came after several lawmakers criticized building projects at the University of Montana.

House Bill 5 includes a myriad of projects, including for several life/safety repairs and maintenance at state facilities. The committee approved an amendment to give the Montana University System the authority to spend money raised privately by some of the campuses.


Montana Capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

Montana could see as much as $106 million in additional revenue come into the state than was previously unexpected. But lawmakers are approaching this news with some caution as they create the state’s budget.

The state’s nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Division is projecting the additional revenue to flow into state coffers over the next three years, as the state recovers from a dip in earnings after a decline created, in part, by lower sales of coal, oil, and gas. 

AP Reports Tax Liens Against Quist, Gianforte

Mar 21, 2017

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The state of Montana filed three liens to collect about $15,000 in back taxes from Democratic congressional candidate Rob Quist and his wife, Bonni.

The liens were issued in 2015 and cover the 2007, 2011 and 2012 tax years. He settled the debt with the Department of Revenue last May.

Colstrip power plant, Montana
Flicker User ambib (CC-BY-NC)

The speaker of Montana’s House is hoping to extend the life of the coal-fired power plants in Colstrip by offering their operators loans to keep them running for at least the next five years.

March LFD General Fund Revenue Update Compared to HJ 2.
Legislative Fiscal Division

Montana may have more than $100 million in additional revenue coming into the state than expected just a few months ago.

The revenue forecast released this afternoon by the state's nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Division shows the most significant uptick in state earnings coming from individual income taxes and corporation income taxes. It says state revenues from oil and natural gas production taxes are expected to decrease over the next 3 years.

The Associated Press is reporting that more than $800,000 has been spent on Montana's special U.S. House election in just two weeks.
(PD)

The Associated Press is reporting that more than $800,000 has been spent on Montana's special U.S. House election in just two weeks.

It says a Super PAC associated with House Republicans has pledged to spend $700,000 supporting Greg Gianforte in his quest to replace Ryan Zinke, who was confirmed as Interior Secretary in March.

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