Category: Montana Economy

Bill to Congress would complete the Continental Divide Trail

WASHINGTON (KDVR) – With over 160 miles of its route unfinished, the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail has never been completed, forcing hikers to use roads to connect to the next part of the trail.

The Continental Divide Trail Completion Act – introduced by U.S. Representative Joe Neguse, D-Boulder, to Congress on Friday – would order the U.S. Forest Service to complete the trail before its 50th anniversary in 2028.

“As a proud Continental Divide Trail walkway community, the Town of Grand Lake is pleased to support the Continental Divide Trail Completion Act to conserve and improve access to the natural, scenic, historic and cultural resources of the region. along the Continental Divide, ”Grand Lake said Mayor Steve Kudron.

“Completion of the Continental Divide Trail will benefit the community of Grand Lake and the thousands of visitors who flock to the city for its natural environment and recreational resources,” said Kudron.

The trail follows the Continental Divide for over 3,100 miles and stretches from Canada to Mexico. The northern part of the trail ends at the Canadian border in Glacier National Park.

The trail passes through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.

“People from all over the world visit our community to enjoy the Continental Divide Trail as it touches the sky at Grays Peak – the highest point of any National Scenic Trail,” said Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue. .

“The Continental Divide Trail Completion Act will support our economy and ensure this trail remains a national treasure for generations to come,” said Pogue.

As a National Scenic Trail, the Continental Divide Trail provides a protected beauty area for the public to connect with nature.

Fish Tales: How Can Anglers Help Save Montana’s Ailing Trout? | Local News

Eddie olwell

Courtesy photo


In this summer of unprecedented drought, fire and heat, we are seeing firsthand the social and economic impacts of global warming.

Two of Montana’s industries that depend on abundant drinking water, fly fishing and agriculture are particularly affected. Pastoralists are struggling with a shortage of hay, beekeepers are seeing a drop in honey production, and food producers are seeing a decrease in crop productivity.

Our trout fisheries are suffering terribly from the effects of low flows and high temperatures. Trout need cold, clean water and begin to be affected as water temperatures reach 60s.

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks has instituted “Hoot Owl” restrictions and outright fishing closures on 17 of the state’s rivers and streams to protect stressed trout populations.

Along with this year’s drought, the FWP has seen a sharp decline in brown trout populations in many large trout streams in the upper Missouri watershed. This is of particular concern as brown trout are more resilient and can survive poor water quality and higher temperatures than our native trout. Many thought browns would be better off in a warmer climate.

Biologists are studying the decline of brown trout in these rivers but have yet to find a smoking weapon. One theory is that brown trout are less successful at spawning due to the low flow rates in the fall when they spawn. These problems can be overwhelming for the average fly fisherman and seem like a solution beyond our control.

Letter to the Editor: Make ARPA’s Money Work | Letters to the Editor

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) has provided Montana with a unique opportunity to make the investments our state needs to stimulate a strong economy, while training and employing Montanese in high paying jobs.

ARPA will provide Montana nearly $ 3 billion in additional funding for our local governments, schools, workers, and those affected by COVID-19.

ARPA funds are intended to restore those hardest hit by COVID-19, but also provide Montana with the opportunity to overcome long-standing economic hurdles the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated. To maximize the benefits for workers, Montana should invest in effective, long-standing training programs to ensure our workers have the skills they need today and tomorrow; require companies receiving ARPA dollars to comply with labor laws; fund the enforcement of rights at work; and mandate benefit agreements that require employers to pay good wages and respect workers’ rights to join unions.

Directing benefits where they are needed most to enable workers in Montana to reach their full economic potential requires sound political decisions. There are proven out-of-the-box programs that can retrain workers into higher paying jobs in growing industries.

Montana businesses and workers are struggling now. We must act now to put shovels in the mud and get Montanais into high paying jobs. The money is in the bank, let’s put it in the hands of people who can put it to good use.

Outdoor Recreation Contributes to 2.7% of Louisiana’s Annual GDP | Way of life

In the past year, closures linked to the pandemic have prompted Americans to head outdoors to find open and safe places to relax and exercise in record numbers.

In 2020, an additional 7.1 million people went outdoors, and overall outdoor recreation participation exceeded 52% for the first time on record, according to the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA). Among the most popular activities was fishing, which attracted more participants from several age, race and gender groups.

The increase in outdoor participation has undoubtedly given a boost to the outdoor recreation industry which was already booming before the pandemic hit. In 2012, the industry contributed approximately $ 350 billion to the US economy. As 2020 approaches, that contribution has jumped to over $ 450 billion. And with consumers leaving in record numbers over the past year, the industry’s contribution to the economy is likely to grow.

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis classifies “outdoor activities” under a wide range of hobbies and exercises, including: boating and fishing; sports such as golf and tennis; VR; festivals, sporting events and concerts; amusement and water parks; and snow activities like skiing and snowboarding.

Of these activities, boating and fishing add the most value to the economy, accounting for an impact of nearly $ 25 billion in 2019. This number is likely to increase as boat sales have increased by 13% in 2020. Those who behaved well financially during the pandemic likely had the extra resources to buy a boat, either by fulfilling a long-held dream or by offering their families a new way to enjoy the outdoors .

For those on tighter budgets, fishing has presented an economical option to enjoy the outdoors and time spent with friends and relatives. The number of first-time fishing participants jumped 42% in 2020, prompting US Fish and Wildlife Service Senior Deputy Director Martha Williams to tell the OIA, “We are delighted to see so many new and returning fishermen enjoy our country’s waters.

Sports recreation and VR were the second and third most impactful activities, according to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The increase in outdoor participation seen across the country in 2020 has been particularly beneficial for states economically dependent on outdoor recreation. To identify the states most reliant on outdoor recreation, Outdoorsy researchers analyzed data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and created a composite index based on the share of GDP, employment, and earnings in the country. outdoor recreation industry in every state.

Based on these factors, Outdoorsy identified a diverse set of states, both coastal and mountainous, to top the list. Notably, Hawaii was the only state in which outdoor recreation accounted for at least 5% of its GDP, employment, and earnings. In the mountain region, Montana and Wyoming stood out as the two states most economically dependent on outdoor recreation.

Democrats’ spending plan could make free college a reality

Senate Democrats on Monday released the text of a budget resolution, which sets the framework for a $ 3.5 trillion spending plan.

Among widespread investments in social programs and climate policy, the budget resolution would make community colleges free for two years – a move President Joe Biden has been advocating since the election campaign.

“Basically, this legislation aims to restore the middle class to the 21st century and giving more Americans the opportunity to make it happen, “Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., told colleagues in a letter.” By making education, care more affordable health care, child care and housing, we can families a step ahead. “

The Senate could pass the bipartisan $ 1,000 billion infrastructure bill as early as Tuesday, then move “immediately” to passing the budget resolution, Schumer said. Democrats can pass the spending plan without a Republican vote if all 50 of their members support the budget, in a process known as reconciliation.

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Twenty-five states, including Arkansas, Indiana, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Tennessee, already have free community college programs statewide, and more are expected to follow ahead. that the coronavirus pandemic does not strain state and local budgets.

In state programs already in place, students receive a scholarship for the amount of tuition that is not covered by existing state or federal aid.

Most are “last dollar” scholarships, which means that the program pays tuition and fees remaining after applying for financial aid and other grants.

How long will it take for colleges in your state to be free?

Source: Campaign for free tuition

Enrollment in four-year private colleges would fall by about 12%, while enrollment in public universities and four-year community colleges would increase by about 18%, according to a study on the economic impact of free tuition. some tuition fees by the Campaign for Free College Tuition and student advocacy group Rise.

“You have a net effect of almost 2 million more students enrolled in college,” said Robert Shapiro, lead author of the study and former economic adviser to President Bill Clinton.

