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


Oct. 24, 2016



Poll: Montana voters aren't too keen on anti-trapping ballot measure

Forecast: Montana should see above-average precipitation this winter

Drunk man breaks into Bozeman home he thought was haunted

MT law allows judges to ignore minimum sentences in sex cases

Secretary of State advises voters to handle ballots themselves

Billings police investigate thefts of mail, including absentee ballots

Washington Foundation donates $3.5 million to UM

Murder trial offers glimpse at Flathead Valley's drug culture

Billings legislative candidate accused of being racist

Federal worker who was assaulted in Glacier sues Interior Department

State, Crows settle dispute over taxing coal owned by tribe

Judge suspends Rep. Wittich's defamation lawsuit against letter writer

Lawyer protests lack of public input over $5.7M Koch grant to MSU

Will voters change complexion of Montana Legislature?

Poll: Majority of MT voters oppose medical-marijuana ballot measure

Senate president wants auditors to investigate health department

Billings man gets 100 years for abusing kids at mother's daycare

Rare but true: Dead people do vote in Montana

GOP worries about vote fraud through collection of absentee ballots

Judges rap GOP attack on Sandefur; Justice Rice endorses Juras

Sandefur attacks Juras, calling her unqualified for court

Juras questions whether recent Sandefur ad violates ethics rules

Warrants issued for Bozeman teen accused of killing friend in DUI crash

Jury convicts Kalispell man of stabbing death

Man credits bear spray for saving himself, daughter in grizzly attack

Fairview man found guilty of killing Kalispell woman

State board ponders giving new designations to its parklands

Bozeman authorities find body in a tree in park

Fish-kill parasite found in at least 7 other Montana rivers


Settlement with state hikes NorthWestern's property taxes 10% in 2016

WinCo grocery store coming to Helena

Costco plans new superstore on Missoula's west side

3 generations of Talcott family helped build Great Falls

Oil and gas industry sets priorities for legislative session

Judge gives reprieve to opponents of deconstruction of Missoula Merc

Blue Cross employees move into new Helena headquarters



Cats face stiff challenge in No. 3 Eastern Washington

High-flying Grizzlies tackle under-achieving Northern Arizona

Baker senior back at quarterback after 8-lb tumor removed from his lung

East Helena woman returns to finals of 'Extreme Huntress'

Grizzly's Gustafson put on player of the year watch list

UM's Wright, MSU's Hall named to preseason Big Sky all-star team

Cats turn to freshman from Norway to play point guard

Billings' Daine Muller wins hoops scholarship from Oregon State

Griz stay stuck at No. 10 despite their big wins


Voters should go with Stapleton for secretary of state

Bullock should get a 2nd term as governor

Sandefur best pick for voters for Supreme Court

Bullock deserves another term as governor

Sandefur is a better choice than Juras for the court

Romano will be a champion for public education

Zinke pragmatic choice for Congress

Laslovich excellent choice for auditor

Reject brain research ballot measure

Romano for OPI, Fox for attorney general, Sandefur for judge

Keep Bullock as governor

Thumbs down on ballot measure that aims to raise $ for brain research

Bullock best choice for governor

Juneau should replace Zinke in Congress

Tim Fox deserves 2nd term as AG



Blowing winds always a big factor on Montana's landscape

Along the Front, residents learn to bend with the wind

Cool fall day good time for visit to Upper Polosi Hot Springs

Crews clean litter, graffiti from wild cave near Belt

Montana-made film 'Certain Women' wins top prize at London film fest

In new memoir, Pete Fromm takes another solo walk in the woods

Montana historian reveals another book of ghost stories



Snoop Dogg performing in Missoula  and Billings in early December

Dierks Bentley to perform in Billings April 22

Faith Hill, Tim McGraw to play at MSU May 19

Send tips to editor@montanabuzz.com

Toby Walrath of Corvallis, president of the Montana Trappers Association, says advancements in technology have made traps more ethical and humane. That's one of the arguments his group is using in the campaign against Initiative 177, which aims to ban the trapping of animals on public lands. (Ravalli Republic)




BOZEMAN'S computer museum has nabbed quite an honor: A spot on USA Today's reader poll as one of the Top 10 free museums in the country.

"I'm just overjoyed we made the top 10," George Keremejiev, who co-founded the museum with his wife, Barbara, told the Bozeman Chronicle. "It validates out 25 years here."

The museum, located near MSU's Bobcat Stadium, covers 5,000 years of human communication. Its collection includes an original Apple 1 computer donated by  company co-founder Steve Wozniak.

TEXAS BILLIONAIRES Farris and Dan Wilks have attracted plenty of attention for buying more than 300,000 acres of Montana land in recent years, and sometimes getting into controversies over how they manage that land.

The brothers, worth an estimated $3 billion between them, spend about four months out of year in Montana and are building homes near their N Bar Ranch at Grass Range.

Now the Wilks brothers are buying up big chunks of land next door in Idaho. They've just bought 172,000 acres of land in Valley, Adams and Boise counties. No price was disclosed.

MONTANA'S natural resource industries have struggled in recent months, but the state has excelled in one economic category: Business startups.

It has the highest rate of startups among the 25 smallest states in the nation, according to a survey by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. It is the fourth time in a row Montana has finished at the top of the pack.

The Bullock Administration points to the rating as proof that it is on the right course in its efforts to promote business, while GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte says studies that show how low Montana wages are compared to those in other states is a better gauge of how the state is struggling economically.

FEELING FREE? Maybe you should, if you put any stock in a new study by the Cato Institute, which ranks Montana the 17th freest state in the country.

The libertarian think tank, which supports less government intervention both in the economy and in personal matters like abortion and drug use, ranks Montana as the 7th freest state in terms of fiscal policy (that's taxes, spending and the like.)

Montana ranks 21st nationally for personal freedom -- here Cato considers laws on such issues as drugs and gun control -- while it gets it lowest score in regulatory freedom: 30. 

Among the issues the study takes into account in doing its rankings are smoking bans, right-to-work laws, sin taxes as well as rules on everything from happy hours and direct auto sales to land use and occupational licensing.

New Hampshire and Alaska finished atop the rankings, while California and New York came in last.

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.