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BC-MT--Montana News Digest, MT

January 5, 2019

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:

ZINKE-LEGACY

BILLINGS — As former U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke exits Washington chased by ethics investigations and criticism of his actions favoring industry, he told The Associated Press he’s lived up to the conservation ideals of Theodore Roosevelt and insisted the myriad allegations against him will be proven untrue. The former Montana congressman also said he quit President Donald Trump’s cabinet on his own terms, despite indications he was pressured by the White House to resign effective Wednesday. By Matthew Brown. SENT: 1,130 words, photos.

MONTANA STATE-BROADCASTER

BILLINGS _ Montana State University’s play-by-play broadcaster for football and men’s basketball has resigned after the university investigated a reporter’s complaint that he sexually harassed her, an allegation that he denies. Jay Sanderson told The Billings Gazette that he left his position as “the voice of the Bobcats” last month to help an ill family member in Wichita, Kansas. He denies former Missoulian reporter Amie Just’s allegations that he touched her inappropriately and sent her sexually suggestive text messages. SENT: 490 words.

DISCRIMINATION COMPLAINT

BILLINGS — A judge backed a previous finding by the Human Rights Bureau that fans were not discriminated against at a high school basketball game in Montana. Four Plenty Coups High School fans — who are all Native American — contended in November during a civil case trial that they were barred early entry to a high school basketball game Jan. 21, 2017, in Reed Point because of their race, The Billings Gazette reported. SENT: 300 words.

OF MONTANA INTEREST:

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN-AGRICULTURE

DES MOINES, Iowa — The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday that it must delay the release of key crop reports due to the partial government shutdown, leaving investors and farmers without vital information during an already tumultuous time for agricultural markets. The USDA had planned to release the closely watched reports Jan. 11 but said that even if the shutdown ended immediately , the agency’s staff wouldn’t have time to release the reports as scheduled. Congressional leaders met with President Donald Trump on Friday but there were no indications the shutdown would end soon. By Scott McFetridge. SENT: 500 words, photos.

OIL PIPELINE-ETP LAWSUIT

BISMARCK, N.D. _ An American Indian and environmental activist named in a federal racketeering lawsuit says her opposition to the Dakota Access oil pipeline was constitutionally protected free speech, not an attempt to incite violence as the company alleges. Krystal Two Bulls asked a judge in a court filing last month to dismiss her from the lawsuit filed by Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which built the $3.8 billion pipeline to move North Dakota oil to Illinois. By Blake Nicholson. SENT: 470 words.

IDLING VEHICLES

BISMARCK, N.D. — When the winds howl and the bone-numbing cold sets in, scores of North Dakotans willingly become lawbreakers by warming up their vehicles without being in them, ignoring a potential $1,500 state fine and 30 days in jail. “It’s ineffective. The people ignore it. Let’s get rid of it,” said Republican Rep. Daniel Johnston, who is sponsoring a bill that would make it legal for people to leave their vehicles running unattended, amending a statute that has been on the books since the 1940s that no one can remember being enforced. By James MacPherson. SENT: 700 words, photo.

IN BRIEF:

_ WYOMING EARTHQUAKES _ The Wyoming State Geological Survey says more than 2,500 earthquakes were recorded in the state over the last year, but most were never noticed by residents.

_ MONTANA JUDGE-REPORTER _ A Montana justice of the peace used his government email account to insult a reporter over critical coverage of a right-wing conspiracy theory.

_ BOZEMAN-OFFICER INVOLVED SHOOTING _ A Bozeman police officer responding to a reported assault shot and killed an intoxicated man who came at officers with a handgun and a hatchet.

_ MONTANA TRIBES-SCHOOL DISCRIMINATION _ Federal education officials have agreed to investigate a complaint by the Fort Peck tribes alleging the Wolf Point School District in Montana discriminates against Native American students.

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