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Articles written by Caven Wade


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  • Legislative Briefs - Week 18

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated May 9, 2023

    Lawmakers Pass New Statewide Zoning Laws Lawmakers in Helena passed a bill that would allow for mixed-use development in commercially zoned areas with the aim of increasing the state's housing supply. The bill is now awaiting a decision from Gov. Greg Gianforte. Sen. Daniel Zolnikov, R-Billings, sponsored Senate Bill 245, which requires cities to allow apartment style complexes to be built in commercial zoning areas, such as shopping areas or financial districts where housing...

  • 2023 Legislative Wrap Up

    Caven Wade and Elinor Smith, UM Legislative News Service|Updated May 9, 2023

    Lawmakers Tout Childcare, Tax Cuts and Housing Reform as Major Victories HELENA – Lawmakers have left the Capitol in Helena after a chaotic end to the 68th Montana Legislature. Republicans, who held a supermajority this session, celebrated legislation passed on education, tax relief and protecting children and parental rights, while Democrats said they were disappointed with a lack of long-term tax relief and immediate solutions for the state's housing crisis. The L...

  • Lawmakers close to passing budget

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated May 3, 2023

    As the 68th Legislative Session approaches the end of its 90-day ride, lawmakers are close to passing a $14.3 million budget for state spending over the next two years, funding everything from Medicaid to education to law enforcement. The Montana Legislative Branch only has one constitutional requirement and that is to provide a balanced budget for the next two years. House Bill 2, sponsored by Rep. Llew Jones, R-Conrad, is the key bill that holds that budget. Other...

  • Legislative Briefs - Week 17

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated May 3, 2023

    Parental Rights in Education Bill Nears Passage A bill moving through the legislative process would give parents more rights in their child's education, require school boards to share additional information regarding a student's education with parents and allow parents to opt their children out of certain school instruction. Sen. Theresa Manzella, R-Hamilton, is sponsoring Senate Bill 518, which would require school districts to provide information to parents on educational...

  • Legislative Briefs - Week 16

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Apr 25, 2023

    Committee Tables Bill for One-Time Stabilization for Struggling Nursing Homes Lawmakers have tabled a bill that would have given a one-time emergency stabilization payment of $5 million from the state general fund to the Department of Public Health and Human Services for nursing homes. Rep. Jennifer Carlson, R-Manhattan, sponsored House Bill 891, which would have given emergency relief money to nursing homes that have stayed open and are 60 miles away from another nursing...

  • Fifth-Grade Teacher: New Obscenity Legislation Misconstrues What's Happening in Montana Schools, Could Still Make Teachers Vulnerable to Criminal Charges

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Apr 25, 2023

    Kellen Alger has been teaching in Montana for 13 years. He taught for seven years in Cut Bank, teaching middle schoolers, and the last five years, he's been teaching fifth graders at Jefferson Elementary School in Helena. Alger grew up in a family of teachers, with both of his parents teaching throughout his early life. He said the last thing he wanted to do was become a teacher, but when college came around the profession sucked him in. "It was just like: 'This is what I want...

  • Package of Zoning Bills Aimed at Attacking Montana's Housing Crunch Near Finish Line

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Apr 18, 2023

    Montana's population has increased 10 percent in the last decade, while housing has grown by less than 7 percent, according to a report released last fall from the governor's bipartisan Housing Task Force. Two-thirds of the way through the 2023 Montana Legislature, lawmakers, housing advocates and the governor's office are closing in on what they say could be part of the solution to that housing crunch – a package of bills that would reform zoning laws across the state that of...

  • Legislative Briefs - Week 15

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Apr 18, 2023

    Lawmakers Hear Testimony on a Bill that Would Increase Firefighters' Hazard Pay Lawmakers are considering a bill to increase hazard pay for firefighters working on wildland fires for the Department of Natural Resources Sen. Willis Curdy, D-Missoula, is sponsoring Senate Bill 402, which would increase firefighters' pay by 25 percent when actively working in dangerous environments and uncontrolled wildfires. "Fighting wildland fires is an occupation that requires work in...