“Release him and they will come,” he said.

I can’t think of a single policy change that would affect the long term prospects of as many people as it would.

Robert shapiro

former economic adviser to President Bill Clinton

Graduation rates would also increase, Shapiro found, leading to increased social mobility and higher incomes overall.

“I can’t think of a single policy change that would affect the long-term prospects of as many people as it would,” he said.

Over time, “I’m pretty confident that in the end this program will pay off,” Shapiro added. “This will increase revenue and also increase underlying productivity, which [in turn] increase business income and profits.

“It’s the closest thing to a win-win.”

Although the overall employment trend is moving in the right direction as the economy recovers from the pandemic, millions of Americans are still out of work and in financial difficulty.

According to a survey by Junior Achievement and Citizens, a quarter of last year’s high school graduates delayed their college plans, in large part because their parents or guardians were less able to cover the costs.

According to another recent report by the Horatio Alger association, half of the students who do not attend university or who do not enroll in a vocational and technical education program would have attended if they had received financial aid. adequate.

Even fewer students enrolled in community college due to the pandemic.

Community college students are likely older, low-income, and often have a balance of work, kids, and other obligations. They are also disproportionately people of color – all groups that have been particularly hard hit by Covid.

However, not all experts agree that free college is the best way to tackle the university affordability crisis.

Critics say low-income students, thanks to a combination of existing grants and scholarships, are already paying public schools little or nothing in tuition.

Additionally, the money does not cover fees, books or room and board, all of which are costs low-income students struggle with, and the diversion of funds to free tuition could occur. do so at the expense of other campus operations, including the hiring and retention of faculty. and administrators.

Plus, the community college is already significantly cheaper. In two-year public schools, tuition was $ 3,770 for the 2020-21 school year, according to the College Board. Alternatively, in four-year public schools the tuition was $ 10,560, and in private four-year universities it averaged $ 37,650.

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A flood of American tourists is not expected as soon as the borders reopen on Monday

“It’s an industry that is really going to have a hard time coming back. It will not be all at once as we would like. But we just keep putting one foot in front of the other ‘

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Fully immune Americans will be allowed to cross the land border into Canada starting Monday, but Alberta’s tourism industry does not expect an influx of visitors from the United States.


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This is the first time since March 2020 that Americans will be allowed to enter Canada at the border for non-essential travel, as the federal government relaxes some public health restrictions put in place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic .

Travelers will need to provide proof that they received their second vaccine at least 14 days earlier, as well as a negative COVID-19 test. Children under 12 who cannot yet be vaccinated are allowed to enter the country if their parents are fully vaccinated.

While businesses will welcome U.S. visitors again, those dependent on tourism in Alberta certainly won’t see an overnight recovery, according to Tourism Calgary CEO Cindy Ady.

“We see this as a great signal and an important step,” said Ady, explaining that opening the border allows the industry to market longer-term travel options, including the upcoming ski season.


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“It’s a new protocol, and any new protocol takes a while to get rid of the bugs and get started. Our sales force, they’re forward selling right now.

The Banff & Lake Louise Hospitality Association, which represents the accommodation and food services industries in the popular Rocky Mountain tourism hotspot, said it was “grateful” for the chance to welcome back those from the States. -United.

They said that although domestic tourism has continued, visitors from outside the country account for much of the region’s spending.

“The impact of the border closure has been nothing short of devastating for Canada’s tourism industry and this is especially true in resort destinations like Banff National Park which are highly sought after by US and international visitors,” said said Darren Reeder, executive director of the association.


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“The busiest summer months are an important time for the functioning of our tourism economy, and spending by US and international guests contributes greatly.”

About two-thirds of annual revenues for businesses in Banff and Lake Louise come from the summer months, Reeder said, making Monday’s reopening timely.

Cascade Mountain reflected in the Bow River in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.
Cascade Mountain reflected in the Bow River in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.

Tourism spending is down “significantly” from pre-2019 pandemic levels, Ady said, although early indicators of Alberta’s summer reopening show businesses in and around Calgary have done better than expected during the Calgary Stampede.

Although many Albertans choose to travel within the country, they generate much less economic activity than international visitors. In previous years, Ady said international tourism was only about 25 percent of activity, but 75 percent of spending.


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The limiting factor for some companies to return to pre-pandemic activities is the level of staff, she said, especially in the hospitality industry. But with the reopening of borders, these sectors may be able to increase their hiring efforts.

“Being able to say ‘Yes, the country is open’ – that’s something we haven’t been able to say for 16 months,” Ady said. “It’s an industry that is really going to have a hard time coming back. It will not be all at once as we would like. But we just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Reopening the border is only a one-way street, as the United States has yet to say when Canadians will be able to drive south of the 49th parallel. The US land border remains closed to Canadians until at least August 21.


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Reopening Canada’s land border is one of many steps the federal government is taking on Monday to ease the rules for travelers entering the country.

Quarantine hotels will be removed, meaning air travelers will no longer have to isolate themselves in an airport hotel at their own expense while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test.

More airports will also allow international flights. Previously, only Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver allowed flights, but now they will also be allowed to land in Edmonton and several other Canadian cities.

Last month, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney signed a letter alongside Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe and three state governors calling on the United States and Canada to reopen the border “immediately”, asserting that countries must “reduce mitigation measures that cause economic damage and encourage travel for business and tourism.” . “

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Twitter: @jasonfherring



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New Executive Order Orders USDA To Consider New Rules Under Packagers And Stockyards Act | Top story

GREAT FALLS, Mont. – A new executive order from President Joe Biden directs the United States Department of Agriculture to consider issuing new rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act.

According to a statement from the Montana Farmers Union, the Executive Order encourages competition in the US economy.

“Agriculture has become more and more consolidated, with fewer and fewer companies accumulating more and more control over agricultural production, from equipment to animals,” the statement said. “This consolidation of corporate power threatens the livelihoods of the people who grow our food, compromising national food security. “

In the Order, the President:

  • Directs USDA to consider issuing new rules under the Packers and Stockyards Act that make it easier for farmers to file and win claims, prevent monopolies from business to exploit and underpay farmers, drive down consumer prices, and adopt retaliatory protections for farmers who speak out against bad practices.

“The purpose of the Packers and Stockyards Act is to ensure market competition in order to protect consumers and farmers from corporate manipulation,” said Walter Schweitzer, president of the Montana Farmers Union. “The lack of enforcement of the Packers and Stockyard Laws has cost many farmers and ranchers their livelihoods. We are pleased to see this executive order directing the USDA to review rules that protect producers from unfair trading practices. “

Power outage affecting NorthWestern Energy customers in Billings

Democrats want to bring chaos back to the debt ceiling

Congress votes from time to time on whether or not the US economy will collapse. So far, lawmakers have not actually voted for economic ruin. But for some inexplicable reason, they decide to keep voting over and over again, offering free leverage to opposition parties to secure political concessions in return for avoiding widespread hardship. Now Democrats seem poised to keep this indefensible cycle going.

This dead man for American financial stability is the debt ceiling, an archaic mechanism by which Congress allows the Treasury to borrow money for expenses already authorized by Congress. As I noted in May, and as countless other commentators have noted before me, refusing to raise the debt ceiling does not actually reduce federal debt. What a refusal would do, however, is force the United States to default on its national debt, plunging the financial system – and the economy as a whole – into chaos.

Senate Democrats plan to omit an increase in the debt ceiling in the next budget measure due to be unveiled in the coming days, according to a Politico report on Wednesday. Thanks to obscure Senate procedures, this measure cannot be obstructed. Instead, according to the outlet, Democrats “are considering a short-term funding bill designed to avoid a government shutdown at the end of September as the next opportunity for action to limit debt,” said a senior lawmaker – an approach that would require Republican support. ”

Deadline Detroit | Gallery: Mural Festival Brightens Detroit’s North End With Eye-catching Walls

Big-idea artists with crazy mural painting skills enrich Oakland Avenue north of Detroit’s New Center with more than two dozen stylish murals.

