Legislative panel OKs bill to close loophole in incest law
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A legislative committee has unanimously endorsed a bill meant to close a loophole in Montana law that allows 16- and 17-year-olds to be charged with incest involving a parent.
The measure approved Wednesday clarifies that a person who is younger than 18 cannot be charged with incest if the other person involved is at least four years older.
It next goes to the House floor.
The Montana Supreme Court suggested addressing the loophole in July while upholding a man’s conviction for plying his 17-year-old daughter with methamphetamine and having sex with her in 2013.
He argued his conviction should be overturned because jurors were not cautioned about trusting her testimony because she could have been charged as an accessory.
The court found that the girl could have been charged with incest. The prosecutor did not charge her.
Internet disruptions for some in WA, ID and MT
NEWPORT, Wash. (AP) — Telephone and Internet service for Frontier Communications customers was restored after being disrupted in parts of southeastern Washington, northern Idaho and Montana after a truck damaged a fiber-optic cable.
Frontier says the truck clipped the cable about 6:45 a.m. Wednesday and that service was restored by about 3 p.m.
Among the communities affected were Newport, Washington, and Coeur d’Alene and Moscow, Idaho.
Sen. Daines touts Supreme Court nominee amid protesters
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Steve Daines hopes to put pressure on fellow Montana Sen. Jon Tester to support the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court.
Daines visited the Montana Capitol on Wednesday to tout Gorsuch’s qualifications but found himself surrounded by protesters.
The Montana Republican had rescheduled a Tuesday appearance before the state Legislature amid a swarm of hundreds of demonstrators converging at the state Capitol. Daines is scheduled to address lawmakers Wednesday afternoon.
The conservative group Judicial Crisis Network has aired television ads in Montana and elsewhere to pressure Democrats, including Tester, to support Gorsuch.
Tester has said he would keep an open mind, but expressed concerns on how Gorsuch might rule on some issues, including abortion, campaign financing and the environment.
Law enforcement supports proposed fix to Marsy’s Law
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Law-enforcement officials and prosecutors from across the state are supporting what they call a fix to a victims’ rights law that voters added to the Montana Constitution last fall.
The bill would give prosecutors, law enforcement and local governments varying degrees of immunity from being sued for alleged violations of Marsy’s Law, which is a broad set of rights for crime victims that will go into effect in July.
Representatives from cities and counties across Montana spoke in support of the bill during a hearing Wednesday.
Chuck Denowh, the initiative’s sponsor, says he supports the bill and Marsy’s Law was never meant to be used against law enforcement officials.
Jon Bennion of the Department of Justice says the bill is one of two measures that aim to fix issues stemming from the passage of the constitutional initiative.
Senate endorses watered-down rebuke of judiciary
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Senate has endorsed a watered-down rebuke of the state’s court system for allegedly overstepping its powers.
The bill fixes a mistake in a voter-approved medical marijuana initiative to make it effective immediately. The original bill accused a Helena judge of violating the state constitution when he did the same thing by court order late last year.
The bill did not name District Judge James Reynolds, but House of Representatives changed the language to eliminate any reference to him. The measure now says the constitution’s separation of powers provisions “were disregarded.”
Republican Sen. Fred Thomas of Stevensville says the amended measure says the same thing “in a kinder, gentler way.”
The Senate approved the changes 30-20 Tuesday and the bill is up for a final vote on Wednesday.
Republicans who won after rowdy town halls now avoiding them
DENVER (AP) — Republicans who benefited from rowdy town halls six years ago and harnessed discontent with Democrats to win seats in Congress are learning a hard lesson this week as they return home. The left is happy to return the favor.
From Maine to Montana, Democrats and their allies are spending the congressional recess protesting elected Republican politicians. For the most part, they are trying to avoid the events that often turn into shouting matches.
Just like the tea party sympathizers who vented against Democrats in 2010, the protesters are taking out their ire on Republicans and their links to President Donald Trump.
In Denver, activists this week targeted Republican Sen. Cory Gardner.
They beamed a picture of him fashioned into a “Wanted” poster to a wall of the Denver Art Museum.