Montana Public Radio

Jason Ellsworth

The way Montanans can participate in their state legislature has changed amid the coronavirus pandemic. People have more virtual access, and in-person hearings in the Capitol look different than ever before.

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 panel of Montana state legislative leaders adopted new guidelines Friday for holding the session during the coronavirus pandemic. The move came one day after a state lawmaker announced he tested positive for COVID-19.

A protestor's sign sits outside the House of Representatives gallery during the swearing-in ceremony in the Capitol, January 4, 2021.
Austin Amestoy / UM Legislative News Servic

Montana’s 67th Legislature convened Monday in the Capitol building in Helena where lawmakers remain split on how best to meet amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s been clear that the 2021 legislative session at the Montana Capitol will look different amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but it wasn’t clear how different until Wednesday. Republican state lawmakers are planning an in-person session, rejecting mask requirements and allowing lawmakers the option to tune in remotely.

The Capitol dome in Helena, MT.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

Montana lawmakers Wednesday advanced a proposal to hold the 2021 legislative session in a hybrid format, allowing for both remote and in-person participation. Republican lawmakers approved holding an in-person session, while Democrats pushed for full remote participation or a postponed session.

Lawmakers heard from a slew of citizens and lobbyists during Wednesday’s Joint House and Senate Rules Committee meeting, pleading them to reshape how they will meet amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The House chamber at the Montana Legislature during the 2019 session.
Nick Mott / Montana Public Radio

Montana lawmakers debated Monday how they’ll hold the 2021 legislative session amid the coronavirus pandemic. The session is scheduled to begin on Jan. 4. Lawmakers did not make any final decisions, but were deeply divided on how best to proceed. 

Flavored vape products on display at an Oct. 30, 2019 state district court hearing in Hamilton over Montana's temporary vape ban.
Edward O'Brien / Montana Public Radio

A state legislative committee this week voted to formally object to a Montana health department proposal permanently banning the sale of almost all flavored e-cigarette products.

Bill Would Offer Tax Breaks To Fiber Optic Providers

Feb 19, 2019
Montana Capitol.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

HELENA — The Federal Communications Commission standard for broadband download speed is 25 megabits per second. According to a report published by the FCC in 2017, about half of Montanans have access to the minimum speeds.