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

Sept. 22, 2020



HAVE ANY idea how much the top one percent of Montanans earn on average? It is $304,000, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

​The state with the wealthiest one percenters is Connecticut, with an average income of $678K. The lowest is Arkansas at $228K.

Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Montana ranks No. 37.

How about our neighboring states? North Dakota does pretty well, coming in at No. 6 with the top one percent averaging $502K, probably due to all that oil and gas income. South Dakota is at $404K, Wyoming at $388K, and Idaho at $280K.

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.

File photo shows a NorthWestern Energy presentation before the Public Service Commission earlier this year. This week a district judge released dozens of PSC documents that show a pattern of bullying, harassment, and spying at the agency. (Helena IR)




Statistical model suggests MT may not get 2nd congressional seat

State reports record number of COVID cases -- 224 -- on Friday

Missoula man charged with aiming laser at airplane near Great Falls

Glacier Park officials faced a summer like no other

Russell Museum reopens after 2 week closure, tells auction results

Montana officials react to death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Toxic air could damage lungs long after fires are gone

Black bear spotted swimming in Flathead Lake

PSC documents reveal bullying, spying and harassment at the agency

Regents approve $1.5 billion budget for University System

60 Montana schools have seen at least one COVID-19 cases

GOP lawmakers seek rule changes ahead of next session

19-year-old MT helicopter pilot joins fight against California fires

Court rejects strip searches for inmates facing misdemeanor offenses

UM, MSU see enrollment declines amidst pandemic

Court reverses 2 of Florence doctor's negligent homicide convictions

Audit finds that MT voter rolls included 500 dead people, none voted

How will a mail-voting system work in Montana?

2 motorcyclists accused of hassling Yellowstone bison

County attorney: Hiker shot Billings man in self-defense

Candidates discuss how faith influences their views on policy issues

Elections expert sees scant evidence of vote fraud in Montana

Bullock touts economic impact of Medicaid expansion

Big crowd turns out to hear VP Pence speak at Belgrade rally

Pence, other GOP officials tout work of Republicans

Air quality in many parts of Montana now called 'unhealthy'

Former Carroll student accused of rape, filming students in bathroom

State's first lady apologizes for violating spectator rules at sports event

Bozeman school officials mull return to in-home learning 

Work starts on first phase of Meagher County copper mine

Plane crash near Seeley Lake kills 2, injures another



Missoula officials still see future in downtown Riverfront development

Rib & Chop House opens Bozeman location

Scientific institute moving its headquarters to Missoula

Vacation towns in MT, elsewhere see new medical pressures w/ COVID

State Fund to give $20 million back to policyholders this fall

Food Network's 'Restaurant Impossible' filming at Billings cafe

Bozeman airport adding nonstop flights to Fort Lauderdale

Decker coal mine to furlough 73 workers until January



Former NFL star Mike Tilleman of Havre dies at 76

Big Sky to stick with spring football

Montana native Steve Reeves became Hollywood's 1st strongman actor

Former Griz hoopster pleads not guilty to allegedly strangling girlfriend

Naseem Gaskin removed from UM men's hoops team roster after arrest

Former Cat Alex Singleton makes Eagles 53-man roster

Lewis & Clark Co switches course, will allow fans at sporting events



Voters should pay attention to PSC's antics

Less than 60% of Montanans have responded to Census; get counted

COVID-19's impact weigh much more heavily on the elderly

Bipartisanship good for for Montana and congressional delegation

State was right to change course on inmate death notices

New Corrections policy on notification of inmate deaths is wrong-headed

Bob Brown: After 7 decades as a Republican, I'm leaving the party


A riding longhorn steer turns heads in the Bitterroot Valley

Retired metal fabricator turns work skills into arresting art

Historic Schafer Meadows airfield restored using mules, dirt graders

Investigators still mystified by remains of man found near Marion in 2003

After losing most of her fingers, Billings artist returns to painting

Beekeepers guild helps struggling bee populations in Flathead Valley

State prison program helps inmates connect with their kids


Under the Big Sky Music Festival postponed until 2021

Toby Keith concert in Billings rescheduled for Sept. 17

Foreigner concert in Butte rescheduled for Oct. 25

MSU's Kenny Chesney concert rescheduled for July of 2021

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