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Montana Politics

'Capitol Talk' is MTPR's weekly legislative analysis program.
Montana Public Radio

COVID leads to the cancellation of floor sessions at the Legislature as the Republican leaders are in a subpoena standoff with the state Supreme Court. All this as a bill to ban abortion dies in the Senate, the governor tries to prohibit "vaccine passports" and a Montanan may become the next head of the Bureau of Land Management.

Listen now on Capitol Talk with Sally Mauk, Rob Saldin and Holly Michels.

The Montana Capitol
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

The Montana Supreme Court has blocked several subpoenas filed by legislative Republicans ordering the justices to produce internal communications about pending legislation by Monday.

The Supreme Court Friday also blocked a subpoena that would have required Court Administrator Beth McLaughlin to appear Monday before a special legislative committee investigating judicial conduct, and to turn over her state computer. 

Montana Republican legislative leaders have subpoenaed the Montana Supreme Court’s seven justices and court administrator, looking for evidence of alleged bias over bills that could be challenged in court. It is the latest development in a conflict brewing between the state’s legislative and judicial branches.

COVID vaccine record card
iStock

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed an executive order Tuesday banning the use of COVID-19 vaccine requirements by government agencies or private businesses. But the order could be on legally shaky ground when it comes to the private sector.

Gov. Greg Gianforte
Courtesy Gianforte campaign

Updated 04/06/21

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte has tested positive For COVID-19.

The governor’s office said in a statement Monday evening that Gianforte tested positive after experiencing mild symptoms on Sunday. He is now isolating for 10 days and his office staff are being tested.

A second judge has recused himself from a case before the Montana Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of a new law that gives the governor more discretion to appoint judges.

A grizzly bear mother and cub in Yellowstone Park.
iStock

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Wednesday recommended continued federal protections for grizzlies in the continental U.S. Federal officials say the bears still face threats from human population growth and habitat loss. But the report doesn't rule out removing protections for bears in specific regions in the future.

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen
Courtesy

Montana has joined 31 other states in suing the U.S. Treasury Department over a provision that bars states from using federal stimulus dollars to offset tax cuts.

Montana is set to see roughly $3 billion in federal stimulus funds through the American Rescue Plan Act with the stipulation that the money can’t be used to offset revenue reductions caused by tax cuts. 

Montana’s lone U.S. congressman has joined other conservative lawmakers in signing a pledge to not request earmark spending projects. This comes after Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives ended a decade-long ban on earmarks, or congressionally directed spending.

New Montana Law Allowing Judicial Appointments Challenged

Mar 18, 2021

A bipartisan group is petitioning the Montana Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional a bill allowing the governor to directly appoint district court judges and state Supreme Court justices during vacancies.

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