Northwestern Energy Protects Customers

The electricity NorthWestern Energy provides to its Montana customers is nearly 60-percent carbon free, from the hydro system that is now dedicated to serve Montana customers, as well as from wind. The energy NorthWestern’s system produces is already lower in carbon than the EPA Clean Power Plan’s Montana target for 2030. And, 80-percent of the energy efficiency achieved in Montana has occurred through NorthWestern Energy programs. These are basic facts everyone should celebrate.

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Dining Local

I started September with a mission to make an extra effort to Dine Local at each and every opportunity. The nationals have had my patronage for decades, their top of mind awareness is difficult to ignore. I need to stay cognizant of that, and not just pull into the same restaurant of habit, so I will be digging a little deeper into our Magic City and surrounding areas to find a variety of new local choices.

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Guest Commentary - Smell of Diesel, Better

In a recent editorial, Representatives Ballance, Wittich, and Glimm defended the defeat of Montana’s Infrastructure Bill (SB416) as “right for Montana”. To borrow a phrase from MSU President Cruzado, I respectfully disagree. While legislators may have voted correctly for their districts, defeating SB416 was not right for Montana. As I was involved with SB416 from the beginning, let’s discuss why:
In the past few sessions the legislature has adjourned with historic levels of taxpayer dollars left in the State Treasury. These funds were neither returned to the taxpayer nor invested to benefit future generations. When the legislature is not in session, funds left in the Treasury often bleed to programs that have not been publically vetted.

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Farm Burea Applauds Food and Drug Administration for GMO labeling decisions

The Montana Farm Bureau is applauding the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for rejecting petitions to the White House for mandatory labeling of GMOs.
“Farmers and ranchers have been producing genetically enhanced food for more than two decades without sacrificing nutrition or food quality,” said MFBF President Bob Hanson. “Using GMO crops allows farmers to grow food with less input, which is a plus for the environment. The fact the nation’s leading authority on food safety recognizes this is rewarding. We’re pleased to see this administration recognizes how biotechnology is changing the way we grow food—for the better. Consumers have the right to know what’s in their food, but they need scientific facts.”

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Guest Commentary - Bruce Tutvedt

Shared Goals

Through independent research and analysis, Montana Stockgrowers, the Montana Farm Bureau, and the Montana Chamber of Commerce have determined that the Confederated Salish and Kootenai (CSKT) Water Compact is in the best interest of Montana. These groups prioritized the needs of Montana business and industry, farms and ranches, and the families they support over out-of-state agendas.

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Guest Opinion - Jesse O'Hara

Dear Editor,
Republican Party bosses - Senator Matt Rosendale, State Chair Jeff Essmann, and Representative Keith Regier - in sworn depositions and press releases, hope to justify why their lawsuit to limit voter choice by closing primaries has merit for Montanans.
These “bosses” lament that they need to reduce voter choice in order to force elected Republican legislators to better follow their directives. Regier voiced that the actions of those not voting with the party were “demoralizing” to those that fully embraced top down control. Rosendale felt there was a “distressingly low amount of discipline” exhibited by “dissidents” that were not blindly obedient to the bosses. Finally, Chair Essmann went on record by stating his intention to limit voting to a declared cadre of ‘loyal’ party members.
In an effort to defend their actions, the party “bosses” consistently point to four key policy areas to illustrate “dissident” behavior:
First, to justify their opposition to the Water Compact, the party bosses have attempted to paint support as a Democrat position. If this characterization were true, why were Montana’s well-respected Republican leaning agricultural and business groups strong compact supporters? The better question is why the party bosses ignored Montana groups like the Farm Bureau, Stockgrowers, Grain Growers, and the Chamber of Commerce?
Second, the bosses opposed legislation to enhance transparency and reduce dark money electioneering in Montana. As polls measure huge bipartisan support for transparency, the real question is why do the party bosses support dark money?
Third, the bosses defined support for a Montana medical plan as a Democrat position. Again, if this were partisan, isn’t it odd that most Montana’s rural hospitals, many with Republican leaning boards, were adamant that without a timely solution rural hospitals would be forced to close. Why did the party bosses choose to align with Kansas based American’s for Prosperity instead of heeding Montana voices?
Finally, the bosses were actively complicit in lawsuit and legislative efforts to eliminate the influence of Montana’s historically independent voter base. Why would the party bosses seek to reduce the influence of the voter while further empowering themselves?
An examination of the supposed sin of “dissidence” reveals a common theme. “Dissident” legislators put their conscience, their constituents, and the groups that represent Montana constituencies first - ahead of the directives of the party bosses and out of state advocacy groups like Americans for Prosperity and American Tradition Partnership. Shockingly, it appears the sin of dissidence occurred when legislators honored their constitutional obligation to represent their constituents instead of the desires of their party bosses.
Let’s be brutally honest. The party bosses are asking the courts to limit voter choice in primaries in order to transfer power and influence from Montana voters to themselves. They are part of a court lawsuit because they know that legislation to close primary voting is so offensive to Montanans that it would never pass. Ironically, this request for “legislation from the bench” is being made by the same “bosses” that previously spent much of their time discrediting just such court actions. It appears that hypocrisy is unbounded by those seeking enhanced political advantage.
The most famous American “dissident” was Thomas Paine. His publication, “Common Sense” was the seminal work that fueled America’s revolt against remote authoritarian “bosses” and their foreign ideologies. I ask that Montanans show the same “common sense” when evaluating the actions of party bosses Rosendale, Reiger, and Essmann. Their work to limit voter choice and to intimidate elected officials into strictly adhering to their prescribed party line voting must be emphatically rejected.
Montana will remain the last best place as long as legislators put their constituents and conscience ahead of party bosses.
Jesse O’Hara
Former Montana Republican
State Senator and Representative
2533 Snowy Plover Dr.
Lakeland, Florida 33810

School Choice Law Excludes Religious Schools Participation

Montana’s new school choice program is scheduled to launch in January, but already it’s running into constitutional problems. Proposed regulations don’t allow faith-based schools to participate in the program, which is discriminatory and unconstitutional, one attorney says.
Potential regulations for Montana’s new school choice program would unconstitutionally ban religious schools from participating, an attorney says.
“They’re interpreting their own constitution to require these rules, but they’re incorrectly interpreting their constitution,” said Erica Smith, a lawyer at the Institute for Justice.

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Why Make Retirement Plans Harder for Small Business?

Of all the things the Obama Administration has proposed against employers, I’m amazed that our government is now trying to make it illegal for many retirement experts to help small business owners set up 401(k), or other types of retirement plans, for their loyal employees. The US Department of Labor (DOL) is proposing a “fiduciary regulation” that favors large businesses over small businesses by letting financial experts help big businesses, but not small businesses. Why would DOL want to do this?

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Tax Dollars at Work

So what’s the purpose of a $40 million bus line in Colorado that serves a string of small ski towns, whose minimal rider numbers have earned it a place on a list of most wasteful “pork projects” of Congress?
“By 2017, our region will significantly reduce dependence on oil through a resource-efficient, climate-friendly multimodal transportation system with a regional express line unimpeded by traffic and weather, competitive with the private vehicle in terms of convenience, travel time and quality,” the Roaring Fork Transit Authority declared in 2006 when first planning the high speed bus line.

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Market Update

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