Their creativity was harnessed by the first BLKOUT Walls Murals Festival, which officially took place last weekend and unofficially continues with the finishing of the work of a few attendees.

Over 20 spray paint stylists from Detroit, Brooklyn, Boston, Chicago, Memphis and Denver have transformed the side and back walls of commercial buildings into vivid and flashy street art – courtesy of the owners and the support of sponsors who include the Knight Foundation, the Kresge Foundation, Ford Foundation, Vans shoes, Detroit Pistons spray paint and Montana Cans.

One of the goals was to sow “the seed of an arts-based economic development, or creative economy, within the North End community”.

This is the brainstorming of Sydney G. James from Detroit, Thomas “Detour” Evans from Denver and Max Sansing from Chicago, three of the participants. “The BLKOUT Walls team did NOT come to play,” James wrote on social media.

See sample results below and by visiting Oakland Avenue and the adjacent streets between Owen Street and East Grand Boulevard. This map shows the wall sites.

Photos of Michael Lucido

By Rob Gibbs from Boston (Instagram: @problak)

Mural celebrating Delores Bennett (1932-2017), Wayne County Commissioner and founder of the North End Youth Improvement Council. (Artist: Sydney G. James)

By Mississippi artist Michael Roy at 952 Clay St. (Instagram: @Birdcap)

Collaboration by Miranda Kyle (IG: @cupcakebombb) and Demien De Yonte (IG: @ deyonte6908)

“Evogatove of Ingenuity” by Bakpak Durden from Detroit, an artist from Murals in the Market 2019 (IG: bakpakdurden)

Bakpak Durden, high on an elevator, completes another piece with co-founder of the Sydney G. James Festival in Detroit (IG: @sydneygjames).

Mural by Sydney G. James and Bakpak Durden. (IG: @sydneygjames)

By Chicago painter Rahmaan Statik at 8718 Oakland Ave. (IG: @rahmaanstatik)

By artist Joseph Perez from across the building above (IG: @sentrock)

Tribute from Brooklyn artist Victor “MARKA27” Quiñonez (IG: @ marka_27) to the late rapper-producer James Dewitt Yancey, aka J Dilla (1974-2006)

Murals by Habakkuk Samuel Bessiake (IG: @hsbessiake), Torrence Jackson (IG: @torrencejayy) and Joe Cazeno III (IG: @cashiesh)

By Janel Young (IG: @ jy.originals)

mural by artist Kobie Solomon (IG: @kobiesolomon_official)

BCSA needs help | Letters

Letter to the Editor icon2

BCSA needs help

The Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act is a bill introduced in Congress by Senator Jon Tester that will further protect the Blackfoot River by extending protections to its sources as part of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. The BCSA will also create more space for outdoor recreation near the Blackfoot and Clearwater rivers, and improve timber production and forest restoration in and around Seeley Lake.

We need public policy that works to help one of the fastest growing economic sectors in Montana – tourism and outdoor recreation. With the BCSA, Montana will protect an additional 80,000 acres of public land, ensuring it remains unspoiled as pristine wilderness that responsible outdoor enthusiasts enjoy.

Montana has a small delegation speaking for us in Washington, DC. Montana Paradise. I hope the rest of our elected officials will follow suit, so that we can protect our public lands and our outdoor economy.

Canada brings in vaccinated U.S. citizens on August 9

Toronto (AP) – Canada announced Monday that it will begin allowing fully vaccinated U.S. citizens to Canada on August 9 and other global citizens on September 7.

Authorities are exempt from the 14-day quarantine requirement on August 9 for eligible travelers currently residing in the United States and receiving a full course of the COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Canada. Noted.

Homeland Security Minister Bill Blair, who said he spoke to US Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mallorcas on Friday, said the United States has yet to indicate its intention to change current border restrictions . Canadians can travel to the United States with a negative COVID-19 test.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki was asked if the United States would make a round trip to Washington, saying: “We are continuing to review travel restrictions. Decisions to resume travel will be guided by public health and medical professionals. Would like …. I wouldn’t see it. By mutual intention. “

Brian Higgins, an American Democrat from the district including Buffalo and Niagara Falls, said the United States “has not taken the necessary precautions to reopen the northern border. There is no excuse.

Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) Said he was encouraged by Monday’s announcement, but the border is expected to be reopened “completely and immediately”.

“It’s time to reopen the Montana-Canada border, not in a few weeks now, but now,” Danes said in a statement. “This is essential for Montana’s family, agriculture, work and tourism. “

Senator Steve Daines (D-Mont.) Called the announcement “good news for the Montana economy” and “is proud to work with the Biden administration and Canadian authorities to find a safe reopening plan for the northern border. I think so. “

Canadian officials have also announced that children who are not vaccinated but are traveling with vaccinated parents do not need to be quarantined, but should avoid group activities, including schools and daycares. do.

Transport Minister Omar Argabra also said the ban on direct flights from India will be extended until August 21 due to a variant of the Delta. “The situation in India is still very serious,” he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said last week that Canada could start allowing fully vaccinated Americans inside the country for non-mandatory travel from mid-August and by early September, from all the countries. He said he should be able to accommodate vaccinated travelers.

Canada leads the G20 countries in terms of vaccination rates, with approximately 80% of eligible Canadians being vaccinated with the first vaccination and over 50% of eligible Canadians being fully vaccinated.

“This weekend, we overtook the United States in terms of people fully vaccinated,” Trudeau said. “Thanks to the increased vaccination rate and the decrease in COVID-19 cases, we can proceed with coordinated border measures. “

Trudeau said the first reopening in the United States was “a recognition of our unique bond, especially between border areas.”

At the start of the pandemic, the US and Canadian governments closed more than 8,800 kilometers of borders to non-essential traffic. Some were unhappy that the two governments had no plans to fully reopen their borders due to rising vaccination rates and falling infection rates.

Canada began deregulating earlier this month, allowing fully vaccinated Canadians or permanent residents to return to Canada without quarantine. However, some requirements include a negative test for the virus before return and another test after return.

Canada is under pressure to continue to relax border regulations in effect since March 2020. Exempting travel to Canada during a pandemic is politically sensitive, and Trudeau will call a federal election next month.

Canadian officials say they want 75% of eligible Canadian residents to be fully immunized before easing border restrictions for tourists and business travelers. The Government of Canada expects 80% of eligible Canadians to receive enough vaccines to be fully immunized by the end of July. The United States did not allow the export of vaccines to Canada until early May.

Since the start of the pandemic, commercial transport has generally traveled between the two countries.

The American Travel Association estimates that it will cost $ 1.5 billion per month to close the border. According to Canadian officials, Canada will welcome about 22 million foreign visitors in 2019, of which about 15 million will come from the United States.

Chad Sokol, associate editor of the Daily Interlake, contributed to this report.

Canada brings in vaccinated U.S. citizens on August 9

Montana Senators urge Biden Administrator. completely reopen the Canadian border | New

MONTANA – Senators Steve Daines and Jon Tester have issued statements on the Biden administration’s decision on when to reopen the northern border to fully vaccinated Canadian citizens.

Canada announced that fully vaccinated US citizens could enter Canada on August 9; However, the Biden administration announced that fully vaccinated Canadians could not enter the United States until at least August 21.

