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Montana Politics

Montanas are being asked to report Census data online or by phone even without receiving a specialized ID code to begin the process.
U.S. Census Bureau

Montanas are being asked to report Census data online or by phone even without receiving a specialized ID code to begin the process.

A press release from the Montana Dept of Commerce on Monday says the state’s response remains critical as Census field operations across the U.S. are being suspended due to COVID-19.

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As the COVID-19 pandemic tightens its grip, the services provided by Montana’s mental health and addiction clinics are getting even more complicated.

Those who survived the 2017 state budget cuts have hung on by their fingernails ever since. And it may get a lot more difficult.

When Montanans went to the state’s unemployment website to file a claim on March 20, 2020 they were greeted with this message: "Unemployment Registration is currently experiencing high user load and may be slow, unresponsive, or down."
Screen capture: montanaworks.gov March 20, 2020, 6:35 p.m.

More than 17,000 new claims for unemployment benefits have been filed in Montana since new regulations took effect last week that expand eligibility to workers impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

An average of 2,100 people a day in the state filed for unemployment from March 17 through March 24.

Rep. Nancy Ballance, R-HD 87.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Montana state lawmakers say the state government is flush with reserve cash as the COVID-19 pandemic creates economic uncertainty around the world. Analysts with the Montana Legislative Fiscal Division report the state’s level of cash reserves, currently sitting at $464 million, is relatively high compared to most years in the past.

 Edit 3/18: The article has been corrected to reflect the full name of the Montana Environmental Information Center.

Montana utility regulators say they need more information from NorthWestern Energy before considering the company’s request to buy an additional share in the Colstrip coal-fired power plant.

FRONTLINE and The Wall Street Journal investigate a pediatrician accused of sexually abusing Native American boys for years. This photograph was taken on the Blackfeet reservation in Browning, Montana.
Mike Shum / Wall Street Journal/FRONTLINE

After receiving pressure from congressional lawmakers, the Indian Health Service is providing some members of the U.S. Senate with redacted report on its response to a former doctor’s abuse patients in Montana and South Dakota. Released this week, the document details the failed oversight on former doctor Stanley Patrick Weber as he abused young Native-American boys.

 

NorthWestern Energy has filed to buy an extra 25 percent of Colstrip Unit 4 from Washington State’s Puget Sound Energy for $1. The Montana Consumer Counsel criticized NorthWestern for the level of information disclosed in the public plan the utility filed with state regulators last month.

Gov. Steve Bullock annonces his Coronavirus Task Force on March 3, 2020 in response to the growing number of cases reported in the United States. Bullock says the task force is a multi-agency group that will coordinate public health response.
Corin Cates-Carney / Montana Public Radio

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock Thursday afternoon signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency over the novel coronavirus. While there are still no positive cases in the state, the governor says the order is necessary to prepare.

Network cables plugged in to an internet router
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Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester says rural America is now one step closer to better broadband coverage.

The Broadband Data Act that cleared the U.S Senate this week is on its way to President Donald Trump’s desk where it’s expected to be signed into law.


Full funding for a federal purse that supports local conservation projects seems a step closer to reality. A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators Mar. 4 announced presidential support for a bill to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the maintenance backlog for the country’s National Parks.

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