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  • Gianforte says statewide sales tax off the table as his property tax task force gears up

    Eric Dietrich, Montana Free Press|Updated Feb 23, 2024

    Addressing his property tax task force at the group's first formal meeting Wednesday, Gov. Greg Gianforte had two big messages: Figure out how to bring some permanent tax relief to Montana homeowners - and don't do it by recommending a statewide sales tax. "As we and all Montanans know too well, property taxes are too high. That's why we're here - Montana homeowners need relief," Gianforte said, detailing a list of goals that includes slowing how fast property taxes are...

  • Rosendale drops out of race for U.S. Senate 

    Arren Kimbel-Sannit, Montana Free Press|Updated Feb 23, 2024

    Montana Congressman Matt Rosendale, who just last week announced a highly anticipated run for U.S. Senate, is dropping his campaign after former President Donald Trump - the ultimate kingmaker in modern GOP politics - endorsed his primary opponent Tim Sheehy last Friday, shortly after Rosendale's announcement.  "I have long been a supporter of the President, and remain so. But I have been forced to calculate what my chances of success would be with Trump supporting my...

  • DPHHS Officials State 2022 Administrative Rule Governs Sex Marker Birth Certificate Change Requests

    News Release, Montana DPHHS|Updated Feb 21, 2024

    Department of Public Health and Human Services officials announced today that, effective immediately, the agency will process applications to change sex markers on Montana birth certificates pursuant to a 2022 administrative rule on the subject and consistent with a 2023 law. “DPHHS must follow the law, and our agency will consequently process requests to amend sex markers on birth certificates under our 2022 final rule,” DPHHS Director Charlie Brereton said. “This notification serves to keep the public apprised of the...

  • Cold, Colder, Coldest

    Roger Dey, BVD|Updated Feb 13, 2024

    If there's one thing Montanans seem to love, it's bragging about how cold their town got during a cold snap. Maybe it's pride in being able to deal with extreme cold; maybe it's due to the old idea that "40 below keeps the riff raff out;" or maybe its because record cold temperatures often make both state and national headlines, as Lincoln did on Dec. 22, 2022. It hit minus 49 at the Lincoln Ranger Station weather site and broke the previous local records of 48 below, set...

  • Federal government denies petitions to restore protections for gray wolves

    Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press|Updated Feb 12, 2024

    The federal agency that oversees the Endangered Species Act announced late last week that it will not add Northern Rockies wolves back onto the list of threatened and endangered species. In an announcement on Feb. 2, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said that its decision was based on its analysis of "the best available data" from federal, state and tribal sources, academic institutions and the public. The agency found that the number and distribution of gray wolves, paired...

  • Dalton Bridge project out for bid

    Roger Dey, Blackfoot Valley Dispatch|Updated Feb 12, 2024

    Six and a half years ago Dalton Mountain Road bridge was closed due to failing piles. Although it re-opened a few weeks later as a one lane bridge, the lingering question has been: when will it be replaced? This year finally seems to be the year, as the Montana Department of Transportation opened bids Feb. 1 for the bridge's replacement. At the. Feb. 2 Lincoln Government Day meeting, Lewis and Clark County Public Works Director Jenny Chambers said the Montana Department of...

  • PSC declines to reverse NorthWestern Energy rate hike

    Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press|Updated Feb 5, 2024

    The NorthWestern Energy rate hike that the Montana Public Service Commission adopted in October will stand following a decision from the commission this week. The increase was originally forecast to raise residential customers' electricity bills by 28 percent, but a reduction in NorthWestern's property tax bill and a "true-up" process designed to square NorthWestern's forecasted market power purchases with its actual expenditures have brought that figure down slightly.  The...

  • Governors and members of Congress tell the President not to restrict consumer choice of vehicles

    Jason Mercier, Mountain States Policy Center|Updated Feb 5, 2024

    Republican Governors across the country sent President Biden a letter on January 22 in opposition to proposed federal rules they say would unduly restrict the vehicle options available to Americans and force the use of electric vehicles. Among those signing the letter were Idaho Governor Little, Montana Governor Gianforte, and Wyoming Governor Gordon. The Governors wrote: "We are writing today on behalf of the American consumer to urge you to change course on your current mand...

  • Do you earn tips? Montana now taxes them.

