Montana lawmakers seek to change fracking disclosure rules
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Legislature is one vote away from passing a bill to change the disclosure requirements for chemicals used in energy production.
The measure passed an initial House vote 70-30 on Monday. It faces a final vote before it goes to Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock.
A pending lawsuit is challenging the current Montana rule that allows companies to conceal the ingredients of chemicals they use during hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
The bill would require energy companies to disclose the chemicals they use to the Montana Oil and Gas Conservation Board.
The companies would be able to request the board keep confidential the chemicals they consider to be trade secrets, and only a court could order their public disclosure.
Republican Sen. Tom Richmond of Billings says the measure is based on a Wyoming model.
Authorities: Man broke into 2 homes, shot and killed self
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Cascade County authorities say a man apparently shot and killed himself after breaking into two homes and fleeing deputies.
Sheriff Bob Edwards told the Great Falls Tribune that deputies responded to a report of an intruder entering a house Monday and pointing a gun at the homeowner.
Edwards says the homeowner put up a fight, left and called 911. A fire broke out at the house on the banks of the Missouri River about eight miles outside of Great Falls and was destroyed.
Deputies responding to the call followed a man to a neighboring house. The man entered the house and forced the homeowner out.
Edwards says the deputies approaching the house heard gunshots and found the man dead.
Edwards says the deputies did not fire a shot. The man’s name has not been released.
Montana governor signs 4 bills to protect foster kids
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has signed four bills meant to protect children who are in the state’s foster care system.
All four bills are the result of the work of a commission appointed by the governor to review the state’s Division of Child and Family Services, which is dealing with a record number of children in foster care.
One of the bills sets deadlines to speed up cases that concern youths in need of care. Another appoints a guardian to protect the interests of an abused child in court proceedings.
The third bill requires the state health department to ensure foster parents allow children to participate activities that are appropriate for their age and development. The final bill will allow state and federal lawmakers to review child welfare records.
Billings drops misdemeanor charge against Barry Beach
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Billings officials have dropped a charge that a convicted murderer granted clemency in 2015 violated a restraining order against him.
The Great Falls Tribune reports Billings officials believed they wouldn’t be able to prove the allegations against Barry Beach.
A woman accused Beach of stalking her and violating a temporary restraining order she took out against him. Beach denied the accusation and said the woman is the mother of his son.
It was not immediately clear Monday how the dropped charge will affect the revocation proceedings the state began against Beach after the accusation was made.
Department of Justice spokesman Eric Sell said Monday that his agency and the Department of Corrections are in discussions about how to proceed.
Corrections spokeswoman Judy Beck says prosecutors will make the final decision.
Maryland Zoo’s 2 grizzly bear cubs get names: Nova and Nita
BALTIMORE (AP) — The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore now has names for its two grizzly bear cubs that came to the zoo from Montana.
The zoo says in a statement that the orphaned bear sisters are now Nova and Nita. The zoo says Nova is a Native American word that means “chasing butterflies” while Nita means “bear.” Over 6,000 people voted on the bears’ names.
The bears were found last year trying to survive in the wild without their mother and they were captured after it was clear one cub was failing. A veterinarian discovered that the smaller of the cubs had been shot and it was treated. The cubs’ mother was later found with shotgun wounds to her face and was euthanized.
The cubs arrived at the Maryland Zoo in December.
The Latest: Testimony over in Nevada ranch standoff trial
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Testimony is over and closing arguments are scheduled Wednesday in the trial of six men accused of wielding weapons against federal agents during a 2014 standoff involving Nevada cattleman and states’ rights advocate Cliven Bundy.
Idaho resident Eric Parker, whose photo as an armed protester on a freeway overpass was widely seen, finished his testimony Monday in Las Vegas.
He was the only defendant to take the stand.
Gregory Burleson of Arizona, Richard Lovelien of Oklahoma, and Idaho residents Scott Drexler, Todd Engel and Steven Stewart declined to testify in their defense.
Their attorneys are expected to argue the government didn’t prove conspiracy, weapon and assault on a federal agent charges carrying the possibility of decades in federal prison.
Jurors heard during two months of testimony from nearly 40 prosecution witnesses, three defense witnesses and Parker.