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  • Baucus forges ahead with tax proposals

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Nov 24, 2013

    HELENA . (AP) — U.S. Sen. Max Baucus is forging ahead with his aggressive plan to rewrite the nation's tax code in the next year, confident he can find common ground amid the intense partisanship stalling budget debates in Washington, D.C. Last week, the Democrat unveiled two big portions of his proposal dealing with offshore taxation of corporations and revised rules for some tax accounting. In the coming months, he expects to release proposals for taxes on individuals and exemptions. Baucus pushed the plan forward d... Full story

  • Bullock says Medicaid expansion still makes sense

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Nov 15, 2013

    HELENA — Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday that an expansion of the state's Medicaid rolls would have brought some assurances amid the turmoil surrounding the health care law's rollout. The governor earlier this year backed a plan to expand Medicaid to the working poor earning less than 138 percent of the poverty level. He was opposed by Republican legislative leaders, and the proposal died before lawmakers adjourned. About half of the states, including Montana, have rejected the Medicaid expansion plans originally crafted as a... Full story

  • State may be unable to intervene on cancellations

    Matt Gouras - Associated Press|Updated Nov 15, 2013

    HELENA — Montana's insurance commissioner criticized the president's move Thursday to allow insurance plans that had been slated to be canceled with the nation's health overhaul. Monica Lindeen said on a conference call that it "throws everything on its head" after three years of preparing for the new federal law. President Barack Obama reversed course Thursday and said individuals should be allowed to renew plans now ticketed for cancellation. Foes used the cancellations to pounce on campaign trail promises that Americans c... Full story

  • Judge considers fine against American Tradition Partnership

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Nov 10, 2013

    HELENA — A Montana judge will decide without a court hearing whether to hit a conservative political group with a hefty fine for improper campaign spending after American Traditional Partnership's lawyer asked to be removed. District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock said Friday he would rule based on briefs filed in the proceedings against the political group known for challenging state campaign finance laws and targeting moderate Republicans. The state attorney general's office is seeking more than $300,000 in fines against ATP a... Full story

  • Lawsuit : Redistricting panel violated open meetings law

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Nov 8, 2013

    HELENA — Some central Montana residents argued in court Friday that that the state's legislative districting commission wrongly met in private earlier this year to assign senators. State District Judge Mike Menahan listened to arguments in a case that deals with a last-minute decision to adjust the assignment of some sitting senators to new districts, based upon feedback from a bipartisan group of lawmakers. Menahan said he hopes to make a quick decision in a case that he expects the state Supreme Court will ultimately d... Full story

  • Daines announces US Senate bid

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Nov 6, 2013

    BOZEMAN - U.S. Rep. Steve Daines announced Wednesday that he will run for Senate in 2014, giving Montana Republicans a candidate they believe has a strong chance at winning the state's first open Senate seat in decades. Daines released a video announcing his candidacy shortly before launching his campaign in Bozeman by criticizing the Senate for supporting President Barack Obama and his signature health-care law. "Obamacare is a failing law that Montanans don't want and the... Full story

  • Board brings back head to retirement agency

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Nov 6, 2013

    HELENA (AP) — The Montana Public Employees Retirement Board reversed course Tuesday and decided during a closed-door meeting to reinstate the head of the state pension agency less than two weeks after placing her on leave. The board had little to say after making the decision to keep Executive Director Roxanne Minnehan. Minnehan had been placed on administrative leave late last month after a meeting with board President Scott Moore. At the time, Moore said there were concerns with workplace issues involving Minnehan. But t... Full story

  • Congressional candidate Zinke distances self from PAC

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Nov 3, 2013

    HELENA — Congressional candidate Ryan Zinke says he has distanced himself from the political action committee he helped launch now that he is running for office. Special Operations for America has stockpiled more than $200,000 for the 2014 election cycle, thanks in part to the fundraising it paid Zinke to do. Zinke said he doesn't know if any of that money will be spent assisting his own election effort, or criticizing potential opponents. "I don't know, because I don't coordinate with them," Zinke said. Zinke, a former s... Full story

