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Bullock outlines options to reduce CO2 emissions without shutting down plants

Bullock outlines options to reduce CO2 emissions without shutting down plants

HELENA — The Bullock administration Friday unveiled five options for how Montana can meet proposed federal rules to combat climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions — and none includes shutting down or curtailing existing coal-fired power plants.

September 19, 2014 11:50 am Related Loading…
Flathead, Ravalli: Still largely suburban and rural – and hard-core Republican

Flathead, Ravalli: Still largely suburban and rural – and hard-core Republican

KALISPELL — While Flathead County is among the state’s most populous counties, Whitefish business owner Dave Fern said it’s a mistake to call it an “urban” county — and that’s one reason why it’s so reliably Republican.

September 15, 2014 4:00 amLoading…
Is Montana a ‘red’ or ‘blue’ state? Lots of both, actually – and very much divided

Is Montana a ‘red’ or ‘blue’ state? Lots of both, actually – and very much divided

Editor’s note: This is the first installment of a two-day series on the divided political landscape in Montana, which is neither “red” nor “blue,” but somewhere in between. 

September 14, 2014 6:30 am Photos

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State health officials proposing big expansion of mental health services; Bullock yet to weigh in

HELENA — State health officials are proposing a two-year, $12 million expansion of services for the mentally ill and mentally disabled in Montana — but Gov. Steve Bullock hasn’t decided yet what he’ll support in his final proposed budget.

September 12, 2014 10:30 pmLoading…
U.S. House candidate Zinke outlines education priorities

U.S. House candidate Zinke outlines education priorities

HELENA — Republican U.S. House candidate Ryan Zinke on Friday outlined his priorities for education, saying states, rather than the federal government, should dictate school standards and have more flexibility in using federal education money.

September 12, 2014 1:45 pmLoading…
In state’s major congressional races, 1 debate scheduled, 1 other looks likely

In state’s major congressional races, 1 debate scheduled, 1 other looks likely

HELENA — Just eight weeks before the election, an Oct. 4 debate between Montana’s U.S. House candidates is the only debate scheduled for any candidates in state congressional races — but another one appears likely to happen.

September 11, 2014 9:00 pm Photos

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Franke Wilmer

Franke Wilmer

Franke Wilmer, a Montana State University political science professor and Bozeman Democrat running for the state Senate, said a growing sector of Montana’s voters are independents who can be persuaded to go with either party. The conventional wisdom is that independents lean Republican in Mo…

September 10, 2014 9:39 am
Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss

Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss

Bozeman Mayor Jeff Krauss describes the politics of Gallatin County as like a “jelly doughnut” — Democratic blue at its core and Republican red in the outlying areas. The same urban-rural, Democratic-Republican split often defines politics as a whole in the Treasure State, where neither part…

September 10, 2014 9:39 amLoading…
PSC approves NW Energy’s $870M purchase of PPL’s hydro dams

PSC approves NW Energy’s $870M purchase of PPL’s hydro dams

HELENA — The state Public Service Commission Thursday approved NorthWestern Energy’s proposed $870 million purchase of 11 hydroelectric dams, paving the way for return of the Montana dams to utility ownership 15 years after they were sold off by Montana Power Co.

September 04, 2014 2:15 pm Photos

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Bullock administration enacts hefty 2015 rate increases for state employee health plan

HELENA — The Bullock administration has approved rate increases of 15 percent to 27 percent and lower benefits for the 2015 state employee health plan, which covers 16,000 state employees and retirees.

September 03, 2014 5:05 pmLoading…
Beach supporters' proposed bill lets governor bypass parole board on clemency requests

Beach supporters' proposed bill lets governor bypass parole board on clemency requests

HELENA — A legislative panel Wednesday endorsed bills to revise state Parole Board authority and procedures, including one to give the governor wider power to grant clemency to convicted felons.

September 03, 2014 11:54 am Related Loading…
PSC poised to approve NWE purchase of hydro plants — but on what conditions?

PSC poised to approve NWE purchase of hydro plants — but on what conditions?

HELENA — A majority of the state Public Service Commission appears poised to vote Thursday to approve NorthWestern Energy’s proposed $870 million purchase of 11 hydroelectric dams — although it’s uncertain what conditions it may impose on the sale.

September 02, 2014 4:34 pmLoading…

When RightNow sold to Oracle for $1.8 billion, who got the money?

HELENA — After international software giant Oracle Corp. bought Bozeman software firm RightNow Technologies in 2012 for $1.8 billion, economists saw a noticeable jump in earnings for Gallatin County and the state.

