Legislators to consider 8 cents per gallon hike in state's gas tax

Montana officials alarmed by surge in meth use in state

GOP official: Dems are hypocrites for bringing in New Jersey speaker

Missoula mayor talks of his struggles with alcohol, depression

Florence physician asks court to drop 400 charges

Zinke has stopped voting in the House while waiting for confirmation

House speaker says problem of keeping Colstrip plants open is complex

Sales raps Gianforte at GOP dinner in Townsend

Helena deputies: Woman upset after 1-night stand tries to run over man

Researchers can't find invasive mussels in Flathead Lake

Legislator asks committee to table his voter ID bill

Panel cuts funding for senior and long-term care

Former Arlee man gets 40 years for beating death of his nephew

GOP legislators seeks to bar Motl from political practices work

Cameron family gives MSU $4 million for scholars program

Logging picks up on Helena-Lewis & Clark Forest

Committee OKs conditional increase in funding for foster care system

Democrats say GOP state schools chief is 'missing in action'

Lawmaker wants to let people keep foxes as pets

Zinke confirmation bumped to March, parties delay picking replacement

MT university students face 22% tuition hikes under lawmakers' plan

2 legislators call for keeping Boulder development center open longer

Committee rejects funding hike for special education students

Bill would require insurance rates be based on driving record

Human rights groups claims hate groups on rise in Montana

House OKs bill giving new judges to Yellowstone, Missoula counties

State agency promises to more actively monitor pay raises

Governor, pay-equity advocates seek higher wages for women

Tribes, wildlife advocates square off against ag groups over bison bill

On phone Town Hall, Daines defends his actions

Legislators push constitutional amendment that aims to rein in regs


BUSINESS / ECONOMY


Montana banks see opportunity in changes to Dodd-Frank Act

PSC says it didn't approve big rate hikes NorthWestern has levied

Hospitals in Butte, Billings and Miles City move to regional model

Missoula aviation firm hopes to land international firefighting contracts

Bullock hopes to lure large outdoor show to MT after it leaves Utah

Contractors, and other MT firms, face shortage of skilled workers

Lawmakers mull changes in alcohol-licensing system

House OKs bill that allows more exempt water wells in developments

Supreme Court upholds conviction of Belgrade Ponzi scheme thief


SPORTS / OUTDOORS 


Grizzlies trip Portland State, 85-82

Bobcats notch 3rd straight win, beating Sac State

Lady Griz fall to Portland State 68-45

Lady Cats race past Sac State 104-82

Bobcats beat Portland State in overtime, 92-90

Grizzlies fall to Sac State, 67-65

Portland State breaks Lady Cats' 7-game win streak

Sacramento State runs past Lady Griz, 99-69


OPINION

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Some very bad gun bills at Legislature should be shot down

Lawmakers shouldn't deep six the political practices office

Local option taxes would bring many benefits

State should use mail-in ballots for special House election

Observations with the session one-third done

Gazette editor: Daines a party lackey

Don't eliminate the political practices office

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FEATURES


Montana filmmakers hooked on the movie business

Book by Miles City native to be made into movie

Blackfeet riders commemorate Bear River Massacre of 1870

History of African Americans in Montana in the spotlight

Butte to honor 100th anniversary of nation's worst mining disaster

History of the Bozeman Pass, from coal to conservation

Farmer's wheat creations please the eye, not the palate


CALENDAR​​

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Rocker Elton John to perform March shows in Bozeman, Missoula

Rock group Journey to play at MSU March 21

Dierks Bentley to perform in Billings April 22

Faith Hill, Tim McGraw to play at MSU May 19

Def Leppard, Poison and Tesla to perform at MSU on May 31

Send tips to editor@montanabuzz.com

Rep. Frank Garner, R-Kalispell, wants to increase Montana's gas tax by 8 cents a gallon, which would make it one of the nation's highest. (Helena IR)

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

Feb. 19, 2017

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FIFTEEN YEARS ago, Helena banned smoking in its workplaces, restaurants, bars and casinos. In the ban's first six months, the city's rate of heart attacks plunged by almost 60 percent. Then, when a judge lifted the ban, the rate of heart attacks climbed back to where it had been.

