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Entries in Montana Legislature (11)


All eyes on Bullock for State of the State speech

(HELENA)- Republican lawmakers are expected to be listening intently tonight as Montana Governor Steve Bullock gives his first "State of the State" address of his second term in office. 

Bullock has been under heat in recent weeks for a major budget shortfall and revenue projections which have left the state scrambling to cover costs such as planned infrastructure and highway projects. Republican leaders have been critical, wanting to know how long ago Bullock knew the state was having revenue problems, and tonight they'll be listening for proposals to dig out of the hole. 

Bullock's speech is set to begin at 7 this evening in the capitol. 



Missoula's "Bare as You Dare" ride prompting legislative action 

Rep. David "Doc" Moore of Helena is sponsoring the bill (MISSOULA)- Missoula's controversial "naked bike ride" last summer is making headlines again this winter, as Montana lawmakers look at revisions to the state's indecency laws.

The "Bare as You Dare" bike ride came to Missoula last August, the latest in a series of community rides being organized as events to celebrate the outdoors with as little gear as possible. 

However, the ride drew a sharp reaction from more conservative Missoula residents, who were shocked the city would allow such a display of public nudity. City leaders said there was no law on the books that would allow them to prevent the buff bike ride. 

Now, lawmakers are looking to close those loopholes with House Bill 365. 

The measure, introduced by Representative David "Doc" Moore of Missoula, seeks to clarify state law by spelling out an infraction as "indecent exposure of private parts or simulated private parts in a public place" in a way that a "reasonable person would be offended or alarmed."

The bill is up for a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee at 8 a.m. Tuesday morning in Room 137. 


Four couples file suit challenging MT ban on same sex marriage

(HELENA)- Four couples from around the state are filing suit to challenge Montana's ban on same sex marriages, announcing the suit during a press conference in Helena Wednesday.

The lawsuit was filed in the Great Falls Division os U.S. District Court. Plaintiffs in the case are Angie and Tonya Rolando of Great Falls, Shauna and Nicole Goubeaux of Billings, Ben Milano and Chase Weinhandl of Bozeman and Sue Hawthorne and Adel Johnson of Helena.

The action challenges Montana's prohibition against legal recognition of same sex marriages, challenging the long-standing position of the state, and especially Republican lawmakers in the Legislature. Governor Steve Bullock is welcoming the legal action. 

“Montanans cherish our freedom and recognize the individual dignity of every one of us.   The time has come for our state to recognize and celebrate, not discriminate against, two people who love one another, are committed to each other, and want to spend their lives together," Bullock said in a written statement. 

“An amazing change has taken place over the past few years as more Americans embrace the idea that same-sex couples should have the freedom to marry,” says Elizabeth Gill, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “It’s time for Montana to join the march toward equality for all loving and committed couples across the country.”

The suit leaves North Dakota and South Dakota alone as the only states were same sex marriages haven't been overturned by the courts, or are facing legal challenges. 


Kalispell senator hopes measure will solve questions over Flathead water

(KALISPELL)- A Kalispell lawmaker hopes extending work on the Flathead Water Compact will help develop a compromise that solves mis-understandings and avoids lawsuits. 

Senate Bill 265 is now setting on Governor Steve Bullock's desk, presenting a possible compromise in that fight over managing water in the Flathead Basin. The bill, authored by Kalispell Republican Verdell Jackson, would extend the Flathead Compact Commission for another two years, suspending further legal action while the compact is ironed out. 

Jackson says the measure aims to get the Legislature more involved in refining the proposed agreement between the state, federal government and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Tribal leaders have already indicated they could sue, now that the Legislature didn't adopt the proposed pact worked out through several years of negotiations. 

But Jackson remains hopeful the new approach will help resolve differences without resorting to a long legal battle. 


Medicaid expansion bombs, Bullock still determined

Gov. Bullock stumps for the Medicaid expansion at Marcus Daly Memorial Hospital in Hamilton last week(HELENA)- That idea of expanding Medicaid coverage to 70,000 more Montanans appears to have been sent off by itself to die, after members in the House shuffled the proposal back to committee on Friday. 

The bill seeks to expand Medicaid, following the lead of other states, by raising the qualification limits. Governor Steve Bullock and other supporters see it as a way to head off future expenses by offering better access to primary health care, and say it could even spur economic growth by creating hundreds of new jobs across the state. 

But some GOP lawmakers have been slow to warm to the idea, expressing concerns about the impacts on taxpayers.

At a press conference in Helena Friday afternoon, Bullock expressed dissapointment with lawmakers, saying Montana residents were emerging as "losers" in the proceedural fight. 

"Creating jobs and reforming our health care system are the right things to do and I’m going to keep fighting to do just that," Bullock said. "We’ll be working with Republicans and Democrats to find a way to expand coverage for more Montanans and to reform the way we deliver care."

Bullock isn't ruling out the possiblity of using the budget as a trigger to force the issue, or even taking the proposal to voters.