MTPR

Eric Moore

Tonight on Capitol Talk: The state budget sails through the Legislature; Gov. Bullock says he's "skeptical" about the "save Colstrip" bill; a Colstrip senator launches a vitriolic video slamming press coverage of the Colstrip bill; Attorney General Tim Fox opposes ending Obamacare; and three more candidates enter the races for governor and U.S. House. 

Montana Legislature House chamber.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

A state-funded preschool program has been rejected by Montana lawmakers. The state remains among only a few in the country without publicly funded pre-K.

House Bill 755 was tabled on a 9-8 vote hours after its first hearing, Wednesday.

Montana remains among only a few states in the country without publicly funded pre-K.
iStock

A state-funded preschool program is on a fast track in the state Legislature. The policy introduced today is starting to reveal a rare clash between the state’s largest union and Gov. Steve Bullock.

The policy outlining voluntary preschool and the creation of a new state department of early childhood is carried by Rep. Eric Moore, a Republican from the Miles City area.

State Budget Director Tom Livers speaks during a House Appropriations hearing on March 7, 2019.  Gov. Steve Bullock's administration opposes some of the Legislature's proposed eliminations in vacant state job positions.
Corin Cates-Carney / MTPR

Gov. Steve Bullock’s administration is objecting to the Legislature’s initial plan to cut funding for around 230 open job positions across Montana government in the next state budget.

The state’s $4.3 billion general fund budget is first up for debate as lawmakers arrive back in Helena for the second half of the 2019 legislative session.

'Capitol Talk' is MTPR's weekly legislative analysis program.
Montana Public Radio

Tonight on Capitol Talk: Bills that are still alive, and bills that are gone at the midway point of the session. The effectiveness - and downside - of arguing "religious freedom" to get a bill passed. And the congressional delegation's tepid reaction to former Trump attorney Michael Cohen's testimony.

The House chamber at the Montana Legislature.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

Governor Steve Bullock says he is undecided on a new policy to fundamentally shift how the state pays for major infrastructure projects. The proposal passed out of the House with no opposition today.

House Democrats joined Republican bill sponsor Eric Moore Thursday to push the so-called Infrastructure Development and Economic Accountability Act over to the Senate before the transmittal deadline this weekend.

Rep. Eric Moore, (R) -Miles City, speaks during a press conference ahead of an initial House vote on HB553, Feb. 27, 2019.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

A proposal to change how the state borrows for major infrastructure projects passed its first vote in the Montana House today by 100 to zero.

The unanimous initial vote in the House was a sharp pivot from years of disagreement in the Legislature over whether or how to use debt to pay for major public works projects.

'Capitol Talk' is MTPR's weekly legislative analysis program.
Montana Public Radio

Tonight on Capitol Talk: The state admits it needs to do a lot better job monitoring for-profit wilderness schools for troubled teens. Economics hold little sway in the effort to abolish Montana's death penalty. Money is being restored to the depleted Health Department budget. Another Montana campaign finance reform law is upheld. And lawmakers may have found a way to bridge the infrastructure impasse.

Montana Capitol building.
Nick Mott / MTPR

A new plan to cap state government debt when paying for public works projects is on a fast track in the state Legislature. It’s a potential breakthrough in the Legislature’s long fight over borrowing money to pay for large scale infrastructure.

The so-called Infrastructure Development and Economic Accountability Act passed out of House Appropriations unanimously, and without debate, hours after it receiving its first hearing Thursday.

Montana's 2019 biennium budget by function.
Legislative Fiscal Division

Health care programs devastated following the state’s budget collapse over the last two years are getting pieced back together.

State lawmakers Wednesday gave initial approval for a new plan for public health spending in Montana, which accounts for more than 40 percent of the state’s total budget.

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