AS MONTANANS, it often seems as if we have to drive long distances to go where we want to go. After all, we're the fourth largest state, with just over 147,000 square miles.
But ironically, we have some of the shortest commutes to work. Montanans have the fourth shortest travel times to work, with a mean travel time of 18 minutes, according to the American Community Survey of the US Census Bureau.
Our neighbors in South Dakota, Wyoming and North Dakota have the nation's fastest commute times at 17, 17.5, and 17.9 minutes, respectively. The longest commutes are in Maryland, where it takes 32.5 minutes to get to work.
"AN ARMY marches on its stomach," Napoleon Bonaparte once declared.
So does a Legislature, it appears. And the nice thing for the legislators, and the folks who work around them, is that much of the food is free.
If you want to get in on the action -- or you just want to read a glib account of who is providing the latest free snacks at the Capitol -- you can look up the Twitter account called "MT Capitol Free Food."
One recent tweet noted that advocates for a new Historical Society museum had set up a spread in the Rotunda and, as they were 'looking for a $40M building--you gotta think the free food will be nothing less than historic."
Another noted that the Montana Trappers Association was hosting a free lunch. "No word if beaver mink or gopher on menu," quipped Free Food.
MONTANA'S long been home to a lot of celebrities. And it looks as though it may soon make room for two more. Or rather, make that three.
Actor and singer Justin Timberlake and his wife, Jessica Biel, who is expecting a baby later this month or in early April, are said to be planning to move into a vacation home they own at the Yellowstone Club at Big Sky.
The couple reportedly wants to spend more time in Montana so their child can "experience as much mountain life as possible."
WANT TO know how your legislator voted on this issue or that? Here's an easy way to find out.
Just visit this new web site sponsored by the Secretary of State's office: "See How They Voted."
"At the end of the day its important to elect representatives to make decisions based on reason and issues facing their communities," said Secretary of state Linda McCulloch. "Its important for voters to see if they are following through on their commitments."
IS HE or isn't he? For a long time now, Montanans -- as well as pundits and other Americans -- have speculated on whether former Gov. Brian Schweitzer would run for president in 2016.
Schweitzer seems to have been happy to have encouraged the speculation. In recent years he's made a number of trips to Iowa, where the leadoff caucuses would take place. And he's been plenty complimentary of the voters there, as well as in New Hampshire, another early primary state.
But while Schweitzer has always been coy about his future political plans, he told the Great Falls Tribune last week that he won't be running for president. His decision likely is related to getting into hot water last year for several gaffes that included comments about former GOP leader Eric Cantor and Sen. Diane Feinstein.
MONTANANS feel pretty good overall about their situation. At least when compared to residents of other states.
How do we know? That's what the Gallup polling organization has determined in its annual survey of the well-being of residents of all 50 states. Montana ranked 5th.
Topping the list was Alaska, followed by Hawaii, South Dakota, and Wyoming. At the bottom of the list: Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia.
The ratings are based on five factors: Sense of purpose, having satisfactory personal relationships, personal health, lack of financial stress, and enjoyment and safety in the community.
Montana's best ranking (No. 2) was in the last category. Its lowest (No. 33) was in personal relationships. This is how it did in the other categories: Purpose (No. 10), finances (8), and health (9).
A daily digest of Montana news
March 28, 2015
The Senate voted 26-24 for a bill that is designed to protect the Colstrip power plants from possible efforts by Washington state to shut them down. (Billings Gazette)
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