Keila Szpaller

Keila Szpaller

Keila Szpaller is deputy editor of the Daily Montanan and covers education. Before joining States Newsroom Montana, she served as city editor of the Missoulian, the largest news outlet in western Montana.

OPI: Data systems to go from ‘clunky’ to helping customers

By: - May 11, 2021

A “clunky” way of managing data is getting a $13.5 million shot in the arm at the Office of Public Instruction. Last week, an estimated 30 participants including roughly 10 superintendents listened to an overview from OPI’s Michael Sweeney on a data modernization project the state agency said is sorely needed for its own staff, […]

Guns on campus policy drafted, public comment session scheduled Wednesday

By: - May 10, 2021

Provide bulletproof vests and headgear for all students, faculty and staff — and have the Montana Legislature pick up the tab. Request an armed police presence in classrooms, especially large lecture halls. Unseal building windows so university employees who don’t want to shoot can jump out. That’s some of the reaction so far to House […]

Education tax credit balloons; max is high compared to other credits

By: - May 9, 2021

A significantly more girthy tax credit for education will be in the mix in Montana courtesy of the 2021 Legislature and likely Gov. Greg Gianforte. Some 16 other tax credits will be wiped off the books, according to a fiscal review. Sen. Greg Hertz, R-Polson, said Montana has had far too many tax credits, and […]

Four Colstrip utilities sue NorthWestern, Talen

By: - May 7, 2021

NorthWestern Energy believes a unanimous vote among owners is needed in order to close Colstrip, according to a lawsuit filed May 4. But four other utilities that are plaintiffs in the lawsuit argue the parties can close one of the electric generation units in Colstrip — or both of them — with 55 percent of […]

Minority report: GOP conspired with Governor’s Office to ‘hack’ judiciary records

By: - May 3, 2021

Misty Ann Giles, head of the Montana Department of Administration, was in “constant communication with the Governor’s Office” about a legislative subpoena before it was issued — the subpoena quickly quashed by the Montana Supreme Court — and the acting director of the DOA was eager to produce records “with no privacy review,” according to […]

Energy grid to be subject of legislative study

By: - May 3, 2021

New washers and dryers can sense sense when it’s a time of low demand on the energy grid — and fire up. “The future is coming,” said Dwight Rose, with IBEW Local 44, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. “We’ve got to figure out how we’re going to power this somehow.” Rose was speaking in […]

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 […]

Political activity tightened on public campuses

By: - April 29, 2021

Montana legislators cracked down this week on organized political activity on public campuses, such as door knocking in dorm rooms, in an amendment to campaign finance legislation, Senate Bill 319. The amendment over political activity on public campuses and another one related to student organizations were finalized Wednesday. In a meeting discussing final amendments 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 […]

Woman dressed in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ outfit walks Capitol

By: - April 29, 2021

When legislators tried to create a panel to review abortions paid for by Medicaid, Chelsia Rice decided she would put on “The Handmaid’s Tale” outfit she owns and head for the Capitol. The Helena resident of 13 years has testified to the legislature before, but this time, she felt compelled to create a piece of […]

Western Native Voice will fight bill that limits ballot collection

By: - April 28, 2021

Organizers for Western Native Voice are paid to collect ballots, but that’s just one part of their job, said Keaton Sunchild, political director for the nonpartisan voting and civic engagement nonprofit based in Billings. But this week, those organizers have been handing out coronavirus survival kits, which include items such as masks, he said. They […]

Election security bill heads to Gov. Gianforte’s desk

By: - April 27, 2021

Rep. Wendy McKamey, R-Ulm, said people shouldn’t give their ballot to someone who is paid to take it to the elections office, and most representatives agreed with her Tuesday, sending House Bill 530 to Gov. Greg Gianforte’s desk. “We want to keep it as clear and transparent and unimpeded and uninfluenced by monies as possible,” […]