Montana Public Radio

Montana Politics

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

Gov. Steve Bullock announced in a news release Tuesday that the state has sold $52 million in bonds to help pay for major state public works projects.

The money will fund projects like the Romney Hall renovation at Montana State University, an expansion of the Great Falls College Dental Hygiene Clinic and a new Montana history museum in Helena. 

Montana Republican lawmakers are pushing forward with rule changes for the legislature that could tip the balance of power in some interim committee decisions and change the way new rules for statehouse operations are set. Democrats are calling foul and threatening a lawsuit over what they’re calling a power grab.

Republican members of the Joint House and Senate Rules Committee are polling the entire Montana Legislature on three new rules to govern their actions.

Daines' Forest Management Bill Hear In Subcommittee

Sep 21, 2020

Montana Senator Steve Daines on Sept. 16 stumped for legislation he helped draft, saying more forest management would protect communities from wildfires.

Republican Daines presented his Emergency Wildfire and Public Safety Act of 2020 to the Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining.

The candidates in Montana’s hotly contested Senate race are divided over how to handle the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In a written statement, Republican Sen. Steve Daines said the Senate should move forward with confirming President Donald Trump’s nominee, expected to be announced at week’s end.

A new report released Tuesday says around 60 percent of Montana businesses last year had at least one worker enrolled in Medicaid expansion. Enrollment in the health care program for low income adults has been on the rise for the last four months.

At a meeting in Bozeman, Barbara Wagner, chief economist of the Montana Department of Labor & Industry, said nearly 20 percent of the state’s entire workforce was enrolled in Medicaid at one point or another last year.

Bozeman’s mayor resigned on Sept. 9 after allegations of bullying city staff and interfering with city administration.

In a press release from the city, Chris Mehl thanked voters for the opportunity to serve Bozeman and said he had tried to be “proactive and prepared” in his role as mayor but other city commissioners didn’t see it that way.

Congressman Greg Gianforte on Sept. 1 toured Montana State University’s new COVID-19 testing site for students, as well as a lab that tests hundreds of samples from around the state in a day.

Next to a big white tent at Bobcat Stadium, Director of Emergency Management Haylee Gerow says students with COVID-19 symptoms can walk or drive up for a nasal swab and be on their way in about three minutes.

She says they’ve swabbed around 10 students per day since it opened Aug. 27 at noon. On Aug. 31 this week, that number bumped up to around 30.

Montana state regulators will consider NorthWestern Energy’s proposed purchase in a greater share of the Colstrip coal fired power plant in mid December.

The Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) set a hearing date of Dec. 14 at its meeting on Aug. 25.

NorthWestern filed a motion on Aug. 14 to expedite the first hearing on its proposed 92-MGW acquisition in Colstrip unit 4 to November. Intervenors said that’s not enough time for discovery.

PSC staff’s suggested mid December hearing is before newly elected commissioners take their seats.

Editor’s Note 08/20/20: The original version of this story misattributed the included quote and it has since been corrected.

Montana electric utility regulators are investigating the effect of the novel coronavirus on a rate structuring pilot program from the state’s largest utility.

This week, the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) ordered NorthWestern Energy to submit a report factoring in financial impacts from the novel coronavirus on the utility’s decoupling program.

Montana’s firefighting fund is full for the first time in state history amid what Gov. Steve Bullock is calling strong overall budget reserves.

Bullock said during a press call on Aug. 17 that his office transferred about $46 million to the fire suppression fund on Aug. 15, hitting the statutory cap of more than $101 million.

“A fire fund filled to the brim is an important cushion to have at this time,” Bullock said.

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