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Whitefish residents held a "love not hate" rally January 7, 2017 in response to calls from a neo-Nazi website to target locals with anti-Semitic online harassment.
Nicky Ouellet

A Jewish rabbi in Whitefish is receiving national recognition for her leadership in standing up to anti-Semitism. Rabbi Francine Roston is one of this year’s Rabbinic Human Rights Heroes, awarded by T’ruah, a nonprofit organization of rabbis that advocates for human rights.

Many Democrats are hoping the GOP health care bill that narrowly passed the U.S. House of Representatives is going to push political momentum their way, and result in big gains in the 2018 midterm elections. A special election next week in Montana may be an early test for this theory.

Libertarian candidate for U.S. House Mark Wicks (L) was in Kalispell last weekend inviting his supporters to show off their "ugly trucks."
NIcky Ouellet

Democratic U.S. House candidate Rob Quist rallied supporters in Kalispell this weekend with the help of Senator Jon Tester. Libertarian candidate Mark Wicks was in Kalispell too, inviting his backers to show off their ugly trucks. Nicky Ouellet reports.

Matthew Monforton
Montana Legislature

The U.S. Supreme Court Monday turned away challenges to open primaries in Hawaii and Montana.

Bozeman attorney Matthew Monforton, who served as a Republican Legislator in 2015, concedes this is the end of the line for Montanans who support closed primaries:

A coal mine on the Crow Reservation was the first stop for Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Montana.

After Air Force Two landed, Pence climbed into a waiting vehicle and went directly to the Crow Reservation.


U.S. House Candidates Greg Gianforte (L) and Rob Quist (R).
Corin Cates-Carney/Josh Burnham

About $12 million is fueling the special election between Democrat Rob Quist and Republican Greg Gianforte, according to latest campaign finance disclosures.

The money pouring into Montana’s sprint race to fill the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House now exceeds the total from the previous House race held in 2016. In that race just over $9 million was spent, according to reports from the Federal Election Commission.

Montana is home to over 150 gun manufacturers, the highest number per capita in the nation.
PD

The United States is a big player in the global arms trade, and nationwide, Montana is pretty into the gun business, it has the highest number of licensed gun manufacturers per capita of any state.

But not very many Montana guns are sold overseas. Montana’s Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines are trying to change that for people like Peter Noreen.

Sally Mauk: Welcome to "Capitol Talk," our weekly political analysis program. I'm Sally Mauk And I'm joined by veteran capitol reporter Chuck Johnson and University of Montana political science professor Rob Saldin.

SM: And Rob two new polls show the House race between Greg Gianforte and Rob Quist is narrowing from double digits to within six to eight points with Gianforte still leading but is getting closer what's going on do you think?

Rob Quist held a roundtable on women’s health with current and former state lawmakers in Missoula, May 12, 2017.
Eric Whitney

On the day Republican candidate Greg Gianforte was grabbing headlines around Billings because of Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to the state, Democrat Rob Quist was at a low key event in Missoula.

Quist held a roundtable on women’s health with current and former state lawmakers Marilyn Ryan, Ellie Boldman-Hill Smith and Carol Williams, as well as Dr. Joey Banks from Blue Mountain Clinic, and Stacie Anderson, who is on the board of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Montana.

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has detected elevated levels of volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds in samples taken from the oily sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers.
Nicky Ouellet

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has detected low levels of volatile organic compounds and semi-volatile organic compounds in samples taken from the oily sheen on the shoreline of Flathead Lake near Somers.

In a statement, the EPA says it still has not determined the cause of the sheen that was first reported early last week and expects final, validated sampling results next week.

2015 photo of the female wolf from Yellowstone's Canyon pack. The wolf was found mortally wounded from a gunshot on April 11 near Gardiner, MT.
Jim Peaco - Yellowstone National Park (PD)

The investigation continues into the shooting of a wolf that was popular with Yellowstone National Park tourists.

Yellowstone spokeswoman Morgan Warthin says hikers discovered the mortally wounded wolf on April 11:

Last September China announced it was ending its ban on U.S. beef imports after a 2003 Mad Cow scare in Washington State.
(PD)

Montana beef producers say they can’t wait to regain access to the enormous Chinese market after a 13-year hiatus.

The Montana Stockgrowers Association’s Errol Rice says today’s announcement that China will resume U.S. beef imports by mid-July is great news:

Donald Trump Jr. returned to Montana on May 11 to rally supporters for U.S. House candidate Greg Gianforte in Butte, Montana.
Corin Cates-Carney

Donald Trump Jr., the head of the NRA, and Republican candidate Greg Gianforte rallied supporters in Butte, Thursday morning, two weeks before voting ends in the special election to decide Montana’s next lone representative in the U.S. House.

When the race started, Democrats saw the May 25 special election as an opportunity for a referendum against President Donald Trump. But Trump Jr. promised the crowd of about 170 supporters gathered outside a mining equipment and supply store just south of Butte’s uptown, that this would be a referendum of a different kind.

Elementary school students in Whitefish may get a new school building if voters in the district approve to fund a bond initiative next October.

The Whitefish School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved the bond initiative of $26.5 million-dollars earlier this week.

