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Day two of David Pecker testimony wraps in NY Trump trial; Supreme Court hears arguments on Idaho's near-total abortion ban; ND sees a flurry of campaigning among Native candidates; and NH lags behind other states in restricting firearms at polling sites.

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The Senate moves forward with a foreign aid package. A North Carolina judge overturns an aged law penalizing released felons. And child protection groups call a Texas immigration policy traumatic for kids.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

MT military veterans support veto override

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Monday, March 11, 2024   

A Montana court has denied Gov. Greg Gianforte's attempt to stop the Legislature from having an opportunity to override his veto of a bill that passed with bipartisan support.

The measure would use marijuana sales-tax revenue to fund a handful of key programs. Montana veterans are now asking lawmakers to back efforts to overturn the governor's veto.

Senate Bill 442 would pay for wildlife habitat restoration, environmental programs, county access road maintenance, and veterans' assistance.

Ken Koehler, a Marine who served in the first Gulf War, said he supports the bill and the veto override.

"For veterans in the state of Montana, it goes toward exemptions for disabled veterans who are on a fixed income," said Koehler. "It'll make a huge difference to people like me."

SB 442 had bipartisan support and was backed by hunters, anglers and outdoor enthusiasts.

In his veto note, Gianforte argued using state funds to support local responsibilities like road maintenance was inappropriate - and said the measure would create a "slippery slope."

Beyond creating property tax relief, SB 442 would add money to Montana's HEART program, which provides veterans with addiction treatment and mental health care - which Koehler said is crucial.

"We send people overseas," said Koehler. "We see things that a lot of people don't see, will never see, have never seen, and it affects us. We need that treatment and that care, that support, when we come back."

Gianforte vetoed the bill just after the Senate adjourned, leading some critics to contend that he denied lawmakers the chance to reconsider the veto.

The court ruling says, "The public interest lies in removing any uncertainties which may lead to gamesmanship in the lawmaking process" - and orders the Legislature be given a chance to vote on an override by March 19.

Shantil Siaperas, communications director with the Montana Association of Counties, called the governor's attempt to stop the Legislature from a possible override of the veto a "frivolous motion."

"Once again, the court instructed the governor to stop playing games and allow the Legislature the opportunity to perform its its constitutional duty," said Siaperas. "And we expect the Secretary of State to initiate the polling process as soon as possible."

The Montana Secretary of State will mail ballots to legislators to vote on the veto override.




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