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.

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,” […]

‘Environmental groups’ won’t be subject to Department of Justice investigations

By: - April 27, 2021

Environmental groups won’t be the subject of a Montana Department of Justice investigation anymore, at least in the most recent version of House Bill 693. Rep. Bill Mercer, R-Billings, made a bid Tuesday to ax an amendment that was added to the bill calling on the Attorney General to investigate the lobbying activities and tax […]

Senate greenlights election security bill with controversial amendment

By: - April 27, 2021

A caregiver paid to help a person with a disability will no longer be able to assist that person in requesting a ballot following an amendment Monday to House Bill 530, said Sen. Bryce Bennett, D-Missoula. “That is beyond the pale. That is voter suppression at its absolute worst,” Bennett said. But Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick, […]

Bigger tax credit for school donations zips through Senate

By: - April 26, 2021

Montana taxpayers and corporations wanting to make a $200,000 donation for a 100 percent tax credit are closer to being in the clear with the advancement Monday of a “school choice” bill. House Bill 279, which pushes up the cap on a tax credit for donations to schools from $150 to $200,000, passed 29-21 in […]

Abortion review panel failed on a 10-9 vote

By: - April 23, 2021

Republican Sens. Duane Ankney of Colstrip, Dan Salomon of Ronan, and Jeff Welborn of Dillon crossed party lines to kill on a 10-9 vote an amendment that would have created a panel to review whether abortions paid for by Medicaid were medically necessary. Welborn said the procedure is still legal whether people agree with it […]

Amended schools tax credit bill advances

By: - April 22, 2021

A bill that pushes up a tax credit limit for donations to schools from $150 to $200,000 advanced Thursday in the Senate Finance and Claims Committee, albeit with a couple of amendments. “You’re giving to an opportunity to help educate students all through Montana with this bill,” said Sen. Dan Salomon, R-Ronan. After it was […]

Committee tables controversial bill to help NorthWestern

By: - April 21, 2021

Rep. Derek Skees, R-Kalispell, said his caucus loves coal. Nonetheless, a House committee voted 11-1 on Wednesday to table a bill that purported to encourage coal-fired energy production at Colstrip. “Montana was built on coal. Many of us want to keep it,” Skees said. Chairman Skees said many Republicans want to find a way to […]

NorthWestern proposes $250M natural gas plant in Laurel

By: - April 21, 2021

NorthWestern Energy has proposed building a $250 million natural gas plant in Laurel to help meet part of its need for power, the utility said this week in a news release. The Laurel Generating Station is among three agreements NorthWestern announced in the news release to add a total 325 megawatts of power to its […]

Union leader: School choice bill risks $16M of recovery funds

By: - April 20, 2021

The state of Montana risks losing $16 million of American Rescue Plan Act funds during the next four years if House Bill 279 becomes law, according to the Montana Federation of Public Employees. Amanda Curtis, president of the federation, offered that analysis during the most recent hearing on HB279, a “school choice” bill to raise […]

Colstrip bill reminds many of energy deregulation ‘debacle’

By: - April 20, 2021

It’s no wonder that people talk about the 1997 energy deregulation debacle in Montana in the same breath as Senate Bill 379. This bill landed later in the session, just like the one more than 20 year ago pushed by then-Sen. Fred Thomas of Stevensville. Like that bill, it comes with a hope that Montana […]

Energy consultant: Bill would make NorthWestern a more attractive purchase

By: - April 15, 2021

NorthWestern Energy would look like a pretty good company to buy. That’s one scenario that hasn’t been talked about much in relation to a bill that aims to help NorthWestern and its ownership of the coal fired plants in Colstrip, according to an energy industry consultant. On the one hand, supporters of Senate Bill 379 […]

Montana power customer: ‘Bill castrates PSC’

By: - April 15, 2021

St. Patrick Hospital isn’t the average NorthWestern Energy customer. The hospital pays a power bill of $1.5 million a year, and Senate Bill 379 will only push up that cost, according to a St. Pat’s physician and former legislator. “This added cost … has to come out of something,” said Greg Lind, division chief for […]