    Eric Dietrich, Montana Free Press|Updated Jan 23, 2024

    Among several changes to Montana's income tax system that took effect at the beginning of the year is a provision that makes income from tips subject to state taxes. The shift aligns Montana with the federal tax system, in which tips have long been taxed alongside salaries and wages. It also means that many service-sector workers will likely have their state income tax obligation increased by hundreds of dollars a year. The change was made by the 2021 Legislature as part of...

  • Lincoln Government Day meeting brief but informative

    Roger Dey, BVD|Updated Jan 11, 2024

    The first Lincoln Government Day meeting of 2024 Jan. 5 proved to be short and to the point, despite getting off to a slightly late start. The start of the meeting was delayed for a few minutes as a camera was set up to record the meeting. A new law that goes onto effect in June, aimed at increasing transparency, will require the county to post video of their meetings in Lincoln and Augusta on line just as they do with their meeting in Helena. Commission Chair Andy Hunthausen...

  • Transparency project aims to help Montanans navigate their right to know

    Arren Kimbel-Sannit, Montana Free Press|Updated Jan 11, 2024

    This story is excerpted from Capitolized, a weekly newsletter featuring expert reporting, analysis and insight from reporters of Montana Free Press. A group of Montana law students and young activists launched an organization this week to help facilitate freedom-of-information requests and to educate both the public and policymakers on the state Constitution's right to know. The founders of the Montana Transparency Project, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, say they want to complement the state's existing landscape of FOI r...

  • Montana population growth slows

    Eric Dietrich, Montana Free Press|Updated Jan 9, 2024

    After years of new arrivals swelling Montana's population and straining its housing supply, new data released Dec. 19 by the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that the volume of net migration into the state has declined. As of July 1, 2023, the federal demographics agency estimates Montana had 1,132,800 residents. That's about 9,900 more than a year prior, or a 0.9% increase. While that's a lot of new Montanans - roughly as many people as the populations of Belgrade, Miles City or...

  • Record-low snowpack widespread throughout Montana, report shows

    Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press|Updated Jan 9, 2024

    More than half of the snowpack monitoring sites used to measure the water supply for Montana watersheds are posting record-low accumulations, according to a report out this week. Several basins in central Montana have one-third of their normal snow-water equivalent - a measurement of water in the snow. About half of all of the basins in the report, including the Upper Missouri, Flathead, and Upper and Lower Clark Fork basins, are posting record-low totals. Eric Larson, a...

  • Who was Tim Sheehy before he started running for Senate? Here's what we know

    Arren Kimbel-Sannit, Montana Free Press|Updated Dec 13, 2023

    Before Tim Sheehy was the frontrunner in Montana's 2024 Republican primary for U.S. Senate, the ex-Navy SEAL, aerial firefighter, millionaire business owner, part-time rancher and occasional political donor was a 2004 graduate of a Minneapolis-St. Paul area private high school who grew up in a lake house outside Minnesota's Twin Cities.  Sheehy emerged earlier this year from relative obscurity as a top recruit of the National Republican Senatorial Committee - the...

  • Court rules in favor of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest's 2021 Land Management Plan

    News Release, Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest|Updated Nov 29, 2023

    HELENA, Mont. – Nov. 17, 2023 – Montana District Court Judge Donald W. Molloy ruled in favor of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest on a legal challenge brought forward by Helena Hunters and Angler's Association, Western Watersheds Project, the Sierra Club and WildEarth Guardians to the Forest's 2021 Land Management Plan. The case focused on wildlife claims under the National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act. "We are glad the court recognizes the...

  • Attorney General Knudsen offers tips to avoid cyber scams this holiday season

    News Release, Montana DOJ|Updated Nov 29, 2023

    HELENA – As Montanans prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping, Attorney General Austin Knudsen is issuing a reminder to be aware of common scams, which tend to increase during the holiday season.  "Online shoppers make easy targets for scammers, so stay vigilant and cautious as you order gifts and make virtual donations this Christmas season," Attorney General Knudsen said. "Don't let a scammer ruin the holidays for you and your family."  Attorney General...

