Articles written by Shaylee Ragar


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  • Lawmakers round out final week with budget, missing persons legislation, AIS funding and sex crime penalties

    Shaylee Ragar and Tim Pierce, UM Legislative News Service University of Montana School of Journalism|May 2, 2019

    HELENA — On the final day of the 66th Montana Legislature, lawmakers completed their only state constitutionally mandated task by passing the bill that sets the budget for state agencies. House Bill 2, which spends about $10 billion of state and federal money over the next two years, passed its final vote in House of Representatives 73-25. The bill had moved through the session relatively quickly, passing the House 54-45 for the first time in late March and then passing the Senate 28-21 in early April. The final vote in the House was to a...

  • Firefighter Protection Act becomes law, Hanna's Act revived

    Shaylee Ragar and Tim Pierce, UM Legislative News Service University of Montana School of Journalism|Apr 25, 2019

    HELENA -- Gov. Steve Bullock has signed into law the Firefighter Protection Act, which requires workers’ compensation insurance to cover presumptive occupational diseases, like cancer, for the state’s firefighters. Senate Bill 160 was carried by Sen. Nate McConnell, D-Missoula, who said at the bill signing that his brother is a firefighter, so the issue is personal. The bill has been a goal for the governor for several sessions. “Every firefighter should know Montana has their back. And it’s about damn time,” Bullock said at a bill signing cere...

  • Lawmakers advance legislation on sexual assault, wolf hunting, sports betting and elder abuse, Medicaid Expansion continuation stalls

    Shaylee Ragar and Tim Pierce, UM Legislative News Service University of Montana School of Journalism|Apr 18, 2019

    HELENA -- After a lengthy debate, the bill to continue Medicaid Expansion in Montana failed to pass the Senate on a 25-25 vote last week and several attempts to revive it Friday and Saturday also failed, leaving it stalled. House Bill 658 would have continued the program passed in 2015 that provides healthcare coverage to about 96,000 Montanans. The new bill, which would add work requirements forcing eligible enrollees to record 80 hours per month, is carried in the Senate by Republican Sen. Jason Small from Busby. “There’s never a one...

  • Montana lawmakers consider new ways to protect against Aquatic Invasive Species

    Shaylee Ragar, UM Legislative News Service University of Montana School of Journalism|Mar 21, 2019

    HELENA--A prolific alien organism is closing in on Montana’s ecosystem and could have dire consequences for food production, outdoor recreation and the economy if it crosses the state’s borders. Aquatic invasive species have widely infected the Midwest and are continuing to spread. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and state lawmakers are racing to protect the state from all invasive species but aquatic species like quagga and zebra mussels in particular. Proposals include allowing counties to implement new taxes, creating a new fee for boat owner...

  • Lawmakers debate vaccines and country of origin labeling

    Shaylee Ragar and Tim Pierce, UM Legislative News Service University of Montana School of Journalism|Mar 7, 2019

    HELENA — The 66th Montana Legislature is at its halfway mark and that means that any general bills that did not make it through their first house before the transmittal deadline are effectively killed. About sixty bills have passed both houses and have reached the governor’s desk. Gov. Steve Bullock said one of the most impactful laws he’s signed is House Bill 159, which will add about $77 million in funding for K-12 education. “I’m glad that the education committee got that to me early on,” Bullock said. Speaker of the House Greg Hertz, R-Po...

  • Lawmakers debate local gun ordinances, teacher recruitment program and affordable housing

    Shaylee Ragar and Tim Pierce, UM Legislative News Service University of Montana School of Journalism|Feb 28, 2019

    House Endorses Legislation To Prohibit Local Gun Ordinances The Montana House of Representatives last week passed a bill that would prohibit local governments from implementing gun ordinances. About 50 volunteers for the Moms Demand Action group gathered in the Montana Capitol Monday to lobby against the bill, House Bill 325. The national Moms Demand Action group aims to fight for stricter gun laws and was formed after the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Head of the Montana chapter Kiely Lammers of Billings said the bill is a...

  • Lawmakers Weigh Bills on DUI, Child and Family Services, Abortion and Student Overtime Pay

    Shaylee Ragar and Tim Pierce, UM Legislative News Service University of Montana School of Journalism|Feb 21, 2019

    As Montana lawmakers consider overhauling the state’s DUI laws, the Montana Highway Patrol wants to dispel myths about blood alcohol levels. Last week, the Highway Patrol hosted a demonstration for lawmakers to show just how much alcohol it actually takes to be beyond legal limits. The event included four volunteers from Highway Patrol who drank a substantial amount within two hours, and then were given a field sobriety test, including a walk-and-turn test. It proved to be tricky for some. Participant Terie Moseman says she volunteered b...

  • Legislative roundup - Week 5

    Shaylee Ragar, UM Legislative News Service University of Montana School of Journalism|Feb 14, 2019

    Bill Would Use Coal Money for Affordable Housing Projects The Montana House of Representatives has passed a bill that would use money from the coal severance tax trust fund to pay for low- and moderate-income housing projects. House Bill 16, carried by Rep. Dave Fern, D-Whitefish, passed the House on a 71-29 vote and will now move on to the Senate. The bill would allow a loan to be taken from the coal trust fund’s investment pool to fund the development of housing originally financed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development a...

  • Lawmakers propose Firefighter Protection Act and teacher retention programs

    Shaylee Ragar and Tim Pierce, UM Legislative News Service University of Montana School of Journalism|Feb 7, 2019

    Firefighter Protection Act Would Offer Workers’ Comp Coverage for Cancer, PTSD Firefighters with conditions like cancer, heart disease and post-traumatic stress disorder could have their treatment covered by worker’s compensation insurance under a new bill in the Montana Legislature. President of the Montana Fire Chiefs’ Association Rich Cowger said during a public hearing on the bill Tuesday that firefighters face many hazards and should be covered for illnesses that might come with the job. “‘Workers’ comp’ is designed to fight against catas...

  • Lawmakers tackle budget, missing persons and firefighter insurance

    Shaylee Ragar, Legislative News Service UM School of Journalism|Jan 24, 2019

    Taxes, Rainy Day Fund On Tap for Budget Talks While budget projections appear more secure than they were in the 2017 legislative session, long-standing rifts, particularly concerning taxes, still make the state’s two-year budget a hot topic this session. Unlike the previous session, the Legislative Fiscal Division and the Governor’s Office have fairly close revenue estimates -- about $10 billion over two years. Gov. Steve Bullock called a special session two years ago when a historic fire season and inaccurate revenue projections led to dee...

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