Montana Public Radio

Llew Jones

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

As the 67th Montana Legislature gets underway, lawmakers are establishing the various ways they’ll conduct business amid the public health threat of the coronavirus. The COVID-19 protocols in each committee room may look different.

Favorites in the top races won their primaries but the general election may not be as predictable. President Trump plans to campaign in Montana for his favorite Steve. And hard-line conservatives celebrate legislative primary victories.

Listen now on Campaign Beat, with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Holly Michels.

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

A new state revenue update says Montana’s rainy day and firefighting funds are looking flush as more money is coming in than projected. But a report from legislative researchers indicates the recent cashflow spike could be a temporary blip.

From left to right, Rep. Greg Gianforte, State Sen. Al Olszewski and Attorney General Tim Fox.
L- R, Eric Whitney, Corin Cates-Carney and Montana DOJ

Montana now has three Republicans campaigning for governor, with one candidate dropping out of the race to run for the U.S. House. Party leaders met in Helena this weekend. Veteran journalists Chuck Johnson and Ed Kemmick offer their analysis with Montana Free Press Editor John Adams.

Local Option Tax Bills Continue To Die In Committee

Mar 28, 2019

HELENA -- The third bill in the Montana Legislature that would provide a local option sales tax was tabled with a 12-6 vote in the House Taxation Committee Thursday.

House Bill 740 would have allowed local governments to adopt a voter-approved sales tax of up to 4 percent. No more than 40 percent of the tax revenue would go to property tax relief.

Tonight on Capitol Talk: State lawmakers are buckling-down on a number of issues, including increased oversight of non-profit schools for troubled teens; what infrastructure projects to support or reject; what to cut or support in the health department; and whether ratepayers should bear the burden of keeping Colstrip's coal plant going.

Learn more now on Capitol Talk.

Tonight on Capitol Talk: The state health department faces permanent job cuts; A sales tax proposal reappears at the Capitol; Sexual harassment allegations among lawmakers lead to a new anti-harassment policy; And with time running short, Gov. Bullock remains coy about his 2020 election plans.

Montana Capitol building.
Nick Mott / MTPR

Gov. Steve Bullock’s request for more than $20 million for preschool funding is not included in the legislature’s initial draft of public education funding. 

The Legislative Subcommittee on Education finished its work Tuesday outlining money for public schools for the next two years.

Taxes To Again Dominate Budget Talks At The Montana Legislature

Jan 17, 2019
Rep. Nancy Ballance, R-Hamilton, sits in the House of Representatives on Jan. 10, 2019. Ballance is the chair of the House Appropriations Committee.
Shaylee Rager / UM Legislative News Service

HELENA — Taxes are shaping up to be one of the big debates of the 2019 Montana Legislature.

The budget estimates from the governor’s office and the Legislative Fiscal Division are roughly the same -- about $10 billion over two years to fund a variety of state agencies and programs. The budget includes everything from education to the state’s share of Medicaid expansion.

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