Senator Daines made the following statement in a statement from his office:

“Once again, the Biden administration refuses to reopen the northern border for our economy and jobs, while leaving the southern border wide open to illegal drugs and immigrants. The hypocrisy is outrageous. Montana families and our economy depend on cross-border travel, and many families are suffering from this decision to keep our northern border closed. The president must stop playing games and do what is right for our country. “

Senator Tester said the following in a statement from his office:

“I am writing today to urge the Department of Homeland Security to work with Canadian officials to develop a coordinated plan to fully reopen the Canada-U.S. Border and to express concerns over the department’s recent decision to maintain restrictions on non-essential travel. This uncoordinated reopening will allow Americans to travel to Canada, but will prevent Canadians, even those who are fully vaccinated, from accessing American businesses, completely restarting commerce, and seeing family members across the country. the border. I am concerned that this will have an unfair impact on the Americans and create confusion along the Canada-United States border. “

“I urge the administration to work with Canadian authorities to ease travel restrictions and coordinate the full reopening of the border in a safe, fair and efficient manner. I stand ready to help the Department have the tools and resources it needs to ensure that border officers are prepared to safely manage the increased trade and movement at the border.

The tester’s release said Montana made $ 692 million worth of goods exported to Canada in 2018, or 42% of the state’s total goods exported that year.

Montana drops “bad actor” case against Hecla Mining Co.

Montana’s Environmental Quality Department drops its lawsuit against a northern Idaho-based company seeking to develop two large silver and copper mines in northwestern Montana.

The ruling prompted conservation groups involved in the case to allege political interference from Republican Governor Greg Gianforte, who promoted the projects during the election campaign. Administration officials rejected the claim.

Coeur d’Alene-based Hecla Mining Co. filed a lawsuit in March 2018 after the DEQ attempted to label the company’s chief executive, Phillips Baker Jr., a “bad actor” under Montana’s Metal Mine Reclamation Act. The law was designed to prevent individuals and businesses who do not clean up their old mines from starting new ones.

The department – under the then government. Steve Bullock, a Democrat – sued, claiming Baker and Hecla should not get permits for the proposed mines in Lincoln and Sanders counties due to Baker’s past involvement with Pegasus Gold Corp.

Pegasus went bankrupt in 1998, abandoning three mines in the Little Rocky Mountains south of the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation and leaving taxpayers at the mercy of tens of millions of dollars in reclamation and wastewater treatment efforts. continue to this day.

Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge Mike Menahan awarded the state a victory in May, ruling that the DEQ has the power to apply the “bad actor” label to Baker and to other actors outside the state, although the decision did not address the substance. of the case.

WEDNESDAY, the department filed a motion to dismiss the case, citing what it called “a number of factors, including complex procedural hurdles that complicate the case and potentially risk DEQ’s ultimate goal of prevent bad actors from operating in Montana “.

DEQ director Chris Dorrington, appointed by Gianforte, added that the case seemed “very unlikely” that it would result in reimbursement for the cleanup of the old Pegasus mines by Hecla or Baker, who was vice president of Pegasus before. its bankruptcy.

“When deciding whether to pursue this matter, DEQ must consider all demands for time and demands on our resources, as well as any potential environmental benefits or consequences,” Dorrington told Daily Inter Lake in an interview. Thursday.

A coalition of tribal and environmental groups blasted the agency’s decision, saying the state wasted an opportunity to hold mining leaders to account and prevent further pollution.

“By dropping this case, DEQ is stepping away from its only real chance of defending the Montanais against millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars by Baker and Pegasus,” David Brooks, executive director of Montana Trout Unlimited, said in a statement. . “The Bad Actors Act is meant to be a deterrent, not just a punishment.”

Andy Werk, president of the Indian community of Fort Belknap, said the DEQ’s decision would perpetuate “the devastating burden of environmental injustice.”

“The state of Montana must make it a priority to protect the health of Montana communities, including the Aaniiih and Nakoda tribes of the Fort Belknap Indian community, and to protect the natural resources that support all life,” he said. Werk said in a statement. “The rejection of the coercive measure by DEQ goes against this responsibility and gives priority to the mining leaders rather than the Montanais.

The groups said the state spent more than $ 50 million to clean up acidic mine waste from the soil and water at the Zortman-Landusky mine alone. Pegasus also operated the former gold mines of Beal Mountain and Basin Creek in the Lesser Rocky Mountains.

Luke Russell, spokesperson and vice chairman of Hecla, said the state’s case was “unsuccessful” because the company had no involvement in the old Pegasus mines. Hecla previously said Baker left Pegasus before going bankrupt.

“Mr. Baker is not a bad actor under Montana law,” Russell said. “His job with Pegasus over 20 years ago was the sole basis for carrying this business.”

The DEQ noted that the three mines involved in this case – the Rock Creek, Montanore and Troy mines – all comply with the Metal Mine Reclamation Act. The Troy mine is undergoing final reclamation and the two proposed mines are subject to an environmental review, engineering assessment and public comment before receiving permits, the agency said.

“These projects should therefore succeed or fail individually on their own merit through the authorization processes, where DEQ can thoroughly examine all the relevant scientific and technical details and public comments before deciding whether each should proceed,” said the department in its motion to reject. .

Derf Johnson, who heads the nonprofit Montana Environmental Information Center’s drinking water program, said the authorization process was irrelevant and the DEQ should have pursued its claim under the Bad Law. actors.

“What good are laws if they are not actually enforced? And what message does this send to currently operating mines if, through political persuasion, they can ignore and circumvent Montana’s bad actor law? Johnson said.

MONTANA IS one of the many states with bad actor statutes that allow state environmental agencies to take a company’s or individual’s environmental record into account when deciding whether to grant permits.

The Montana legislature passed the law in 1989 and expanded it in 2001 to apply to business executives. It has already been applied once, in 2008, in a case that did not involve a major project like the ones Hecla is pursuing at the Rock Creek mine near Noxon and at the Montanore mine near Libby, according to officials from the ‘State. Both projects have been underway for decades.

The two copper and silver mines would tunnel under the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness. They have been at a standstill for years as environmentalists have repeatedly sued over concerns that the mines are harming the area’s rivers and wildlife, including bull trout and grizzly bears.

During a July 2020 campaign event at Hecla’s offices in Libby, Gianforte called the DEQ and the state’s natural resources and conservation department “project prevention departments,” criticizing the weather. that it took to get permits for the Rock Creek and Montanore mines, the Montana Free Press reported. (State and federal agencies have issued permits for the mines, but they have been successfully challenged in court on several occasions.)

“I don’t think we should approve all the permits, but we should be able to get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in less than 35 years,” Gianforte said at the time.

Johnson, of the Montana Environmental Information Center, said: “Clearly this is a very political decision. Clearly this is a policy change on the part of the governor’s office.

Dorrington, the director of DEQ, and Gianforte spokeswoman Brooke Stroyke, said the governor had not advocated for the prosecution to be withdrawn.

“As with matters relating to the protection of the Montana environment and Montana taxpayers, the governor has assigned and empowered DEQ to take whatever action the agency considers most appropriate,” Stroyke said in an email. .

Dorrington reiterated this point, almost verbatim, during Thursday’s phone call.

“The governor relied on us to make these decisions,” he added.

While environmentalists fear the proposed mines will cause permanent damage to the federally protected nature of the Cabinet Mountains, mining executives note that copper and silver are needed for the production of electric vehicles, wind turbines and other components of an environmentally friendly economy.

“We look forward to moving these projects forward,” said Russell, spokesperson for Hecla. “They are important for clean energy, they can be done responsibly, and they will have a huge economic impact on Northwest Montana.”

