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Articles written by Elinor Smith

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  • 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...

  • Trio of Anti-Abortion Bills Near Final Debates in Montana Legislature

    Elinor Smith, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Apr 3, 2023

    HELENA – When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last year, it put abortion in the state on the line during the 2023 Montana Legislature. Now, lawmakers will soon have their final debates on three bills that would limit access to abortion in three main ways: by limiting Medicaid payments for abortions, by criminalizing abortion except in the case of medical necessity and by excluding abortion from Montanans' right to privacy as it's protected in the Montana c...

  • 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...

  • Proposed Legislation Aims to Crack Down on Human Trafficking

    Elinor Smith, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Jan 19, 2023

    HELENA – Sen. Jodee Etchart, R-Billings, told the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, Jan. 11 that according to stats from the Department of Justice, human trafficking in Montana has risen roughly 300 percent from 2021 to 2022. Etchart said that is why she is sponsoring House Bill 112, which supporters say would address the issue and strengthen the state’s ability to prosecute those found guilty of human trafficking. “Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery where traffickers, which are often organized crimi...

  • Lawmakers hear testimony on grant program for training to coordinate missing person searches

    Elinor Smith, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Jan 4, 2023

    HELENA – Lawmakers heard testimony Tuesday on a bill that would provide $61,000 of the state's money to pay for a grant program for training local, community-led teams to help coordinate searches for missing persons. Rep. Tyson Running Wolf D-Browning is a member of the Blackfeet Nation and is the sponsor of House Bill 18, which was requested by the State-Tribal Government Committee. "This bill will forge stronger connections between the local communities, public safety agenci...

  • Legislators sworn in for 2023 session

    Elinor Smith, UM Legislative News Service|Updated Jan 4, 2023

    HELENA – Lawmakers from across the state gathered in Helena Monday to be sworn in for the start of the 2023 Montana legislative session. Republicans hold a majority in both the House and Senate and on Monday, leaders said their top issues will include inflation, affordable housing and the cost of living. "As we always do, we're going to pass a conservative, balanced budget, which funds our government, but also prepares us for the challenges of tomorrow," said Senate M...