Montana Public Radio

Shaylee Ragar

Capitol Reporter

Shaylee Ragar is Montana Public Radio’s Capitol reporter. She previously worked for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, covered the Legislature for the UM Legislative News Service and interned with MTPR as a student. She graduated from the University of Montana School of Journalism in 2019.

Adrian Jawort, a Northern Cheyenne writer and lobbyist for Montana Indigenous Vote, speaks to a crowd outside the Capitol during a "Rainbow Rally" on March 15, 2021 to protest bills moving through the Legislature that target LGTBQ Montanans
Shaylee Ragar / Montana Public Radio

Montana lawmakers are carrying a handful of bills that would impact transgender people, adding to the record number of proposals seen across the country this year to restrict trans kids from playing in school sports and accessing gender-affirming health care. Several of those policies are nearing Gov. Greg Gianforte’s desk.

The Session Week 14: Piecing The Budget Puzzle Together

Apr 5, 2021

As of mid-day Friday, 1,271 bills had been introduced and at least 135 had been signed into law. This week we’re watching how lawmakers are piecing the budget puzzle together. Major questions remain over new taxes cuts, funding state agencies, what to do with federal stimulus and recreational marijuana. Much of this work is under a Thursday deadline for appropriation and revenue bills, including regulations for marijuana, to move from one chamber to the other.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen

Montana has joined 31 other states in suing the U.S. Treasury Department over a provision that bars states from using federal stimulus dollars to offset tax cuts.

Montana is set to see roughly $3 billion in federal stimulus funds through the American Rescue Plan Act with the stipulation that the money can’t be used to offset revenue reductions caused by tax cuts. 

Montana Capitol bulding in Helena, MT.
Shaylee Rager / UM Legislative News Service

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte has signed a bill into law that bans "sanctuary cities" in the state.

The new law prohibits state agencies and local governments from adopting policies that block local law enforcement from detaining undocumented immigrants sought by federal authorities. There are no sanctuary cities in Montana right now. 

Montana lawmakers worried about losing federal funding have amended a proposed ban on transgender women and girls competing in interscholastic women’s sports. The Senate has endorsed the amended bill.

Marijuana in jars on a shop shelf.

Two competing proposals introduced Monday outline how state lawmakers would regulate the legalization of recreational marijuana in Montana.

The Session Week 13: Judges, Elections And Recreational Marijuana

Mar 29, 2021

As of mid-day Friday, 1,237 bills had been introduced and at least 74 had been signed into law. We’re hitting the time of the session when more are on the way. This week we’re watching the legal marijuana bill take shape, lawmakers consider the former governor’s district court judge nominees, and proposals to change elections in the state.

Montana lawmakers have adopted a more optimistic estimate of how much money the state will bring in over the next two years. The change will help guide ongoing work to craft a balanced state budget.

At a House Judiciary Committee meeting at the Montana Capitol January 5, 2021 lawmakers wearing masks and those with bare faces sat next to each other. Some committee chairs are requiring participants to adhere to public health guidance, others aren't.
Shaylee Ragar / Montana Public Radio

A sixth Montana lawmaker has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a news release from GOP leadership, the lawmaker did not authorize his or her name to be released, as has happened with other lawmakers who have contracted the virus. The GOP press release said the unnamed lawmaker is in quarantine away from the Capitol. 

Voters line up in the morning to register to vote and cast their ballots outside the MetraPark pavilion in Billings on Election Day. November 03, 2020.
Jess Sheldahl / Yellowstone Public Radio

Republicans in the Montana Senate have endorsed a bill that would end same-day voter registration in the state, pushing the bill closer to Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte’s desk.