Latest Government Reporting

OPI reports on staffing vacancies and hiring challenges

Montana’s Office of Public Instruction reported to the Board of Public Education this week that the agency currently has nearly 25 vacant positions, 15 of which are in various stages of recruitment. But OPI said it faces challenges in finding new hires, and its assessment of staffing levels drew a critical response from key public…

Election officials caution against rushed software rollout

Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen is eyeing a rollout of Montana’s new statewide election system in January. But county officials say that due to ongoing development and a missed testing window in November, switching systems next year is too much and too fast, and could threaten the integrity of Montana elections.

“Termination Report” sheds light on turnover at OPI

Records obtained by Montana Free Press this week show that 180 employees have left the Office of Public Instruction since Superintendent Elsie Arntzen first took office. The number sheds new light on criticism and concern about loss of expertise at the agency charged with overseeing Montana’s public school system.

MORE GOVERNMENT REPORTING

State revises marijuana advertising rules

Under the new rules, dispensaries will be able to promote their business via advertising and market their brand. However, dispensaries may not specifically advertise marijuana products except in online ads. The state has also eliminated what some dispensary owners believe was a burdensome set of rules that would have required dispensaries and other marijuana-related businesses…

Knudsen joins trans lawsuits in Tennessee and Arkansas

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen has joined a Tennessee lawsuit challenging federal anti-discrimination protections for transgender student athletes. It’s not the first time he’s signed on to support out-of-state litigation involving trans rights this summer.

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MORE GOVERNMENT REPORTING

How Austin Knudsen is flipping the script of attorney general

Montana Free Press interviewed more than a dozen former Department of Justice attorneys and legal observers. Some described Knudsen’s actions toward the judiciary as “breathtaking” and “embarrassing” for the legal profession. Others said the office’s tactics seem intentionally designed to undermine Montana’s democratic institutions. Knudsen says he’s doing what voters expect of him.

The Session podcast

What we’re looking forward to in week 17 of the Montana Legislature: last-minute legislation and maneuvering.

This week in Helena, April 19-23

A roundup of the week’s key action in the 67th Montana Legislature, from a voting rights lawsuit to financial reimbursements for wolf hunters.

Colstrip Sen. Duane Ankney revives part of NorthWestern Energy bill

The Senate Natural Resources Committee voted Friday to revive part of a controversial bill that sought to guarantee regulated utility monopolies like NorthWestern Energy a rate of return on new coal-fired power by weakening the Public Service Commission’s oversight.

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