Michael Siebert/UM Community News Service

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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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Governor touts investments, ‘constructive dialogue’

Guv

Editor’s note: This is an updated story covering the governor’s speech. Gov. Steve Bullock outlined his goals for the 2017 Legislature on Tuesday during his third State of the State address, including a responsible state budget, infrastructure, business growth and education. While addressing a joint session of the House and Senate, Bullock named common values, including, “Fiscal responsibility. Education. Infrastructure. Continue Reading →

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Updating sexual assault laws a rare bipartisan issue

Senate

Though the 2017 Montana Legislative session has seen more than its share of partisan disputes, one issue has united lawmakers—reforming state law on rape and sexual assault.

The Montana Senate advanced a package of bills last week that deal with everything from the parental rights of children conceived by rape to the very definition of “consent.” (more…) Continue Reading →

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Health care among issues under scrutiny in Helena

Sesso

The Montana Legislature debated two bills last week that would give patients a more active role in determining the cost of their health care. Senate Bill 100, introduced by Sen. Cary Smith, R-Billings, would give patients the option of directly determining payment options with their doctor for day-to-day care without having to go through insurance. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Lawmakers weigh privacy issues in the digital age

Rotunda

Section 10 of the Montana Constitution states that “the right of individual privacy is essential to the well-being of a free society and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest.”

But as technology rapidly advances, finding the line between individual privacy and “a compelling state interest” is more complex than ever before. In response, the 2017 Montana Legislature will begin to make distinctions, wrestling with bills that deal with issues like cell phone data, GPS-enabled heart monitors and even “revenge porn.” (more…) Continue Reading →

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Budget gets top billing, but plenty on the table in Helena

Keane

Budget subcommittees proposed further cuts to Gov. Steve Bullock’s budget throughout the second week of the Montana Legislature. “If we can get through the budget and balance it, that will be probably all we can do,” said Rep. Nancy Ballance, R-Hamilton. (more…) Continue Reading →

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