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BC-MT--Montana News Digest, MT

March 19, 2019

Montana at 1 p.m.

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TOP STORIES:

SPORTS GAMBLING

HELENA _ A legislative committee heard testimony on a bill that would legalize sports gambling in Montana as long as the betting was done in bars with full liquor licenses. Supporters told the Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs committee Tuesday that passing the bill would allow the state to legalize, regulate and tax activity that is already happening. The computerized wagering would be run by sports book companies with a percentage going to the bars. By Amy Beth Hanson. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 300 words by 5 p.m.

BISTATE GROUSE-OFF ROADERS

RENO, Nev. _ Conservationists want a federal judge to allow them to join a legal battle over a type of sage grouse found only along the California-Nevada line in opposition to a lawsuit filed by off-road vehicle enthusiasts trying to overturn U.S. protections for the bird. Four national environmental groups filed the formal request to intervene in the bistate grouse case in federal court in Reno on Friday. By Scott Sonner. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: 600 words.

ALSO OF MONTANA INTEREST:

BLACK LUNG DISEASE-FUND

COEBURN, Va. _ Former coal miner John Robinson’s bills for black lung treatments run $4,000 a month, but the federal fund he depends on to help cover them is being drained of money because of inaction by Congress and the Trump administration. Amid the turmoil of the government shutdown this winter, a tax on coal that helps pay for the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund was cut sharply Jan. 1 and never restored, potentially saving coal operators hundreds of millions of dollars a year. By Dylan Lovan. SENT: 1,100 words, national lines. AP Photos.

IN BRIEF:

ANIMAL CRUELTY-VERDICT _ A jury has acquitted a Montana man of six animal cruelty charges after prosecutors accused him of being responsible for the deaths of 15 horses found in a pasture.

BABY DEATH _ Police in eastern Montana are investigating the death of a 3-month-old girl at a Sidney residence. Sidney Chief of Police Frank DiFonzo says that officers responding to a welfare check around 8:30 a.m. Saturday found the baby unresponsive with undisclosed injuries.

MSU-ROOF COLLAPSES _ The engineering college dean at Montana State University says he doesn’t see the collapse of two gym roofs on campus as a failure by engineers who designed the buildings. No one was hurt when the South and North gym roofs collapsed on March 7 and 9

WINTER WEATHER-FLOODING-HAY HELP _ The Plains farm aid nonprofit Farm Rescue is launching an effort to bring donated hay to flood-stricken Nebraska ranchers. North Dakota-based Farm Rescue first activated its “Operation Hay Lift” program to help drought-stricken Upper Midwest ranchers in 2017. Dozens of volunteer truckers hauled hundreds of loads of hay to the region.

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