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Religious exemption revived in committee

Senate Bill 162 would have exempted religious organizations from the state’s campaign reporting requirements. It was tabled in mid-March. Now it’s back, piggybacked onto a new bill just days before a key legislative deadline.

Citizens allege election discrepancy

A records request for ballot envelopes in Missoula County has generated allegations about the 2020 election results, and given legislators fodder for debates about changing statewide election laws.

A court divided?

House Bill 325 would ask voters to approve election of state Supreme Court justices by districts, rather than statewide. Supporters say the change would encourage better representation on the state's most powerful bench. Critics call it 'judicial gerrymandering.'

Statewide Race Results

Credit: Montana final 2020 vote counts by Eric Dietrich

Now that the election is over, the real work begins.

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Election News

Eliminating the enforcer

House Bill 535 to the House State Administration Committee Thursday. The bill seeks to replace the governor-appointed Commissioner of Political Practices with a four-person bipartisan council selected by legislative leadership, and to transfer oversight of campaign finance reporting to the Secretary of State.

Debating integrity

Legislators in the 2021 session agree that Montana elections should be fair and secure. But debate on proposals from both sides of the aisle has revealed powerful fallout from the 2020 election — and partisan disagreement on solutions.

Shared State Podcast

The stories of 2020

It was a year of change and challenge, from COVID to the campaign trail to the Capitol and beyond. Here are some reader favorites, and some of our own, from a year to remember.

It was a year of change and challenge, from COVID to the campaign trail to the Capitol and beyond. Here are some reader favorites, and some of our own, from a year to remember.

Shared State

Ep. 10 — Where do we go from here?

Shared State

Ep. 9 — 'For this and future generations'

Shared State

Ep. 8 — To secure the blessings of liberty

More Shared State

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Withholding evidence

The two Republican members of Montana’s congressional delegation didn’t answer questions Tuesday about their stated intent to object to the results of tomorrow’s Electoral College vote count, and about increasingly radical attempts by President Donald Trump in recent days to overturn the results of the election he lost to Joe Biden.

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The Session podcast

Week 7: Capitol reporters discuss vaccines, the future of Colstrip and bills dealing with public assistance programs.

The Session podcast

Week 6: Capitol reporters discuss bills that would cut taxes, weaken labor unions, and end same-day voter registration.

Nipped in the bud?

Many conservative lawmakers oppose the legalization of marijuana, an illegal drug under federal law. But they are discovering obstacles to simply passing bills to reverse the initiatives when state legislatures return to work in January. Some marijuana opponents, realizing the limitations to altering a constitutional amendment, are turning to the courts or local officials to undo the measures or at least blunt the effects of legal pot.

State certifies election results

Most results have been clear since shortly after Election Day, but a Board of Canvassers meeting marks official verification of the accuracy of the vote.

Local control takes a hit

For some opponents, the low-key battle over LR-130 — the no-local-gun-control legislative referendum — is done. For others, work lies ahead, and frustration lingers.

Politicos explain Montana’s red wave

In interviews with Montana Free Press, nearly a dozen elected officials, campaign strategists, and political analysts described what they believe are the reasons behind the results, citing the popularity of President Trump and national attacks against the Democratic Party and the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic fallout and the ways in which the virus complicated campaign strategy.

How will the GOP spend its mandate?

With the governor’s office and an expanded legislative majority, Republicans will be in the driver’s seat come the 2021 Montana Legislature. But the party’s leaders say they’re still honing their agenda.

Arntzen secures second term as superintendent of public instruction

Republican Elsie Arntzen has won a second term as Montana superintendent of public instruction, besting Democratic rival Melissa Romano in a repeat of the pair’s 2016 showdown. Arntzen won election by 42,196 votes, the slimmest margin of Montana’s statewide races.


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