  • Montana Supreme Court says counties wrong on 95-mill tax issue

    Eric Dietrich, Montana Free Press|Updated Nov 29, 2023

    The Montana Supreme Court Wednesday ruled against Montana county governments in a dispute over the Montana Department of Revenue's authority to order the full collection of the 95-mill state-level school equalization levy, a formerly obscure piece of tax bills that became a flashpoint this fall as state and local officials contended with frustration over rising property taxes. The ruling means that the 49 of 56 Montana counties that chose to collect a lower, 77.9-mill rate on...

  • NorthWestern Energy electric rates higher than regional peers

    Amanda Eggert and Eric Dietrich, Montana Free Press|Updated Nov 15, 2023

    Montana's utility regulation commission has come under criticism recently for an agreement that lets the state's largest power company, NorthWestern Energy, implement a 28 percent residential electric rate increase. With some help from retired MTN News reporter (and occasional MTFP contributor) Mike Dennison, we've compiled a comparison of the residential electricity rates charged by different utilities around the region, estimating the typical monthly electric bills paid by...

  • Montana State study aims to help threatened whitebark pine

    Diana Setterberg, MSU News Service|Updated Oct 25, 2023

    BOZEMAN – A Montana State University research team has published a study that may contribute to management and restoration strategies for whitebark pine, a species that is experiencing significant decline and was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act almost a year ago. Danielle Ulrich, assistant professor in the Department of Ecology in MSU's College of Letters and Science, is the lead author on a recently published paper in the journal Forest Ecology and M...

  • Testing confirms wastewater system leaking near Holland Lake

    Justin Franz, Montana Free Press|Updated Oct 25, 2023

    The U.S. Forest Service has shut down its wastewater treatment plant near Holland Lake and begun remediation efforts after testing confirmed that there was a leak in the system. The action comes after a local group opposed to an expansion of the Holland Lake Lodge filed a complaint with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality.  Meanwhile, it appears the proposed expansion of the lodge is not going to happen, at least for now. Last week, the owner of the lodge said he...

  • Prescribed Burns

    Roger Dey|Updated Oct 10, 2023

    Prescribed burns near Lincoln, including about 70 acres at Baldy Pasture and roughy 100 acres near Ethel Gulch, sent up plumes of smoke over the weekend. The smoke could be seen from throughout the valley and the surrounding region, with the plume from the Ethel Gulch burn clearly visible from Highway 141 just north of Avon Sunday, Oct. 8....

  • Proposed resurfacing for MT 200 near Potomac

    News Release, Montana DOT|Updated Oct 10, 2023

    POTOMAC, Mont. - The Montana Department of Transportation would like to announce and invite the public to comment on a proposal to resurface about four miles of Montana Highway 200, near Potomac. The project begins approximately six miles east of Potomac, and extends east, ending near the east end of the Blackfoot River bridge at the Roundup River Access. Proposed work includes milling the existing surface, applying a new asphalt overlay, and finishing with a seal and cover...

  • Montana Highway 200 mastic patching near Potomac

    News Release, Montana DOT|Updated Oct 9, 2023

    POTOMAC and GREENOUGH, Mont.- The Montana Department of Transportation will complete mastic patching on Montana Highway 200, scheduled to begin on Thursday, October 12. Work is anticipated to last for approximately two days, weather and other factors permitting. Mastic is used to patch, seal or fill gaps on the roadway surface. The purpose of this maintenance project is to extend the service life of the roadway. The project area begins east of Potomac Road and continues for...

  • Montana counties, governor spar over property tax that funds schools

    Eric Dietrich, Montana Free Press|Updated Sep 20, 2023

    Months of finger-pointing between state-level Republicans and local government leaders over who to blame for rising property taxes escalated last week as the lobbying organization that represents county governments sent a late-night press release that, among other points, singled out Gov. Greg Gianforte's personal property tax bill. The release, sent by the Montana Association of Counties at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 13, said the association's math shows that taxes on Gianforte's...

  • Erosion Repair West Of Lincoln

    News Release, Montana DOT|Updated Sep 19, 2023

    LINCOLN, Mont. - The Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) would like to announce and invite the public to comment on a proposal to repair erosion that has occurred on the Blackfoot Riverbank next to Montana Highway 200 (MT 200), located about three miles west of Lincoln. The project is located 500 feet south of the intersection with Lone Point Drive, halfway between mile markers 67 and 68. The purpose of the project is to restore and stabilize the riverbank to protect the roadway. Construction is tentatively planned...

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