Montana Public Radio

Kaitlyn Nicholas

Kaitlyn Nicholas is the production intern behind The Weekender, a new, half-hour podcast from YPR. She grew up in Seeley Lake, Montana and now splits her time between the mountains and New York City, where she is a MA candidate in longform journalism at NYU.

As of mid-day Friday, 594 bills had been introduced and Gov. Greg Gianforte had signed one bill into law. This week, we’re watching bills that would cut taxes, implement “right to work” policies and end same-day voter registration in Montana.

Vaccine stock photo.

Gov. Greg Gianforte announced Wednesday that 11 counties will be ready to move into Phase 1B of Montana’s vaccination plan next week. This phase includes those over 70, those between 16 and 69 years old with qualifying health conditions and Native Americans and other people of color.

Gov. Greg Gianforte releases his plans for the state’s response to COVID-19 at a press conference January 5, 2021. He said he will rescind the statewide mask mandate, but only after certain criteria are met.
James Bradley / UM Legislative News Service

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte in a press conference Wednesday signaled his decision to remove and revise COVID-19 business restrictions put in place by his predecessor.

Gianforte says this includes removing “arbitrary” capacity limits and restricted hours of operation. 

A woman receives the COVID-19 vaccine at the Bozeman fairgrounds, January 6, 2021.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

As new COVID-19 cases begin to rise again in the state, Montana’s large counties say the COVID vaccine will not be available to those in Phase 1B for at least the next few weeks due to uncertain vaccine supply.

Gallatin City-County Health Officer Matt Kelley said the county is adapting its vaccine plan to match Governor Greg Gianforte’s revisions in a press conference Friday.

Discarded mask

As several Montana counties issue more restrictive health mandates to stem the spread of the coronavirus, Yellowstone County — with the highest number of active COVID-19 cases in the state — is rescinding all local health orders.

Mental health services.
Flickr user Publik15 (CC-BY-SA)

Demand for mental health care has been rising through the coronavirus pandemic after months of job loss, climbing death rates and loneliness. Now, despite dwindling funds and technical difficulties, Montana mental health providers are using unusual strategies to reach isolated patients.


Lauri Kindness, regional organizer for Western Native Voice, stands behind their voter pop-up station across the street from Big Horn County's courthouse in Hardin. A ballot drop off box at the county courthouse in Hardin, MT, November 3, 2020.
Kaitlyn Nicholas / Yellowstone Public Radio

In the final hours of the election, advocates working to get out the Native American vote in Montana are pulling out all the stops to connect with difficult to reach voters.

Yellowstone Public Radio's Kaitlyn Nicholas reports from Hardin, where absentee ballot returns trail the rest of the state.

For the first time, almost every county in Montana is using all-mail in ballots this election season. Voters can still drop off their ballots in person if they want. But experts say mailing ballots is the best way to make the election accessible during the pandemic. This new system is bringing with it all kinds of uncertainties about logistics, reliability and the timeframe of the results. Still, election officials are trying to figure out how to make it work for everybody.

This is Shared State, a podcast about what's driving Montana's 2020 elections and where the outcomes could lead us. This week, "Equality of Opportunity."

In Ronan, Montana.
Tailyr Irvine

Dating in small-town Montana can be tough. For Native Americans, a government-imposed tribal enrollment system dating back to the 1900's has made the dating pool even more complicated.

Salish and Kootenai photojournalist Tailyr Irvine explores the ties and binds of love and identity in “Reservation Mathematics,” an exhibit showing at the Smithsonian through October. The 2019 National Geographic Explorer and We, Women artist spoke with YPR News' Kaitlyn Nicholas about her exhibit and work.

The chairman of Crow Nation issued an executive order July 16 extending a reservation-wide “Stay at your place of residence” order until Aug. 31.