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.

Republicans in the Montana House of Representatives endorsed a state budget Monday that outlines $12 billion in spending over two years. The Republican majority advanced the state spending package with every Democrat voting against it. 

The Session Week 12: Budget In The House, Windfall Of Federal Cash, Rules For Marijuana

Mar 22, 2021

As of mid-day Friday, 1,183 bills have been introduced and 60 have been signed into law. This week we’re watching the state budget, recreational marijuana and bills that would carry impacts for LGBTQ people.

Individual income tax revenue forecast for the 2023 biennium as of March 19, 2021. Income tax is the state's largest revenue source.
Legislative Fiscal Division

Forecasters say Montana’s state revenues are getting a major boost from federal stimulus, and the health of state coffers is easier to estimate now than in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Legislative fiscal analysts gave that update to lawmakers Friday

Adam Meier

The Montana Senate Thursday confirmed Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte’s nominee to lead the state health department.

Adam Meier will be the next director of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services. DPHHS is the state’s largest agency, nearly half of the state’s general fund goes toward paying for it and its programs. 

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

Montana Republicans Friday voted down a proposal to expand the states Earned Income Tax Credit for the second time. It’s Democratic lawmakers latest policy proposal to find little traction this session. 

House Bill 631 was the second iteration of a bill that would have increased the Earned Income Tax Credit from 3% to 10%. The credit benefits moderate- and low-income households.

A group of Republican lawmakers and protestors gather on the steps of the Montana Capitol for an anti-abortion rally on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021.
Austin Amestoy / UM Legislative News Service

Montana lawmakers endorsed a bill Thursday that would change the state's Constitution to ban abortion in any circumstance. Although it is one of several anti-abortion bills making headway this session, this proposal will need to find bipartisan support in the Senate to continue moving forward.

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

Montana lawmakers advanced a preliminary state budget last week that outlines $12 billion in spending over the next two years. It's expected to land on the House floor for debate in the coming days.

If nothing changes, the state will spend about $400 million more in the next biennium than it did over the last two years. That’s a 3.4% increase, according to the Legislative Fiscal Division. But the budget has only cleared one hurdle of many before it becomes law.

Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick (R) - SD 10
Montana Legislature

A bill moving through the Montana Legislature would allow property owners to claim compensation from the state if they incur losses due to state regulations. Supporters say businesses deserve the reimbursement, while opponents say it’ll leave a massive hole in the state’s budget.

Demonstrators gathered for a "Rainbow Rally" at the Montana State Capitol Monday, March 15, 2021 to protest bills moving through the state Legislature that would impact the LGBTQ community.
Shaylee Ragar / Montana Public Radio

The Montana Capitol steps were submerged under a sea of rainbow colors Monday as a group rallied in protest of bills moving through the Legislature that would impact LGBTQ residents.

"We want them to know we’re here, we’re queer and we’re not going anywhere," Shawn Reagor, an organizer with the Montana Human Rights Network, told a crowd outside the state Capitol Monday afternoon. 

The Session Week 11: State Budget Takes Shape And Marijuana Regulation Coming Soon

Mar 15, 2021

As of mid-day Friday, 1,148 bills had been introduced and Gov. Greg Gianforte 54 had been signed into law.

This week we’re starting to see the state budget take shape; recreational marijuana regulations are coming soon; and Democrats try again with tax changes as Republican plans move forward.