  • Rosendale promises conservative House campaign

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Oct 15, 2013

    HELENA (AP) — Republican state legislator Matt Rosendale says his campaign for the U.S. House will champion conservative ideals. Rosendale announced Tuesday that he will be running for the U.S. House after also first considering a U.S. Senate run. Republicans expect current U.S. Rep. Steve Daines to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Max Baucus in 2014. The race for the Republican nomination in the House could be crowded. Former state Sen. Corey Stapleton of Billings is already running and others are considering it. R... Full story

  • Costly Medicaid computer project behind schedule

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Oct 13, 2013

    HELENA . (AP) — The rollout of an expensive, new computer program that will run complicated Montana Medicaid payments is behind schedule and has forced the lead contractor to seek an extension. Meanwhile, state officials — based on experience with software problems — negotiated a contract stating they don't have to pay Xerox until the $70 million program is finished and working. The Medicaid Management and Information System is scheduled to replace a system that is more than 30 years old. The old system is unable to keep... Full story

  • Retirees sue over teachers' pension cutbacks

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Oct 12, 2013

    HELENA (AP) — Montana's largest union, and six retirees and current employees in the Teachers' Retirement System sued the state Friday over cost-saving cuts to their pension payments, a move retirees argue is unconstitutional. The lawsuit involving the Montana Education Association - Montana Federation of Teachers has long been expected. Another is expected against the major pension plan that covers public employees. The retirees warned lawmakers earlier this year that they would oppose any reduction in their guaranteed i... Full story

  • Daines maintains that Senate must negotiate

    Matt Gouras - Associated Press|Updated Oct 9, 2013

    HELENA — Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Daines said Tuesday that he is not interested in talking about continued funding for the federal government until Democrats agree to talk about spending cuts. U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, in an interview, countered that Daines and other House Republicans need to pass the funding resolution that is before the chamber and stop trying to make hostages of federal programs. The partial government shutdown is in its eighth day with little or no talk of a... Full story

  • Montana Democrats get Senate candidate

    Matt Gouras - Associated Press|Updated Oct 3, 2013

    HELENA — Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh said today he will run for the U.S. Senate in 2014, giving Democrats the high-profile candidate they've been scrambling for in a bid to keep the seat they've held for decades. Walsh told supporters this morning with a video message that he will run for the office that has been the focus of a great deal of speculation since Sen. Max Baucus announced earlier this year that he will retire at the end of 2014. The announcement said the 52-year-o... Full story

  • Walsh to run for U.S. Senate seat

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Oct 3, 2013

    HELENA (AP) — Montana Lt. Gov. John Walsh will run for the U.S. Senate in 2014, his campaign said Thursday, giving Democrats the high-profile candidate they've been scrambling for in a bid to keep the seat they've held for decades. Walsh plans to tell supporters Thursday morning that he will run for the office that has been the focus of a great deal of speculation since Sen. Max Baucus announced earlier this year that he will retire at the end of 2014. An advance copy of the announcement provided to The Associated Press s... Full story

  • Judge: Feds can prosecute Augare for DUI

    Matt Gouras and Matt Volz The Associated Press|Updated Oct 1, 2013

    HELENA (AP) — A federal judge says the U.S. government has the jurisdiction to prosecute misdemeanor driving offenses on Indian reservations. U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong said in a ruling Tuesday that the U.S. government and tribal government share jurisdiction in victimless crimes involving enrolled tribal members. Strong's ruling dismisses a request to throw out charges against Blackfeet tribal leader and state Sen. Shannon Augare. Augare is accused of drunken driving and fleeing a Glacier County sheriff's deputy d... Full story

  • Judge rules campaign disclosure law constitutional

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Sep 17, 2013

    HELENA (AP) — A federal judge has ruled Montana's requirement that political committees disclose their campaign spending is constitutional. U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen sided with the state Tuesday in a new decision. He wrote that the public's right to know who is financing political campaigns vastly outweighs the minimal burden imposed on committees required to report the information. The case stems from a lawsuit filed last year by the National Association for Gun Rights. The Virginia organization argued it w... Full story

  • Big-business leaders talk tax code at Montana summit

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Sep 16, 2013

    BUTTE (AP) — U.S. Sen. Max Baucus said Monday that his effort to revamp the tax code helped attract some of the business world's biggest names to Montana for a jobs conference that touched on taxes, energy development and many other issues. Baucus opened the Montana Jobs Summit in Butte — an old mining town almost a century removed from its heyday — with the leaders of companies such as Google Inc., Facebook, Ford Motor Co., FedEx Corp., The Boeing Co. and others. Several thousand business people, politicians, acade... Full story

