Regional News

Senator Jon Tester is ripping the new Senate health care bill, Senator Steve Daines says he needs more time to study it.

In a press release, Democrat Tester said, “This pig just got more lipstick, but still smells like a pigpen.” He said the bill will rip away coverage from thousands of Montanans, deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and impose a, quote, “age tax” on people in their 50s and 60s.

The GOP's latest proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act hews closely to the earlier bill that didn't win enough support among lawmakers to bring to a vote.

Perhaps the biggest change in the document released Thursday is that it leaves in place the Affordable Care Act taxes on wealthy individuals. It uses that money to reduce the number of people left without insurance coverage by the law's changes. This latest version adds $70 billion to a fund for states — bringing the total to $132 billion — to help support coverage of low-income people.

Updated 10:45 AM.

In Northwest Montana:

Weather conditions kept behavior of the Lazier Creek 3 Fire "moderate" yesterday, firefighters report. Today's estimate of the fire's size remaines at 1,145 acres, and 30 percent contained, the same as yesterday. There are 176 personnel assigned to the fire.

The fire is located south of Highway 2 and west of the Thompson River Road.

Update 5 p.m. 07/12/17

Additional crews and fire engines have arrived to fight  five separate fires in the Highway 2 corridor.

Montana’s Law Enforcement Academy, which trains every new cop in the state, is getting an upgrade over the next few years. Lawmakers approved $6 million, despite the tight budget year, to begin remodels in the academy for new officers.

Montana’s health insurance companies are asking for rate increases for 2018 ranging from 2 percent to 23 percent. Those numbers released today are much lower than the rate increases for last year, some of which topped 50 percent.

The proposed increases are only for the individual and small group markets. Most Montanans get their health coverage elsewhere, either through their jobs or government programs like Medicaid, Medicare and the Veterans Administration.

Update 5 p.m. 07/11/17

Fire officials are now investigating whether a person is responsible for starting the big fire burning near Zortman.

"In order not to compromise the investigation, the BLM is not currently discussing the active investigation," says Pat Stocktt, who's with the Western Montana Incident Management Team.

Attorney General Tim Fox joined Governor Steve Bullock in Missoula today for a ceremony to sign six bills updating Montana’s sexual assault laws.

They posed with Missoula Democratic Senator Diane Sands, who carried two of the bills, the most prominent of which removes force from the definition of sexual assault.

On Saturday night, I did what every newcomer to the Flathead Valley does to prove that they’re a local: I tossed a bike in my trunk and set out for Glacier National Park to bike Going-to-the-Sun Road by the light of the full moon.

At about 9:30 pm I watched a shadow creep up the side of the continental divide on the side of Going To The Sun Road, and then hopped on my bike and joined the stream of bikers making the climb up the iconic road.

Lightning on Friday afternoon resulted in several fire starts across Northwest Montana, some of which were not detected until Sunday.

Montana's Department of Natural Resources and Conservation reports numerous fires scattered throughout the Pleasant Valley/Happy’s Inn/ACM/Fisher River area.

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