September 01, 2014 6:15 amLoading…
Daines' work with cloud computing pioneer shapes his perspectives on government

Daines' work with cloud computing pioneer shapes his perspectives on government

BOZEMAN — At age 36, Steve Daines was working at his father’s construction firm in Bozeman when he got involved with a small but growing company that had developed new customer-service software for the Internet.

September 01, 2014 5:15 am Photos

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Oracle

Oracle

The Bozeman office buildings that housed the headquarters of RightNow Technologies, where Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Daines worked for 12 years as an executive, are now the Montana offices of international software giant Oracle Corp., which bought RightNow in 2012 for $1.8 billio…

August 29, 2014 10:07 am
2015 health-insurance policies on Obamacare exchanges won’t increase much

2015 health-insurance policies on Obamacare exchanges won’t increase much

HELENA — Prices for 2015 health insurance policies sold on Montana’s federal online “marketplace” will increase only 1.35 percent, on average, state Auditor Monica Lindeen said Wednesday.

August 27, 2014 11:30 amLoading…
Congressional candidate Lewis unveils first TV ad; takes veiled shot at Zinke

Congressional candidate Lewis unveils first TV ad; takes veiled shot at Zinke

HELENA — Democratic U.S. House candidate John Lewis unveiled his first TV ad of the campaign Monday, in which he takes a veiled shot at his Republican opponent, Ryan Zinke.

August 25, 2014 5:05 pm Video Loading…
Daines, in front-runner mode, maintains 'less government' message

Daines, in front-runner mode, maintains 'less government' message

MONTANA CITY — In a visit to the Ash Grove Cement plant here last week, U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., barely mentioned his bid for the U.S. Senate — and never uttered the name of his opponent, Democrat Amanda Curtis.

August 24, 2014 6:00 am Video Photos

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One-third of Daines’ campaign funds from Montanans – a relatively high percentage

One-third of Daines’ campaign funds from Montanans – a relatively high percentage

HELENA — Only one-third of Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Daines’ $5 million in campaign funds has come from Montanans — yet that percentage is more than usual for a key Senate race, political observers say.

August 20, 2014 3:30 pmLoading…

State plans 2015 rate increases, benefit deductions to cover employee health plan losses

HELENA — The 16,000 state employees and retirees insured by the state health plan likely will face rate increases of 15 percent to 27 percent next year, and lower benefits, to cover higher-than-expected medical costs, state officials said Monday.

August 18, 2014 9:45 pmLoading…
Walsh giving $180,000 in campaign funds to Democratic party; can't give it to Curtis

Walsh giving $180,000 in campaign funds to Democratic party; can't give it to Curtis

HELENA — Sen. John Walsh, who withdrew Aug. 7 as a candidate for his U.S. Senate seat, is distributing nearly $180,000 of his leftover campaign funds to other Democratic candidates and state party groups.

August 18, 2014 2:15 pm Photos

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With no money, little experience, Amanda Curtis is Democrats' pick to run against Daines

With no money, little experience, Amanda Curtis is Democrats' pick to run against Daines

HELENA — State Democrats Saturday chose state Rep. Amanda Curtis, of Butte, as their new U.S. Senate candidate, putting the largely untested, freshman lawmaker up against Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Daines just 80 days before the election.

August 16, 2014 3:23 pm Photos

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Curtis not worried about her comments in YouTube videos saying she's an 'anarchist at heart,' felt like punching a Republican lawmaker

Curtis not worried about her comments in YouTube videos saying she's an 'anarchist at heart,' felt like punching a Republican lawmaker

HELENA — If Montanans — and the political opposition — want to know what newly minted Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Amanda Curtis really thinks about things, they need look no further than her own, very public video record.

August 16, 2014 3:27 pm Video Loading…
Democratic Party powers disparage Adams in run-up to nominating convention

Democratic Party powers disparage Adams in run-up to nominating convention

HELENA — In the run-up to Saturday’s Democratic Party convention that will choose a U.S. Senate candidate to replace Sen. John Walsh, supporters of Rep. Amanda Curtis have been bashing her main opponent, Wilsall rancher Dirk Adams.

August 15, 2014 4:38 pm Photos

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Sen. Dave Wanzenried pulls out of U.S. Senate nomination race

Sen. Dave Wanzenried pulls out of U.S. Senate nomination race

HELENA — State Sen. Dave Wanzenried on Thursday said he’s ending his efforts to succeed Sen. John Walsh as Montana’s Democratic U.S. Senate candidate this fall, leaving only two main candidates still in the intra-party contest.