  • Old mining town fills with elite business leaders

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Sep 15, 2013

    HELENA (AP) — Butte, a mining town almost a century removed from its heyday, is the unlikely landing spot this week for some of the business world's biggest names. Google's Eric Schmidt and Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg will be joined by CEOs from companies like Ford, Boeing, Delta Airlines, FedEx, electric super car-maker Tesla, ConocoPhillips and Hewlett-Packard. The glittering luminaries, drawn by the invitation of retiring Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, will be joined by other business leaders in an e... Full story

  • Bullock to let Beach commutation process play out

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Sep 13, 2013

    HELENA (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock said Friday it would be inappropriate for him to offer an opinion on Barry Beach's request to be set free before the process plays out. Beach's attorney sent an application for commutation, or a reduction of sentence, to members of the state Board of Pardons and Parole on Wednesday. Beach has served nearly 30 years of a 100-year sentence after being convicted in 1983 of the 1979 murder of Kimberly Nees in Poplar. Beach was released in 2011 for 18 months after a Lewistown judge ruled there was... Full story

  • PSC revising utility executive pay rule

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Sep 5, 2013

    HELENA (AP) — The Public Service Commission is moving forward with plans to change its rule requiring disclosure of salaries for top utility executives. The commission decided Thursday to start work on a draft rule that allows utilities to ask that the information remain confidential. Commissioners said the new rule states that utility salary information is public, but gives utilities a way to assert a privacy interest if warranted. The current rule says the salaries cannot be treated as confidential information. C... Full story

  • Bullock eyes collaboration to build policies

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Sep 1, 2013

    BROADUS (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock, like his predecessor, is a Democrat. On most days, that would seem like the only thing they share in common. Gov. Brian Schweitzer cast a presence over Montana politics that few could match. Bullock arrived in the governor's office in January as a seemingly reluctant heir to the spotlight. Bullock tends to blend into the crowd, as he did on a recent visit to Glacier National Park's Many Glacier Hotel, where he wandered the gift shop with h... Full story

  • Lewis files to run for state's US House seat

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Aug 26, 2013

    HELENA (AP) — Democrat John Lewis has filed paperwork to enter the 2014 race for the Montana U.S. House seat held by Republican Steve Daines. Lewis earlier this month left his job as state director for U.S. Sen. Max Baucus. The Billings native is the first to formally file federal paperwork to run for the office. Republican Matt Rosendale has filed paperwork that leaves open the possibility of a House or Senate run. Baucus announced earlier this year he won't be seeking another term — and so far no Democrats have filed to... Full story

  • Court rules against law bucking federal gun rules

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Aug 23, 2013

    HELENA (AP) — A federal appeals court is ruling against state laws designed to buck federal gun rules. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday agreed with a lower court's decision that struck down the Montana Firearms Freedom Act. The 2009 Montana law attempted to declare that federal firearms regulations don't apply to guns made and kept in that state. Other pro-gun states subsequently passed similar laws. But the Justice Department successfully argued that the courts have already decided Congress can use its p... Full story

  • Montana panel offers Baucus tax reform ideas

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Aug 22, 2013

    HELENA (AP) — A panel advising U.S. Sen. Max Baucus on his plan to rewrite the nation's tax code told him on Thursday that the government should maintain deductions that benefit the poor, small businesses, education, retirement savings and innovation. Baucus is working with the chairman of the House, Ways and Means committee, Republican Dave Camp of Michigan, on a plan to get rid of many tax credits, deductions and loopholes viewed as unproductive. They also want to reduce tax rates. Baucus said he hopes the effort will resul... Full story

  • Many in offender registry remain unverified

    MATT GOURAS Associated Press|Updated Aug 18, 2013

    HELENA — More than two years after an audit that showed nearly a quarter of the sexual and violent offenders were unaccounted for on the state registry things have improved — but the whereabouts for about one in eight are still unverified despite increased focus and campaign promises. The Associated Press analyzed a copy of the registry database, received in a public records request. It found that about 13 percent of the 5,432 offenders on the registry as of early August were past due with their address verification, com... Full story

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