This story is excerpted from the MT Lowdown, a weekly newsletter digest containing original reporting and analysis published every Friday.
Number of students enrolled in the Montana University System as of fall 2022. On Monday, the organization that collectively represents them — the Montana Associated Students — unanimously approved a resolution opposing a pair of bills in the 2023 Legislature that MAS asserts would infringe on the constitutional authority of the Montana Board of Regents. Both bills call for a constitutional amendment granting the Legislature control over campus policies governing student rights and civil liberties. One of them, House Bill 517, got its first hearing last week. The MAS resolution echoes concerns voiced by HB 517 opponents at that time, who argued that “the separation of power between the Legislature and the [regents] is in the best interests of all students, both current and prospective.” Copies of the resolution were sent to Gov. Greg Gianforte, the seven members of the Board of Regents and all 150 Montana lawmakers.
A ballot initiative seeking to allow landowners to hunt elk, deer and black bears on their property hit a setback when the Environmental Quality Council voted not to support the measure.
The Montana Library Commission received more than 400 comments opposing a proposal to eliminate a longstanding educational standard for large library directors. Even so, the commission voted 5-2 to approve the change.
Since a homeless shelter was cleared out in November just outside of the Helena city limits, new camps made up of tents and tarps have popped up within the city parks, on sidewalks and in alleyways, sparking community concerns about public safety while also highlighting the growing unsheltered crisis.