MONTANA was one of the big movers in CNBC's annual ratings of Top States for Business. The Big Sky State rose six spots to No. 22 in the ratings announced on Tuesday.

Montana got its lowest market, 45, in the workforce category, and its highest mark, an 8, for the cost of business that firms face. The workforce score is based on such factors as education level of workers, numbers of available workers, and the state's ability to retain workers.

Montana managed to improve its place in the CNBC ratings while other states such as North Dakota that are heavily dependent on the energy industry saw their ratings drop significantly.

Utah finished first in the ratings while Texas was second. Rhode Island was last.

​JIM MESSINA, who graduated from the University of Montana's journalism school, won plenty of plaudits for overseeing President Obama's 2012 re-election campaign.

But now his reputation will suffer a setback with Great Britain's shocking 52-48 vote to leave the European Union.

Why's that? Because Messina was the Remain campaign's key strategist. He also played a role in arranging the visit of President Obama, his former boss, to visit Great Britain in April to oppose the "Brexit" plan. Some analysts now think Obama's visit may have backfired.

Most pundits and polls had predicted Messina's Remain campaign would prevail.

Matthew Elliott, the head of the Leave campaign, said his side knew it would be over-matched in many ways, and it didn't have the resources to bring in strategists from outside the country. "It was formidable (Remain campaign), but we felt with the right team, and the right strategy, we could do it," Elliott said.

A NEW national survey has some surprising results: Montana Sen. Steve Daines is one of the most popular senators in the country, while Sen. Jon Tester is among the least popular.

The analysis by Morning Consult was based on interviews of 62,000 Americans, but results for each senator were calculated based on responses from their constituents.  

Tester, a second-term Democrat, ranked No. 8 as the least popular senator, with a disapproval rating of 40 percent and an approval rating of 48 percent.

Daines, who was first elected to the Senate in 2014, ranked No. 17 on the list of the most popular senators. Daines had an approval rating of 59 percent; a disapproval rating of just 23.

The senator picked as most popular overall? Bernie Sanders of Vermont. Least popular? Senate leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

WHEN it comes to fiscal condition, Montana measures up pretty well. A new study by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University ranks Montana No. 10 in the country based on debt and other fiscal obligations. That was the same ranking the state had the prior year.

The study's authors said it was important for state officials to understand debt issues because growing long-term obligations for pension and health-care benefits are straining state finances so much.

The states in the best shape to deal with their debt are Alaska, Nebraska, Wyoming and North and South Dakota. Those in the worst condition, say the study's authors, are Kentucky, Illinois, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.

WHO'DA thunk it?

Billings is the winner of Outside Magazine's "America's Best Town of 2016." 

Billings was a surprise winner, coming out on top after starting as the lowest seed among the 16 teams that started the competition. It beat No. 1 seed Jackson Hole, Wyo, in the final round.

Outside Magazine, which picked the winner with weekly online voting, said on its website: “We looked for places with great access to trails and public lands, thriving restaurants and neighborhoods, and, of course, a good beer scene — all while excluding the winners and runners-up from the past three years to make room for hidden gems, underdogs, and towns on the rise.”​​

ANITA Whitworth, a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe, hates the Washington Redskin's moniker. She agrees with activists who argue that the problems that plague America's Indian reservations can be fixed only if the youth living there can take pride in who they are. 

Anita, a chemical dependency counselor, said she's been the victim of discrimination -- even called a "redskin" -- and she doesn't want her son to experience the same trauma.

Ironically, Anita's husband, Rusty, feels differently about the football team's name. “Just let them keep it,” says the laborer who works on ranches in the Flathead Valley. “It ain’t hurting nobody.”

Ironically, Rusty's opinion on the Redskin's name reflects the views of other Native Americans, by a long shot. A new Washington Post poll has found that nine in 10 Native Americans aren't offended by the name. The poll, which surveyed 504 people in every state and the District of Columbia, was consistent with the results of an earlier 2004 poll.



