Edward O'Brien

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.

Congress has approved an agreement to reopen the federal government after a three-day shutdown.

The deal is now on its way to President Trump’s desk for his signature.

At a legislative hearing today in Helena, the state health department faced accusations from law enforcement that it’s not readily sharing evidence that could protect kids who are being exposed to meth.

Lewis and Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher wasted no time with state lawmakers today in Helena, saying, "one of my passions is kids and I don’t much like bureaucrats.”

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox says the Montana County attorney who has implemented an immediate ‘crackdown’ on pregnant women found to be using drugs or alcohol never consulted with him.

Fourteen Montana children, whose cases had been reported to the state’s child protective services, died last year. Drug or alcohol use was identified in 9 of the 14 cases reviewed by the Montana Department of Justice.

State Attorney General Tim Fox says the state must learn how to better protect its most vulnerable children.

Last year’s Women’s March drew more than 10,000 people to Helena. Organizers this year are trying something different. This time there won’t be one big, centralized rally.

Walmart has officially apologized for racially discriminating against a Montana State University professor in the company’s Bozeman store.

ACLU of Montana filed a Montana Human Rights Bureau complaint on behalf of Professor Gilbert Kalonde.

Since 2007 Montana taxpayers have compensated ranchers when wolves and grizzly bears kill their livestock — to the tune of up to $200,000 a year. Some of that money is also spent on projects designed to prevent predator conflicts. That earns it high marks from both ranchers and conservation organizations.

Last year, state lawmakers voted to add mountain lion-related losses to the compensation list for the first time. The problem is, the program didn’t get any additional funding to do that.

The Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest is proposing to add or increase fees at some of its recreation sites by $2 to $45.

Forest Spokeswoman Kathy Bushnell says officials are looking for public input on that. 

Montana’s first winter snowpack report is out and so far, so very good. There’s still plenty of winter ahead of us, but the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Bozeman says Montana’s snowpack is off to a great start.

The University of Montana’s new president says UM is facing a defining moment. Seth Bodnar describes the university’s budgeting and enrollment challenges as ‘significant’.

UM’s enrollment has steadily declined since its all-time high of over 15,000 in the spring of 2011. Last fall there were just shy of 12,000 total students. University officials touted a 2 percent bump in freshmen enrollment last fall and they’re eager to build on that modest progress. Bodnar, now in his second week in Main Hall, says the path forward is fraught with challenge, but adds he’s confident UM’s best days are ahead of it.

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