Montana Public Radio

Tom Richmond

A recent Montana legislative report says tax revenue from oil and natural gas production is expected to drop more than 28 percent this fiscal year, which will impact state and county budgets.

Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas (R) - Stevensville
Mike Albans / Montana Public Radio

The bill to continue Medicaid expansion in Montana passed out of the state Senate Tuesday after teetering on the edge of a deadline for end of session negotiations.

The reauthorization of the health coverage program for low-income adults, packaged with new work and public service requirements for certain enrollees, passed 28-22 in its final Senate vote.

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

Bills to continue Medicaid expansion — and to buy more coal — have nothing in common, unless you want one, or both, to pass. That fight, and whether transparency is good or bad for legislating top our discussion tonight on Capitol Talk.

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

A critical vote over the future of Medicaid expansion could come down to the votes one or two state senators Thursday. That’s after debate was delayed Wednesday on the health care program for low-income adults.

Senate Majority Whip Steve Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Great Falls, says the vote will be close on House Bill 658, which is arguably the most high-profile bill of the 2019 legislative session.

NorthWestern Energy building in Butte, Montana.
Nora Saks / Montana Public Radio

The controversial proposal for Montana to give NorthWestern Energy incentive to buy a bigger share of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip got its first hearing in the state House Monday.

Senate Bill 331 is seen by some as a deregulation bill to benefit of the state’s largest monopoly utility company. Others see it as a proposal to save Colstrip while providing reliable  power that will keep Montanans' heaters running even in the coldest of cold snaps.

NorthWestern Energy truck.
Sue Ginn / Montana Public Radio

A controversial bill to change the state’s regulation of NorthWestern Energy in a potential deal at Colstrip cleared a critical vote Wednesday in the Senate. 

The proposal encourages the state’s largest monopoly utility to increase its operating share of energy production at one of the coal-fired power plant's four units.

Power plant at Colstrip, MT.
Beth Saboe / MontanaPBS

A rewritten Republican plan aimed at protecting the future of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip is moving forward. But concerns remain about its potential impact on Montanans’ electric bills.

When the so-called Montana Energy Security Act of 2019 was first introduced it drew comparisons to the deregulation of the Montana Power Company in the late 1990s, which skyrocketed electric bills across the state.

Colstrip power plant, Colstrip Montana.
Flicker User ambib (CC-BY-NC)

A plan to allow the state’s largest electric utility to buy a bigger share of the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip is taking a new form. The so-called Montana Energy Security Act of 2019 was introduced Wednesday in the state Legislature.

Hours after senators voted to table a prior proposal to allow NorthWestern Energy to buy more of Colstrip and pass along certain costs to their customers for up to 30 years, a similar idea landed in the hopper.

Colstrip power plant.
John Adams / Montana Free Press

HELENA — A bill would allow NorthWestern Energy to take control of the Colstrip power plant with scaled-back regulatory oversight, and it’s moving through the Legislature at lightning speed.

The sign outside the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices Office.
Steve Jess / Montana Public Radio

A bill to reform state campaign finance laws hit a snag on Monday when Senators rejected work by their peers in the House.

Billings Republican Tom Richmond says his bill to increase contribution limits and remove loopholes in state campaign laws passed with wide support, picking up all but two votes in the Senate in March, but is now at risk of being vetoed by the governor unless changed.

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