Montana is latest state to reform campaign finance rules
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana is the latest state to overhaul its campaign finance rules in an attempt to cast out dark money from its elections.
Individual states have been rewriting their campaign laws to require more financial disclosure since the U.S. Supreme Court applied its Citizens United ruling to state elections to allow corporate spending.
Similar efforts have failed at the federal level, with Congress rejecting legislation that would have required so-called “social-welfare” groups to disclose their donors.
The architect of Montana’s new overhaul is Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl. He says the changes will create a high level of transparency in a state with a history of election corruption.
Paul Ryan of the non-profit Campaign Legal Center says he believes the rules are a “squandered opportunity” and don’t go far enough to solve the dark-money problem.
Yellowstone park proposes killing 1,000 bison this winter
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Yellowstone National Park proposes to kill roughly 1,000 wild bison this winter — mostly calves and females — as officials seek to curb the animals’ annual migration into Montana.
Park officials will meet Thursday with representatives of American Indian tribes, the state and other federal agencies to decide on the plan. It marks the continuation of a controversial 2000 agreement between Montana and the federal government that calls for killing bison to prevent the spread of disease to livestock.
Almost 5,000 bison roamed the park this summer. A harsh winter could drive thousands into areas of southwestern Montana.
Hunters, including from tribes with treaty rights in the Yellowstone area, are anticipated to kill more than 300 of the animals. Others would be captured for slaughter or research purposes.
State begins review of criminal justice system
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The state is reviewing its criminal justice system with the goal of reducing spending and lowering recidivism rates while improving public safety.
State officials say despite a general decline in the crime and arrest rates between 2008 and 2014, the state prison population and corrections spending have increased.
Gov. Steve Bullock said Wednesday that the Justice Center of The Council of State Governments will examine the entire system from crime and arrest trends, supervision and the effectiveness of its programs and recommend improvements.
The effort will be overseen by the 15-member Commission on Sentencing that was created by the 2015 Legislature.
The commission will recommend legislative changes based on the results of the study.
Missoula group working to bring resettlement agency to city
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A group of Missoula residents is working to bring a resettlement agency to the city in order to help refugees.
The Missoulian reports that the group of volunteers, called Soft Landing Missoula, started in September when members saw photos of young Syrian refugees washed up on the beach. They have since been working to help refugees from all countries.
A representative from the agency International Rescue Committee was in Missoula Tuesday to consider opening an office there.
Soft landing member Mary Poole says she was pleased to see Gov. Steve Bullock announced the state would continue helping refugees. His announcement came as many governors called for a stop to the placement of any new refugees in the wake of terrorist attacks in Paris.
Diocese of Helena developing retail center to boost funds
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Diocese of Helena is looking to develop nearly 450,000 square feet of retail, commercial and hotel space.
The Independent Record reports that the diocese has contracted with Trinity Restoration LLC for the retail sites in the future Trinity Center near the Interstate 15 and Custer Street interchange.
The site is being developed as part of the Roman Catholic diocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. A federal bankruptcy judge approved the diocese’s plan in March to compensate more than 360 alleged sexual abuse victims.
The property is owned by the Resurrection Cemetery Association. Proceeds will also support the maintenance of cemeteries in Butte, Helena and Missoula.
Construction on the first phase of Trinity Center is expected to begin next year.
Hunter reports shooting, killing grizzly bear
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — An elk hunter reported shooting and killing a grizzly bear northwest of Gardiner over the weekend.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks bear management specialist Kevin Frey said the man was hunting in the Tom Miner Basin when he came up on a bear “at very close range.” He said the bear attacked him and he shot it.
The Gallatin County sheriff’s office filed a report about the shooting on Sunday morning.
Frey told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that investigators plan to interview the man.
The grizzly is the third killed by hunters in recent weeks. Two other hunters reported shooting grizzly bears near Gardiner and near West Yellowstone in late October. In both cases, the hunters said they shot the animals after bear spray failed to stop them from charging.
Homeland Security recommends increased security for Cat-Griz
BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Montana State University is enacting extra security measures for Saturday’s Cat-Griz game in Bozeman based on guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
The recommendations came after last Friday’s terror attacks in Paris.
The gates will open at 10:30 a.m. for the 12:10 p.m. kickoff. Fans are encouraged to allow extra time to enter Bobcat Stadium prior to kickoff and to re-enter if they leave at halftime.
Officials estimate an arrival time of between 11 and 11:15 a.m. should ensure adequate time to get inside before kickoff.