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Montana Politics & Legislature

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Montana Governor Vetoes Bills On Abortion, Concealed Weapons

May 9, 2017
Gov. Steve Bullock.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed a proposal that would bar doctors from performing late-term abortions and another that sought to allow lawmakers to carry concealed weapons in the Capitol and other state property.

The vetoes were among the seven his office announced Tuesday as he continued to sift through a pile of bills sent to him by now-adjourned lawmakers.

Republican House Candidate Greg Gianforte’s campaign is downplaying his comments about the House healthcare bill that were secretly recorded and leaked to the media.

The New York Times says the comments were taped Thursday, “during a private conference call with Republican-leaning lobbyists in Washington.”

With three weeks left until Montana's special U.S. House election, the "Capitol Talk" crew analyzes the attacks being traded by the candidates. And the 2018 campaign has started as Sen. Tester begins running TV ads. Listen now on "Capitol Talk."

Rob Quist speaks at the Democratic Party's nominating convention in Helena.
Corin Cates Carney

Democratic candidate for Montana’s U.S. House seat Rob Quist says the healthcare bill the House passed yesterday, "gives a massive tax cut to millionaires while jacking up premiums for Montanans.” He says he would have voted against the bill.

Quist favors keeping the current Affordable Care Act in place, but says it needs some fixes. We’ll hear his comments on that in a moment.

Gov. Steve Bullock. File photo.
Corin Cates-Carney

Governor Steve Bullock used his veto pen Thursday to kill what he calls "a regular political game" played by the Legislature, to restrict the governor’s use of the state airplane.

The bill sponsored by Missoula Republican Brad Tschida would have blocked the governor from using the state plane for any activity related to state or federal political campaigns, unless the governor reimburses the state for the costs.

A Christian flag at the National Day of Prayer event in Great Falls Thursday
Corin Cates-Carney

Twenty-one days before Montana selects its next U.S. Congressman, the Republican candidate stood among a crowd of more than 100 Christians in a small park in Great Falls, joining a national plea to God.

This gathering outside the civic center downtown is a local observance of the National Day of Prayer. It’s been an annual event since the 1950s, when Congress made a law that the president would set aside a day each year for prayer.

Montana didn’t have a vote on the healthcare bill that passed the U.S. House today. The state’s seat has been vacant since Ryan Zinke resigned it in March to become interior secretary.

Today the Greg Gianforte, Republican candidate to replace Zinke, talked to Montana Public Radio about the bill.

Governor Bullock Faces 260 Bills To Sign Or Veto

May 3, 2017
Gov. Steve Bullock. File photo.
Corin Cates-Carney

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock faces 260 legislative bills that he must soon decide to veto or sign. That's because state legislative leaders held off delivering them until the last minute as political payback for Bullock's decision to use his bill amendment powers to change voting legislation sent to him earlier this year, officials said Wednesday.

Failed Legislation Means Uncertainty For Colstrip's Future

May 3, 2017
The Colstrip Power Plant consists of four separate coal-fired generating units, collectively owned by Puget Sound Energy, Talen Energy, Avista Corporation, PacifiCorp and NorthWestern Energy.
Beth Saboe

When Montana's 2017 Legislature adjourned on April 28, Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, ended almost right where he began.

At the session's beginning, he helped draw up several bills that would help his community, which is facing the impending closure of two out of four units at its massive coal-fired electrical plant. By the time lawmakers left the Capitol, many of the bills – aimed at easing impacts on jobs, tax revenues and real estate – were dead.

Online voter registration is no longer available for the May 25 special election, but voters can register in person at local county election offices.
Eric Whitney

With less than a month left until Montana’s special election to replace former Representative Ryan Zinke, some voters are casting their ballots early.

Quist Underreports Income In Campaign Filing

May 2, 2017
Rob Quist.
Josh Burnham

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Democratic candidate for Montana's sole U.S. House seat, a cowboy poet and musician running for public office for the first time, underreported $57,000 in income when he filed federally required financial disclosure statements two months ago.

Rob Quist has garnered national attention in his bid to become the first Democrat to hold the congressional post in 20 years, but he has come under scrutiny for a history of financial difficulties.

The big state budget bill landed on Governor Steve Bullock’s desk Monday, one of the final acts of the 2017 legislative session, which was gaveled to a close Friday.

MTPR’s Capitol Reporter Corin Cates-Carney joins us for a look at what Montana lawmakers did and didn’t accomplish since convening in January.

Republican Greg Gianforte, left, and Democrat Rob Quist
Corin Cates-Carney, Josh Burnham

Democratic U.S. House candidate Rob Quist is hoping voters will shy away from Republican Greg Gianforte because of his investments in Russian business stocks.

In Saturday night’s debate sponsored by MTN News Quist said, "Mr. Gianforte has a quarter-of-a-million dollars in stocks in Russian companies that the US has on the sanction list."

