Montana Public Radio

Steve Bullock

A Fair to Remember: County Fairs Weigh Risk of Outbreak Against Financial Ruin

Sep 25, 2020

Laura Stutzman had no doubts that this year’s Twin Falls County Fair should go on despite the pandemic still raging across the U.S. — and several outbreaks tied to such community fairs.

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.

Montana’s governor says the state’s employment rate is in a healthier place compared to many other states after the coronavirus pandemic led to government mandated business closures earlier this year.

Some economists say it’s too soon to draw conclusions.

Governor Steve Bullock says Montana Department of Labor and Industry data show that the state has the sixth fastest job bounce back in the country.

A 2020 Montana primary absentee ballot
Nicky Ouellet / Yellowstone Public Radio

Attorneys for President Donald Trump’s campaign and the national and state GOP argued in federal court Tuesday against Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s directive allowing for all-mail ballot voting this November. They made their case in U.S. District Court in Missoula for why they believe the directive should be blocked. The governor’s legal counsel dismissed their claims and argued that the directive needs to stay in place.

Montana Public Radio’s Shaylee Ragar shared her reporting on the case with MTPR's Corin Cates-Carney.

Edit 9/23: A former version of this story misspelled Amesh Adalja's name and it has been corrected.

As COVID-19 cases continue to trend upward in Montana, state health officials say they’re concerned that outbreaks could further stress the state’s already thin health care system.

Montana lead epidemiologist Stacey Anderson says the recent increase in COVID-19 cases is connected to schools reopening, social gatherings and clusters among populations in close quarters, like long term care homes and correctional facilities.

Montana’s two attorney general candidates sparred in Sunday’s debate, showcasing the sharp contrast between how the Republican and the Democrat each view the elected position.

Talking about Montana's environment, our public lands and waterways, is one of the fastest ways for politicians to gain credibility here. After all, about a third of the land in this state belongs to you and me. Big, sprawling swaths of natural beauty are a defining feature of Montana. So much so, the preamble to the Constitution goes on at length about the state's landscape. The quiet beauty of our state. The grandeur of our mountains. The vastness of our rolling plains.

But when politicians talk about protecting our outdoor heritage in Montana, what exactly are they protecting and whose interests are they serving?

Firefighting Costs Montana $10 Million

Sep 21, 2020

This year 1,876 fires have burned more than 406 square miles in Montana.

The price tag to date on Montana’s share of this year’s fighting costs is $10 million, according to information Bullock shared at a news conference Wednesday.

He said while 50 some homes and some people’s means of livelihoods burned, Montanans have been fortunate that no lives have been lost to the burns at home.

"It’s still significant for the communities that have been impacted, that homes have been lost," Bullock said.

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.

Schools and universities with current and past COVID-19 Activity, 2020 - 2021 school year. N=58.
Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services

State health officials Wednesday published information about COVID-19 cases and outbreaks in individual public grade schools and universities. The report shows that 68 of the state’s roughly 147,000 public school students have tested positive for COVID-19, along with another 96 cases in Montana's colleges and universities.

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