Montana Public Radio

Diane Sands

Republicans and Democrats on a special legislative committee are at odds over dueling reports summarizing an ongoing investigation into Montana’s judicial branch.

The minority report from Democratic lawmakers refutes GOP claims of alleged judicial bias and misconduct, saying Republican lawmakers and the Republican-led executive branch are trying to smear the judiciary.

Lawmakers Navigate Separation Of Powers Challenges

Apr 19, 2021
Majority Leader Sue Vinton speaks during a Special Joint Select Committee on Judicial Transparency and Accountability, April 19, 2021.
Montana Legislature

HELENA — Gov. Greg Gianforte and the Legislature are locked in a legal battle over a new law giving the governor sweeping powers to appoint judges. 

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.

It took more than a decade interspersed with multiple ballot initiatives and courtroom debates to set Montana’s policy for regulating medical marijuana. State lawmakers are now seeking to avoid those past pitfalls as they face the challenge of regulating the state’s fledgling recreational marijuana industry.

Pepper Petersen rattles off marijuana strains in a Helena medical dispensary.

“Lime Haze. Gelato Zkittlez Cake. And of course, Mendolicious, it’s very popular."

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

Four bills that aim to further regulate access to abortion in Montana were endorsed by the state Senate Friday.

Each bill passed mostly along party lines, with Republicans voting in favor of the proposals and Democrats voting against. 

Lawmakers Pose Tough Questions To Gianforte’s Top DPHHS Nominee

Feb 12, 2021
Eliza Wiley / Montana Free Press

Gov. Greg Gianforte’s pick to lead the Department of Public Health and Human Services, the state’s largest department, faced robust questioning in a confirmation hearing this week.

People browsing at a medical marijuana dispensary.
Stock Photo Courtesy Drug Policy Alliance

Voters next month will decide if Montana should become the latest state to legalize the use and sale of recreational marijuana. A pair of measures to open the state’s cannabis market to adults 21 and older appear on ballots.

Proponents say legalizing pot would not only advance personal liberty, but also turbo-charge the state’s economy. Critics, however, say the risks far outweigh the potential benefits.

iStock

The Bullock administration Monday announced its plan to double the number of Montanans receiving community-based mental health care treatment over the next five years .

Some mental health care providers in the state are still stinging from nearly 3 year old state budget cuts.

This week on Campaign Beat: Sen. Tester has some qualms about Bernie Sanders topping the Democratic ticket for president. Sen. Daines has no qualms about whether President Trump should stay in office. Former Montana congressman and U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke resurfaces. And Montana lawmakers revisit annual sessions.

Listen now with MTPR's Sally Mauk, Lee Newspapers Capitol Reporter Holly Michaels and University of Montana Political Science Professor and Mansfield Center Fellow Rob Saldin.

State Sen. Ryan Osmundson (R) - Buffalo.
Corin Cates-Carney

Montana lawmakers have yet to find consensus about moving the state toward annual legislative sessions. Lawmakers debated the issue on Tuesday.

Montana and North Dakota are the only two states in the country with part-time legislatures that meet once every other year to approve a budget and pass policy. Instead of meeting once for 90 days every other year, state lawmakers are now studying whether to move to 45-day meetings every year.

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