Vice President Mike Pence and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke are scheduled to visit a coal mine on the Crow Reservation Friday. The Trump Administration has voiced its support for the coal industry, but spokesmen for the industry and an environmental organization aren’t certain what can be done to help that ailing energy source.

Regents React To Feedback On Tuition, Fee Increases

May 11, 2017

Two members of the Montana Board of Regents were at MSU-Billings Wednesday, May 10, 2017, to hear from faculty, staff and students on how to keep higher education affordable and accessible.

The regents are scheduled to meet later this month to set tuition and fees for the coming two years.

Bullock Vetoes 10 More Bills, Including Water-Well Measure

May 11, 2017
Montana Capitol.
William Marcus

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed 10 more bills Thursday, including one that would have allowed residential subdivision developers to resume drilling multiple small water wells from the same water source without a permit.

University Hall at The University of Montana
Josh Burnham

The University of Montana will be presenting its voluntary early retirement plan to eligible faculty Friday.

UM President Sheila Stearns says early retirement will be offered, “exclusively to a subset of full-time tenured faculty at the university’s main campus and Missoula College.”

Over 300 supporters line up in Hamilton before a Greg Gianforte, Donald Trump Jr. campaign rally April 21, 2017.
Rachel Cramer

Donald Trump Jr. will be making his second visit to Montana today, hitting the campaign trail with Greg Gianforte for a series of rallies across Montana. Gianforte is the Republican candidate vying for Montana’s U.S. House seat in the May 25 special election.

Greg Gianforte at his home in Bozeman in 2016
Eric Whitney

Yesterday I spoke with the Republican candidate for Montana's US House seat, Greg Gianforte.

ERIC WHITNEY: When we last talked to you about the House healthcare bill, last Thursday, that was the day the House passed the bill, at the time you told us you need a little more time to study it before you could say whether you would have voted for it. So, would you have voted for the House bill?

These scientists are using GPS units to record precise locations of the edges of Grinnell Glacier.
USGS

Newly released data say glaciers in Montana’s Glacier National Park have shrunk as much as 85 percent since the 1960s, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Some are now so small they’ve lost the characteristics that make them glaciers.

Methane flaring.
WildEarth Guardians (CC-BY-ND-ND-2)

The U.S. Senate could not muster enough votes Wednesday to undo rules designed to reduce methane pollution.

Senators voted 51-49 Wednesday against an attempt to eliminate an Obama-era rule to limit methane emissions from oil and gas production facilities on federal and tribal lands.

Sen. Jon Tester.
PD

Montana’s senior U.S. senator is calling for a special investigator to look into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

The Cut Bank voting center.
Corin Cates-Carney

Before Rob Quist became a politician, or toured the country in a bluegrass band, he lived in Cut Bank, a rural Hi-line town near where the Rocky Mountains meet the eastern plains.

The young Quist lived on a ranch just north of the town with his family. Back then, Cut Bank was one of Montana’s big-time oil producers, Quist was his high school’s student body president, and he helped the Cut Bank Wolves win a state basketball championship, leading the team in scoring in the title game.

Georgia Smies, an aquatic biologist for the Flathead Tribes, plays a game about the impacts of aquatic invasive species with students from Lolo
Nicky Ouellet

This week, the shore of the lower Flathead River west of Ronan is the biggest classroom in Montana. Fourth and fifth graders from across western Montana are here for the River Honoring, an annual event hosted by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, where they learn about the plants and animals native to the reservation.

An escalating trade war brewing between the United States and Canada could save timber mills in Montana, but at the cost of over 1,000 jobs north of the border in British Columbia.
(PD)

An escalating trade war brewing between the United States and Canada could save timber mills in Montana, but at the cost of over 1,000 jobs north of the border in British Columbia.

It all started in April, when the Trump administration slapped tariffs on softwood lumber coming across the border, making them up to 24 percent more expensive. It’s something Montana lumber producers have been asking for, and it’s a test of Trump’s ‘America First’ trade policy. 

Glacier National Park visitors wait for the shuttle bus.
Flickr user, Mike Willis (cc-by-2.0)

Starting this weekend, Glacier National Park will begin operating a spring transit shuttle for hikers and bicyclists traveling the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Going-to-the-Sun will be vehicle free for several weeks. 

(PD)

Healthcare has again moved toward the top of the agenda in Montana’s special election race for the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House. Whichever candidate wins the race, there’s no way they’ll be able to represent everyone in Montana on healthcare.

Montana Governor Vetoes Bills On Abortion, Concealed Weapons

May 9, 2017
Gov. Steve Bullock.
Freddy Monares - UM Legislative News Service

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed a proposal that would bar doctors from performing late-term abortions and another that sought to allow lawmakers to carry concealed weapons in the Capitol and other state property.

The vetoes were among the seven his office announced Tuesday as he continued to sift through a pile of bills sent to him by now-adjourned lawmakers.

C.R. Anderson Middle School in Helena is closed temporarily due to fire damage.
Dan Boyce

It’s a short school week for students at a Helena middle school that was damaged by a fire Monday afternoon.

Classes were canceled today at C.R. Anderson Middle School and won’t resume until Thursday at the earliest. 

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