​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​              A daily digest of Montana news

Jan. 22, 2020



HAVE ANY idea how much the top one percent of Montanans earn on average? It is $304,000, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

​The state with the wealthiest one percenters is Connecticut, with an average income of $678K. The lowest is Arkansas at $228K.

Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Montana ranks No. 37.

How about our neighboring states? North Dakota does pretty well, coming in at No. 6 with the top one percent averaging $502K, probably due to all that oil and gas income. South Dakota is at $404K, Wyoming at $388K, and Idaho at $280K.

ARE MONTANANS some of the smartest folks in the country? Those who like to think so now have some ammunition to back them up.

An analysis by a web site called safehome.org says Montana is the fifth smartest state in the country. It follows only New Jersey, Utah, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. You can find the study at www.safehome.org/smartest-americans/

So how did the site determine just how "smart" a state is? It used such measures as this (Montana scores included): The percent of adults 25+ with bachelor’s degrees: 21.7%; public high school graduation rate (2016-17): 86%; median SAT score (2018-19): 1,199; and average composite ACT score (2017-18): 20.

Surprisingly, the state with with the lowest score was Idaho, right next door to Montana. That doesn't seem to add up, does it? Others at the bottom of the heap were Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.

GOV. Steve Bullock got some valuable air time recently for his presidential campaign. Only trouble is, the exposure was on CNN, which has lost a large portion of its audience in recent years.

CNN's town hall featuring Bullock and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio lured just 402,000 viewers -- the lowest number of the year for all the network's town hall events.

Viewership was down 25 percent overall, and 38 percent for the coveted 25-54 age bracket, compared to the average Sunday numbers for CNN from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

MONTANA has jumped into the top 10 of Bankrate.com's annual ranking of best retirement states. More specifically, the Big Sky state finished No. 9 -- ahead of states such as retirement havens Arizona and Nevada.

Montana gots its best mark -- No. 2 -- in the culture category, and a ranking of No. 16 in affordability. Its worst ranking -- no surprise here -- was No. 45 for weather. The state also received a 20 in the well category and a 31 for crime.

The top five states in this year's rankings were Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and Florida. The bottom five were Maryland, New York, Alaska, Illinois, and Washington.

DESPITE making several campaign trips to Iowa, Gov. Steve Bullock didn't win any support in the latest Iowa Poll of who leads in that state among the Democratic presidential contenders.

The poll shows Joe BIden with the lead, with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg in a close race for second. 

Bullock, who got into the Democratic presidential race late because of Montana's legislative session, didn't garner a single vote. In another part of the poll, 9 percent of those polled said they were actively considering Bullock. But there were 16 other candidates ahead of the Montana Democrat in that category.

Bullock's lack of support so far for his presidential ambitions is threatening his chances of getting on the stage for the first debate. Bullock and Montana Democrats said the rules that may keep him out of the debate are unfair.

MONTANANS enjoy seeing the state at the top of many national rankings, but there's one that doesn't justify much pride: Deaths from drunk driving.

“Montana is actually tied for first place in the entire nation for DUI fatalities,” says Kelley Parker-Wathne, Gallatin County DUI Task Force coordinator. “The alarm bells that go off is just a sad statistic.”

Montana also has a reputation for some of the nation's weakest DUI laws, and the recent legislative session tried to stiffen them. But time ran out on efforts to strengthen the DUI laws at the session's end.

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone Park, shown here covered in snow, is closed to tourists even during the summer months. A treasure hunter from Illinois was cited for climbing into the canyon on Jan. 6. Rescuers had to retrieve him during a snowstorm. (Powell Tribune)



Climber rescued from Yellowstone canyon was seeking hidden treasure

County attorney demands evidence be turned over in teen's death

Keystone prepares to move ahead with pipeline project in Montana

Almost 400 anti-Semitic emails sent to UM faculty, staffers

Montana medical officials not too worried about Wuhan flu

Body of missing Hardin girl found near rest area where she disappeared

Former Democratic legislator drops out of governor's race

Carroll College plans to offer accelerated degree in nursing

Montana religious-schools case could set precedents for country

Why did scientists err in predicting park glaciers would be gone by now?

Trial starting for man accused of running over, killing during summer fest

D.C. judges to hear arguments today over Badger-Two Medicine leases

Butte man dies while snowmobiling in southwestern Montana

Former massage therapist sentenced for sexual misconduct

Butte woman wins Profiles in Courage Award after home vandalized

Feds to spend $11M on weather stations, Missouri River flood control

States housing voucher program has long line of applicants

Hundreds march in Helena to back idea of 'putting a woman in charge'

Anti-abortion activists rally at State Capitol

Warming trend to push Arctic air from Montana

Billings schools face $4 million and major budget cutbacks

Man rescued, cited after rappelling into Yellowstone's Grand Canyon

Missoula Methodist leaders debate split over gay issues

Flathead water compact seen as victory by some, disaster by others

Montana VA wait times down while expansion underway, director says

Man kills grizzly in self-defense, admits keeping claws as memento

Supreme Court to hear MT ban on state money going to private schools

Ice jams and red tape leads to flooding in Choteau

Sobriety brought together 4 men who died in plane crash near Billings

Boy, 9, dies after semi crashes into pickup that had struck elk

Stevi woman sentenced for negligent homicide

Helena city manager put on leave after complaint filed


Montana, Wyoming seek Supreme Court ruling on coal exports

Lawmakers seek to protect MT interests as Weyerhaeuser deal looms

Big NorthWestern shareholder puts utilities on notice on climate risk

Flathead winery to capitalize on Montana-grown grapes

Missoula's JCPenney store to close in April

Pier 1 stores in Missoula, Great Falls and Kalispell closing


New map details more than 300 fishing access sites on MT rivers

MSU coach DeNarius McGhee leaving to take job with Houston Texans

Second skijoring event canceled due to lack of snow

Columbia Falls fires announcer over 'inexcusable' remark before game

NFL kicker Dan Carpenter, others being inducted into MT Football HOF

'World' skijoring championship set for Whitefish this weekend

UM's Dante Olson leads West with 7 tackles in Shrine Game


Why doesn't the state try to buy the land Weyerhaeuser is unloading?

PSC  must keep a close eye on cost of Colstrip plants to ratepayers

Some context to those legislators' Medicare for All op-eds

State has too many foster kids, too few caseworkers

Grizzlies are a lot smarter and more adaptable than we think

For some, there's an extra step required for return of ballots this year

Stapleton's race is already over, he just doesn't know it yet


Missoula boy, 11, can master Rubik's Cube in seconds

Remembering the Marias Massacre after 150 years

The case of the Ronan priest who disappeared 35 years ago

Columbia Falls blacksmith wins TV's 'Forged in Fire' -- and $10K

Residency programs brings doctors to rural Montana

87-year-old Hamilton man plans another climb atop Devils Tower

Artist who designed Darth Vader, C-3PO lived in Billings as a boy

Lakeside 8th grader praised for her sophisticated artwork


'The Daily Show' host Trevor Noah coming to Bozeman April 25

Cher plans Billings concert April 26

Kenny Chesney to play at MSU's Bobcat Stadium on July 5

Emmylou Harris, Jason Isbell among artists at Whitefish festival in July

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