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  • Update: Both sides speak at water compact hearing

    ALISON NOON|Updated Apr 12, 2015

    HELENA (AP) - A House panel has listened to five hours of testimony on a proposed water deal concerning the Flathead Reservation and will continue the public hearing into Saturday evening. Proponents of Senate Bill 262 spoke for roughly four hours Saturday. Opponents were underway by 3 p.m. in Montana's House Judiciary Committee. The measure would ratify a negotiation between the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the state and federal governments regarding rights to...

  • Montana House narrowly defeats 'religious freedom' bill

    ALISON NOON|Updated Mar 28, 2015

    Rep. Roy Hollandsworth voted no. Reps. Mike Lang, Stephanie Hess, R-Havre, and G. Bruce Meyers, R=Box Elder HELENA (AP) — The Montana Legislature turned away a proposed referendum Friday that if enacted by voters would have given people grounds to disobey any state laws that violate their religion. After a heated floor debate that moved the bill sponsor to raise his camouflaged Bible, state representatives failed to pass House Bill 615 on a 50-50 vote. The bill resembles a recent Indiana law that allows open discrimination f...

  • Bill to up highway speeds proposed in Legislature

    ALISON NOON|Updated Mar 21, 2015

    HELENA (AP) — Montana lawmakers on Friday heard the session's fourth proposal to increase highway speed limits. Republican Rep. Art Wittich proposed a ballot referendum Friday for voters to decide whether to raise highway speed limits by 5 mph. Wittich said the proposal would make Montana's speed limits consistent with those in Wyoming, Idaho and Utah. "We live in a great state with good roads that are well maintained," Wittich said. "We have long distances to travel, we like a little bit of freedom." No one spoke in favor o...

  • Montana Senators hear mental health proposals

    ALISON NOON|Updated Mar 7, 2015

    ALISON NOON HELENA (AP) — State senators heard on Friday a slate of bills to expand Montana's mental health care system, many of which overlap with the governor's plan. Three Republican proposals and two Democratic bills were heard in the Senate Finance and Claims Committee, which dedicated more than three hours to the measures. Ravalli County Sheriff Chris Hoffman testified in favor of the three Republican bills that would open more mental health crisis centers and put additional beds in the four existing ones. Hoffman said...

  • New law stiffens penalty for swindling the elderly

    ALISON NOON|Updated Feb 18, 2015

    HELENA (AP) — A new law in Montana will increase penalties for swindling elderly and disabled people. Gov. Steve Bullock on Wednesday signed House Bill 57 sponsored by Rep. Moffie Funk. The law will increase punishments for people convicted of securities fraud that victimizes vulnerable people, which includes anyone at least 60 years old or mentally disabled. Maximum punishments for stealing from the elderly and disabled will increase from $5,000 to $20,000 and from 10 years to 20 years in jail. Possible restitution for v...

  • Senate hears about GOP tax-cut plan

    ALISON NOON|Updated Feb 14, 2015

    HELENA, Mont. (AP) — State senators on Friday heard the first of two Republican representatives' plans to lower income taxes. Republican Rep. Keith Regier introduced in the Senate Taxation Committee a measure to permanently cut income taxes in every bracket by 0.1 percent. The Kalispell representative said he would support an amendment to House Bill 166 suggested by supportive peers to increase the cut to 0.2 percent. "The state of Montana can afford a tenth of a percent or two-tenths of a percent tax reduction," Regier said,...

  • Montana Senate passes bills to put electronics in privacy

    ALISON NOON|Updated Jan 24, 2015

    HELENA — The Montana Senate has approved two bills that update peeping Tom and indecent exposure laws to prohibit committing those crimes through electronic means. Senate Bill 50, which is sponsored by Republican Jennifer Fielder, passed 47-0. It would make it illegal to secretly watch or record another person either in person or by means of a hidden electronic device. Senate Bill 60, which is sponsored by Democrat Robyn Driscoll, passed 46-1. It would update the indecent exposure law to prohibit people from exposing g...

  • Montana Senate OKs bills to put electronics in privacy laws

    ALISON NOON, Associated Press|Updated Jan 23, 2015

    HELENA — The state Senate approved two bills Thursday that would update peeping Tom and indecent exposure laws to prohibit committing those crimes through electronic means. Senate Bill 50, sponsored by Sen. Jennifer Fielder, R-Thompson Falls, passed 47-0. It would make it illegal to secretly watch or record another person either in person or by means of a hidden electronic device. The bill also addresses a section of the current law that resulted in the release of a man who was accused in 2012 of secretly videotaping women in...

  • E--cigarettes up for debate at Montana Legislature

    ALISON NOON Associated Press|Updated Jan 20, 2015

    HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana lawmakers considered for the first time Monday whether to regulate electronic cigarettes. Sen. Diane Sands brought the bill before the Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs Committee on behalf of the Montana attorney general's office. Senate Bill 66 would include e-cigarettes, related electronic paraphernalia and nicotine under the state's definition of "tobacco products" that people under the age of 18 cannot legally access. Sands, a Democrat from Missoula, and Jon Bennion, deputy a...