Dec. 5 Montana News Briefs


Budget analysts working on better way to estimate revenue

HELENA (AP) — The budget analysis arm of the Montana Legislature is working on a more accurate way to estimate state tax revenues after a special session was held to address a projected $227 million shortfall compared to the revenue projections lawmakers worked with this spring.

Members of the Revenue and Transportation Interim Committee agreed Monday that the Legislature should study the state’s overall tax structure, but acknowledged that wouldn’t happen before the 2019 session. The Legislative Finance Committee is looking at such a study, and the revenue committee wants to insure its involvement since it would develop tax legislation.

Revenue Director Mike Kadas said lawmakers meeting in 2019 could see less revenue because the tax bill passed by the U.S. Senate early Saturday could cost the state about $122 million a year.


Former senators call for more civility in national politics

BILLINGS (AP) — Former U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Al Simpson made a case for political civility as the two discussed national topics at a public forum.

Montana Democrat Baucus and Wyoming Republican Simpson called for more respect and understanding during the Monday event hosted by Montana State University Billings and Yellowstone Public Radio.

The senators contrasted the current climate in the Senate with how things were done in their day, citing their ongoing friendship. The senators say political disagreement does not have to lead to animosity.

Simpson says he and Baucus didn’t always agree, but they respected and trusted each other.

Baucus says the example of listening and working together can be set at the state level.

Both senators were elected in 1978. Simpson served until 1996, and Baucus served until 2014.


Montana wildlife reserve to offer bison hunts on the prairie

BILLINGS (AP) — A conservation group attempting to piece together the largest private wildlife reserve in the United States says it will allow eight hunters a chance to kill bison on the grasslands of north-central Montana.

American Prairie Reserve spokeswoman Becky Lonardo said Tuesday its bison herd has almost 900 animals. Also known as buffalo, they roam on portions of 623 square miles (1,615 square kilometers) that the group controls along the Missouri River.

The reserve for the first time next year will offer bison hunts to four people from surrounding communities, two hunts to be auctioned online and two to be given to other organizations.

Since 2001, American Prairie has raised more than $100 million with a goal of creating a nearly 5,500 square-mile (14,000 square-kilometer) reserve — an area larger than Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks combined.


Girl uses Christmas money to pay others’ lunch debts

BELGRADE (AP) — A Belgrade girl has donated part of her Christmas money to help pay other students’ school lunch debts.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle reported Tuesday 10-year-old Julie Foret donated $80 to Ridge View Elementary School to pay off students’ lunch debts.

Julie was inspired after overhearing her neighbor Shawnna McLaughlin say she wanted to donate money to help alleviate the school’s lunch debt.

Julie says she decided to donate because she already has so many toys. Together, Julie and McLaughlin donated $120.

Julie hopes that by help with families’ lunch debt they will have extra money to spend on Christmas gifts for their kids.

Julie’s mother, Elizabeth Scott, describes her daughter as a selfless person who is always considering the needs of others.


Teen dies of apparent 

overdose, another hospitalized

HAMILTON (AP) — A 16-year-old western Montana high school student has died and a 15-year-old boy is hospitalized after they apparently overdosed on prescription medication.

Hamilton Police Chief Ryan Oster tells the Ravalli Republic that officers responded to a report Sunday morning that the 16-year-old wasn’t breathing. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Oster says while it appears the boys overdosed on prescription medication, investigators were awaiting lab results to confirm that. Their names have not been released.

Hamilton High School brought in additional counselors Monday to support students.