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Tuesday, January 23rd 2018
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 a.m. MST
NET NEUTRALITY-MONTANA GOVERNOR
Montana requires internet neutrality for state contracts
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has signed an order prohibiting telecommunications companies receiving state contracts from interfering with internet traffic and favoring their own sites and apps.
Monday's action by the Democratic governor comes after the Federal Communications Commission last month repealed so-called net-neutrality rules that govern broadband providers.
The order says after July 1, to receive a state contract companies must not unreasonably interfere with internet users' ability to receive the access the content of their choice.
Bullocks office says he's the first governor in the nation to take such a step. He invited other governor and lawmakers across the United States to duplicate his order.
More than 20 state attorneys general have joined a lawsuit challenging the FCC repeal, which is expected to go into effect this spring.
AVALANCHE-SNOWMOBILER KILLED
Idaho avalanche victim identified as Montana man
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A 46-year-old Montana man has been identified as the victim of a weekend avalanche in Idaho's Island Park area.
Authorities said Monday that Raymond John Moe of Missoula was killed while riding a motorized snowbike about five miles from the Blue Creek trailhead on Saturday.
The slide was triggered when Moe and another rider in his group went off trail.
Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center director Doug Chabot says the avalanche was about 600 feet wide and 2-1/2 feet deep.
All of the riders had emergency transceivers and rescue gear. But authorities said it took the remaining members of the group about 40 minutes to find Moe and he died at the scene.
Earlier this month, a 36-year-old snowmobiler was killed by an avalanche near Island Park in Fremont County.
MONTANA STATE FUND-LAWSUIT
Businesses challenge fee on Montana workers' comp assets
POLSON, Mont. (AP) — A business coalition is asking a judge to stop state officials from imposing a fee on assets of Montana's workers' compensation fund to plug a budget gap
The suit filed Monday in state District Court in Lake County says employers pay into the fund to make sure injured workers get medical coverage and state officials can't take the money for Montana's general fund.
Plaintiffs include several small businesses, the Montana Roofing Contractors Association and the National Federation of Independent Businesses,
Lawmakers recently approved a 3 percent management fee on state fund assets above $1 billion. The fee is intended to raise nearly $30 million over two years to help address a projected $227 million budget deficit.
The fund's board of directors initially challenged the fee but later withdrew their lawsuit.
MONTANA HIV
CDC identified 2 small Montana counties at risk for HIV
(Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com)
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study of the nation's most at-risk for HIV has two Montana counties listed and Montana health officials perplexed.
Mineral County ranks 161st of 220 on the CDC study and Treasure County is ranked 211th.
Mineral County has just 4,200 residents, and Treasure County 700.
Jim Murphy of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services questions the methodology used by the CDC to come up with the rankings.
Murphy tells the Missoulian there's no HIV epidemic in either county.
The CDC launched its study in the wake of a 2015 epidemic of HIV infections in Indiana. Its study is based on six predictors including drug overdose deaths, unemployment, per capita income and white non-Hispanic population
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OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING
Sheriff: Man shot by deputies in Lockwood expected to live
(Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Montana sheriff says a man shot by his deputies is expected to survive.
The Billings Gazette reports Yellowstone County Sheriff's deputies shot the man at a residence in a Lockwood trailer park on Sunday.
According to a statement by Sheriff Mike Linder, two deputies encountered the man as they were conducting a welfare check on a potentially suicidal person.
Linder says the man had a handgun but did not fire it prior to being shot.
The man was taken to a hospital with a single gunshot wound and is expected to survive.
Officials have not identified the man.
The deputies involved in the shooting were not injured and have been identified as Tyler Sennett and Brendan Trujillo.
They have been placed on paid administrative leave.
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HELENA FATAL
Woman dies in weekend crash in Montana
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The Montana Highway Patrol says a 25-year-old woman has died in a single-vehicle crash north of Helena.
The patrol identified the victim as Kassandra Biller, of Helena, who was the only person in the vehicle.
The crash was reported around noon Saturday.
The patrol says the vehicle Biller was driving failed to negotiate a curve and went off the road. The vehicle struck several trees and rolled at least three times.
Biller was pronounced dead at the scene.
The patrol says the roadway was mostly dry at the time of the crash and speed is believed to be a factor.
Monday, January 22nd 2018
Associated Press Montana News
Latest Montana news, sports, business and entertainment at 6:20 a.m. MST
PUBLIC EMPLOYEE-UNION MERGER
Montana public unions merge to form state's largest group
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Two unions representing Montana public employees will merge.