Greg Gianforte, Rob Quist and Mark Wicks at the MTN News debate April 29, 2017.
Screen capture courtesy MTN News

Mark Wicks, the Libertarian candidate for Montana’s U.S. House seat, got statewide exposure in the race’s only televised debate Friday, produced and broadcast by MTN News.

"We’ve been doing the same thing over and over and over, and we get the same result: People back in Washington that aren’t doing what they’re supposed to because they’re beholden to special interests, they’re taking lobbyist money. I’m not beholden to any of that." Wicks said during the debate.

Gov. Steve Bullock.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

The 2017 legislative session came to a chaotic end this morning. Democrats and Republicans fought until the final hour over funding long-term public works projects.

When the final gavel struck, Republicans leaders said they’re proud of their party’s unity and keeping government growth in check. Democrats also talked up their wins, but expressed frustration in being unable to accomplish their major goals.

The "Capitol Talk" crew discusses what did and didn't make it through the legislative session, with a focus on infrastructure and the state budget. On the House race, they discuss whether Quist's nudist colony gigs will impact the race, and break down the latest attack ad from the Congressional Leadership Fund. They also look at the recent Emerson poll showing Gianforte with a double digit lead. Listen now on this episode of "Capitol Talk."

U.S. House Candidates Greg Gianforte (L) and Rob Quist (R).
Corin Cates-Carney/Josh Burnham

If you missed the U.S. House candidates Rob Quist, Greg Gianforte, and Mark Wicks in their MTN News debate from Saturday, April 29 you can watch it here.

Democratic candidate for U.S. House Rob Quist rallies supporters at the University of Montana Thursday, April 27.
Josh Burnham

Rob Quist has been rallying college students in Bozeman and Missoula this week.

The Democratic candidate for Montana’s U.S. House seat was in Bozeman Sunday and Wednesday, and Missoula Thursday. The spring semester at MSU ends May 5, and at UM, May 12, that’s well before in-person voting day in the special election which is May 25.

A new poll says Greg Gianforte is leading Rob Quist by 15 percentage points in the race for Montana’s U.S. House seat.
Courtesy Emerson College Polling.

A new poll says Greg Gianforte is leading Rob Quist by 15 percentage points in the race for Montana’s U.S. House seat.

Emerson College conducted the survey last week.

Budget Stabilization Plan Outlines State's Response To Future Revenue Shortfalls
Reynermedia.com (CC-BY-2.0)

At the end of a legislative session defined by the state having less money than initially projected, lawmakers Wednesday negotiated a new budgeting system designed to protect the state against future revenue shortfalls. 

With state revenues down from slumping markets for oil, gas, coal and agricultural products, lawmakers spent most this session arguing over spending priorities in the state budget.

Bill Proposes Permanent Ban On Mining Near Yellowstone

Apr 25, 2017
Emigrant Peak north of Yellowstone, near the area of a proposed Lucky Minerals mine exploration.
Flickr user Sean Wolf (CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Jon Tester has introduced legislation to permanently ban new mining in an area of Montana just outside Yellowstone National Park. The Montana Democrat says responsible natural resource development is an important part of Montana's economy but the doorstep of Yellowstone is one place that should be protected.

Legislature Passes 'Real ID' Compromise Bill

Apr 25, 2017

The Montana Legislature passed a bill Tuesday that offers a compromise on the 2005 federal “Real ID Act,” which standardizes state identification cards. At the end of this year, a Montana driver’s license would not meet the federal standards to be used for air travel or access to federal facilities.

The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office.
Steve Jess

A bill to reform state campaign finance laws hit a snag on Monday when Senators rejected work by their peers in the House.

Billings Republican Tom Richmond says his bill to increase contribution limits and remove loopholes in state campaign laws passed with wide support, picking up all but two votes in the Senate in March, but is now at risk of being vetoed by the governor unless changed.

On This episode of "Capitol Talk," Sally, Chuck and Rob discuss the budget, tax and infrastructure questions awaiting resolution during the final week of the Legislative session. They’ll review the latest ads in the U.S. House Race, and question whether the national attention in that race will help or hurt the candidates.

During a campaign rally in Hamilton, MT April 21, Donald Trump Jr. told his father's supporters, many wearing  red ‘Make America Great Again Hats’, that if they liked Trump, they'd like Greg Gianforte, a software entrepreneur from Bozeman.
Corin Cates-Carney

Republican U.S. House Candidate Greg Gianforte welcomed the son of the president of the United States to a stage at the Ravalli County Fairgrounds today, raising money and support from a cheering crowd. Gianforte's team and other volunteers say around 600 supporters turned out.

Donald Trump Jr. compared Greg Gianforte to this father during the rally in Hamilton, tapping into a still moving wave of conservative support left over from the November election.

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