“Disaster capitalism” is as old as capitalism itself – The Connecticut Examiner

The idea that crises can be used to disorient, manipulate history, and cultivate societal change is nothing new. “Catastrophe capitalism” is as old as capitalism itself. Baron Rothschild, 18 years olde British nobleman of the century whose banking family loaned money (at huge interest) to warring factions, including the Lincoln Feds and the Davis Confederacy, put it bluntly. “Time to buy,” he said. “It’s when there is blood on the streets.” Taking the same thief baron approach, Wall Street, CEOs, and American industrialists routinely hedge the bets by investing in crises and exploiting desperation. In his last presidential address, Dwight Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial-political complex and the risks of tying economic incentives to perpetual war and global instability. Sixty years later, spending more on militarism than the next nine nations combined is still the US status quo. Big Pharma is gorging itself on preventable disease, profiting from diabetes and cancer, obesity, high blood pressure and the spread of COVID and flu and vaccine showers. As we allow widespread misinformation, tweak our thumbs on climate change and travel needlessly, the mere suggestion of bad news drives up the prices of oil and others.

The most revealing of Naomi Klein’s “shock doctrine” is its transition between the economic ideologies of Milton Friedman and the end of the 20th century.e the opportunism of the century and the syndications of power brokers. Libertarians, business leaders and political elites are lining up in multinational cartels to promote their individual wealth and private interests at the expense of the state. America’s business models and financial sectors base their quarterly profits on the exploitation and prolongation of crises, ravaging the biosphere and inflexible mythological enemies. Anyone seen as a threat to these dividends, globally or nationally, is called an enemy. Permanent markets require permanent conflicts and crises. So, as long as terrorists are seen as pervasive and unreasonable, wars can go on forever. If protecting tropical rainforests and other ecosystems, the diversity of species and natural resources is antithetical to the accumulation of wealth, the finite is presented as unlimited. The American economy is based on endless wars with life itself, and at the national level, as each successive act of violence produces backlash, calls for “strong men”, militarization and destruction. “Law and order” is home to police states.

Fox News and radical right-wing Trump sect repeat talking points to brainwash sidekicks by making them think of the southern border, big lies of voter fraud and gunshots in cities will tip the 2022 election Historically, however, immigration reform, xenophobia, and street violence have been a constant in America. What changes the situation is global warming which, thanks to 40 years of procrastination, remains frozen, deteriorating infrastructure. Eighty-three percent of the west is in severe drought; a million acres burned from LA to Montana last week; record high temperatures killed hundreds in the Northwest and across Canada; and Connecticut is having one of its wettest and most crop-flooded Julys. Anthropogenic climate change is also contributing to mass extinctions around the world. Meanwhile, U.S. collective immunity to SARS-CoV-2 has stalled. Politically motivated resistance to COVID injections and the wearing of masks, combined with the resurgence of indoor / outdoor activities and other relaxed restrictions, are leading to an increase in delta-variant infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

Other mandates are clear. Before 2022, the Biden administration, in addition to fighting against voter suppression, is expected to crack down on militia groups, dangerously branding crime, insurgency and homicidal overthrow as patriotism. The recruitment of former members of the police and military for delusional acts of terrorism and betrayal must stop. In addition, parents’ careers and childhood development cannot be optimized at the same time as stimulating the economy. With 1 million neural connections forming every second of an infant’s first year, it’s time for a resurgence of competent employer- or government-run child care centers like the ones that operated (≥ 3,100) during WWII .

Scott Deshefy is a biologist, environmentalist and two-time Green Party congressional candidate.

Op-Ed: Feeling the Drought on My Family Farm

I can see my future: it is dry, thirsty and dark. On our farm, we live with drought daily, work with limited groundwater and learn to adapt and adapt, or fail and abandon our fields. Water will determine the survival of a farmer.

I farm organically outside of Fresno, which is part of one of the richest and most productive agricultural oases in the world, provided, of course, we have water. Generally, we use two sources of liquid gold: the annual precipitation and snowmelt captured in the Sierra, as well as the groundwater table below our lands. Both are threatened by a lack of rain and snow, exacerbated by the slow depletion and over-pumping of our aquifers.

In the past, many of us took water for granted. We simply turned on the faucet or flipped an irrigation pump switch and the water magically appeared. He was there when we needed him until he wasn’t.

Many farmers have switched to drip irrigation, which limits water use and keeps plants alive, but intensifies the depletion of soil biology through irrigation. We fell into the trap of believing that technology and innovation would save us from water scarcity. Today, a comeback to reality greets every season: we cannot produce more water nor control the forces of nature.

A severe two-year drought dries out western and southwestern Washington to California, from Montana to Texas. Agriculture is feeling the impact with crop wilting and limited production. We started to fallow some of our fields, pull up vines and trees, and leave the land empty that my father and grandfather used to cultivate. They would cringe to witness what needs to be done.

Every fallow field means a declining rural economy and an uncertain future. The scope of the drought will be felt in grocery stores across the country with higher prices. Cheap food may no longer be the engine of agriculture. Everyone will pay the price for a lack of water.

Climate change cannot be denied. Historical precipitation amounts, based on 30-year averages, do not reflect significant variations in normal climate. And now drought is becoming the new normal; the golden age of constant precipitation over the past 50 to 100 years may have been the anomaly. Mega droughts that will last for decades could be on the horizon.

As farmers grapple with dwindling water, extreme temperatures – 116 in Portland, Oregon in late June or 118 in Phoenix – are affecting many more people. Suddenly, nature also takes on a new reality for city dwellers, who feel the heat and can taste the sweat of climate change.

How do we value water? Some farmers and river basin districts are faced with the decision: selling their water may be more profitable than farming. Will monetizing water be part of my family’s farming operation?

A larger question looms: who owns water and how should a natural resource be controlled and allocated?

Already California farmers – some screaming, others accepting that water has become a finite resource – must plan for sustainable groundwater use and limit our pumping so that our aquifers maintain a stable water supply. How do cities and the environment fit into our water future? The answer is not just economic or political: we must rethink water as something rare, sacred and shared by all.

Masumoto cleans the irrigation lines of his peach trees during another drought in 2015.

(Tomas Ovalle / For The Times)

On our farm, we cultivate perennial crops – organic peaches, nectarines, apricots and grapes for the raisins. We have century-old vines and 60-year-old peach trees that have witnessed huge climatic fluctuations – lingering over a season or a year is short-term thinking. COVID-19 highlights another lesson for this old farmer: Things are often out of our control. How we respond will determine what happens next.

I think of the generations on the land and the history I leave behind for my daughter, Nikiko, who partners on the farm with her brother, Korio. They will inherit climate change, prolonged droughts and whatever comes from the decisions we make now.

At the heart of our farm is a Japanese aesthetic captured in the sense of wabi-sabi: Life is imperfect, impermanent and incomplete. Drought exposes the inconsistency of nature and how the “perfect” fishing must reflect the imperfect weather we all experience.

Despite our thirsty future, there is a note of hope for me – I believe our farm is still incomplete. I inherited everything I have from my parents and grandparents; my children will take up this incomplete agricultural history and add their own chapters.

I remember the feeling at the start of a farming year. When I work the fields in the spring, something is plowed in me. With these irregular but regular droughts, something more is now being plowed on our family farm.

David Mas Masumoto is a farmer in Del Rey, California, and author of numerous books, including “Epitaph for a Peach: Four Seasons on My Family Farm”.

Opinion: Montana union miners supply America | Chroniclers

The Stillwater mine in Nye is taken over by South African company Sibanye Gold, assuming the sale goes through.

CASEY PAGE, Gazette Staff


Building a stronger, more resilient nation in the aftermath of COVID-19 means transforming the economy, modernizing the infrastructure that connects the country, and better protecting the natural resources essential to prosperity.

While all Americans share the responsibility for forging that brighter future, Montana’s skilled and environmentally conscious union miners have a historic opportunity to lead the way.

About 1,600 members of the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 11-0001 in Sibanye-Stillwater take great pride in the responsible mining of metals needed for clean energy production, electronic components, building construction and to many other industries.

