Government & Politics


The U.S. House candidates announced an agreement to face-off in a series of 4 debates in Montana.

The candidates agreed to debate in Frazer on the Fort Peck Reservation, Billings, and Great Falls.  The campaigns want to hold a debate on the Crow Reservation, but the details have yet to be finalized.

Heather Swift is the deputy campaign manager and spokeswoman for Incumbent Ryan Zinke. She said the Republican is excited to bring debates to Eastern Montana, particularly on the reservations.

The public is invited to ask questions and direct comments to Yellowstone County’s top law enforcement officials Monday night, Aug. 1, in Billings.

Sheriff Mike Linder will join Police Chief Rich St. John at the latest “Chat with the Chief.”

St. John said it is an open forum.

Jackie Yamanaka


One of the owners of Action Electric says he can’t train electricians fast enough.

Max Griffin says he currently has 15 apprentices. He says under the proposal unveiled this week by Governor Steve Bullock he would love to add up to 10 more. He says it would help meet the demand.

“Right now if you need an electrician, a journeyman electrician, try to hire one. It’s impossible,” he says. “There’s that big of a demand, that big of a shortage out there.”

The Billings-based business has an apprenticeship program with  scholarships that pay 100% of the cost.

Jackie Yamanaka

 Governor Steve Bullock projects Montana taxpayers could save about $25 million dollars because of the way it manages medical costs for its state employees.

Under the old system, providers could charge the state of Montana’s health plan different amounts for the same service. Under a new transparent pricing model Allegiance, the state’s third party administrator, is contracting with facilities. Allegiance is using Medicare as a national point of reference for costs. It then pays hospitals a multiple above that.

Jackie Yamanaka


Montana’s gubernatorial candidates took only a short break in their campaigns after the June 7, 2016 primary election.  Two days later they were back in Billings to talk about public lands, access to those lands, and guns.

Governor Steve Bullock rolled out his agenda at Riverfront Park near the banks of the Yellowstone River.

"It's more about the lawsuits than it is about the clean power plan," says Montana senator Duane Ankey of Colstrip.
Jackie Yamanaka / YPR


Governor Steve Bullock said coal is going to a be a significant part of Montana’s energy future going forward even though that future is uncertain for the coal market.

“But certainly I am committed, been committed, to making sure we’re turning over every rock,” he said.

Bullock told the crowd gathered at the Colstrip City Hall for his Energy Roundtable he has met with Asian markets and the owners of the Colstrip plants, pursuing carbon capture projects, and challenging the federal Clean Power Plan initiative that’s currently on hold.

Jackie Yamanaka

One of the issues on Yellowstone County’s June primary ballot is overcrowding at the jail. Voters will be asked to give the county permission to pay for jail expansion.

The jail is bursting at the seams. The facility was built to hold 286 inmates, both men and women; as of last weekend there were 504 inmates.

Captain Sam Bofto is the jail commander. He says it’s like a pressure cooker for the inmates when the facility is this crowded,” It does affect the inmates and it does affect their attitude.”

Jackie Yamanaka

  Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump flew into Montana on the news he has sewn up the GOP nomination.

The New York businessman says he wanted to campaign in Montana, in part because his son is a regular visitor to go hunting. He used that news to affirm his support of gun rights.

“We’re going to protect your 2nd Amendment 100%,” he said.

Then he launched into the first of his attacks on Democratic Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

YPR photo

About 400 people were packed into a Billings gymnasium Friday night  to hear Bill Clinton deliver the campaign message for his wife’s presidential bid.

The former president spoke of Hillary Clinton’s desire to build the economy and bring manufacturing back to the U.S.

And Clinton talked about energy independence for Indian Reservations, especially for those west of the Mississippi.

Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump is scheduled to hold a campaign event at MetraPark in Billings on May 26, 2016.

According to the candidate's website door open at 1:00 pm for the Donald J. Trump for President rally that's to officially start at at 4:00 pm.

The public may go to the website to request tickets for the event.