HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Republican members of the Montana House Appropriations Committee are resisting efforts by Democrats to restore proposed budget cuts to government agencies and programs.
The committee rejected multiple amendments Thursday on party line votes to add back money to the 2018-2019 budget. They included funding for the Montana National Guard Youth Challenge Program, for a program to reduce the number of workplace accidents and for the state’s six regional hazardous materials response teams, among others.
There was one notable exception. Republican Rep. Brad Tschida of Missoula backed an amendment to restore funding for the governor’s use of a state airplane over the next two years.
Tschida has been an outspoken critic of Gov. Steve Bullock’s use of the state airplane for short trips, and an earlier version of the budget allocated no money for the governor’s use.
Montana considers options to lure outdoor retailer expo
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has convened an outdoor recreation summit in the Capitol as state officials explore a bid for one of the country’s largest outdoor trade expos.
The Outdoor Retailer Show could be held this summer in Salt Lake City for the last time. Organizers have said they would look for a new home for the event because of Utah’s political climate over public lands.
Colorado, Oregon and Montana have been mentioned as options.
Bullock invited representatives from 30 Montana-based outdoor companies to the Capitol on Thursday to talk about strengthening business opportunities. But they are also expected to talk about hosting the show.
Montana might not have the necessary facilities to host such a huge event, but officials said they were looking at their options.
Patrol trooper injured in head-on crash near Hamilton
HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) — A Montana Highway Patrol trooper and another driver were injured in a head-on crash south of Hamilton.
The patrol says Sgt. Scott Bennett suffered a shattered ankle in the crash Thursday morning on U.S. Highway 93. He was scheduled for surgery Thursday afternoon.
Trooper Drew Novak says the driver of a car with worn tires lost control on a curve in the snowy road and slid across the center line into the path of Bennett’s car just before 6 a.m.
Novak says Bennett was able to slow down some and had steered his car onto the shoulder, but was unable to avoid the collision.
The patrol says the other driver’s injuries were not life-threatening.
Federal inspectors found safety issues at state hospital
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Federal inspectors found several safety issues at the Montana State Hospital, including staffing shortages that put patients at risk of injury by other patients or themselves.
Lee Newspapers of Montana reports the state-run psychiatric hospital at Warm Springs nearly lost its funding from the federal Centers of Medicare and Medicaid last month because its noncompliance with federal regulations was considered serious enough to risk death or serious injury to a resident.
The federal inspection found some of the hospital’s most dangerous patients were sometimes in the vicinity of people with developmental disabilities and that led to assaults on some of the vulnerable patients.
Inspectors also found the hospital contained mirrors, coat hooks and other objects that patients could use to harm themselves.
State health department officials say the hospital has hired more staff and is making changes to the facility.
Stanford, Dartmouth pay $13K over election postcards
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Stanford University and Dartmouth College have paid nearly $13,600 to settle a Montana campaign practices complaint over postcards sent to voters in 2014.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports (bit.ly/2naq9No) Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl signed the settlement agreement Tuesday, after receiving a check for nearly $6,800 from each school.
In 2015, Motl found the schools broke election laws by sending postcards to over 100,000 households in October 2014 comparing four Supreme Court candidates’ political views on an ideological scale from liberal to conservative. School officials have said the project sought to study whether additional information about candidates could affect voter turnout.
Then-Secretary of State Linda McCulloch complained the postcards included the state seal and the colleges did not disclose the experiment ahead of time.
The households that received postcards received letters of apology before the November 2014 election.
Zinke to visit Glacier, address Montana Legislature
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in coming days will visit Glacier National Park to talk about the park system’s multi-billion-dollar maintenance backlog and later address a joint session of the Montana Legislature.
Zinke’s office says that during Friday’s visit to Glacier the former Montana congressman also will receive a traditional tribal blessing by members of the Blackfeet Nation.
He’s due to speak in the state House chamber at 1 p.m. Monday, in an address expected to focus on energy and public lands.
On Tuesday he’ll visit Bureau of Land Management field offices in Lewistown and Billings for closed meetings with agency personnel.
Zinke took over the U.S. Department of Interior on March 1 to become the first person from Montana to serve in a presidential cabinet.