Vital as these workers already are, the nation will depend more than ever on them when the president’s infrastructure program – America’s Jobs Plan – unleashes unprecedented investments in roads and bridges as well as in schools, airports, water supply systems, railways and public transport, renewable energy and broadband networks.

For example, miners will experience an increased demand for platinum, a key ingredient in glass used in electronics and construction. The country will also need copper for wiring and nickel for the stainless steel that forms the backbone of bridges, roofs, construction equipment and rail cars.

And as the nation strives to grow its own economy, it will need more raw materials that go into wind turbines and solar panels as well as fuel cells that help power electric vehicles.

Advocate for the success of the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act

In 2017, Montana’s outdoor recreation economy generated $ 7.1 billion. Two years later, Montana Senator Jon Tester introduced the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act (BCSA), a federal law designed to strengthen Montana’s economy by protecting 80,000 acres of land for conservation, recreation and restoration. 98% of Montana residents believe outdoor recreation is important to Montana’s economic future. With thousands of acres dedicated to snowmobiling, mountain biking, hiking and fishing, the BCSA is a tangible step towards sustaining this precious resource.

If passed by the US Senate, the BCSA would support a 15-year coalition of ranchers, loggers, environmentalists, outfitters, logging companies, local citizens, businesses and outdoor enthusiasts. Given the current state of political polarization, this range of supporters is almost unprecedented. The impetus behind this non-partisan support are the multifaceted components of the BCSA, including land development in Montana’s National Forest System, additions to the National Wilderness Preservation System, and designation of recreational lands. It will also permanently protect important tributaries of the Blackfoot River and amplify forest restoration and sustainable timber harvesting.

Through citizen pressure for the BCSA, Tester can demonstrate the non-partisan power and potential success of this bill in the US Senate. 75% of Montanians approve of this bill, and you can join them in pushing your federal lawmakers to advocate for the success of the Blackfoot Clearwater Stewardship Act.

Brams Shea Butter

Hopkinsville is a finalist for a makeover in mobile communications technology

Hopkinsville is one of 10 finalists for a $ 3 million tech transformation from T-Mobile that the company says will make the winning city a 5G model for communities across the United States.

City officials were celebrating the selection Thursday morning in downtown Hopkinsville, where T-Mobile was handing out free pink donuts, a nod to the company’s magenta-colored logo, until 4 p.m. Thursday on the Hopkinsville Water Environment Authority parking lot. A company representative told The Hoptown Chronicle that T-Mobile bought 6,000 donuts from Whistle Stop Donuts on Ninth Street.

Mayor Wendell Lynch (left) announces the selection of Hopkinsville as a finalist in the T-Mobile competition with two company representatives Thursday morning in downtown Hopkinsville. (Facebook screenshot image.)

A press release describes Hopkinsville as “a charming southern farming community with one of Kentucky’s most diverse populations, (which) is a neighbor of the Army facility at Fort Campbell.”

the T-Mobile Hometown Techover Contest received thousands of submissions, the company said.

“A panel of judges from T Mobile and Smart Growth America will determine the grand prize winner based on the feasibility of the project, the city’s need for network upgrading and the interest and commitment of city leaders, ”the press release said.

Smart Growth America is a nonprofit organization that works on public policy related to community development in rural and urban areas.

In a city statement, Mayor Wendell Lynch said, “Hopkinsville is known the world over for its generous spirit. What a pleasure to be celebrated by a global company that recognizes the many things our community does every day. “

As a finalist, Hopkinsville will receive a grant of $ 50,000 for a community project. Officials have not said how it will be used.

The winning community makeover will include:

In addition, there will be a free concert with a multi-platinum musical duo Florida Georgia Line.

box of pink donuts
Pink donuts made at Whistle Stop Donuts to celebrate Hopkinsville’s finalist status in the tech makeover contest. (Photo by Jennifer P. Brown)

The other cities named as finalists, along with the description provided by T-Mobile, are:

  • Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, is nestled in the Poconos and is home to a historic downtown area filled with small businesses that are the heart of the economy.
  • Dunn, North Carolina, is a beautiful small town in central North Carolina with a walking downtown area and nurtures tourism with small businesses and museums.
  • Girard, Kansas, is a city in Southeast Kansas with dedicated teachers who want to help improve connectivity for their students.
  • Guadalupe, California, is located on the central coast of California near the famous Guadalupe-Nipomo dunes, has an economy dependent on the surrounding farms that feed America.
  • Kalispell, Montana, is one of the fastest growing small towns in the United States, located in northwestern Montana and is known for its incredible outdoor recreation and proximity to Glacier National Park.
  • Tipton, Indiana, has a high concentration of veterans in their community and honors them with Hometown Hero banners displayed on their downtown streetlights.
  • Wareham, Massachusetts, is a diverse New England town located just outside Cape Cod on scenic Buzzards Bay. The economy is rooted in the fishing and agricultural industries and supported by tourism, manufacturing and trade.
  • Washington, Missouri, is a growing community nestled along the Missouri River that serves as the county’s commercial and industrial development center.
  • Woodstock, Illinois, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a diverse city known for its historic downtown and turn-of-the-century square.

John Maclean’s Memoirs Go To The Deep Of “A River Runs Through It” – Explore Big Sky

By Todd Wilkinson EBS Environmental Columnist

It has been said and written that “A River Runs Through It,” the movie, changed everything in western Montana, as well as the Rocky Mountain rivers between New Mexico and Canada.

Robert Redford’s film, based on Norman Maclean’s 1976 short story, is, in hindsight, portrayed as a big bang moment that not only accelerated the adoption of fly fishing by millions of people as that passion for the outdoors, but also the sale and transformation of old ranches in operation. with water on site to turn them into recreational properties.

I don’t need to stress how important the “fly fishing economy” is to the larger ecosystem of the Greater Yellowstone, which is home to several near-mythical rivers known for their trout water.

Years before I touched a copy of “A River Runs Through It” I was familiar with the writing of a Maclean other than Norman. At that time, Norman was an English professor at the University of Chicago, a city where I began my career as a violent crime reporter. At the time, it was his son, John Maclean, a Washington, DC-based reporter for The Chicago Tribune whose signature I regularly read.

One reason: John, over a generation older, was an alumnus of the same journalistic training ground as me: – the City News Bureau of Chicago.

It wasn’t until I moved west to the Greater Yellowstone area that I picked up a copy of Norman Maclean’s classic reflection on a angling obsessed family who loved the rivers with an almost religious zeal, the drama of which is punctuated by the loss of Norman’s younger brother, Paul.

I wrote about Redford’s set of the film about Bozeman and Livingston in the early 1990s and interviewed him.

Paul Maclean, John’s uncle, in his twenties. PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN MACLEAN

In both versions, Paul has a penchant for drinking, playing cards, and hanging out with shady characters, and then is murdered. This summer we are treated to a new book by John Maclean which is a reflection on his father and uncle, the river – the Blackfoot – which he made famous and, interestingly, what really happened to Paul. .

John Maclean’s memoir: “Home Waters: A Chronicle of Family and a River” is a good read, as it serves as the backdrop to a slightly embellished tale that romanticized fly fishing so much that it created a ripple effect. shock of interest. This has, as a benefit, helped strengthen calls for river conservation, but as a downside, the resulting binge eating has also spurred greater commercialization of angling and spawned user conflicts.

(Like a sort of parable, it raises the question of whether in the age of social media we should even write about the special places we love, knowing that it risks inviting a lot of people to invade natural destinations. who can’t handle much human pressure. But that’s another topic).

For years, I’ve been mesmerized by how Paul’s end actually happened in 1938, as Norman Maclean and Redford treat it with a cloak of mystery.

