Government & Politics

Jackie Yamanaka

A Republican from Winnett is worried about the student loan debt saddling college students.

Representative Bill Harris worries the debt load on college students may force them to leave the state and Montana employers are looking for workers.  He hopes his House Bill 239 bridges that gap.


Jackie Yamanaka

The priorities Governor Steve Bullock promoted last night during his 3rd State of the State Address were familiar themes from past speeches and from last fall’s re-campaign.

“Fiscal responsibility. Education. Infrastructure. Job Creation. Caring for others,” Bullock summarized.


Jackie Yamanaka

Bills to assist the town of Colstrip deal with the pending closure of 2 coal-fired power generation plants are working their way through the legislative process. Some Colstrip residents organized an evening reception for lawmakers to draw attention to the issue.


Jackie Yamanaka

In this week’s, Capitol Connections the topic is the federal Affordable Care Act, commonly called Obamacare. U.S. Senator Jon Tester said Monday in an address to the Montana House that repeal is imminent, but a replacement isn’t ready.


Jackie Yamanaka

Local government officials said the state is unfairly shifting the cost of housing the state’s prisoners to their taxpayers.  They are asking lawmakers to restore the payments to the actual costs

The root of the problem, said Flathead County Sheriff Chuck Curry is the sheer number of state inmates.


Jackie Yamanaka

The House Judiciary Committee gave unanimous approval to a bill aimed at helping law enforcement officials and others help individuals who are suffering from a behavioral health crisis. House Bill 237 seeks to get people help rather than a jail cell.

Sheriffs and law enforcement officers from across Montana lined up to speak in support of House Bill 237’s goal of creating local Crisis Intervention Teams, or CITs, and expanding the training.

Jackie Yamanaka

The Montana Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that seeks to give judges and prosecutors more discretion in sentencing cases that involve sexual relations between teenagers.


Jackie Yamanaka

There was a bit of déjà vu surrounding a bill that seeks to use coal tax money to pay for crumbling public works and state buildings.

“I think the bill is familiar to many of us,” said Dan Villa, Governor Steve Bullock’s budget director.

It’s a reference to the failed Senate Bill 353 from the 2015 session. SB 353, sponsored by Republican Senator Rick Ripley, used “create Build Montana program” in its title.

Jackie Yamanaka

U.S. Senator Jon Tester said repeal of the federal Affordable Care Act appears imminent.

Tester was invited to speak today before the Montana House of Representatives. Tester said there’s an incredible opportunity to find a bipartisan solution that can make healthcare affordable for middle class families.


Legislative Services

Clarification and correction:  Jake Troyer of the Montana Department of Labor and Industry clarified the pilot audit as part of the HELP Act identified fraud instances in the Unemployment Insurance Program.

Montana identified over $830,000 in Medicaid payments that went out to people who don’t deserve the federal-state healthcare program aimed at helping the working poor.  

Montana’s Medicaid expansion program, known as the HELP Act, was passed by the 2015 Montana Legislature and signed into law. It contained a provision to tackle waste, fraud and abuse.


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