Author

Arren Kimbel-Sannit

Arren Kimbel-Sannit

Arren Kimbel-Sannit is an Arizona-bred journalist who has covered politics, policy and power building at every level of government. Before getting his dose of northern exposure, Arren worked as a reporter in all manner of Arizona newsrooms, for the Dallas Morning News and for POLITICO in Washington, D.C. He has a special interest in how land-use decisions affect working-class people, which he displayed through reporting on the epidemic of pedestrian deaths in the U.S. for the Los Angeles Times and PBS Newshour. He's also covered housing, agriculture, the Trump presidency and more.

Plaintiffs in SB140 suit will seek to stop Cascade County judicial appointment

By: - May 10, 2021

Attorneys for former Republican Secretary of State Bob Brown and other plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a bill signed this session overhauling the process for judicial nominations sent a letter to the state Attorney General, Gov. Greg Gianforte and their counsel in early May requesting that the governor refrain from starting the […]

New law nullifies mask mandates

By: - May 7, 2021

Gov. Greg Gianforte has signed legislation effectively invalidating local mask mandates and other virus-related public health measures that counties and cities have adopted in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost immediately, Lewis and Clark County announced that it would no longer enforce its mask mandate. County health officer Drenda Niemann said in a press […]

Another bill reshaping judiciary faces lawsuit

By: - May 6, 2021

Another in a series of GOP-backed bills signed this session that would reshape Montana’s judicial branch is now subject to a legal challenge. Plaintiffs including longtime Butte activist and nun Sister Mary Jo McDonald, a former Butte-Silver Bow County Court clerk and several of the same figures involved in a suit challenging a separate bill […]

Court rejects motion to challenge additional bill as part of SB140 case

By: - May 6, 2021

The state Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a motion from a group of plaintiffs suing over a law signed this session changing how judges are appointed to broaden their challenge to a separate but interlinked bill that would change the makeup of the Judicial Nominating Commission, a body that the original bill in the suit […]

Judicial ethics probe fights over attack mailer

By: - May 5, 2021

The release of a political mailer accusing the Supreme Court of covering up unethical behavior last week had Republicans and Democrats on the Legislature’s Joint Select Committee on Judicial Transparency and Accountability trading barbs and raising various specters of misconduct, but ultimately agreeing — though likely for different reasons — not to finalize a report […]

Montana to axe expanded unemployment benefits funded by feds, create back-to-work cash bonus

By: - May 4, 2021

The state Department of Labor and Industry on Tuesday paired its announcement of a new direct payment-based workforce incentive created from federal COVID-19 aid with news that Montana will soon be the first state to decline federally-funded, expanded unemployment insurance benefits related to the pandemic, increased payments that would otherwise be available through September. This […]

That’s a wrap: 67th Legislature is in the book

By: , , and - May 2, 2021

“The End” — not typically how news stories start, but the end came for the 67th Legislature, and by most accounts, it was one of the most memorable and consequential in the state’s history as a Republican supermajority swept into office, including capturing the governor’s chair. Because of the overwhelming number of Republicans, free to […]

It’s ‘sine die’ for the 2021 Montana Legislature

By: and - April 29, 2021

One of this legislative session’s defining issues was also the subject of its final (and among its most chaotic) debates — the implementation of recreational marijuana in the state. Lawmakers sent House Bill 701, the flagship plan for implementing the ballot initiative legalizing adult-use marijuana that passed last year, to the desk of Gov. Greg […]

Bullock-appointed judge confirmed

By: - April 29, 2021

In a dramatic turn of events in the final day of a legislative session partly marked by a brewing fight between lawmakers and the judiciary, the Montana Senate confirmed the nomination of First Judicial Court Judge Chris Abbott, one of three judicial appointments made by former Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock that lawmakers have debated this […]

Special committee focused on email, lobbying efforts of judiciary

By: and - April 28, 2021

A Republican-led legislative probe into alleged bias and improper lobbying by members of the judiciary released a draft report of its findings on Wednesday. That report largely restated arguments from the panel’s initial meetings that the Supreme Court was pre-judging bills likely to face legal challenges through polls issued by a lobbying organization representing district […]

House approves Gianforte amendment to vaccine bill

By: - April 28, 2021

The Montana House has approved an amendment from Gov. Greg Gianforte to legislation preventing businesses — including those in the hospital and long-term care industries — from requiring vaccines, for COVID-19 or any other virus, as a condition of employment and service, likely clearing the way for the bill to become law. The language in […]

Congressional redistricting requirements inserted into elections bill

By: - April 27, 2021

The state House and Senate on Tuesday approved an amendment to an elections policy bill that would impose statutory restrictions on the state commission tasked with drawing Montana’s newly awarded congressional districts, raising questions about the Legislature’s authority to weigh in on the reapportionment process. As initially introduced, House Bill 506, sponsored by Rep. Paul […]