Lawmakers set to debate child welfare reforms

After six months of study, state lawmakers are set to debate a draft bill this week that could bring significant reforms to Montana’s child welfare system — changes some lawmakers and legal observers say are long overdue.

Latest Government Reporting

Gianforte wields ‘executive privilege’ argument against sensitive records requests

In two lawsuits, one brought by an environment and public lands activist and the other brought by the Montana Environmental Information Center, the Gianforte administration has argued the governor’s “deliberative process” should be exempt from the state’s open records law. Plaintiffs counter that they believe the Montana Constitution’s right to know provision guarantees them access…

Superintendent Arntzen pitches a revenue redirect

Over the past month, Superintendent Elsie Arntzen has floated a request to redirect revenue for teacher licensing fees from the Board of Public Education to OPI — a move designed to cover the ongoing expenses of her agency’s new licensing system.

MORE GOVERNMENT REPORTING

Transgender Montanans and allies slam DPHHS birth certificate rule

Dozens of Montanans testified Thursday in opposition to the state health department’s new rule that effectively bars transgender people from updating the sex on their birth certificate. The meeting was the first opportunity for the public to weigh in on the temporary rule, which DPHHS wants to make permanent.

Legislative Services director retires after 33-year career

In a Q-and-A with Montana Free Press, recently retired Legislative Services Executive Director Susan Byorth Fox reflects on nonpartisanship, what it takes to make a complex Legislature run smoothly, and how Montana politics have changed since she “caught the bug” in 1989.

Lawmakers to DPHHS: birth certificate emergency rule is ‘anti-democratic and insulting to Montanans.’

Democrats on a state Legislature interim committee published a letter Thursday urging the Department of Public Health and Human Services to rescind an emergency rule it enacted this week that prevents transgender Montanans from updating the sex on their birth certificates, arguing that the process of creating the rule was “anti-democratic and insulting to Montanans.”

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MORE GOVERNMENT REPORTING

New workgroup is paving the way for more election legislation in 2023

The Montana Association of Counties is facilitating a new bipartisan workgroup of state lawmakers, county officials and election authorities to push past election integrity rhetoric and develop “practical” improvements to the state’s election system, from voter confidence to the safety of election workers.

MFPE and Daily Montanan sue state education board

The debate over educational equity continues as a new lawsuit by the Montana Federation of Public Employees and the Daily Montanan alleges that the Board of Public Education violated the state Constitution in rescinding changes to the teacher code of ethics.

Gianforte talks bipartisanship

Speaking to a crowd of 120 people at the University of Montana, Gov. Greg Gianforte reflected on his past experiences with bipartisanship, reaffirmed his commitment to core principles, and expressed willingness to field input from all quarters.

Bob Campbell’s constitutional legacy

Tributes poured in Wednesday for Bob Campbell, who as a delegate to the 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention wrote the document’s provisions for the right to privacy and the right to a clean and healthful environment. Campbell died Tuesday night in Missoula. He was 81 and died of natural causes after suffering from dementia.

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