Articles written by Elinor Smith

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  • Legislative Session comes to abrupt end with some business still unfinished

    Elinor Smith and Caven Wade, UM Legislative News Service|May 11, 2023

    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 Legislative session came to a close on May 2. Lawmakers passed 748 bills this session, out of almost 1,700 introduced, according to the statistics fro...

  • Bill to update reading level passes house vote

    Elinor Smith, UM Legislative News Service|May 4, 2023

    HELENA -- Less than half of Montana’s students are able to read as well as they should for their grade according to a report from the Office of Public Instruction. A bill that would help them catch up and meet reading goals for their age group passed a final vote in the Senate 27-to-23 Thursday. House Bill 352 would establish an optional reading intervention program for districts that would expand the resources they have to help kids practice reading both at school and at home. Sen. Shannon O’Brien, D-Missoula, carried the bill in the Sen... Full story

  • Prison Paws Bill moves forward

    Elinor Smith, UM Legislative News Service|Apr 6, 2023

    HELENA -- The House State Administration Committee voted unanimously to advance a bill Thursday designed to address mental health in Montana’s prisons by expanding a program that teaches inmates to train dogs. Rep. Gregory Frazer, R-Deer Lodge, is the sponsor of House Bill 941. “I think that’s a great program. Especially due the fact that there is a lot of therapeutic value in having the inmates work with animals. Teaches them compassion, patience, a little bit of respect. Those are all positive benefits that these individuals can apply to th... Full story

  • Bill to increase compensation for landowners who open their land for public hunting access passes house

    Elinor Smith, UM Legislative News Service|Apr 6, 2023

    HELENA -- A program run through Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks compensates landowners in Montana for opening their land for public hunting access. Now, a bill that could double the amount of money they get is just a few steps away from reaching the governor’s desk. In 2020, there were 7.1 million acres of private land open for public hunting in Montana because of the block grant management program. Current law caps payments to landowners who allow hunting on their property at up to $25,000. Sen. Steve Heinbauch is the sponsor of Senate Bill 5... Full story

  • Bill banning gender-affirming care for minors moves forward in house legislature

    Elinor Smith|Mar 30, 2023

    HELENA -- A bill that would bar children under 18 experiencing gender dysphoria from getting gender-affirming care in the state of Montana or with Montana Medicaid cleared a final vote 65-to-34 in the House Friday, after an emotional debate the day before. Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, is the sponsor of Senate Bill 99, but Rep.Kerri Seekins-Crowe, R-Billings, carried it in the House. She said the bill would stop children from making life-long decisions about their health at a young age to protect them from the potential side effects of... Full story

  • House Appropriations Committee looks at Medicaid budget

    Elinor Smith, UM Legislative News Service|Mar 23, 2023

    The Montana Legislature is back in the Capitol after a mid-session break and the talk is all about the state budget. The House Appropriations Committee has started chipping away at the more than 50-page bill that will decide the state budget for the next two years. Thursday, lawmakers debated the cost and budget of Montana’s Medicaid program and the services provided through it. Rep. Llew Jones, R-Conrad, is the sponsor of HB 2. The way he puts it, the committee will have to eat the elephant one bite at a time to hear, debate and amend all s... Full story