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Montana Politics

Keep up with the latest Montana politics, elections and Legislature news. Get updates on your radio during Morning and Evening Edition, on the web or via podcast any time.

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

The Montana Senate has approved a bill that could pass costs for the Colstrip coal-fired power plant onto NorthWestern Energy customers if the utility buys an added share in the plant.

Senate Bill 379, intended to continue the operating life of the Colstrip power plant, passed on the 27 to 21 vote and now heads to the House for debate.

The Montana Supreme Court will move forward with six justices to consider the constitutionality of a new law that gives the governor more discretion to appoint judges.

The court will have one empty seat on the bench as justices weigh the policy signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte less than a month ago.

Sen. Ryan Osmundson, R-Buffalo, presents House Bill 2 -- the state budget bill -- to members of the Montana Senate April 7, 2021. Osmundson, who chairs the Senate Finance and Claims Committee, is carrying HB 2 in the Senate.
Austin Amestoy / UM Legislative News Service

The Montana Senate has endorsed a $12 billion spending package to guide the state budget over the next two years.

Sen. Ryan Osmundson, Republican chair of the Senate Finance and Claims Committee, says the budget proposal would increase state spending, but it remains a conservative budget. 

An empty classsroom.

Republicans in the Montana House of Representatives have advanced a bill to increase the tax credit residents can claim for donations that help pay student tuition at private schools. The proposal follows a U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling that Montana can’t exclude religious schools from the tax credit program.

Sen. Greg Hertz (R) SD6
Montana Legislature

Republicans in the state Senate have advanced a bill to simplify the state's income tax code from seven tax brackets to two.

The proposal would tax the first $20,500 Montanans make at 4.7% and income above that at 6.5%. That would compare to Montana’s current system in which the top marginal income bracket taxes people making over around $19,000 a year at 6.9%

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.

Adrian Jawort, a Northern Cheyenne writer and lobbyist for Montana Indigenous Vote, speaks to a crowd outside the Capitol during a "Rainbow Rally" on March 15, 2021 to protest bills moving through the Legislature that target LGTBQ Montanans
Shaylee Ragar / Montana Public Radio

Montana lawmakers are carrying a handful of bills that would impact transgender people, adding to the record number of proposals seen across the country this year to restrict trans kids from playing in school sports and accessing gender-affirming health care. Several of those policies are nearing Gov. Greg Gianforte’s desk.

The Session Week 14: Piecing The Budget Puzzle Together

Apr 5, 2021

As of mid-day Friday, 1,271 bills had been introduced and at least 135 had been signed into law. This week we’re watching how lawmakers are piecing the budget puzzle together. Major questions remain over new taxes cuts, funding state agencies, what to do with federal stimulus and recreational marijuana. Much of this work is under a Thursday deadline for appropriation and revenue bills, including regulations for marijuana, to move from one chamber to the other.

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

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana has become the latest state to consider a legislative measure that would prevent media outlets from reporting on news that lawmakers deem defamatory.

Competing bills to regulate Montana’s forthcoming recreational marijuana program are advancing in the Legislature.

Facing a procedural deadline next Thursday, lawmakers are keeping several policies on the table as they debate how to tax and regulate recreational cannabis.