The Latest: Musician Rob Quist wins Democratic nomination
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Popular musician Rob Quist has won the Democratic nomination for Montana’s special election to fill Ryan Zinke’s U.S. House seat.
Party members from across the state selected Quist on Sunday over seven other candidates during a special nominating convention in Helena.
Quist is famous within the state as a bluegrass, country and rock singer and guitarist with the Mission Mountain Wood Band and with Rob Quist and Great Northern.
This is his first run for political office. His nascent campaign got a big push when former Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer endorsed him in January.
Quist says he’d be a coalition-builder in Congress, but that he would staunchly oppose President Donald Trump’s plans to cut arts programs to boost military spending.
Republicans will choose their candidate on Monday.
State starts checking boats for mussels in northwest Montana
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Officials have opened two watercraft inspection stations as part of the state’s plan to prevent the spread of invasive mussels.
The Daily Inter Lake reports that the Flathead Basin Commission opened the inspection stations on Friday in Pablo and at Clearwater Junction.
The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks says the state will take over operations at the two boat-check sites starting April 15.
State officials have pushed for broader restrictions on boating activity after invasive mussel larvae were detected in the Tiber Reservoir in October and suspected in other parts of the state.
Lawmakers are currently considering a budget proposal from the department that calls for increasing spending on Montana’s mussel-prevention program and doubling the number of boat-check stations.
Montana Air National Guard Wing returns home to cheers
GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — About 50 members of the Montana Air National Guard have returned home from a four-month deployment to Southwest Asia.
The Great Falls Tribune reports that it was the first large-scale deployment for the men and women of the 120th Airlift Wing since the unit was given its new assignment in 2013.
On March 1, 2014, the Air National Guard unit based in Great Falls received its first C-130. After two-and-a-half years, Air Wing Commander, Col. Lee Smith declared the unit’s conversion from an F-15 fighter mission to the C-130 airlift mission complete. Just 23 days after that the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing took off for a four-month deployment overseas.
Montana State Prison inmate dies of illness
LEWISTOWN, Mont. (AP) — A 63-year-old inmate at the Montana State Prison has died after an extended illness at the Lewistown Infirmary.
The Montana Department of Corrections says Lucien Sidney Bonck died on Saturday.
Bonck was sentenced out of Yellowstone County in 2011 on convictions of sexual intercourse without consent, sexual assault and as a persistent offender for tampering with witness. For each of the seven counts, Bonck received a sentence of 100 years without the possibility of parole.
Blackfeet schedule May vote on new constitution
KALISPELL, Mont. (AP) — Blackfeet tribal members have a chance to vote on a new constitution and form of government in May.
The effort to change the tribe’s government structure began two years ago after the Blackfeet Tribal Business Council splintered into two factions, leading to government shutdowns. In some cases employees went unpaid for weeks.
The Flathead Beacon reports (bit.ly/2m4fK5G) the proposed constitution calls for a three-pronged government to replace the tribal council. There would be an executive branch to manage day-to-day operations, a 13-member legislative branch and an independent judicial branch.
In the coming weeks the Bureau of Indian Affairs will send a voter registration packet to every Blackfeet tribal member along with copies of the current and proposed constitution. Those who register will get a ballot for the May 22 election.
Court rules to lift federal protections for Wyoming wolves
CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — An appeals court has lifted federal protections for gray wolves in Wyoming.
Friday’s ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reverses a lower judge who sided with environmental groups and rejected Wyoming’s wolf management plan.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed in 2011 that gray wolves are no longer a threatened species in Wyoming.
State officials promised to maintain a population above the minimum 100 wolves, including 10 breeding pairs, outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation.
But U.S. District Judge Amy Berman ruled in 2014 that the state’s promise was unenforceable and rejected its wolf management plan.
In its reversal, the appellate court ruled federal officials exercised proper judgment and adequately responded to concerns about Wyoming’s management plan.