ARE MONTANANS some of the smartest folks in the country? Those who like to think so now have some ammunition to back them up.
An analysis by a web site called safehome.org says Montana is the fifth smartest state in the country. It follows only New Jersey, Utah, Massachusetts, and North Carolina. You can find the study at www.safehome.org/smartest-americans/
So how did the site determine just how "smart" a state is? It used such measures as this (Montana scores included): The percent of adults 25+ with bachelor’s degrees: 21.7%; public high school graduation rate (2016-17): 86%; median SAT score (2018-19): 1,199; and average composite ACT score (2017-18): 20.
Surprisingly, the state with with the lowest score was Idaho, right next door to Montana. That doesn't seem to add up, does it? Others at the bottom of the heap were Oklahoma, New Mexico and Arizona.
GOV. Steve Bullock got some valuable air time recently for his presidential campaign. Only trouble is, the exposure was on CNN, which has lost a large portion of its audience in recent years.
CNN's town hall featuring Bullock and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio lured just 402,000 viewers -- the lowest number of the year for all the network's town hall events.
Viewership was down 25 percent overall, and 38 percent for the coveted 25-54 age bracket, compared to the average Sunday numbers for CNN from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
MONTANA has jumped into the top 10 of Bankrate.com's annual ranking of best retirement states. More specifically, the Big Sky state finished No. 9 -- ahead of states such as retirement havens Arizona and Nevada.
Montana gots its best mark -- No. 2 -- in the culture category, and a ranking of No. 16 in affordability. Its worst ranking -- no surprise here -- was No. 45 for weather. The state also received a 20 in the well category and a 31 for crime.
The top five states in this year's rankings were Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, South Dakota and Florida. The bottom five were Maryland, New York, Alaska, Illinois, and Washington.
DESPITE making several campaign trips to Iowa, Gov. Steve Bullock didn't win any support in the latest Iowa Poll of who leads in that state among the Democratic presidential contenders.
The poll shows Joe BIden with the lead, with Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg in a close race for second.
Bullock, who got into the Democratic presidential race late because of Montana's legislative session, didn't garner a single vote. In another part of the poll, 9 percent of those polled said they were actively considering Bullock. But there were 16 other candidates ahead of the Montana Democrat in that category.
Bullock's lack of support so far for his presidential ambitions is threatening his chances of getting on the stage for the first debate. Bullock and Montana Democrats said the rules that may keep him out of the debate are unfair.
MONTANANS enjoy seeing the state at the top of many national rankings, but there's one that doesn't justify much pride: Deaths from drunk driving.
“Montana is actually tied for first place in the entire nation for DUI fatalities,” says Kelley Parker-Wathne, Gallatin County DUI Task Force coordinator. “The alarm bells that go off is just a sad statistic.”
Montana also has a reputation for some of the nation's weakest DUI laws, and the recent legislative session tried to stiffen them. But time ran out on efforts to strengthen the DUI laws at the session's end.
THE COUNTRY is a whopping $22 trillion in debt, so some wags have suggested a reasonable solution: Sell Montana to Canada.
It isn't a total solution, as they expect Canada to pay just $1 trillion for the Treasure State. But it's a start.
The idea came from Ian Hammond, a petitioner at Change.org, who's hoping to get 7,500 signatures for his idea.
“We have too much debt and Montana is useless,” Hammond wrote, with tongue planted in cheek, in support of his plan. “Just tell them it has beavers or something.”
Even some Montanans endorsed the idea. “I'm Montanan and hoping to join Canada without the moving costs,” CJ Williams wrote in support. “Let's do this. Please adopt us.”
"I'm a Montanan and really hope that becoming Canadian makes me a nicer person," said Steve Hammond.
UPDATE: Some Montana legislators have decided to weigh in on the "lets-sell-Montana-to-Canada" petition with a "let's don't" resolution of their own.
Rep. Forrest Mandeville, R-Columbus, proposed the resolution so lawmakers could have a little fun amidst all the serious issues they wrestle with.
Rep. Jessica Karjala, D-Billings, objected, with tongue in cheek, saying: " "What about those of us who would like more maple syrup, better tea and free healthcare?"
"It's still an option to move to Canada," Mandeville replied, according to a report in the Great Falls Tribune.
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Montana Gov. Steve Bullock suspended his campaign for president on Monday. He had struggled to raise money or get any traction in the polls.
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Dec. 9, 2019