MTPR

Montana politics

In a debate that seemed as late as Friday not likely to happen, Republican Ryan Zinke met Democrat John Lewis in a statewide debate that focused on experience and education Monday night in Billings.

Montana PBS had already cancelled broadcast coverage after Zinke cited a scheduling conflict, but the Monday evening debate was available across the state on radio. You can listen to the debate from Yellowstone Public Radio.

Neither candidate has widespread name recognition – Zinke having served in the state legislature and Lewis as state director for former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus – so the debates are a vital piece of both men’s campaigns, according to University of Montana political science professor Christopher Muste.

I think Zinke will attack Lewis for being inexperienced and Lewis will attack Zinke for being out of touch and having extreme views on a number of issues,” Muste said in the pre-debate analysis with Montana Public Radio.

The debate, in the end, was largely a civil and substantive affair. Zinke stuck hard to the issues of education and energy independence, claiming that Montana “had enough coal to support the nation at peak consumption for the next 100 years.”

Lewis countered that Zinke would pursue oil and gas exploration at all times and criticized him for not support limits on energy exploration near Glacier National Park, a position supported by current U.S. Rep. Steve Daines.

On education, Zinke stated he rejected the increasingly controversial learning standards known as Common Core and wanted to boost more training for skilled labor.

Lewis focused his efforts in staking out support for higher education and reducing student loans. He said by financing student loans “much like you would a house” and ensuring continued access to Pell Grants, he could cut the amount of debt many Montana students have. He added that Zinke would cut support for higher education, making it more expensive for students.

The two meet again on Saturday for a debate in Bozeman.

Judge: Missoula Can Require Checks On Private Gun Sales

2 hours ago
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox.
Eric Whitney

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana judge says the city of Missoula has the right to impose background checks on private gun sales within the city.

District Judge Robert Deschamps' ruling Thursday comes two years after the city council passed a first-in-the-state ordinance requiring background checks for gun purchases from private, unlicensed sellers.

Locked-out Imerys America employees at the talc mill in Three Forks, MT. August 24, 2018.
Montana AFL-CIO

Democrat Jon Tester is making his second appearance at the picket line of locked-out union workers in Three Forks this Saturday. They’ve been in an ongoing contract dispute since early August. 

Ammon Bundy speaking at a forum hosted by the American Academy for Constitutional Education (AAFCE) at the Burke Basic School in Mesa, Arizona.
Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons

Some of the biggest names in the contemporary iteration of the Sagebrush Rebellion — including Ammon Bundy — will be in Whitefish on Saturday.

Montanans first supported the 6-mill tax for higher education back in 1948.

Every decade since then, voters have reauthorized the levy which raises about $20 million annually from a property tax dedicated to the state university system. On average, that tab amounts to $12 on every $100,000 in property value. The 6-mill levy goes before voters for the eighth time next month.

University of Montana alumnus, Sam Forstag, describes the 6-mill levy as a proud Montana tradition.

“It affects the music we make, the books we write, the culture that we produce.”

Sen. Jon Tester (D) and challenger Matt Rosendale (R).
Montana Public Radio

Jon Tester was among 50 senators voting for a resolution to re-establish requirements for health insurance plans to cover people with pre-existing conditions Wednesday. The resolution failed on a 50-50 vote.

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