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BC-MT--Montana News Digest, MT

December 7, 2018

Montana at 6 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:

SAGE GROUSE-ENERGY LEASES

BILLINGS — The Trump administration moved forward Thursday with plans to ease restrictions on oil and natural gas drilling, mining and other activities that were put in place to protect an imperiled bird species across millions of acres in the American West. Land management documents released by the U.S. Interior Department show the administration intends to open more public lands to leasing and allow waivers for drilling to encroach into the habitat of greater sage grouse. By Matthew Brown. SENT: 890 words, photos.

With: SAGE GROUSE-ENERGY LEASES-THE LATEST

BALLOT HARVESTING

HELENA — An investigation into whether political operatives in North Carolina illegally collected and possibly stole absentee ballots in a still-undecided congressional race has drawn attention to a widespread but little-known political tool called ballot harvesting. It’s a practice long used by special-interest groups and both major political parties that is viewed either as a voter service that boosts turnout or a nefarious activity that subjects voters to intimidation and makes elections vulnerable to fraud. By Matt Volz. SENT: 1,100 words, photos.

ELECTION 2020-DEMOCRATS

NEW YORK — Democrats are hitting fast forward. The first major presidential campaign announcements could come before year’s end. The Democratic National Committee plans to announce a debate framework by then featuring 15 to 20 candidates. The first primary debate could happen as early as May, a full three months before the premiere debate of the 2016 cycle. And long-rumored White House hopefuls are already bowing out. By Steve Peoples, Bill Barrow and Will Weissert. SENT: 1,250 words, photo.

IN BRIEF:

_ HUNTING GRIZZLIES _ The state of Wyoming has filed notice it will appeal a judge’s decision to restore federal protections for grizzly bears in and around Yellowstone National Park.

_ MONTANA DEPUTY KILLED-BARRUS _ A hearing is underway to determine if a man charged in the May 2017 shooting death of a Montana sheriff’s deputy should be forcibly medicated in an effort to make him competent to stand trial.

_ GLACIER PARK BUSES-HYBRID _ Glacier National Park has announced plans for a major overhaul to its 33 red tour buses, including adding hybrid engines.

_ SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT-LEGISLATURE _ Montana’s top education official is setting out her legislative priorities, including a proposal to make it illegal for teachers and other school staff to have sex with students, even if the student has reached the legal age of consent.

_ REGENTS-TUITION _ Students from six surrounding states will soon pay the same tuition rate as South Dakota residents at the state’s public universities.

_ FEDERAL LAND PURCHASE _ Meagher County commissioners say they won’t oppose a proposal to purchase central Montana land and place it under public ownership despite their concerns about the deal.

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If you have stories of regional or statewide interest, please email them to apdenver@ap.org. If you have photos of regional or statewide interest, please send them to the AP state photo center in New York, 888-273-6867. For access to AP Exchange and other technical issues, contact AP Customer Support at apcustomersupport@ap.org or 877-836-9477.

MARKETPLACE: Calling your attention to the Marketplace in AP Exchange, where you can find member-contributed content from Montana and other states. The Marketplace is accessible on the left navigational pane of the AP Exchange home page, near the bottom. For both national and state, you can click “All” or search for content by topics such as education, politics and business.

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