  • Bill Seeking to Put 'Right to Hunt' Constitutional Amendment to Voters Faces Tight Vote in Senate

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Apr 11, 2023

    Montana voters could be faced with a nuanced decision next year: Is hunting in Montana a right or a privilege? House Bill 372, which would make hunting, as well as fishing and trapping, a right protected by the Montana Constitution, is in its final stretch in the Montana Legislature, with a crucial Senate committee hearing set for April 13. Because the bill seeks to amend the constitution, the issue would be put to voters on election day in 2024 and to do that, it needs a...

  • Legislative Briefs - Week 14

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Apr 11, 2023

    Senate Debates Bill that Would Require Age Verification for Obscene Material Online The House of Representatives will now debate a bill that would add penalties for online companies that post obscene material without a form of age restriction or verification. Sen. Willis Curdy, D-Missoula, is sponsoring Senate Bill 544, which would make companies liable for the distribution or production of pornography to minors. The bill passed through the Senate 47-3 and is scheduled for...

  • Legislative Briefs - Week 13

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Apr 3, 2023

    Lawmakers Table Bill That Would Have Offered Free School Meals for All The House Education Committee tabled a bill 12-1 last week that would have provided funding for free school meals to all students in the public school system. Rep. Melissa Romano, D-Helena, sponsored House Bill 863, which would require $22 million yearly of the state's general fund to be appropriated to the Office of Public Instruction, which would then distribute the money to public schools to pay for...

  • Legislative Briefs - Week 12

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Mar 28, 2023

    Bill Allowing Law Enforcement to Test for Marijuana in Saliva Heads to Governor A bill that would give police officers the ability to use a device that can detect marijuana in saliva has passed both the Senate and the House and will now hit the governor's desk for his signature or veto. Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, sponsored Senate Bill 13, which passed the Senate unanimously on Jan. 24, and then passed the House 96-2 on March 21. "Marijuana leaves a residual within the...

  • As Marijuana Money Starts Pouring Into State Coffers, a Debate Sparks About Who Should Control Spending

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Mar 28, 2023

    In 2020, the state of Montana joined a pack of 20 other states and the District of Columbia when it legalized recreational marijuana. Montana voters passed ballot Initiative 190 on a thin margin of 57 percent for and 43 percent against. The legalization came with a brand-new pipeline of tax money and now that the money is starting to flow, a debate is building in the Capitol over how that money should be used and who should be controlling it. Just like alcohol or tobacco and...

  • Legislative Briefs - Week 11

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Mar 21, 2023

    Bill to Add an Annual Fee to Electric Vehicle is Nearing Governor's Desk. A bill that would add a yearly fee to all electric vehicles in the state gets one step closer to becoming law. Rep. Denley Loge, R-St. Regis, is sponsoring House Bill 60 which would add an annual fee to all electric vehicles in the state to substitute for Montanas gas tax. The bill passed the House of Representatives on 92-8 on Jan. 25, and following a second reading vote of 38-12 in the Senate on Mar. 1...

  • Bill That Would Allow Students to Fight Back in Bullying Incidents Moves Through Legislature

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Mar 21, 2023

    Stacy Roope says her 16-year-old son Trey is bullied every day in the hallways and even while walking to school. She said her son is constantly tormented, and what's worse is that he isn't able to defend himself. "Trey is not afraid of the kids who bully him, but in the back of his mind he's always thinking about what's going to happen today," Roope said. "It's an emotional roller coaster that happens to him everyday, one day he could walk to the school with no issues, the...

  • Sen. Bogner's Military Service Focuses His Legislative Service on Privacy, Geopolitics

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Mar 14, 2023

    Editor's Note: This is the second in a series of lawmaker profiles of rising leaders from both parties, aimed at giving a glimpse into the lives legislators lead outside of the Capitol and how that affects how they lead inside the Capitol and highlighting the makeup of Montana's citizen legislature. HELENA – Privacy has been a major talking point that comes in all shapes and sizes at the 68th Montana Legislature. Sen. Kenneth Bogner has been at the forefront of the issue since...

  • Budget, Taxes, Education and Social Issues Likely to Dominate Legislature's Second Half

    Caven Wade and Elinor Smith, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Mar 14, 2023

    The 68th Montana Legislature, with an unprecedented Republican supermajority, is halfway through its 90-day session and the next 45 days promise to be dominated by debates over the state's two-year budget, which funds everything from schools to Medicaid payments to nursing homes and mental health providers. As Republicans vie for tax cuts that they say put money back in Montanans' pockets, Democrats fight to invest in long-term planning, all while sitting on another...

