Nate Hegyi

Bozeman-based reporter

Nate is UM School of Journalism reporter. He reads the news on Montana Public Radio three nights a week.

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The Montana House endorsed a bill Monday that would require the state health department to work with other organizations to develop a plan to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Accusations of voter suppression are already flying ahead of Montana's anticipated special election. That would be held after Congressman Ryan Zinke vacates his seat, pending Senate confirmation of his appointment to become secretary of the interior.

At a ranch near Seeley Lake Wednesday, U.S. Senator Jon Tester announced he is introducing the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act. The bill would protect nearly 80,000 acres of wilderness and develop a comprehensive trail plan to provide recreationists with access to the Lolo National Forest. This would include opening some areas to snowmobiling and protecting access for mountain biking.

Last week, both of Montana’s senators held virtual town-hall meetings to connect with constituents. Questions ranged from Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education, to the Affordable Care Act and Russia.

Update 2/10 7:00 a.m.: Both lanes of I-90 between St. Regis and Lookout pass have reopened. Standing water on highways across western Montana. Drive carefully!

Update 9:20 p.m.:  The Montana Department of Transportation is reporting that the westbound lanes of Interstate 90 are now open between St. Regis and Lookout pass. The eastbound lane remains closed due to standing water on the road. Heavy rain and melting snow continue to accumulate on the road. Find the latest road closures and conditions from the Montana Department of Transportation.

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A proposal to federally recognize Montana’s Little Shell Tribe advanced a step in the U.S. Senate Wednesday.

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee unanimously approved the measure, which would also give the tribe 200-acres to use as a land base. Montana Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines sit on that committee.

Less than two weeks ago, President Donald Trump signed an executive order blocking all refugee resettlement from Syria. He also placed a temporary ban on refugees, visitors and immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq. While that order has since been temporarily suspended by a federal judge, it has created an air of uncertainty for some of Montana’s recently-resettled Syrian and Iraqi refugees. 

A new bill would give Montana’s Child and Family Services Division more time to informally resolve child abuse cases before they are referred to the courts.

If passed, the bill would provide additional funding  for a child abuse pilot project passed by the legislature in 2015.

Montana’s child protection system is in dire straits. The number of kids entering foster care has skyrocketed and caseworkers are overwhelmed. Last year, 14 children died across the state despite reports of abuse being made to authorities.

A house bill set to be heard on Thursday morning aims to help.

Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke who is President-elect Trump’s pick for Secretary of Interior had a four-hour confirmation hearing before a Senate committee Tuesday.

New nationwide rules to curtail the practice of burning off excess natural gas from oil and gas wells on federal land took effect today after a judge said he saw no urgent reason to block them while a lawsuit proceeds.

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