The Latest: GOP lawmaker says governor led state to ‘crisis’
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana House Speaker Austin Knudsen says the state is in both a budget crisis and a management crisis thanks to Gov. Steve Bullock.
Knudsen delivered the Republicans’ response to the Democratic governor’s State of the State address Tuesday night to a cheering crowd of GOP legislators and supporters.
The Culbertson Republican says Bullock could have eased the budget crunch by taking measures this summer but campaigned for re-election instead.
He called on the governor to lay out a long-term plan for the state instead of proposing additional spending and higher taxes.
He says Republican legislative leaders will get the state’s finances in order and that he hopes Bullock will uphold his pledge to work with them.
Woman accused of killing, dismembering ex-boyfriend in 2015
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A 40-year-old woman has been charged with the death of her former boyfriend, whose dismembered body was found on the Crow Reservation nearly two years ago.
The Billings Gazette reports Carri Elizabeth Standsoverbull is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday on charges related to Jeffery Christopher Hewitt’s death.
Court documents say the 38-year-old victim was beaten by several people, including Standsoverbull and her brother, 35-year-old Patrick Saint Standsoverbull, who is also facing charges in the case.
Hewitt died about a week after being beaten at least twice. Investigators found his body dismembered and burned in April 2015.
Carri Standsoverbull allegedly told detectives she was afraid of Hewitt because he had beaten her and hurt her kids.
Booking documents do not indicate if Carri and Patrick Standsoverbull have hired an attorney.
What’s next for the Dakota Access, Keystone XL pipelines?
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — President Donald Trump’s executive actions on the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines are aimed at turning the disputed projects into reality, but it’s not clear how quickly that might happen.
Dakota Access is to carry North Dakota oil to Illinois. It’s nearly complete but stalled while the developer and the Army battle in court over permission for the pipeline to cross under the Missouri River in North Dakota.
The Keystone XL project was to bring oil from Canada to Nebraska. Former President Barack Obama halted it in late 2015 for environmental reasons.
Trump’s actions don’t immediately clear the way for construction, and opponents of the projects are likely to fight in court.
Both projects also have been the focus of intense protests, and Trump’s actions might reinvigorate those efforts.
Man pleads not guilty to killing wife after New Year’s party
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A Bozeman man has denied charges alleging he killed his wife after a New Year’s Eve party and tried to hide her body.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports (bit.ly/2k05KvQ) 32-year-old Jake Williams Collins pleaded not guilty Tuesday to deliberate homicide and tampering with evidence in the Jan. 1 death of 32-year-old Crystal Collins.
District Judge Holly Brown maintained Collins’ bail at $750,000.
Prosecutors say Collins confessed to hitting his wife with a cast-iron frying pan, putting her in the shower and cutting her throat before cleaning up and putting her body in the back of his pickup truck along with blood-stained towels, clothing and bedding. However, his plan to dump her body at the landfill was thwarted because it was closed for the New Year’s holiday.
Judge recommends sending Montana dam dispute to state court
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A magistrate judge is recommending that a dispute over who owns the riverbeds beneath eight hydroelectric dams and a storage reservoir in Montana stay in state court.
If U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen approves the recommendations, the 14-year-old case will return to a court that previously ruled in favor of the state over PPL Montana, now Talen Montana.
The state claims it owns the riverbeds beneath the dams on the Missouri, Madison and Clark Fork rivers. Ownership would entitle the state to payments for use of the land.
The state owns the riverbeds on waterways that were navigable in 1889. The U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 overturned a Montana Supreme Court ruling that those waterways are navigable.
The state re-filed its claim last year. NorthWestern Energy, which now owns the dams, sought to move the case to federal court.
Man gets deferred sentence in fatal overdose
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A man who pleaded guilty to sharing a powerful synthetic drug with his girlfriend, leading to her fatal overdose, has been given a three-year deferred sentence.
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reports (bit.ly/2jVsUmz) 22-year-old Geoffrey Qualls also was ordered to perform 120 hours of community service, which the judge recommended should include making presentations at middle- and high schools about the dangers of synthetic drugs.
Qualls earlier pleaded guilty to possession of dangerous drugs in the January 2016 death of 20-year-old Natalie Dietrich at a Bozeman music venue.
Daniel McGrail, who reportedly gave the drug U-47700 to Qualls, has filed a motion to dismiss a felony criminal distribution of dangerous drugs charge, arguing the drug could be legally purchased online at the time and was not listed as an illegal drug by the government.