  • Legislative Roundup - Week 9

    Caven Wade and Elinor Smith, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Mar 7, 2023

    Lawmakers Adjourn For Mid-Session Break After Marathon Voting HELENA -- The Montana Legislature is finished for the first half of its 90-day session. At about 10 a.m. on Friday, March 3, the House of Representatives adjourned after a three-day, almost-48 hour series of floor sessions. The House passed 180 bills between Wednesday and Friday. The Senate adjourned at 11 the night before, after almost 24 hours of voting over the span of two days. According to the Legislature's dat...

  • Bills Dictating Religion, Prayer and Sex Ed in Schools Advance Ahead of Key Deadline

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Mar 7, 2023

    At the half-way mark of the 2023 Montana Legislature, three House bills that would dictate how public schools in the state handle religion, prayer and sex education just barely made it to the deadline to stay alive. Rep. Greg Kmetz, R-Miles City, is sponsoring House Bill 744, which would allow students and teachers to openly discuss religious beliefs. The bill passed out of the House Education Committee 9-4, and passed a final vote in the House 69-29 on the last day for...

  • Legislative Roundup - Week 8

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Feb 28, 2023

    Montana Congressional Delegates Discuss Issues in their Bi-Annual Address of State Legislature All four members of Montana's congressional delegation spoke to the Montana Legislature during a joint session of the Senate and the House on Monday, Feb. 20, talking to state lawmakers about the issues facing Congress, including the national debt and the fentanyl epidemic. Democratic Sen. Jon Tester and Republican Sen. Steve Daines spoke to the Legislature first, followed by...

  • Rep. Derek Harvey Brings Working-Class Perspective to Montana's Citizen Legislature

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Feb 28, 2023

    Editor's Note: This is the first in a series of lawmaker profiles of rising leaders from both parties, aimed at giving a glimpse into the lives legislators lead outside of the Capitol and how that affects how they lead inside the Capitol, highlighting the makeup of Montana's citizen legislature. HELENA – A typical work day for Derek Harvey as a firefighter in Butte is filled with protecting Montanans in emergencies. Every two years, for 90 days, the workload changes to s...

  • Lawmakers Mull State Savings Account to Pay for Special Education Outside of Public School System

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Feb 23, 2023

    HELENA – Gov. Greg Gianforte made it clear in his second State of the State address that Montana's 68th Legislature should focus on giving families the ability to be more involved in the decisions that affect their child's education. "Too often throughout our country, we've seen education bureaucrats fighting to keep parents out of their kid's education. Let's be clear – government should never stand between parents and their kid's education," Gianforte said. "Every par...

  • Legislative Roundup - Week 7

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Feb 20, 2023

    Lawmakers Table Bill That Would Have Added Additional Penalties to First-Time DUI Offenses The House Judiciary Committee on Friday tabled a bill that would have increased minimum penalties for first-time driving under the influence offenses to four days in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000. Current Montana law penalizes an individual's first DUI with a minimum of 24 hours in jail and a minimum fine of $600. "This bill addresses concerns I have with people dying on our roads...

  • Legislature Looking to Give Midwives Drug Availability to Help With Patient Safety

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Feb 14, 2023

    Elizabeth Maixner had her first baby when she was 15 in a hospital. She worked with a midwife in the hospital and said especially at such a young age, she appreciated the personal support the midwife added to the experience, which gave her, and her mom, comfort during an unknown process. "She not only supported me in my pregnancy, but she also supported my mother, which was huge," Maixner said. Maixner is now a mother of three and was 30 and 33 when she had her second and third children. When it was time to decide where to...

  • Legislative Roundup - Week 6

    Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Feb 14, 2023

    Bill Would Update Meth Contamination Reporting A bill advancing in the House of Representatives would require that even properties where methamphetamine has been smoked or used be reported to the state and local health department and listed as inhabitable until deemed safe. The House Natural Resource Committee voted unanimously on Feb. 8 to push House Bill 381 to the full House for debate. Under current law, law enforcement officers are required to report properties where...

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