August 14, 2014 1:15 pmLoading…

MDU seeking 5.4 percent increase in natural gas rates for eastern Montana

HELENA — Montana-Dakota Utilities is asking state regulators to approve a 5.4 percent rate increase for its nearly 81,000 natural gas customers in eastern Montana — just eight months after an earlier increase was approved.

August 14, 2014 6:50 amLoading…
U.S. Senate hopeful Curtis explains gun-rights position

U.S. Senate hopeful Curtis explains gun-rights position

HELENA – Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Amanda Curtis appeared and spoke last year at a rally for expanded background checks for firearm purchasers, but said this week her position on the issue won’t hurt her with Montana voters.

August 13, 2014 12:00 amLoading…
Adams, Curtis, Wanzenried vying to replace Walsh in Senate race – and maybe Bohlinger

Adams, Curtis, Wanzenried vying to replace Walsh in Senate race – and maybe Bohlinger

HELENA — At least three, perhaps four, people will compete this Saturday to become the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate replacing Sen. John Walsh — and the emerging front-runner may be a little-known high school teacher from Butte.

August 11, 2014 6:45 pm Photos

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Perspective: Democrats' prospects for Senate seat still grim; don’t blame Walsh for that

Perspective: Democrats' prospects for Senate seat still grim; don’t blame Walsh for that

HELENA — U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, the Republican candidate for Montana’s U.S. Senate seat, must be feeling pretty confident about now — and a little bit lucky, too.

August 10, 2014 1:00 am Photos

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XGR panel: Montana’s renewable-power mandate, while successful, shouldn’t be expanded

HELENA — Montana’s requirement that utilities buy a minimum amount of renewable power, such as wind, has been an economic success, but shouldn’t be expanded, a legislative panel’s draft study says.

August 06, 2014 5:30 pmLoading…
Sen. Walsh cancels events; in Helena meeting with advisers

Sen. Walsh cancels events; in Helena meeting with advisers

HELENA — Sen. John Walsh, who has canceled several campaign appearances this week, remained in Helena on Wednesday as he pondered whether to stay in the U.S. Senate race in the wake of revelations that he plagiarized portions of a master’s degree paper.

August 06, 2014 10:32 am Related Loading…

Home-health employers seek exemption to Obamacare regulations

HELENA — Next year, all large employers will be required to offer health insurance to their workers — and for health care firms that rely on government funding to provide services to the poor, that mandate poses a special problem.

July 28, 2014 6:20 amLoading…
Walsh says he was being treated for PTSD when he plagiarized paper

Walsh says he was being treated for PTSD when he plagiarized paper

HELENA — The New York Times reported Wednesday that Montana’s newest senator, Democrat John Walsh, plagiarized large portions of his final paper submitted for his 2007 master’s degree at the U.S. Army War College.

July 23, 2014 2:20 pm Video Related Loading…

'Obamacare' court ruling has no impact on Montana

HELENA — For nearly 31,500 Montanans who bought subsidized health insurance on the new, online “marketplace” this year, Tuesday’s federal appeals court rulings on the issue won’t change anything for now, the state’s top insurance official said.

July 22, 2014 5:33 pmLoading…
'Woodwork effect' of Obamacare adds 6,000 people to Medicaid in Montana

'Woodwork effect' of Obamacare adds 6,000 people to Medicaid in Montana

HELENA — Montana is one of two dozen states that hasn’t expanded Medicaid as part of the federal health care overhaul — but it’s still added a higher-than-expected number of folks to this program that pays medical bills for the poor.

July 20, 2014 12:15 amLoading…
Whatever happened to CHIP expansion? It succeeded – but is really the Medicaid expansion

Whatever happened to CHIP expansion? It succeeded – but is really the Medicaid expansion

HELENA — While the debate rages over whether Montana should expand Medicaid to cover low-income adults, a dramatic expansion of Medicaid and a related government health plan has already happened — to cover children.

July 20, 2014 12:00 am Related Loading…
NWE CEO says dam purchase a good deal: We are not 'crooks’

NWE CEO says dam purchase a good deal: We are not 'crooks’

HELENA — NorthWestern Energy CEO Bob Rowe told state regulators Thursday that the company’s $870 million purchase of a dozen hydroelectric dams is a solid plan to rebuild the utility and benefit customers, and that suggestions that the company will unduly profit are wrong.

July 18, 2014 9:20 amLoading…
Financial disclosure: Daines worth millions; Walsh, a lot less

Financial disclosure: Daines worth millions; Walsh, a lot less

HELENA — U.S. Senate candidate Steve Daines, by far, is the wealthiest member of Montana’s congressional delegation — and, according to financial-disclosure reports, has personal wealth more than 125 times that of his Democratic opponent, Sen. John Walsh.

