House supports bill calling for child abuse prevention plan
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana House has endorsed a bill that would require the state health department to work with other organizations to develop a plan to prevent child abuse and neglect.
The House supported the bill 71-28 Monday after some discussion over whether the agency should already have such a plan. It still faces a third-reading vote.
Democratic Rep. Kim Dudik of Missoula said her bill would require the department to work with the Montana Children’s Trust Fund board, the state advisory council for Child and Family Services, former members of the Protect Montana Kids Commission and representatives of tribal communities along with other state and local agencies that work to reduce or prevent child abuse.
The bill requires the department to forward its plan to two legislative committees by Aug. 15, 2018.
Report: Interior law enforcement chief ‘unprofessional’
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Interior Department’s inspector general says the agency’s law enforcement director “demonstrated a pattern of unprofessional behavior” by touching and hugging female employees and making flirtatious remarks.
A report issued Monday says that Tim Lynn, Interior’s director of law enforcement and security, acted inappropriately toward at least six female employees. The report says Lynn acknowledged touching the employees but said he had not meant to make anyone uncomfortable.
The report follows allegations that sexual harassment, bullying and other misconduct are rampant at national parks across the country, including at iconic sites such as Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon.
Superintendents at Yosemite and the Grand Canyon retired last year after allegations of sexual harassment and other misconduct at the parks.
Montana House rejects bill to allow guns in schools
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana House has voted down a proposal to allow guns in schools.
Fifteen Republicans joined 41 Democrats Monday to reject the bill in a 56-44 vote.
The measure by Republican Rep. Seth Berglee of Joliet would have allowed full-time school employees who meet certain shooting standards to carry concealed weapons on school property.
Berglee said during the half-hour debate that an average school shooting lasts only three minutes, and the only person who would be able to respond is a person at the school.
Lawmakers who voted against the bill noted that their constituents have been vocal in their opposition.
Democratic Rep. Moffie Funk of Helena says 1,189 people contacted lawmakers about the bill by phone or through the Legislature’s messaging system, with 1,109 people against it and 80 for it.
Inquest scheduled in shooting of man by Montana police
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — An inquest has been scheduled for next month in the shooting death of a Wyoming man by a Billings police officer following a standoff in a hotel lobby.
Thirty-two-year-old Kyle Killough of Gillette was killed in October after authorities say he refused to drop a handgun after 25 minutes of negotiations and then turned toward officers with the weapon.
Coroner’s inquests involve citizen juries and are required under Montana law when someone is killed by law enforcement.
Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito says two of his deputies, Ed Zink and Julie Patten, will conduct the inquest March 29. It’s expected to last one day.
Killough’s mother has said she doesn’t blame officers for his death and that he had stopped taking medications for mental illness prior to the confrontation.
Panel OKs bill to make physician-assisted suicide illegal
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana legislative committee has advanced a bill that would make it illegal for doctors to help terminally ill patients kill themselves.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 10-9 Monday to send the measure by Republican Rep. Brad Tschida (SHE’-duh) of Missoula to the House floor.
In 2009, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that doctors could use a patient’s request for life-saving medication as a defense against criminal charges. In each legislative session since then, lawmakers have tried and failed to make physician-assisted suicide either explicitly legal or illegal.
Some lawmakers who voted for Tschida’s bill recounted personal experiences in which loved ones were told they would die soon, only to live for several more years.
Democratic Rep. Shane Morigeau (MOR’-ih-zho) of Missoula says people diagnosed with terminal illnesses should have the freedom to choose to do what they want.
Montana House passes charter school bill
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana House has passed a bill to create a charter school system for the state.
The House approved the measure 55-44 Monday. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.
The bill by Democratic Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy of Box Elder would allow a school district to request a charter school if 20 percent of voters there petition for one.
The schools would not be subject to the state Board of Public Education’s supervision or to accreditation standards. They would be overseen by a new commission.
Supporters include House Speaker Austin Knudsen. The Culbertson Republican says people have choices in just about every facet of their lives except for education.
Opponents say they are concerned by the schools’ lack of accountability to school boards and that they would take money away from public schools.