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Panel passes bill protecting utility


HELENA - A Senate panel agreed Wednesday that NorthWestern Energy needs protection from a $3 billion lawsuit filed by shareholders of the company it purchased.

The Senate Finance and Claims Committee approved Senate Bill 458 by a 12-7 margin. It now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

Critics said the Legislature was bending to corporate interests, endorsing legislation that would have no other use than to let NorthWestern off the hook.

''This clearly was written by NorthWestern for NorthWestern,'' said Sen. Emily Stonington, D-Bozeman.

The legislation, requested by the utility that serves...

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