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BC-MT--Montana News Digest, MT

April 17, 2019

Montana at 6:45 p.m.

The desk can be reached at 406-442-7440. For access to AP Exchange and other technical issues, contact AP Customer Support at apcustomersupport@ap.org or 877-836-9477. For up-to-the minute information on AP’s coverage, visit Coverage Plan at newsroom.ap.org.

TOP STORIES:

ZINKE-GOLD MINING JOB

WASHINGTON _ Former U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is quickly parlaying his time in President Donald Trump’s cabinet into a lucrative private career. He’s landed a more than $100,000-a-year post at a Nevada mining company and is pursuing involvement in natural gas exports that have surged under Trump, Zinke told The Associated Press Tuesday. The rapid transition from the highest levels of the executive branch to the corporate boardroom is raising questions about possible conflicts of interest. By Ellen Knickmeyer and Matthew Brown. SENT: 870 words, photo.

POWER GENERATION-MONTANA

HELENA — Montana’s House of Representatives on Tuesday rejected a bill that would allow NorthWestern Energy to purchase another share of a coal-fired power plant in southeastern Montana and additional capacity on a key high-voltage power line. Supporters said elements of the proposal could be amended into another bill in the Legislature’s final days. Republican Sen. Tom Richmond, one of the bill’s sponsors, said the bill had been “thoroughly remodeled” in the House and he wasn’t sure if he would have voted for it. By Amy Beth Hanson. SENT: 300 words.

STILL ALIVE

HELENA _ The Montana Senate on Tuesday passed bills to continue the state’s Medicaid expansion program and improve investigations of missing persons’ reports just under the deadline for bills with amendments to be transmitted to the House. Lawmakers also supported a bill to end the statute of limitations for prosecuting sexual assault if the victim was younger than 18 when the offense occurred. By Amy Beth Hanson. SENT: 630 words.

DUELING DINOSAURS

HELENA _ Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed a bill Tuesday to clarify that fossils are part of a property’s surface rights, not its mineral rights, unless a contract separating the ownership says otherwise. The bill, which passed unanimously in the House and Senate, was prompted by a legal challenge over the ownership of valuable dinosaur fossils unearthed on a central Montana ranch in 2006. The dinosaurs appeared to have died while locked in battle. By Amy Beth Hanson. SENT: 310 words, photos.

IN BRIEF:

_ ELECTION 2020-MONTANA GOVERNOR _ Republican U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte says he’s considering another run for Montana governor in 2020.

_ YELLOWSTONE MINING _ A Montana judge has blocked an exploratory gold mining project on private land in the mountains north of Yellowstone National Park.

_ MONTANA TROOPER SHOT _ Officials say a Montana Highway Patrol trooper who was shot three times still can’t speak and his movements are limited.

_ WILDFIRE MITIGATION-MONTANA _ The U.S. Forest Service is planning to set a series of fires on about 16 square miles (42 square kilometers) of national forest in Montana to reduce the risk of high intensity wildfires.

_ RESORT TAX _ The Montana Legislature has approved a bill that would give residents of resort communities the opportunity to increase taxes.

SPORTS IN BRIEF:

_ MONTANA-DECUIRE _ Montana men’s basketball coach Travis DeCuire, whose teams have posted a 109-58 record in five seasons, has signed a three-year contract extension.

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