Steve Bullock

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Opinion: Historical society upgrades are long overdue

Center

Gov. Steve Bullock’s request to the current Legislature to expand and upgrade the 65-year-old Montana Historical Society facility has been misrepresented by some as unneeded “pork. “ This characterization is both wrong and ridiculous. Fortunately, however, members of both political parties recognize the real and critical need to care for and provide access to priceless collections belonging to the people of Montana and provide continuing economic development—jobs during construction and development of enhanced tourism dollars in the future. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Legislative Update: Thursday, Feb. 2

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Governor issues first veto of session
By Freddy Monares
Gov. Steve Bullock has vetoed the first bill of the 2017 Montana legislative session and offered up an amendment to decrease a raise in legislator pay. House Bill 1 would have increased the legislators’ pay by 14 percent for the next legislative session. Bullock amended the bill with an increase of only 1.4 percent, to coincide with the rate of inflation. He says the state needs to “live within its means.”

“At the same time that we’re tightening the belt of the rest of government, the legislative branch sent me a bill to increase the spending of their branch of government by 14 percent,” Bullock said. Republican Rep. Nancy Ballance said she was blindsided by the veto. Continue Reading →

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Governor touts investments, ‘constructive dialogue’

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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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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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Montana Viewpoint: Hidden spending needs review, too

Jim

Montana is experiencing a cash flow problem and the governor and legislators are looking at ways to balance the budget. To do this, the Republican-controlled Legislature is looking at cutting funding to services that benefit Montanans. Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, is looking at cutting some of that funding as well, but he is also looking at raising revenue to prevent cuts by increasing taxes on incomes over $500,000, basically recovering a portion of a tax break enacted in 2003, discussed below. (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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Budget takes center stage in Legislature’s first week

Sesso

HELENA — Montana’s 2017 Legislature has begun to tackle a wide swath of issues, from public safety to infrastructure, from education to agriculture. But as the first of many bills were read in committee rooms around the Capitol last week, it became clear that everything this time around would focus on the budget. During a Republican caucus Tuesday, House Speaker Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, told fellow party members that the challenges the entire Legislature faces in the coming months would be daunting. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Montana government’s mythical spending spree

Austin Knudsen

Two prominent Republican legislators published an op-ed in Wednesday’s Billings Gazette calling for an end to “irresponsible spending” in Helena. House Speaker Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson, and House Majority Leader Ron Ehli, R-Hamilton, say they want to be “a check on the governor’s spending and expanding government.” They also say that Montana faces a tight budget this year because of falling prices for oil and agricultural commodities and a “non-existent timber industry.”

Because of “poor management and excessive regulations,” they say, revenues are too low to meet basic costs. They don’t explain how poor management and regulations made oil and food cheaper, and they don’t explain how a nonexistent timber industry managed to bring in $296 million in labor income in Montana as recently as 2013. They do say that state government has added “well over 1,000 new state employees” in the last 12 years. Why 12 years? Continue Reading →

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Only thing worse than Obamacare is … what?

DC

The most important issue before Montana legislators this session isn’t really even on the agenda. And it’s not their fault.

The fate of health insurance for millions of Americans, and for tens of thousands of Montanans, rests in the hands of a Congress dominated by Republicans, who have vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, as one of their first items of business when Donald Trump takes over as president. The GOP also has vowed to replace Obamacare, but that could take years. In the meantime, uncertainty could damage or even destroy insurance companies, and millions of people could lose insurance. This has left Montana lawmakers in a quandary. Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Glimmers of good sense in election results

Fliers

Three weeks ago in this space, I urged readers of Last Best News to vote for Gov. Steve Bullock and Montana Supreme Court candidate Dirk Sandefur, and in favor of Initiative 182, loosening restrictions on medical marijuana. I won’t claim one iota of credit, but I will admit that on an otherwise dismal Election Day, I was buoyed by the victories of Bullock, Sandefur and the proponents of I-182. (more…) Continue Reading →

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