Without saying too much – you should really read “Home Waters” – John Maclean reveals that Paul was murdered in Chicago shortly after he had just started a job in the public relations department at the University of Chicago. Paul had previously been a young reporter in Montana.

What I relish in the writing related to Paul’s ending is that it is all about researching classic facts and presenting them with the storytelling method John Maclean and I learned at the City News Bureau in Chicago. , itself known to be a training ground for young reporters. .

John would go on to distinguish himself for his international reporting as a diplomatic correspondent, even traveling with Henry Kissinger. During those years, like his father before him, he took summer trips to the family cabin in Seeley Lake, MT.

And, just as Norman had written about the wildfires, commemorating the smoke jumpers who perished in the Mann Gulch fire outside of Helena, John wrote an award-winning and captivating book, “Fire on the Mountain “, on the tragic Storm King Fire which claimed the life. of 14 firefighters in Colorado in July 1994.

In “A River Runs Through It,” the Maclean family mourns the loss of Paul, and it is presented as a kind of meditation on the fleeting, often fickle nature of life, which we look back in time seeking as much as we do. want to. see as fuzzy things that make us suffer. In the Maclean family, fly fishing was both a source of memory and a balm.

The circumstances of Paul’s homicide left me thinking of how a good journalist continually searches, fueled by curiosity, guided by discoveries of detail and accumulated knowledge – in exactly the same way that a fisherman enjoys l attraction of rivers and instinctively knows how to read them.

After Paul died in a Chicago hospital from a beating, the Cook County medical examiner interviewed Norman, writes John Maclean. “My father assumed that Paul had gone wandering around the neighborhood that night, like he had done as a reporter in Montana, just to familiarize himself with his surroundings.”

John cited the actual report in which his father, who was to identify the body, was questioned by the coroner. “‘H”‘ He liked walking around strange parts of town, ‘Norman said during a coroner’s inquest. “He was a professional journalist and he came from a small town. He liked to walk around, just to see the city……. I warned him it wasn’t Montana. ‘ “

Sometimes real stories, memories that explore earlier classical memories, are as beautiful as the original. In many ways, they are outdated. It’s the case. Great job, John Maclean. You started out as a Cub reporter, but you’ve grown into the kind of writer we all aspire to be. You made your father proud.

Todd Wilkinson is the founder of the Bozeman-based Mountain Journal and correspondent for National Geographic. He is also the author of the book “Grizzlies of Pilgrim Creek”, with photographs by Thomas D. Mangelsen, on the famous Jackson Hole Grizzly 399. Read her latest article on famous actress Glenn Close in the Summer 2021 edition of Mountain Outlaw magazine.

Stargazing Gains Followers, Promotes Rural Tourism | Wild montana

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park was the first international dark sky park to cross an international border. Glacier and Medicine Rocks have achieved designations approved by the International Dark-Sky Association.

Moore helped with the process to obtain the IDSA designation for Medicine Rocks granted last December. Throughout this summer, she participates in the organization of events around stargazing in the park.

Pompeys Pillar, east of Billings, hosted a sold-out “celebrity party” in June for 100 people and is planning another on July 30, said Brenda Maas, marketing director for the tourism promotion group Visit Southeast Montana.

In Fort Peck, Carla Hunsley, Executive Director of Missouri River Country, is working on organizing a Night Sky Trail map for the area. Of the 20 areas identified to date, several are located along the shores of the Fort Peck Reservoir, one of the region’s top tourist attractions.

“We encourage families to come out and visit our dark skies,” she said, as the number of people with boats and campers crowded campgrounds and lakeside docks.

A man fishes alone in the light of dusk at Hell Creek State Park in Garfield County.

RYAN BERRY Billings Gazette


In the United States, more parks and other places are seeking the dark sky designation as a way to boost tourism and promote the ecological importance of darkness, Weasner said.

Griz Footballers Join Thousands for Return of Goosetown Tournament | Local

ANACONDA – After the pandemic called off the Goosetown 2020 softball tournament, founder Bill Hill was happy to see teams from across the country gather in Anaconda for the 47th annual event on Friday afternoon.

Hill worked diligently to bring the tournament back and was at work again on Friday. But as he remained busy preparing tournament support and answering questions, he smiled as he watched the teams enter the facility to participate in what he was working for.

“We have 50 out-of-state teams from all over,” Hill said. “It’s a huge economic boost for our economy, it’s a boost for Anaconda. When we built this facility, this tournament exploded. People like Anaconda, they love Butte.”

According to Hill, the tournament started out small and started out as a way for him to continue playing softball years ago. But as the tournament grew, he received a grant to build the facility right next to Montana Drive. Since then, the tournament has been a staple in Anaconda every summer.

Accommodation has been a problem for tournament participants in previous years due to the Butte folk festival. But a new hotel, The Forge, opened in Anaconda on Friday just in time for teams to book a room.

“We have an 80-room hotel that opened today and every room is booked with a waiting list,” Hill said. “We have a RV park that opened three days ago and it looks like it’s three-quarters full right now.”

“I’m just glad to see people coming back,” Hill continued. “We have retailers from Portland and California, teams from Spokane and Boise. It’s a big show for them, a big show.”

Among those who traveled to Anaconda for “the big show” was a group of footballers from Montana Griz. Braxton Hill, son of linebacker Bill and Griz, spoke to some of his teammates about his father’s tournament and they happily made the trip from Missoula.

One of those teammates was Trevor Welnel, an offensive lineman. He said football was generally his focus, so focusing on having fun through a different sport was an exciting change of pace.

“It takes your mind off, gives you a little break but keeps you active,” Welnel said. “We’re here to win and have fun. Braxton has been talking about this for years so I’m happy to finally be here.”

Welnel also said some of the Grizzlies played Legion and Little League baseball growing up, which could help them claim tournament victory this year. But an Anaconda team could pose a threat because of their experience and cohesion.

Dotsie Monaco, the softball coach at Anaconda High School, has been in the tournament since he started and played with her team on Friday. She crowned her team as the 2020 champions, even though the tournament was canceled.

“We are the 2020 champions even though that has not happened,” Monaco said. “We all got together as a team and rented a cabin at Georgetown Lake. We were here as a team.”

While this year’s event felt like a short trip or an escape for Welnel, it was treated as a reunion for Monaco and their team. All from Anaconda, the Monaco squad included players from California, Texas and Colorado, some of whom have done so for more than 20 consecutive years.

Monaco, which has seen the tournament since its inception, expressed the overwhelming growth of the tournament as did Hill. She recalled memories of past tournaments, camping after games and bringing boomboxes to the field, and said the tournament has always been about more than softball.

“I remember we used to have parties here, it just got bigger and better every year,” Monaco said. “The bars and the community have been so great. We get together every year for this time and then we’ll all pile into a van and camp at my place.”

The Goosetown tournament features over 300 games over the weekend. The event was kept alive thanks to the work of the 80 people involved, according to Hill.

As games kicked off on Friday, Hill said it took more than 40 hours to build support for the tournament. He wanted the tournament to be perfect and smooth, that’s how the tournament appeared on Friday.

“We have about 4000 people coming to this and we have virtually no problem. Montana teams love it because now they can play against someone new from a new city, there is so much camaraderie. in softball. “

“It’s a lot of hard work and it’s stressful, but seeing it come together just makes you smile,” Hill continued. “My goal is to be 50 years old.”

Frustration mounts in border towns as ‘temporary’ closure continues

No one thought it would last that long.

On March 18, 2020, the United States and Canada announced that they would “temporarily” close the world’s longest border to non-essential travel to slow the spread of COVID-19. Almost 16 months later, it is still “temporarily” closed.

