Lawmakers hear $50M worth of infrastructure projects

HELENA — Lawmakers heard proposals Monday for infrastructure projects across the state, from upgrades to university system buildings to wildlife habitat programs. House Bill 5 allocates more than $50 million in federal and state money to infrastructure. The largest portion of that money – $13,324,000 – would go to securing land for the Habitat Montana program, which, among other things, encourages wildlife conservation among landowners.

Daines touts Trump, states' rights amid protests at Capitol

HELENA – As protesters chanted their disapproval, Republican U.S. Sen. Steve Daines expressed his support Wednesday for President Donald Trump and his nominees, including Ryan Zinke, Scott Pruitt and Neil Gorsuch. His speech focused on a theme that Montanans know how to govern Montana best. “There are those who believe the federal government knows better than the states. And better than the people. That view ended 33 days ago,” he told the assembled joint session of the state Legislature.

Bill would allow Montana distilleries to stay open later

Distillers and a brewer testified at the Montana Capitol Wednesday to support a bill that would make their businesses operate under the same tasting room laws. Montana breweries can serve up to 48 ounces of beer per customer until 8 p.m., and it may be consumed on premise until 9 p.m. Distilleries can serve up to two ounces of liquor per customer until 8 p.m., but it has to be consumed by then too.

Bill would allow for Native American hiring incentives for Montana employers

Montana employers could get tax credits for hiring Native Americans if House Bill 655 makes it through the Legislature. Rep. George Kipp III, D-Heart Butte, said this is a Montana solution to decreasing the state’s unemployment rate. “Employment preferences for Native Americans is something that Montana should look at, grasp, start nurturing,” Kipp said. “Addressing the high economic deficiencies on reservations, and giving them a hand up as far as employment goes.”

Montana lawmakers consider bill that would allow them to carry handguns in Capitol

House Bill 280 would allow Montana lawmakers to carry handguns on state property, including in the Capitol during the legislature. Rep. Randy Brodehl, R-Kalispell, said he would support allowing anyone who qualifies for open and concealed carry to have guns on state property. But he says getting support for that would be unlikely. “The first thing that we need to do is start with who is the most vulnerable,” Brodehl said. “And in the Capitol, I think legislators are.”

Bullock touts spending vetoes, new investments during State-of-the-State address

At his third state of the state address Tuesday evening on the House floor at the Capitol, Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock focused on balancing the budget and on infrastructure needs. “In 2013, you learned I will veto spending if you send me a budget that’s in the red,” Bullock said. “In 2015, we crafted a budget together that worked for Montana, and that left money in the bank for rainy days. I ask you to do that again.”

Bill Would Add Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity To Montana's Non-discrimination Law

On Wednesday, a bill that would make it unlawful to discriminate against anyone based on their gender identity or expression or sexual orientation will have a hearing at the Montana Legislature. Montana law already protects against discrimination based on sex, race, and creed. "All we’re saying is that you don’t get to single out people and deny them the rights that the rest of us have because you don’t like something about them," says McCarthy.

Proposed Homemade Foods Bill Makes Health Officers Queasy

A bill in the Montana Legislature would allow Montanans to sell food out of their own kitchens, either directly to customers, or for community social events, like weddings or potlucks. Republican Representative Greg Hertz of Polson is carrying House Bill 352, or the "Montana Local Food Choice Act." "We cook food in our own kitchens every day for our family," says Hertz. "We have our neighbors over. It’s being done; no one’s getting sick."
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