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Arts, humanities funds on chopping block

In all of the post-election chaos, it’s easy to overlook the minor casualties. Some of them may be in Montana.

The Trump administration, eager to ramp up spending on the military, border control and infrastructure, all while cutting taxes and shoring up Social Security and healthcare, is desperate to find spending cuts.

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Renewable energy program, already shaky, may be killed

Judith

A state program that requires utilities to buy from small-scale, locally owned renewable energy projects in Montana is facing a do-or-die moment in Helena.

Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, is pushing Senate Bill 78, which would eliminate the Community Renewable Energy Projects program. The bill passed a final vote last week in the Senate 30-19 and now moves into the House of Representatives. Continue Reading →

In busy week in Helena, LGBTQ protections debated

Kelly

The Montana Legislature heard emotional testimony last week on a bill that would include gender identity and sexual orientation in the state’s non-discrimination laws.

Introduced by Rep. Kelly McCarthy, D-Billings, House Bill 417 would add LGBTQ-identifying individuals to a list of classes protected by the Montana Human Rights Act, meaning it would prevent them from being discriminated against when seeking housing and employment, and when using public accommodations. Continue Reading →

Bill to cut political practices commissioner moves to Senate

Skees

The Montana House of Representatives passed a bill last week that would shutter the Office of the Commissioner of Political Practices, which some critics say could put the integrity of Montana elections in jeopardy.

The bill, introduced by a state lawmaker tied to one of the office’s most significant investigations, would place oversight and enforcement of campaign laws back into the hands of the secretary of state and attorney general, as it was before the office was created in 1975. Continue Reading →

Prairie Lights: Op-ed defense of Daines aims low, falls flat

Sumner

I know my colleague David Crisp has already written about Sen. Steve Daines’ role in silencing Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the floor of the Senate, but David’s piece was published on Wednesday.

That same day, state Rep. Jeff Essmann of Billings, chairman of the Montana Republican Party, also wrote about the Daines-Warren incident in an op-ed for the Billings Gazette. Essmann’s piece was so crowded with misstatements and misleading information that it demands a response. Continue Reading →

Community group has big plans for old labor temple

CLDI

Eric Basye was expecting as many as 80 volunteers to come down to the old Labor Temple Hall on South 29th Street on Saturday for what he’s calling “our first official demo day.”

Basye is the director of Community Leadership and Development Inc., a Christian organization that works on the South Side of Billings under the slogan “Rebuilding Lives, Restoring Families, Re-Neighboring Communities.” Continue Reading →