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.

House approves Colstrip bills

By: - April 13, 2021

Montana doesn’t need “the West Coast” telling it what to do. That was one sentiment Republican legislators expressed this week as they pushed one of several bills this session they believe will help NorthWestern Energy keep the Colstrip power plant running. The House discussed Senate Bills 265 and 266 on Monday and approved them Tuesday […]

PSC staff: Colstrip bill ‘ambiguous,’ could cost ratepayers

By: - April 12, 2021

Customers would pay an extra $56 to $86 a year for power if NorthWestern Energy increased its ownership of Colstrip Unit 4 as it proposed to do in 2020, according to an analysis of Senate Bill 379 released Friday by Montana Public Service Commission staff. During the life of the plant, estimated at 21 years, […]

Updated: Amended Colstrip bill heads to House

By: - April 9, 2021

A bill to encourage coal generation was sent to the Montana House on Thursday after earning 27-21 approval in the Senate on third reading. “This is a bill to ensure the lights turn on when you want them on,” said Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick on the Senate floor earlier this week. Sponsor Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls, said […]

UPDATED: Special needs ‘school choice’ bill tabled, chair said had too many issues

By: - April 7, 2021

A bill that would lend taxpayer support to special needs students outside public schools — and one that’s a priority for Gov. Greg Gianforte — was tabled Wednesday in the Senate Education and Cultural Resources Committee. However, Rep. Sue Vinton, R-Billings, said she hopes the Senate still will take the opportunity to consider the legislation. […]

Montana Senate advances income tax bill

By: - April 6, 2021

After one couple in Montana adopted a child, they used the state’s adoption tax credit. With the extra money, they were able to adopt another child, something they couldn’t have afforded without the credit, said Sen. Jill Cohenour, D-East Helena. “It does not cost the state of Montana a lot, but it is meaningful to […]

Poll results: Montanans support local health officers

By: - April 6, 2021

Just 17 percent of Montanans want elected officials to make decisions about public health — most,  70 percent, are more likely to trust local boards of health with related concerns. That’s according to results of a recent poll conducted by New Bridge Strategy and provided Tuesday in a video presentation. The survey was sponsored by […]

Montana campuses to get $38M for students with lower incomes

By: - April 5, 2021

The last time the Montana Legislature directed money to college students who need it most, it set aside $2 million, and the private foundations matched the amount for a $4 million total over the 2021 biennium. This time, various proposals for need-based aid have come and gone for smaller amounts, but the most recent federal […]

Public education advocates praise funding bills, fear ‘school choice’ legislation

By: - April 5, 2021

Last week, the House Education Committee stopped a bill opponents had deemed one of the most problematic this session for public K12 schools. House Bill 633 would have created a separate public charter school system — outside Title 20 of the Montana Constitution — but one funded by taxpayers. Four Republicans joined Democrats to oppose […]

Glacier will do ticketed entry

By: - April 2, 2021

Motor travelers on Going-to-the-Sun Road across Glacier National Park will need to reserve a ticket this summer. The park is using the $2 tickets to manage a record number of visitors in recent years and heavy traffic on the scenic roadway. Details about tickets are available here on the National Park Service website. “We’re not […]

Bill: Stop press from being ‘slander machine’

By: - April 2, 2021

A bill to “stop the press from serving as a slander machine” passed Thursday in the Montana House Judiciary Committee with language and a title that are nearly boilerplate to legislation that’s cropped up in other states. Sponsored by Rep. Mark Noland, R-Bigfork, the “Stop Guilt By Accusation Act” aims to mandate media outlets cover […]

New poll: Montanans concerned about tobacco, support cig tax increase

By: - March 31, 2021

Even cigarette smokers are worried about tobacco use and don’t want cigar smoking in bars. And 63 percent of Montanans who responded to a survey about tobacco use would support a $1.50 tax increase — on top of the $1.70 tax — on cigarettes. That compares to 61 percent of people in support of such […]

House Human Services Committee tables HB676

By: - March 31, 2021

After a 12-7 no vote Wednesday, the House Human Services Committee tabled a bill opponents said would hurt the ability of children and working families to access Medicaid and CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and hurt Native Americans. In a hearing one day earlier, opponents said House Bill 676 would push children off of […]