Gianforte releases ‘tax relief’ proposal
CLANCY, Mont. (AP) — Montana Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte has announced a tax proposal he dubs his “406 Tax Relief” plan, which he says will cut taxes and freeze government spending.
Gianforte released his plan at a Clancy lumber yard on Monday, the final day for Americans to file state and federal tax forms.
Gianforte is seeking to phase out a business equipment tax over four years, hold state spending to current levels and reduce the maximum tax rate from 6.9 percent to 6 percent.
Even before the Republican released his plan, the re-election campaign for Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock said the proposal would benefit the wealthy at the expense of middle class families.
The Bozeman Republican said he would flesh out details over the course of the campaign.
Judge weighs whether low contribution limits are justified
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana’s prosecution of Republican candidates accused of taking illegal corporate contributions is either preventing corruption or stymieing democracy in action, depending on who you ask.
Those were the arguments in federal court Monday as the state tries to prove that its case against nine 2010 Republican candidates is evidence that justifies Montana’s low campaign contribution limits.
A lawsuit seeks to strike down those limits after an appeals court ruled they must prevent the exchange of money for official acts, or the appearance of such quid pro quo corruption.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Cochenour says the recent trial that found one of the nine, Rep. Art Wittich, took illegal contributions from an anti-union organization shows there are serious threats of abuse.
Plaintiffs’ attorney James Bopp says it’s democracy, not corruption, for contributors to support like-minded candidates.
Billings attorney accused of driving drunk with kids in car
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings attorney is facing charges after police say she had been driving drunk with three children in her car.
The Billings Gazette reports that 39-year-old Michele Lynn Braukmann appeared in court Monday. She has been charged with felony criminal child endangerment and misdemeanor counts of unlawful possession of an open container and operating a vehicle without proper registration.
According to an affidavit, Montana Highway Patrol troopers had pulled Braukmann over on Saturday. The troopers say they found an open bottle of vodka in her vehicle and her blood alcohol content had measured more than three times above the legal limit.
Braukmann had been in the car with her two sons and an 11-year-old passenger.
Feds to restore grazing allotment health stats in reports
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Federal land managers have agreed to restore information about grazing allotments not meeting rangeland health standards in 13 western states after a public lands advocacy group complained about the omission.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management agreed the information covering 150 million acres is needed after Washington, D.C.-based Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed an administrative complaint.
The group says the information helps the public measure the BLM’s success or failure.
The BLM says it’s currently working on restoring information omitted in the Rangeland Inventory, Monitoring, and Evaluation report for 2013 and subsequent years and should be down within six months.
The BLM says a mapping application failure resulted in the omissions that include whether overgrazing is causing an allotment to not meet acceptable standards.
Supreme Court case raises questions about tribal convictions
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether federal felony charges can be filed against defendants who were previously convicted of multiple domestic violence counts in tribal courts that didn’t provide attorneys.
The case set to be heard Tuesday marks a critical test for tribal courts — particularly those without the money to hire public defenders — at a time when Congress has begun broadening federal authority to prosecute violent crimes in Indian Country.
In domestic violence cases, a decade-old law has sought to combat high assault rates on reservations by transferring cases involving offenders with multiple convictions to the federal courts for possible stiffer punishments.
That statute is being challenged on the contention that defendants must be guaranteed counsel in tribal courts if their cases are ultimately grounds for stiffer penalties in U.S. courts.
Man charged in Bozeman killing to change plea
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A Bozeman man who is charged with breaking into his former girlfriend’s house and shooting her to death is scheduled to change his plea.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports District Judge Holly Brown has scheduled an April 26 change-of-plea hearing for 35-year-old Anthony Tobias Fagiano.
Fagiano has pleaded not guilty to deliberate homicide, aggravated burglary, theft and violating an order or protection in the March 9 death of 37-year-old Darcy Buhmann.
Charging documents say Fagiano texted Buhmann’s estranged husband and members of his family and told them about the shooting. His sister urged him to surrender to law enforcement and he did.
Deputy Gallatin County Attorney Eric Kitzmiller says prosecutors offered Fagiano a plea agreement, but he declined to comment on its terms.