Latest Headlines

Montana Small Businesses Earn Mixed Rankings For COVID Responses

With states gradually reopening but around 100,000 businesses having closed permanently during 2020, Wallet Hub today released its report on the states with the most pandemic-proof small businesses. Montana ranks 49th across 11 key metrics. Montana ranks 25th in small business friendliness, however, and 22nd in states whose weekly unemployment claims are recovering the quickest.

There is one statistic we in Montana watch carefully. Namely, the number of highway crashes and deaths due to them. Park City-County Health Officer Laurel Desnick has a statistic but explains how not to become one of them.

House Bill 602 Raises Concerns Over Solving Cold Cases

A bill that would require investigators to obtain a warrant to search consumers’ DNA databases like 23 and Me or Ancestry.com is drawing criticism from law enforcement representatives who say it would make it hard to solve cold cases. Austin Amestoy from the University of Montana Legislative News Service reports that Republican Representative Mallerie Stromswold of Billings is sponsoring House Bill 602 and says it’s critical to preserving Montanans’ privacy in the digital age. Patrick Webb of the Libertarian group Americans for Prosperity spoke in support of the bill at a Senate committee hearing Friday.

Mark Murphy representing the Montana Association of Chiefs of Police though said establishing probable cause to obtain a warrant to search a DNA database would be difficult.

MSU Billings To Host COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics

A legislative inquiry into the state court administrator’s emails which recent revelations have shown to contain judges’ polls on pending legislation and were deleted from the administrator’s account has been dealt a blow by the Montana Supreme Court. The high court said a subpoena was too broad.

Montana State University Billings is hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinics for campus students and faculty today and Tuesday. RiverStone Health Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs Barbara Schneeman notes the significance of these clinics.

Bill Limiting Stimulus Grants Passes Through The House

A proposal in the Montana Legislature to reduce some federal stimulus grants to local governments with stricter COVID-19 regulations than the state passed the House last week on a vote of 83 to 40. An amendment to remove the measure from House Bill 632 reducing funds to some local governments failed. It’s expected there will be clarifications and amendments to the bill as it works its way through the Senate.

There are still Small Business Administration programs either new or extended that are available for Montana small businesses to help them through the pandemic. SBA Montana District Director Brent Donnelly.

Wolf Trapping Season And Requirements Expanded

Governor Greg Gianforte has signed bills allowing snares to be used for the trapping of wolves and lengthening Montana’s trapping seasons. Senate Bill 224 adds snares to the list of legal traps for wolves where previously only foothold traps were allowed. House Bill 225 extends wolf trapping seasons by two weeks earlier and two weeks later. Fish Wildlife and Parks estimates roughly 1,200 wolves are in the state and annually that trappers and hunters take about 400.

Anglers need to be aware of a new fishing regulation change for walleye on the Missouri River. Troy Shockley, our Capitol City Correspondent, has details.

First 2021 Case Of Hantavirus Reported

Governor Greg Gianforte signed a law February 18th that expands where people can carry a concealed weapon. The Montana University System is looking to neighboring states and public input as it prepares to allow them on campuses statewide June 1st. The previous policy had been to ban firearms except for those carried by law enforcement while providing secure storage lockers for people to store their guns.

The state’s 45th case of hantavirus since it was first identified in the state in 1993 has been confirmed. Department of Public Health and Human Services Public Information Officer Jon Ebelt.