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

Mar. 29, 2017



EPA finds contaminants, including cyanide, at Columbia Falls site

Troy native struggles after scandal over her racial identity

2 Billings 8th graders face felony charges for threatening school

Legislature ponders ways to fix overcrowding in MT's prisons, jails

Maxville couple haunted by death of their Rottweiler

Senate rejects 'revenge porn' bill amid confusion over language

Bullock vetoes bill allowing fees for certain health-care services

Senate advances bill banning abortions on 'pain-capable' fetuses

Records show House candidate Rob Quist has 16-year trail of debt

House endorses state loan of $10M to help keep Colstrip plants afloat

Senate committee endorses bill that funds fight against invasive species

Legislators pick 2 nominees for political practices office

Bill calls for funding almost half of game warden budget w/ federal funds

Panel rejects bill requiring museum to fund building by selling artifacts

Fort Peck tribal protesters march against Keystone pipeline

OPI report finds flaws in way ACT test scores were handled

House endorses 8 cents per gallon increase in state's gas tax

Room cleared after hearing over vote-by-mail bill gets too rowdy

More than 1,200 bison culled from Yellowstone Park herd

PETA miffed over upcoming bear exhibit at MSU

New prison warden comes to Montana from Nevada

Former legislator, UM biologist Bob Ream dies at 80

Man charged in DUI death settles for $100K payment from state

Prosecutor won't reopen case against man who made death threats

Flathead tribes closing reservation waters due to invasive mussels

Economic officer says bathroom bill could hamper MT's economy

Democrats take 2nd stab at raising taxes on richest Montanans

Green, independent candidates sue for spot on special election ballot

GOP legislators develop 2 different infrastructure measures

Lawmakers hear bill that would ban masks at protests

Legislation that would expand early education dies on party-line vote

Little time left for lawmakers to act on mail-in election bill

Butte residents fight use of abandoned school as homeless shelter


B/E Aerospace closing Great Falls plant in June, affecting 65 workers

Dillon bread maker hopes to harvest power of big data to go big

Bill to convert state's work-comp fund goes down to defeat

More Montanans turning to Airbnb

Senate acts to increase cap on resort taxes by 1 percent

Legislators table bill to privatize state's workers-compensation program

NorthWestern plans $3.7M upgrade to Ryan Dam near Great Falls


After losing father, MSU's Fish turns attention to off-season

UM's DeCuire drops out of running for Cal coaching job

After sterling freshman season, Cat QB Murray raring to go

Bull trout make a comeback in Glacier's backcountry lakes

UM's DeCuire interviewed for Cal coaching post

Howard is Gatorade player of the year for 2nd time

As Elle Tinkle wraps up Zags hoops career, she's eager to get on to next

Ryan Leaf happy to have a boring life after his early NFL infamy



State can't keep putting off construction of new museum

Selling off some of state's historical artifacts a poor idea

Vegetarian, rancher chew things over at the Capitol

Don't need more bureaucracy to solve problems at state parks, FWP

The flawed incentives in government health-care programs

Any new health-care program needs to protect Libby asbestos victims


Montanan collected every Ford ever made

2013 landslide creates new lake in eastern Montana park

Billings writer looks at Montana saddleries from territorial times on

Autio art collection a window into state's modernism movement

Homestead of man wanted for killing 2 men gets historic recognition

Deadliest place in Montana for snowmobilers? Cooke City

Top 5 TV commercials made in Montana

MSU researcher unearths iguana-like lizard that roamed earth long ago



A rundown on Montana's beer festivals in 2017​​

Dierks Bentley to perform in Billings April 22

Lil Wayne performing at UM April 24

Faith Hill, Tim McGraw to play at MSU May 19

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

Paul Simon performing in Billings and Missoula June 20 and 21

Brett Eldredge, Old Dominion performing at State Fair in Great Falls

Decemberists to headline indie music fest in Missoula Aug. 12-13

Florida Georgia Line, Nelly coming to Missoula, Bozeman in September

Send tips to editor@montanabuzz.com

Montana's legislators are reviewing a package of bills that aim to address overcrowding in the state's prisons and jails, including the Gallatin County jail, shown in the above photo. (Bozeman Chronicle)



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.​​