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Montana's two senators are split on their support for the first Native American to be nominated to a Cabinet post. And the state Legislature is hurtling towards its mid-session break with a flurry of bills addressing abortion, transgender surgery and tax cuts, among others.

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

Tax calculator
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Montana lawmakers advanced three bills Tuesday requested by Gov. Greg Gianforte to reduce taxes for residents and business owners. They tabled another bill that would have broadened the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit.

Gianforte and his Republican colleagues in the statehouse say the proposed tax cuts are key to carrying out the governor’s so-called Montana Comeback Plan. 

Hearing room at the Montana Capitol.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

Montana’s governor is calling this "Tax Reform Week." Gov. Greg Gianforte’s proposals to change a slew of tax policies for residents and businesses got their first hearing in the state Legislature. An income tax cut proposal received the most debate Thursday morning. 

Rep. Derek Skees, R-Kalispell, chair of the House Rules Committee, listens as representatives debate over an amendment to “blast” motion rules on Jan. 8, 2019.
Shaylee Ragar / UM Legislative News Service

A Kalispell Republican has revived an effort to amend Montana’s Constitution in an attempt to fundamentally change the state’s tax code. Critics say the proposed policy is confusing and could leave a massive hole in the state budget.

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

Montana lawmakers are again considering a bill that would repeal an exemption on some property taxes for tribes in Montana. The policy failed last session.

Gale Decker, a commissioner for Lake County, says a 2011 law is giving tribes in Montana an unnecessary tax break.

Capitol Talk: Tax Cuts, Pay Raises And A Republican Reversal

Jan 29, 2021

Gov. Gianforte's State of the State address was a mixture of Republican canon and bipartisan proposals. Lawmakers disagree whether an immigration bill has racist intent. A handful of Republicans change their minds about a bill to limit gender-affirming health care for transgender youth. And hefty raises for executive branch department heads raise some eyebrows.

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

Rep. Paul Fielder (R) - HD13
Montana Legislature

Montana lawmakers will take another crack at changing how the state collects taxes on Social Security income. A similar proposal was vetoed by Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.

Downtown Whitefish, MT.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

Montana lawmakers will once again consider a bill that would allow for a local option sales tax. It’s a policy that’s been seen and rejected in past years at the state Legislature, amid a long-running debate over how to make the most of tourism dollars and tax locals fairly.

Montana House Minority Leader Kim Abbott speaks to the press on the Capitol steps January 5, 2021. She said Montana Democrats have had “good conversations” with Gov. Greg Gianforte and House and Senate Republicans regarding policy goals for the session.
Austin Amestoy / UM Legislative News Service

Montana Democratic lawmakers rolled out three policy proposals on Thursday that they say will provide tax relief to the state’s middle- and low-income earners. The tax breaks would be paid for by increasing taxes on people who make more than $500,000 a year.

The candidates for Montana's lone seat in the U.S. House met in their first debate hosted by MontanaPBS. Some fact checking in the debate was done by students and professors at the University of Montana School of Journalism. Associate Professor Lee Banville helped lead that effort and joins us now to walk through some of the highlights.

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