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  Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Lee Newspaper’s State Government Bureau Chief, Holly Michels, has provided comprehensive coverage of government and politics since 2015. We regret the original omission.

A new statewide, online news service is preparing to launch just in time for the start of Montana’s 67th legislative session. The fledgling non-profit project is called The Daily Montanan.

Two different versions of Montana conservatism have been butting heads for years in the statehouse. And they’ll be pitted against each other again in Tuesday's primary election as GOP voters choose them between factions of the Republican party – business-minded Republicans willing to work across the aisle and party hardliners who legislate with strict ideology.

A protester calls for the end of coronavirus restrictions at the state Capitol on Sunday, April 19, 2020.
Brad Tyer / Montana Free Press

More than three hundred Montana citizens and multiple Republican candidates for statewide office gathered at the state Capitol in Helena on Sunday, flaunting federal, state, and public health agency social distancing recommendations to express a range of opinions centered on the belief that it’s time for state directives closing schools and businesses to end.

Bison at the National Bison Range.
USFWS

A bill proposing to settle long disputed water rights claims between the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the federal government includes a massive new bargaining chip: transferring the National Bison Range to control of the tribes. U.S. Senator Steve Daines is expected to introduce a bill to do that as early as this week.


A recent news article found that parts of Montana with more people who were not born in the state have higher job growth. Eric Dietrich wrote the story for Montana Free Press as one of the state’s only data reporters. He spoke with YPR News' Jess Sheldahl about how he takes data and turns it into stories for the Long Streets Project.

The Howe Ridge Fire in Glacier National Park on August 21, 2018
Inciweb

A new Montana Free Press series is shedding a light on how policies of the past and present intersect with wildfire response. Amanda Eggert, a former wildland firefighter and freelance journalist, is writing the three-part series Living With Fire. Montana Public Radio’s Aaron Bolton spoke with her about the series.

State Auditor Drops Fines Against Top Campaign Donor

Sep 25, 2018

Family members and employees of a Billings-based bail bond company facing fines and sanctions by the Montana Commissioner of Securities and Insurance gave nearly $13,000 to Republican State Auditor Matt Rosendale’s political campaigns in 2016.

One day after a 2017 face-to-face meeting with company representatives, Rosendale dropped the fines and dismissed two of the three allegations against Friedel LLC. The company paid no penalty under the terms of the agreement.

Democrats are accusing the Republican U.S. Senate candidate Matt Rosendale of illegally coordinating with the National Rifle Association After this audio recording was posted on The Daily Beast Web site. (Click play above to listen)

Eric Whitney: The muddy audio lasts 54 seconds, and in it Matt Rosendale tells an unidentified person that he expected the NRA to buy media ads in support of his campaign against Democratic U.S. Senator Jon Tester. John Adams, editor of the Montana Free Press website has been following up on the story. John thanks for joining us on Montana Public Radio.

2018 Montana Democratic House Primary Voting Guide

May 9, 2018

Five Montana Democrats are running in June 5 primary election for a chance to unseat first-term incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte in the Nov. 6 general election. The Montana Free Press surveyed the five candidates to see where they stand on 10 key issues. The candidates were asked to respond in 50 words or less to each question. Below are their responses, edited only for length and style.

2018 Montana Republican Senate Primary Voting Guide

May 9, 2018

Four Montana Republicans are running in the June 5 primary election for a chance to unseat Montana’s Senior U.S. Senator, Democrat Jon Tester, in the Nov. 6 general election. The Montana Free Press surveyed the four candidates to see where they stand on 10 key issues. The candidates were asked to respond in 50 words or less to each question. Below are their responses, edited only for length and style.

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