July 16, 2014 6:30 pm Related Loading…
Auditor’s office: Net increase of 30,000 Montanans with health insurance

Auditor’s office: Net increase of 30,000 Montanans with health insurance

HELENA — Since the launch of the federal government’s online health insurance “marketplace” in Montana last October, a net 30,000 Montanans have gained new health coverage, the state auditor’s office said Tuesday. 

July 15, 2014 7:21 pmLoading…
Consumer witness: NW dam purchase a bad deal for consumers, unless altered

Consumer witness: NW dam purchase a bad deal for consumers, unless altered

HELENA — The lead witness for a Montana consumer-advocate office said Tuesday that if regulators approve NorthWestern Energy’s $900 million purchase of a dozen hydroelectric dams without changes, it will mean guaranteed profits for the company and much higher costs for ratepayers.

July 15, 2014 1:45 pm Photos

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Remington confirms it will replace millions of triggers

Remington confirms it will replace millions of triggers

HELENA — The Remington Arms Co. has confirmed it will offer to replace trigger mechanisms on millions of Model 700 bolt-action hunting rifles, as part of a class-action lawsuit settlement reported earlier this week.

July 11, 2014 9:22 pmLoading…

Legislative panel advances report on federal-land management

HELENA — A legislative panel Thursday voted to advance a report on how to encourage more state involvement in management of federal lands in Montana — but not before changing it to say transferring those lands to the state should be considered a “last resort.”

July 10, 2014 7:06 pmLoading…
Blue Cross execs actually got a lot more pay in 2013 than earlier reported

Blue Cross execs actually got a lot more pay in 2013 than earlier reported

HELENA — Top executives at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana did not take a pay cut last year, as reported erroneously by the Gazette State Bureau in May — but, rather, received quite a bit more in total compensation.

July 09, 2014 6:30 pmLoading…

Legislative fed-land study sparks accusations of 'hidden agenda' of transferring lands to state

HELENA — A study of federal land management problems in Montana roiled a legislative panel Wednesday, as some members said the report has a “hidden agenda” of transferring ownership of federal lands to the state.

July 09, 2014 4:53 pmLoading…
NorthWestern, Consumer Counsel present contrasting views of $900M dam purchase

NorthWestern, Consumer Counsel present contrasting views of $900M dam purchase

HELENA – Montana’s tarnished utility-deregulation law wove its way through the fabric of Tuesday’s hearing on NorthWestern Energy’s proposal to buy a dozen hydroelectric dams, with a company lawyer calling the plan a chance to “put the failed experiment of utility deregulation behind us.”

July 08, 2014 11:20 am Photos

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Remington to settle class-action lawsuits over rifle’s trigger mechanism; recall in the works?

Remington to settle class-action lawsuits over rifle’s trigger mechanism; recall in the works?

HELENA — The Remington Arms Co. has reached a nationwide settlement of claims that most of its Model 700 bolt-action hunting rifles have a defective trigger mechanism — a settlement likely to include the recall of millions of the popular firearm.

July 07, 2014 5:15 pm Photos

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Barber in his office with documents

Barber in his office with documents

Richard Barber, shown in 2013 in his office filled with documents about Remington Arms Co. Barber said a federal court agreement with the gun maker and plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit accomplishes what he wanted to accomplish. “I guess it’s safe to say, it’s better late than never.”

July 07, 2014 5:05 pm
NorthWestern dam plan gets scrutiny at PSC hearing

NorthWestern dam plan gets scrutiny at PSC hearing

HELENA — NorthWestern Energy’s proposal to pay $900 million for 11 hydroelectric dams — and charge the cost to its Montana ratepayers — goes under the microscope this week, as state regulators kick off a weeklong hearing on the plan.

July 06, 2014 12:15 am Photos

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Disclosure of utility executive salaries back before PSC, as part of Missoula water battle

HELENA — In its fight to take over the private water utility serving Missoula, the city is pushing for public disclosure of what the utility pays some of its top executives, saying it’s an excessive cost Missoula water users shouldn’t have to pay.

June 29, 2014 12:15 amLoading…

Committee moves ahead on bills to revise, possibly limit Parole Board powers

HELENA — A legislative panel studying the state parole board voted Friday to draft at least two bills revising or limiting the board’s powers — and some members want to look at even further restrictions and changes.

June 27, 2014 9:27 pmLoading…

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