Coroner IDs man killed in motorcycle crash near Savage
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Authorities have released the name of a motorcyclist who was killed in a crash near the small eastern Montana town of Savage over the weekend.
The Billings Gazette reports 44-year-old Daniel James Miller, of the Fairview area, was riding in a group on Montana Highway 16 when his motorcycle lost traction and began swerving. Miller was thrown after the bike hit a guardrail.
He died at a hospital in Sidney.
Investigators believe speed played a role in the crash.
Democrat in House race blames health bills for tax liens
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The state of Montana filed three liens to collect about $15,000 in back taxes from Democratic congressional candidate Rob Quist and his wife, Bonni.
The liens were issued in 2015 and cover the 2007, 2011 and 2012 tax years. He settled the debt with the Department of Revenue last May.
Quist says medical problems caused him financial hardship, and he still owes a collection agency about $10,000 on a defaulted loan.
The Associated Press learned about Quist’s tax liens and other debts from a group seeking to influence the May 25 special election to fill the state’s only U.S. House seat.
Democratic operatives pointed to a $3,600 tax lien issued in 1993 in New Jersey against Quist’s Republican opponent, Greg Gianforte. That lien was lifted about three months later.
Forecast predicts $106M in additional state revenue
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Legislative analysts have released a new revenue estimate that paints a rosier economic picture for Montana.
The Legislative Fiscal Division forecast Monday that Montana will have $106 million more in the state’s general fund than the revenue estimates lawmakers are now using to write the next two-year budget.
The new forecast predicts $24.7 million in additional revenue this year, $57.8 million next year and $23.8 million in 2019.
The forecast could give lawmakers some breathing room as they seek to shore up a budget shortfall caused by less-than-expected revenue in recent years.
Lawmakers are seeking to balance the 2018-2019 budget and leave $200 million in reserve.
The proposed 2018-2019 budget would leave $140 million in reserve. That number would rise if lawmakers adopt the new revenue forecast.
GOP to introduce infrastructure bill as soon as Wednesday
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Republican legislative leaders say Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s $157 million bonding bill for infrastructure projects is dead and that they plan to unveil their bill this week.
GOP leaders were working to the last minute to build consensus on just how far into debt lawmakers within their party would be willing to put the state to pay for public works and building projects.
The governor’s bill, carried by Democratic Rep. Jim Keane of Butte, would have used bonds for numerous projects that are normally paid for with cash from special revenue accounts. That cash would have been moved into the state’s general fund instead, to help close a budget shortfall.
Republican Rep. Greg Hertz of Polson says that plan was never going to happen.
House Republicans plan to introduce their own bonding bill as early as Wednesday.
Man charged with leaving the scene of an injury crash
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 32-year-old man has been charged with leaving the scene of an accident that left his roommate with some permanent mental and physical disabilities.
The Billings Gazette reports Jerrad Mangus also was charged with negligent vehicular assault for the May 2014 crash. Court records say his roommate was found unconscious, buckled in a Jeep that landed upside down in the middle of the highway west of Laurel. He did not enter a plea.
Court records say his roommate was initially in a coma and had to be placed on a ventilator. He spent about a month in the hospital.
Prosecutors say Mangus told investigators he did not remember the crash.
Justice of the Peace David Carter set Mangus’ bail at $25,000 during a hearing Monday.
Gallatin County to pay $125K to wrongfully fired deputy
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A judge has ordered Gallatin County to pay nearly $126,000 to a wrongfully fired deputy.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports (bit.ly/2n9Ckfj) the county argued David Johnston had collected unemployment benefits and was due about $38,500.
District Judge Brenda Gilbert said the $126,000 covers wages and benefits from his firing in July 2014 through December 2016. Her March 17 order also requires the county to pay $247 per day until Johnston is reinstated or the case is otherwise settled.
Johnston was fired for refusing to immediately turn over a tape recorder that captured an interaction between Johnston and his ex-girlfriend, another deputy that he said berated him while they responded to a call.
Johnston sought advice from an attorney and copied the audio before returning the recorder. Gilbert ordered Johnston reinstated in March 2016, saying the delay did not justify his firing.