Three anti-smoking advocates -- Helena physicians Richard Sargent and Robert Shepard as well as UC-San Francisco researcher Stanton Glantz -- produced a study that declared the 60 percent drop in heart attacks showed that a smoking ban "not only makes life more pleasant; it immediately starts saving lives."

The study was widely reported by the media -- usually with lack of any skepticism -- and hailed by health officials and others. Soon, governments everywhere, even overseas, were enacting smoking bans, often citing the Helena study as a prime reason.

But the funny thing is, as Jacob Grier reports in a fascinating article in Slate magazine, all those smoking bans created the opportunity for much broader -- and more accurate studies -- of the impact of secondhand smoke on heart health. And they've basically found there are little if any.

"And now that the evidence has had time to accumulate, it’s ... become clear that the extravagant promises made by anti-smoking groups—that implementing bans would bring about extraordinary improvements in cardiac health—never materialized," Grier says. ''Newer, better studies with much larger sample sizes have found little to no correlation between smoking bans and short-term incidence of heart attacks, and certainly nothing remotely close to the 60 percent reduction that was claimed in Helena. The updated science debunks the alarmist fantasies that were used to sell smoking bans to the public, allowing for a more sober analysis suggesting that current restrictions on smoking are extreme from a risk-reduction standpoint."

Grier says recent studies also suggest that there's no clear link between passive smoking and lung cancer. He acknowledges secondhand smoke can be a real annoyance, but that shouldn't spur society to make laws that are based on bad science.


HELENA CAPITAL High School graduate Wesley Edens is a whole lot wealthier with the sale of the Fortress Investment Group to Japan-based SoftBank. His stake in the bank is reportedly worth $511 million.

The New York Times reports that the deal will allow Edens to focus on his  strength -- working as a fund manager -- without having to deal with the headaches of running a publicly traded company.

Edens, who co-chairs Fortress and who purchased the Milwaukee Bucks with Marc Lasry three years ago, graduated from Capital High in 1979.

A few years ago, Cassandra Liska, who oversees a scholarship program that Edens set up at Capital High School, described him as is "a self-made man who came from a ranch and built an empire."


SO DID Tom Brady take his family to Disney World, as Super Bowl MVPs usually do? Nope. Brady's celebrating his fifth Super Bowl victory with a ski vacation at Big Sky.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King tipped off the world to Brady's whereabouts with a recent interview in which the quarterback dissected the big game. King didn't actually spell out exactly where he interviewed Brady -- the piece carried the ambiguous dateline "SOMEWHERE IN MONTANA" -- but previous stories have noted that Brady owns a home at the Yellowstone Club at Big Sky. And King talked about flying into Bozeman for the interview.

King starts his piece this way: "This was the most amazing thing about the two hours I spent with 39-year-old Tom Brady on Sunday afternoon in a cabin (well, it’s called a cabin, but the getaway area for the Brady clan is pretty darned well-appointed) in the shadow of one of the most beautiful mountains in the world:

“I have zero pain,” Brady said, almost one week to the hour after he took the field for Super Bowl 51. “I feel great. I feel 100 percent.”

In part 2 of King's interview, Brady explains how he keeps in such great shape at age 39. He also explains that he tries not to "give my power away" by getting upset with the criticism that comes his way. Montana helps maintain his balance by giving him a place when he can just be himself.


THE MOST dangerous job in Montana? Maybe it is pizza delivery driver.

Consider the Kalispell pizza person who recently ran off the road and got stuck in a snowbank. In order to get help, the driver walked to a nearby home. Big mistake. 

The driver reported he was bitten by three dogs at the residence. The Flathead County sheriff's office is investigating.​​


THE HEADLINE on the Dec. 21 letter to the editor of the Helena IR said: "Trump's pick for EPA a puppet for polluters." The writer, Caitlin McWilliams, said in her last sentence: "Our country deserves a champion for public health, not a puppet for polluters."

The same day the Missoulian ran a letter that had this headline "EPA nominee a puppet for polluters." And it was worded almost the same, including the same last sentence. So did McWilliams send her letter to the Missoulian? No, authors of the Missoulian letter were Todd and Andrea Onken.

So how did that happen? Did the Onkens copy McWilliams' letter, or vice versa? 

No, what most likely happened is that McWilliams and the Onkens are members of an environmental group that asked members to submit the letter to their local papers. The letter has shown up in at least one other paper across the country.