Governor, Legislature respond to SB140 challenge

BY: - April 14, 2021

A mountain of legal briefs were filed Wednesday at the Montana Supreme Court in a battle that entangles all three branches of the state’s government. One lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of a law passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor that changes the way judges are appointed in the state. Lawyers for Gov. […]

Lawmakers to investigate judiciary while emails show hurried records search

BY: and - April 14, 2021

On Wednesday, the Montana Legislature announced it was creating a special select committee to investigate the judicial branch, while emails between Department of Administration Acting Director Misty Ann Giles detail some of the behind-the-scenes efforts to obtain emails of Montana’s court administrator. The committee will examine potential legislation regarding judicial transparency, recusals and other court […]

Ballot collection bill fails in Senate

BY: - April 14, 2021

Senate lawmakers voted to indefinitely postpone a bill on Thursday that critics said would significantly and unconstitutionally hinder Native Americans’ access to voting. The bill, which was similar to the failed 2018 Ballot Interference Protection Act, would limit the persons allowed to collect and submit ballots to a voter’s children or spouse. It would have […]

Pause for Johnson & Johnson vaccine extended, federal health officials consider next steps

BY: - April 14, 2021

WASHINGTON — Use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 shot will remain paused for at least a week, after a federal vaccine advisory panel said Wednesday that it had too little data on a rare but serious blood-clotting condition reported in at least six women. That means states and federally run vaccine sites will be relying […]

‘Personhood amendment’ fails Senate vote

BY: - April 14, 2021

Republicans in the Senate failed to gather enough votes Wednesday to send to voters a constitutional amendment that would define “personhood” in the state constitution and effectively ban abortions throughout Montana. The so-called “personhood amendment,” proposed in the form of Belgrade GOP Rep. Caleb Hinkle’s House Bill 337, received 29 of the 34 votes necessary […]

USDA, Vilsack address food insecurity and nutrition in budget request

BY: - April 14, 2021

WASHINGTON—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Wednesday laid out USDA’s goals to expand food insecurity and nutrition progrmas in the president’s budget request, as well as the agency’s focus on programs to address longtime racial discrimination. “Normally I would talk to you all about numbers in the budget,” Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa, told members […]

Montana’s Stone-Manning tapped to lead BLM

BY: - April 14, 2021

President Joe Biden intends to nominate National Wildlife Federation senior adviser and veteran Montana Democrat Tracy Stone-Manning to direct the Bureau of Land Management, an individual familiar with the process confirmed to States Newsroom Wednesday. Stone-Manning joined the NWF as associate vice president for public lands in 2017 and was promoted to senior adviser for […]

LaFountain was a piece of Montana history

BY: - April 14, 2021

Montana lost a living piece of history on March 24. Staff Sgt. Ernest F. LaFountain died after a year-long battle with cancer. I met him through the “Vietnam Voices” project The Billings Gazette produced during 2015-’16. He was one of nearly 80 Vietnam Veterans I interviewed. Not only did the state lose a Purple Heart […]

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 […]

Legislature officially enters judicial appointments lawsuit

BY: - April 13, 2021

An attorney representing legislative leadership formally filed a motion with the state Supreme Court this afternoon for the Legislature to intervene in a court case against Senate Bill 140, a proposal signed by the governor that would give the executive the ability to fill judicial vacancies in lieu of the Judicial Nomination Commission. Lawmakers this […]

Public assistance verification plan hits snag in committee

BY: - April 13, 2021

A House panel Monday afternoon voted to table legislation that would end Medicaid “continuous eligibility” in Montana and require state health officials to cross-check public assistance eligibility across a series of databases after several Republicans joined Democrats in opposing the bill. Without explaining their votes, Reps. Sharon Greef, R-Florence, Greg Frazer, R-Deer Lodge, Mallerie Stromswold, […]

Gov. Gianforte issues executive order prohibiting ‘vaccine passports’

BY: - April 13, 2021

Gov. Greg Gianforte has issued an executive order prohibiting vaccination passports in Montana, according to a news release sent out by his office. Currently, there is no state law requiring vaccine passports. Specifically, the order prohibits “the state-sponsored development and required use of so-called vaccine passports in Montana.” Under the order, no state entity or […]