Montana lawmakers reject doctor residency expansion
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana lawmakers have rejected a $400,000 request to expand a state program to train doctors.
The Helena Independent Record reports that the Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on Education did not approve an expansion request from Montana’s Graduate Medical Education program. Doctors said the money would be used to expand training in rural areas and establish a psychiatry residency.
Montana has three residency programs and just 686 practicing primary-care doctors. Seventeen Montana counties have zero primary-care physicians.
The budget proposal now moves on to House Appropriations and eventually to Senate Finance and Claims, where it could see additions or reductions.
Republican Sen. Llew Jones of Conrad tells the newspaper that lawmakers want to ensure existing programs continue before funding an expansion like the one proposed.
Bill would require owners to pay for care of seized animals
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Wilsall lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require owners to pay for the care of animals seized during cruelty investigations.
The bill by Republican Sen. Nels Swandal would require a civil hearing within 21 days of the seizure to determine if it was justified and, if so, the amount of bond an owner must pay to care for the animals.
In recent years, counties have been hit with thousands of dollars in costs to care for seized animals. They are considered the property of the owner until the case is resolved.
If a bond isn’t posted, the animals could be forfeited to the county which could find them new homes.
Lee Newspapers of Montana reports the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the bill on Thursday, but did not take a vote.
Counties and operators of animal shelters supported the bill, but some livestock owners were opposed.
Tribes hope Trump’s ‘America first’ helps first Americans
BOSTON (AP) — Native Americans are hoping President Donald Trump doesn’t forget them as he promises to put “America first.”
Tribes across the country have been reaching out to the Republican administration since it took office last month, saying they’re ready to help it achieve its campaign promises.
Among them are five large tribes in Oklahoma as well as a tribe in Massachusetts seeking reservation lands for a $1 billion resort casino.
The National Congress of American Indians says the administration needs to include tribes in its broader plans for tax reform and energy development.
But tribes elsewhere have already steeled for battle. A rally is planned for March 10 in Washington D.C. following Trump’s order expediting the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.
The Trump administration didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Pulitzer-winning journalist Andrew Schneider dies at 74
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Andrew Schneider, a public health reporter for Lee Montana Newspapers, has died at age 74.
The Missoulian reports Schneider died Friday in Salt Lake City while being treated for pulmonary disease.
His wife, Kathy Best, is editor of The Missoulian.
Schneider shared two Pulitzers while working at the Pittsburgh Press. In 1986, he and Mary Pat Flaherty won the specialized reporting award for investigating failures in the U.S. organ transplant system.
In 1987, the Pittsburgh Press was awarded the Public Service prize for reporting by Schneider and Matthew Brelis on shortcomings in medical screening of airline pilots.
Later, at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Schneider broke the story of asbestos contamination in Libby, Montana, leading to an EPA Superfund cleanup.
Schneider had also worked for The Associated Press.
Lawmaker: Protect trapping, hunting, fishing in constitution
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Republican lawmaker wants voters to add protections for trapping, hunting and fishing to the Montana constitution.
The Helena Independent-Record reports (bit.ly/2l3kSrO) state Sen. Jennifer Fielder of Thompson Falls says her proposal would fend off any attempts by opponents of hunting or trapping to ban the practices.
The Senate Fish and Game Committee discussed the measure Thursday. It calls for a statewide referendum on the proposed amendment.
An amendment approved by voters in 2004 is generally recognized as protecting hunting, but some question whether it also protects trapping.
Becky Dockter, an attorney for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said the constitution already protects all three activities. She said Fielder’s amendment could open the agency to lawsuits challenging almost any of its decisions.
Trapping opponents also objected to the measure.
Montana officials alarmed by rise in meth use
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Panelists at a drug summit convened by the Montana Legislature say state resources are being strained because of an increase in methamphetamine use.
Law enforcement officials say meth use in Montana continues to rise. Meanwhile, authorities are bracing for a rise in heroin use as the drug further encroaches into the rural state. Officials say both drugs are flowing in from Mexican drug cartels.
Bryan Lockerby with the Montana Department of Criminal Investigations told legislators on Saturday that the prevalence of meth is the worst it’s been. In 2015, the state’s crime lab analyzed about twice the number of samples as two years prior.
Montana health officials say that meth-related cases account for more than 40 percent of the caseload being handled by the state’s child and family services.