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BC-MT--Montana News Digest, MT

April 2, 2019

Montana at 6 p.m.

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TOP STORIES:

TAX INCREASES

HELENA _ The Montana Senate passed bills to raise taxes on hotel rooms, rental cars and marijuana sales ahead of Monday’s deadline to send revenue bills to the House, where they face an uncertain fate among Republican representatives who oppose tax hikes. Senators and representatives closed a busy stretch of the 90-day session in which they spent hours hearing and voting on money bills that packed their agendas and would have died if they had not passed. By Amy Beth Hanson. SENT: 710 words.

PRESCHOOL FUNDING

BILLINGS _ About $46 million in public money has been pumped into the Montana preschool landscape since 2015. With the rejection of a pair of preschool bills at the Montana legislature this week, that spigot appears poised to run dry — leaving programs that added about 1,500 high quality slots grappling with shortfalls. Hardin and Great Falls could be trying to patch $500,000 holes. Lockwood could be scaling its preschool program back to an every-other-day lite model only two years after adding two full-time classrooms. A private provider in Shepherd could cut more than half of the high quality preschool hours it offers. By Matt Hoffman, The Billings Gazette. SENT: 990 words.

OF MONTANA INTEREST:

TRIBES-ROADKILL REPOSITORY

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. _ Arizona Native American tribes on the hunt for animal hides, antlers, teeth and other parts for cultural and religious use have a unique new resource: the state’s wildlife agency. A recently launched program allows Arizona’s nearly two dozen tribes to make requests to the state Game and Fish Department for animals that have died from poaching or natural causes, or after being hit by a vehicle. By Felicia Fonseca. SENT: 750 words, photos.

KEYSTONE-LIENS

RAPID CITY, S.D. _ Some South Dakota landowners are outraged over liens hitting their property related to the Keystone XL crude-oil pipeline. Iowa-based Brandenburg Drainage filed 23 liens totaling more than $1 million against Meade County landowners last month, the Rapid City Journal reported. The lien amounts ranged from about $3,600 to nearly $244,000. SENT: 410 words.

IN BRIEF:

_ DRUG OVERDOSE INDICTMENTS _ Four people have been indicted on federal charges for allegedly selling an opioid more potent than heroin that resulted in the fatal overdoses of two people in Gallatin County in 2017.

_ RED LODGE HOMICIDE _ A man has pleaded guilty to deliberate homicide for a deadly shooting in southern Montana.

_ SKI LIFT MALFUNCTION _ Dozens of skiers were safely evacuated from a stalled chairlift at a Montana ski area over the weekend.

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