The Helena Independent Record reports that delegates for the Montana Public Employees Association and the Montana Educators Association-Montana Federal of Teachers voted Saturday in favor of the merger.
The combined organization will be called the Montana Federation of Public Employees.
Eric Feaver is the president of the educators' association. He says the merged group will be Montana's largest union, with an estimated membership of 24,000 or 25,000 employees. He says the total will give the union more authority.
The membership will include Montana Highway Patrol employees, police department employees, probation and parole officers, faculty member and teachers across the state.
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN-NATIONAL PARKS-THE LATEST
The Latest: GOP says Trump trying to cushion shutdown impact
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Republican senator from Montana says the Trump administration is trying to minimize the effects of the government shutdown by keeping at least some national parks open, but former President Barack Obama tried to make shutdowns painful for the American people.
Sen. Steve Daines said Saturday that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a former Montana congressman, wants to keep Montana's Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park open.
Most of Yellowstone is in Wyoming but three of the five entrances are in Montana.
On Saturday, Zinke tweeted, "Not all national parks are fully open but we're working hard to make as much accessible as is safely possible."
The administration promised to keep as many sites open as possible during the shutdown, which began at midnight Friday on the East Coast. But by mid-day Saturday, the pattern was spotty.
WOMEN'S MARCHES-MONTANA
Montanans join women's marches in at least 4 cities
MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Montanans have gathered in at least four cities for rallies on the anniversary of President Donald Trump's inauguration, supporting equality and protesting sexual harassment and gun violence.
Media reports and social media postings showed women's marches took place Saturday in Billings, Great Falls, Kalispell and Missoula. Rallies were also planned in Bozeman, Browning and Helena.
No crowd estimates were available.
One marchers carried a sign mocking Trump and saying "Nobody is above the law no matter how dumb."
Others said "Arise, sisters" and "We can end gun violence."
March leaders tell the Missoulian newspaper their goals include ending sexual harassment, discrimination and violence.
Amelia Danielle Marquez, a transgender woman who grew up in Billings, said Montana's hate crime law should be expanded to cover violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
ROAD RAGE ARRESTS
Montana men arrested in Idaho following road rage incident
(Information from: Coeur d'Alene Press, http://www.cdapress.com)
COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho (AP) — Authorities in northern Idaho say two Montana men have been taken into custody following a road rage incident that included shots fired.
Coeur d'Alene police tell the Coeur d'Alene Press that 20-year-old Kenneth C. Gieber of Polson and 25-year-old Shawn K. Tate of Missoula on Thursday were booked into jail on suspicion of aggravated assault with a firearm.
Police say the person in the vehicle being shot at was unhurt but the vehicle might have been struck by gunfire.
Police say they searched the suspects' vehicle and found a handgun as well as coins worth $25,000 that are connected to a stolen property case in Montana.
Gieber and Tate were being held Saturday in the Kootenai County Jail. It's not clear if they have attorneys.
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DRUG-EXPOSED CHILDREN
Prosecutors: Caseworkers withholding child toxicology tests
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana prosecutors argue child protection caseworkers are not following a state law that requires them to release the results of toxicology tests done on children in cases where they are suspected to have been exposed to illegal drugs.
Laura Smith, deputy director of the health department, told a legislative committee Friday that the agency is seeking clarification about whether federal law allows them to release the test results without a court order.
Sen. Eric Moore sponsored the bill. He argued the agency should have sought that clarification while the bill was being discussed by the 2017 Legislature.
Smith said the agency was not trying to obstruct investigations, but wants to make sure disclosure wouldn't jeopardize federal funding for substance abuse and mental health services.
Prosecutors say the agency is incorrectly interpreting the federal law.
BEATING-DISMEMBERMENT-SENTENCE
Man gets 20 years for role in dismembering, burning body
(Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com)
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Montana man has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for his role in dismembering and burning the body of his sister's boyfriend.
The Billings Gazette reports Patrick Saint Standsoverbull III was sentenced Friday for tampering with evidence and misdemeanor assault in the 2015 death of 38-year-old Jeffrey Hewitt.
Hewitt was beaten by several men and left to die in the back room of Carri Standsoverbull's apartment in early 2015. Court records said she refused to let anyone intervene to help Hewitt.
Parts of his burned body were found in April 2015 in a coulee near Pryor.
Defense attorney Fred Snodgrass argued for a lesser sentence, saying tampering with evidence is basically a nonviolent crime. District Judge Don Harris noted Patrick Standsoverbull did nothing to help Hewitt before he died.
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