A daily digest of Montana news
Oct. 24, 2016
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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 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.