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Montana News - AP


Daines, Curtis clash on government role in energy

SIDNEY, Mont. (AP) — Republican Steve Daines and Democrat Amanda Curtis clashed over energy and the government's role in the industry during the first U.S. Senate debate in Montana's oil patch.

Tuesday night's event in Sidney was only the second meeting of the candidates. It's likely to be the last ahead of the Nov. 4 election.

Daines, a first-term congressman from Bozeman, hammered on a theme of Washington, D.C., bureaucratic overreach. He singled out the Environmental Protection Agency for hindering coal, oil and gas production.

Curtis sought to play up her working class roots, as she did during a Monday debate in Billings.

The Butte math teacher and state legislator stressed her support for coal miners and refinery workers, while warning that large corporations shouldn't have excessive influence over the state's natural resources.


US House candidates meet for final debate

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — Republican Ryan Zinke and Democrat John Lewis sparred over the nation's health-care overhaul in their final debate in Montana's U.S. House race.

They were joined Tuesday by Libertarian Mike Fellows, who advocated for cutting government.

They met in Great Falls in the third debate with all three candidates before the Nov. 4 election to replace U.S. Rep. Steve Daines. Daines is leaving the seat to run for U.S. Senate.

Zinke supports repealing the Affordable Care Act, and he attempted to place the blame for the health law squarely on Lewis' shoulders. Zinke says Lewis must have at least helped draft it as a longtime aide to former U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, the bill's sponsor.

Lewis denied writing any part of the law as Baucus' state director, calling the idea ridiculous.


Man plans to plead guilty in oil patch killing

SIDNEY, Mont. (AP) — A Colorado man plans to plead guilty to killing a Montana teacher in a case that drew attention to the darker side of the Northern Plains' oil boom.

A plea agreement with prosecutors filed Tuesday calls for a 100-year sentence for 25-year-old Michael Spell on a charge of deliberate homicide.

Spell is charged with the 2012 murder of Sherry Arnold, a 43-year-old Sidney high school teacher who disappeared while jogging. Her body was found buried in a North Dakota field.

Spell is due in court Wednesday before District Judge Richard Simonton in Sidney.

Prosecutors want Spell to serve his time in prison. The defense will ask for him to be sentenced to the state health department, which would allow Spell to be sent to a facility for the mentally disabled.


Judge sets November hearing in gay marriage case

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A judge has set a Nov. 20 hearing in Great Falls for arguments in a lawsuit challenging Montana's ban on gay marriage.

U.S. District Judge Brian Morris scheduled the hearing Monday after four gay couples filed a motion for summary judgment that asks the judge to decide the case without a trial.

The couples are backed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Montana. ACLU officials have said that the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to strike down similar gay-marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada should mean a favorable ruling for the Montana couples.

Montana Department of Justice spokesman John Barnes has said the U.S. Supreme Court could still take up the issue in the future, so state attorneys plan to continue to defend the state's constitutional ban.


Montana's unemployment rate down to 4.6 percent

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell by 0.1 percentage point to 4.6 percent in September.

The national unemployment rate fell to 5.9 percent last month.

The Department of Labor says payroll estimates show the state added 1,900 jobs in September, but the increase was 983 jobs when taking agricultural workers and the self-employed into account. Montana's labor force increased by 694 workers in September while the number of unemployed declined by 289 workers.

Montana's unemployment rate was 5.3 percent in January. Payroll employment has added 9.700 jobs so far this year.


Widow wants new prosecutor in deputy's death

(Information in the following story is from: Great Falls Tribune,

GREAT FALLS, Mont. (AP) — The widow of a Cascade County deputy who was struck and killed during a car chase wants someone other than the county attorney prosecuting the case against the driver, who reportedly swerved and intentionally struck her husband.

Robynn Dunn told the Great Falls Tribune on Monday that County Attorney John Parker was the reason Adam Sanchez Jr. was out of jail at the time of the chase in which her husband suffered fatal injuries while trying to place stop sticks.

Sanchez is charged with deliberate homicide in Deputy Joe Dunn's death on Aug. 14.

Sanchez had been released from jail just two weeks earlier after he reached a plea agreement that called for a probationary sentence in another chase and Parker dismissed separate drug and firearms charges in anticipation of federal charges being filed.

Parker says he intends to prosecute the case.


Weatherman's opponent seeks equal radio time

(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette,

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings lawmaker whose demand for equal time cost his challenger his job as a weatherman on a local radio station is now seeking equal time from a Miles City radio station where Democrat John Pulasky delivers the weather several times a day.

The Billings Gazette reports Republican Rep. Clayton Fiscus is asking KATL for air time equal to that spent by Pulasky when he gives weather reports — just under 10 minutes per day.

KATL station manager Donald Richard says Billings isn't part of the area in which the station provides city-grade service and he won't grant Fiscus' request.

Fiscus' May complaint cost Pulasky his job with Northern Broadcasting, where he had worked for 24 years. Pulasky is now doing the weather for radio stations in Lewistown, Miles City, Plentywood and Wolf Point, but is making less money.


Tobacco products stolen from shipping company

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A Missoula-area shipping company has reported the theft of about $30,000 in tobacco products.

Missoula County sheriff's spokeswoman Paige Pavalone says when North Park Transportation employees reported to work Monday morning they found a back door to one of their shipping platforms was open.

Pavalone says the thieves took 17 cases of products including, tobacco, chewing tobacco, cigarettes and cigars.

Company officials believe an employee or someone with a key may be responsible.


Shooting trial delayed, witnesses doesn't show

(Information in the following story is from: The Billings Gazette,

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Billings woman who did not show up to testify at her husband's deliberate homicide trial was arrested on a material witness warrant and another warrant charging her with possession of drugs with intent to distribute.

The Billings Gazette reports 26-year-old Tricia Marie Scott was arrested Monday, just hours after the trial for 27-year-old Martin Pond Jr. was vacated and rescheduled for Dec. 1. Witnesses and dozens of potential jurors were sent home.

Pond is charged with shooting and killing 52-year-old Allen Douglas Alderman at Alderman's residence in Lockwood on Jan. 3. Charging documents say Scott was at Alderman's house when Pond showed up and the two men got in to an argument.

Pond remains jailed with bail set at $500,000.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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