Helena motorcyclist apparently drowns after stunt on Canyon Ferry Lake

Grandson makes tribute jump in Butte to Evel Knievel

Billings-area Fritz fire 90 percent contained

Woman's thank you to highway patrolman goes viral online

Lawmaker wants to lift population cap on state's resort tax

Officials help dedicate Flower Creek Dam near Libby

Missoula building owner may close lobby due to 'predatory' transients

Head of Missoula refugee resettlement office ready to get to work

Record crowds have impact on Glacier Park's infrastructure

Canoe group battles sportsmen over proposed Jefferson River land deal

Nurses want to boost penalties for those who attack healthcare workers

Billings-area wildfire destroys 1 home, but now 40 percent contained

Crow Tribe celebrates water rights settlement

Yellowstone Park offers interpretation in Mandarin, 3 other languages 

Over 100 at ceremony honoring 4 who died in 1962 Air Force crash

Air operations suspended on Billings-area wildfire due to drone

Canadian kids playing Pokemon Go detained after crossing US border

Juneau attack on Zinke's position on federal land sales off base

Good crop of huckleberries expected this year after 2015's lousy crop

Vacationing mom saves life of 18-month-old boy who fell into creek

Carter boy, 3, saves his brother by pulling him away from rattlesnake

Fort Peck community organizer says she's 'afraid' after lawsuit filed

Wittich sues Bozeman man for defamation

Cascade County tables action on 2 solar projects after long hearings

Refugees from Congo may be bound for Missoula

Fire danger high as temps soar, but relief should be coming Saturday

Man gets 7 years in prison for setting fire to Helena ReStore

14 MT salmonella cases linked to backyard poultry

Flathead water compact still intact despite ruling strike down parts of it

Great Falls man faces charges for allegedly hitting mom with bat

Butte senator: Montana 'got the shaft' in Colstrip settlement


State schedules 2 hearings on health insurance premium rate hikes

Whitefish council approves 81-room Marriott hotel

Hard cider maker to build manufacturing plant, tasting room in Missoula

Watkins & Shepard laying off workers at Missoula maintenance shop

Montana's Hastings stores to close no later than end of October

State's film office suffering from high turnover




Billings' Aragon wins bronze medal in U20 world championships

Warm flows prompt fishing closures during heat of day

Malta's Tucker Schye expects good things for Griz this fall

Former Grizzly teams with Roger Federer for tennis racket commercial

Griz football player Joey Counts pleads not guilty to DUI

UM OKs 3-year deal for UM hoops coach DeCuire

Griz picked 2nd, Cats 7th/8th in Big Sky preseason polls


Yellowstone Park has a big problem: It's getting too darn popular

Stricter standards haven't stopped measures from getting on ballot

Opponents of Bozeman timber sale could buy the timber

Montana has some of the country's lowest energy rates

Juneau falsely claims Zinke favors transferring public lands to state

AG Fox shouldn't have joined lawsuit over transgender bathrooms

Paradise Valley isn't right place for a mine



With help of social media, Montana women find birth mothers

The Old North Trail: An ancient highway dividing mountains & plains

A look at some of Montana's most famous grizzlies

Former Flathead artist sells Ghost Rider painting to Nicholas Cage

How a guy from a MT trailer park overturned 150 years of biology

What did political writer Chuck Johnson once aim to be? A sports scribe



James Taylor to perform in Bozeman July 18

Butte's Evel Knievel Days run 3 days starting July 21

Red Ants Pants Music Festival set for July 28-31

Alabama, Chris Young among headliners at State Fair in GTF

Keith Urban plans Aug. 4 concert in Bozeman

Ziggy Marley to headline Billings Magic City Blues Festival in August

Jason Derulo on stage at MontanaFair in Billings Aug. 12

Emmy Lou Harris, John Prine performing in Gardiner Aug. 25

Former Eagles member to headline GTF's Harvest Howl Sept. 9

Def Leppard, REO Speedwagon, Tesla in Billings Sept. 14


Send tips to editor@montanabuzz.com


Earlier this month Blake Becker rode a specially equipped motorcycle 17 miles across Canyon Ferry Lake near Helena. Saturday night, he attempted to make a 'moonlight ride' across the lake, but his bike went down and authorities are searching for his body.  (MTN)

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

July 28, 2016