Making curbside alcohol sales permanent

by Eric Dietrich
Montana Free Press


A bill heard at the Montana Legislature Tuesday would allow curbside alcohol sales by bars, breweries and restaurants on a permanent basis, extending temporary rules adopted to help businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

House Bill 226, sponsored by Katie Zolnikov, R-Billings, is supported by a coalition of hospitality sector business groups that have often disagreed over alcohol-related bills in the past.

Among the measure’s supporters are the Montana Tavern Association, Brewers Association, Restaurant Association and Beer & Wine Distributors Association.

Supporters said relaxing the state’s previous restrictions on alcohol sales would make it easier for hospitality businesses to recover from the pandemic. They also said the temporary curbside sales rules issued by former Gov. Steve Bullock last year haven’t caused major issues.

“It worked during a global pandemic, so if it can work successfully, then I believe it can work successfully all the time,” Zolnikov said Tuesday during the bill’s initial hearing before the House Business and Labor Committee.

If passed by the Legislature, the bill would let businesses with alcohol licenses sell both packaged alcohol and prepared mixed drinks to-go. It also includes a provision that would explicitly let those businesses sell alcohol at drive-through windows.

Additionally, the bill includes provisions that simplify “dock sales” by alcohol distributors and make it easier for them to deliver shipments to hard-to-reach customers like mid-slope ski lodges.

No one spoke in direct opposition to the bill at Tuesday’s hearing. Republican Rep. Neil Duram of Eureka, however, did indicate he was concerned about Montana seeing higher numbers of fatal crashes involving impaired drivers last year.

Bill supporters said the bill does nothing to change the state’s existing open container law.

The House Business and Labor committee will vote on moving the bill forward in the legislative process at a later date.

U.S. Senator Daines Honors Montanan of the Week

Statement submitted to Congressional Record
U.S. Senate

February 3, 2021





“Mr. President, this week I have the honor of recognizing Dale Hankins of Chouteau County for volunteering countless hours to support his fellow veterans.


When Dale was 10 years old, a friend of his father, a WWII vet, carried a diamond willow cane. Dale was so intrigued by the way the diamonds stood out, he couldn’t take his eyes off of it. At the age of 17, he made his first attempt at carving a cane, and soon realized and appreciated the effort it took to create such beautiful craftsmanship. By the time he finished, his hands were so full of blisters he decided to pursue other hobbies.


Dale later joined the United States Army and served in Charlie Company, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, as an Airborne Infantry Soldier. After receiving his honorable discharge, he returned to Montana and joined the Montana Army National Guard. Having a renewed appreciation for the sacrifices veterans give, he picked up his hobby again in 2007 and began making Diamond Willow canes for disabled veterans. Each one is unique and personalized for the veteran, and an American Flag is included on the handle of each cane.


Dale hasn’t stopped since. He invests 80 hours or more to make each cane beautiful and durable, all at no cost to the veteran. Veterans across the nation from Florida to Washington are proudly using his gift which has aided in their quality of life.


It is my honor to recognize Dale for his efforts to support and appreciate our heroes for the sacrifices they have made for our great nation. The compassion and commitment of these extraordinary veterans are an inspiration to us all.”


– U.S. Senator Steve Daines



Through his “Montanan of the Week” initiative, each week Daines will highlight a Montanan by submitting a statement of recognition in the official Congressional Record, the document that reflects the official proceedings of Congress.

Daines welcomes anyone to nominate fellow Montanans for Daines’ “Montanan of the Week” program by calling Daines’ office at 202-224-2651 or by filling out the contact form on Daines’ website:

Park the car or park the phone:

Committee Hears Bill Banning
Cell Phones in Work Zones

By James Bradley

Legislative News Service

UM School of Journalism

Feb 1, 2021


HELENA — A bill in the Montana Legislature would make it illegal to use a cell phone while driving through a work zone.

Between 2015 and 2019, the Montana Department of Transportation reported about 1,000 car crashes in work zones — 14 of them fatal.

House Bill 237 is sponsored by Rep. Denley Loge, R-St. Regis, who said at a committee hearing Monday that the legislation is aimed at bringing those numbers down.

“The time you would lose, or the inconvenience you may lose through that work zone is not worth somebody’s life,” Loge said.

The bill’s six supporters pointed to construction worker’s safety rather than motorists.’

Gabe Priebe of the Montana Department of Transportation spoke in support of the bill.

“You know there just isn’t enough room for a margin of error on this,” Priebe said. “So for the safety of MDT employees and for the safety of contractors, I would ask you to support this.”

If the bill passes, Montana drivers would still be able to use CB radios and hands-free devices while driving through work zones.

Workers on the job would still be able to use their cell phones while driving. But, Chairman Barry Usher, R-Billings, said he thought the law should apply to everyone.

Loge told the House Judiciary Committee he sponsored similar bills in 2017 and 2019 that did not become law.


James Bradley is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association, the Montana Newspaper Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

LC Health Department COVID-19 update

As of Feb. 5 at 9:30 a.m. Lincoln COUNTY Health Department has reported; 2 new cases, 42 active cases, 1,387 recovered cases, 12 deaths, 62 total hospitalizations, 7 current hospitalizations, and a total of 1441 cases.

For more information contact Lincoln County Health Department at 283-2442 located at 418 Mineral Ave. in Libby or visit

ServeMontana, Reach Higher Montana, and Montana Campus Compact are pleased to extend the application deadline for the Youth ServeMontana Scholarship to February 28, 2021.

Up to 100 of Montana’s high school seniors will be selected to receive a $1,000 scholarship for their volunteer service in their respective communities. Qualifying students will have completed 50 hours or more of direct service within the last 12 months and will attend a Montana Campus Compact Institution this fall.

Virtual, remote, and COVID-19 response service hours are accepted and encouraged. COVID-19 response and related service will be taken into consideration and weighted during the application scoring process. Because this scholarship honors students’ dedication to their communities, it does not use GPA as a factor when determining eligibility.

Reach Higher Montana is dedicated to helping students pursue and fund post secondary education; the Governor’s Office of Community Service is a state agency tasked with expanding and promoting service in Montana. The Governor’s Office of Community Service administers the scholarships.

Questions? Contact the Governor’s Office of Community Service at (406) 444-9077 or email
Those wishing to apply for the 2021 ServeMontana Scholarship may do so by visiting