Michael Siebert/UM Community News Service

Recent Posts

Infrastructure, abortion, criminal-record bills debated

Bridge

HELENA — As Republicans and Democrats grapple with how to fund statewide infrastructure projects at the Montana Legislature, one bill in the House aims to put that decision in the hands of local voters. House Bill 577, introduced by Rep. Dave Fern, D-Whitefish, would allow cities and towns to adopt an infrastructure tax on luxury goods and services at a maximum rate of 4 percent. However, the tax would have to be approved by local voters. (more…) Continue Reading →

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All eyes on budget during 2017 legislative session

Capitol

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to included a correction. The Montana Legislature is responsible for accomplishing a great deal during the 90 days it meets every two years. But lawmakers are actually constitutionally required to do only one thing—create and pass a state budget. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Special ed in uphill fight to find funding in Legislature

Seth

HELENA — The main state budget bill at the Montana Legislature passed first reading last week with some surprises, including the restoration of  $11.5 million to higher education funding. But one area has consistently struggled to find funding throughout the first half of the 65th Montana legislative session—special education. Funded through a combination of federal dollars and state funds, special education has seen minimal increases in state funds, leaving local and federal dollars to pick up the slack, according to a report by the legislative school funding interim committee. (more…) Continue Reading →

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With special election dance over, Legislature gets back to work

Corbally

After uncertainty about how the upcoming special congressional election would change the makeup of the Montana Legislature, the nomination of Democrat Rob Quist and Republican Greg Gianforte means it’s back to business as usual at the state Capitol. Multiple legislators had announced their intention to run for the vacant congressional seat after former Rep. Ryan Zinke was nominated and then confirmed as U.S. secretary of the Interior. (more…) Continue Reading →

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At halfway point, legislative focus is on budget

AK

The 65th Montana legislative session has reached its halfway point, and the state budget still weighs heavy. Republicans and Democrats are working to reach a compromise on how to fund state programs, with battles over other policy happening simultaneously. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Daines presses support for Gorsuch in Helena visit

Daines

U.S. Sen. Steve Daines addressed the Montana House of Representatives last week, touching on his role in Washington, his backing of the Keystone XL Pipeline and his support for the appointment of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Daines repeatedly said he and other Republicans in Washington are seeking less federal power and more states’ rights. (more…) Continue Reading →

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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. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Death penalty, Columbus Day debated in Helena

Death

HELENA — A bill that would have abolished the death penalty in Montana was narrowly voted down in committee last week on a 9-10 vote. House Bill 366, sponsored by Rep. Adam Hertz, R-Missoula, would have replaced a death sentence with life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Bills aim to diversify income for farmers, allow direct sales

Milk

HELENA — Montana farmers may soon face fewer regulations when it comes to diversifying their farm’s income if three bills in the Montana Legislature find enough support. One bill, House Bill 325 would legalize the direct sale of raw milk. Another, House Bill 352, would allow farmers to sell food from their own kitchens and a third bill would give them less liability when their farmland is used for tourism purposes. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Protection of health-care workers draws wide support

House hearing

Health-care workers from across the state supported a bill last week that would create a felony offense for knowingly assaulting a medical professional. House Bill 268 would make it a felony to attack nurses, emergency responders and other professionals, punishing offenders with up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. (more…) Continue Reading →

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