As the country and Montana emerge from the pandemic and the economic downturn it created, the recovery in the Eureka region has been delayed by the ongoing border closure. For years, the economy of the Tobacco Valley has been supported by tourism, particularly by Canadians visiting Lincoln and Flathead counties. Many have even bought second homes along the shores of Lake Koocanusa. And while American tourists flood neighboring Flathead Valley, fill short-term rentals, and visit Glacier National Park in record numbers, the northern part of Lincoln County is considerably quieter.

“We’re very badly,” said Larry Stewart, owner of Abayance Bay Marina in Rexford. “For years, Canadians kept our restaurant and marina full. “

This month, Canada has started to ease border crossing restrictions. Specifically, Canadian citizens who are vaccinated and who have traveled outside the country no longer have to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their return home. But the reasons accepted for traveling remain limited. All non-essential travel between the United States and Canada, including tourism, remains prohibited until July 21 at least.

It is not known when the border will fully reopen. Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was questioned at an event in British Columbia when the border opens to non-essential unvaccinated visitors. “I can tell you right away that this won’t happen for a while,” he said.

Stewart and others are frustrated that the restrictions will not be lifted sooner, and they fear the cautious approach has caused lasting damage to the local economy and community.

“For generations it has been the friendliest border in the world, but I don’t know if we can really say it now. “

State Senator Mike Cuffe, R-Eureka

Stewart said most summers he has to hire local kids to help direct traffic in the marina parking lot, but he hasn’t had to this year. Over the weekend of July 4, he said, the pitch was never more than a quarter full. Besides the marina and restaurant, Stewart has a stage and usually books musical performances throughout the summer. In years past, he never felt the need to advertise much outside of Tobacco Valley, knowing that Canadians with a second home or camping in one of the nearby RV parks would fill up. easily the site. But this year, he’s worried. He needs to sell around 1,000 tickets to break even, but he only sold around 300 for Larkin Poe’s show this weekend, and country duo Big & Rich, scheduled for August 1, doesn’t sell much better.

“We booked these shows earlier this year in hopes that the border would be opened, but that just didn’t happen,” he said.

Mike Lancaster, a real estate agent in Eureka, said some Canadians who owned second homes in the area have sold due to the extended border closure.

“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to keep a property if you can’t access it,” he said.

The border closure also separated the Lancaster family. His father lives in Grasmere, BC, just north of Eureka, and he hasn’t seen him for over a year due to the closure. While “Immediate family members” were sometimes allowed to cross the border, Lancaster said the rules were confusing and his father did not want to face a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon returning from a trip he had made with ease before the year last. Before the pandemic, many Canadians along the border were shopping in Eureka, instead of making the 45-minute drive north to Fernie.

State Senator Mike Cuffe, R-Eureka, said the extended shutdown has divided both families and the closely knit communities that straddle the border. He said it was particularly frustrating that the border was still closed even as the number of cases declined and vaccination rates increased.

“We have flattened the curve and avoided disaster, so it’s time to open the border,” he said.

Cuffe is not the only elected representative to demand the reopening of the border. Meaning. Steve Daines and Jon Tester have been calling for a reopening for months. In June, Daines introduced a bill to fully reopen the border within 20 days, but the measure would not do much without the cooperation of officials on the Canadian side.

While Cuffe has said reviving the Eureka economy is his immediate concern, he’s also concerned about the long-term impacts the continued shutdown could create. For decades, the border has been a virtually arbitrary line in the sand for locals with friends and family on either side. He fears that these communities will be a little further apart once it opens.

“For generations this has been the friendliest border in the world, but I’m not sure we can really say it now,” he said.

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No evidence that extended unemployment benefits are killing economic recovery

When a disappointing jobs report was released in early May, a number of politicians and advocacy groups pointed to one of the main reasons for the slow growth as the country continued to emerge from the pandemic. : the increase in unemployment benefits from the federal government.

“The disappointing jobs report makes it clear that paying people not to work slows down what should be a stronger labor market,” said Neil Bradley, executive vice president of the United States Chamber of Commerce, referring to enhanced unemployment insurance giving unemployed Americans an extra $ 300 per week until the end of the summer.

Republican governors across the country have approved the assessment, saying they will end the additional benefits before they expire on September 6.

Leading the way at a recent career fair in Louisville, Ky. (Luke Sharrett / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“Montana is open for business again, but I hear from too many employers across our state not finding workers,” Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte said in a statement announcing he was cutting the program at the start of its state. “Almost all sectors of our economy are facing a labor shortage. “

“What was supposed to be short-term financial aid for vulnerable and displaced people at the height of the pandemic has turned into a dangerous federal law, making and paying workers to stay at home rather than encouraging them to return to the workplace. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster said.

The narrative gained traction among many Americans, with a May poll from Yahoo News and YouGov that found slightly more respondents (43 percent) saying the extra payments of $ 300 should stop than saying they are expected to continue (41 percent). Even the White House began to give in: After President Biden said there was no connection between the benefits and the number of late jobs in early May, a month later he pointed out that they did not were only temporary. Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki called their effect “a really difficult thing to analyze.”

Between late June and early July, 25 states announced they would end the program, but after a strong employment report last week – with the benefits still in place in most states and no clear data to show a increased job searches in states that had already cut them – it seemed that the program’s shortcomings could have been overstated.

Joe biden

President Biden speaking at a July 4 event on the South Lawn of the White House. (Sarah Silbiger / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“This appears to be something that was completely wrong and was not at all supported by the facts or the evidence,” said Valerie Wilson of the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank. “Many comparisons and inaccurate conclusions have been drawn. “

“I think the idea of ​​wanting to cut benefits early on is more of a political point than one that is justified by the economics,” Wilson added. “With the latest report we’re on the right track to keep the recovery strong and vibrant, and I just don’t think it’s a very wise decision to do anything to hamper that at this point. These benefits are important to families and contribute to the demand necessary for continued employment growth. By cutting them prematurely, you risk cutting short or at least hampering recovery.

Analysts put forward many other reasons why job growth in the spring fell below expectations beyond expectations of Americans being paid to stay home: There were lingering fears about the coronavirus and the lack of childcare has made it difficult for parents to return to the workforce. And there was the fact that after a year or more, workers reconsidered jobs that offered low wages and irregular hours, because companies reported success to hire new workers when they offered higher wages.

A June Discussion Paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco showed the “moderate deterrent effects of the additional $ 600 payments on job search rates and, by extension, the small effects of the $ 300 weekly supplement available in 2021”. But there was also a Yale study in July 2020 who found that the increase in unemployment benefits did not affect employment, and a February report from the JPMorgan Chase Institute echoed the findings, saying there was “little evidence that high unemployment insurance benefits discourage people from returning to work.”

A job seeker, left

A job seeker, left, attends a restaurant and hospitality career fair in Torrance, Calif., In June. (Eric Thayer / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Additionally, a Pew analysis from October 2019 found a pre-pandemic workforce shortage and expanded benefits, noting that “in 39 states there are more jobs than people looking for them.” The leisure and hospitality industry, often seen as the main victim of extended benefits, has recorded the largest gains in the latest employment reports, although total employment in this sector remains well below pre-pandemic levels.

According to data from job search site Indeed, states that are removing allowances saw little movement compared to those who held them. Nick Bunker, an economist for Indeed who has tracked state-level figures, told Yahoo News that disappointing employment figures earlier this year were the result of a number of factors, without a single one. “Smoking gun”.

“Looking at the activity of job seekers state by state, what we saw basically wasn’t a really clear pattern,” Bunker said. “In the data, it didn’t appear that declining UI was an obvious and major factor in job seekers’ activity, at least on Indeed. Once we get a deeper analysis in the months and years to come, these UI benefits have likely impacted job search, but that doesn’t seem like the biggest constraint, it obviously does not appear in macro data.

Bunker noted that Indeed started surveying job seekers in late May, and although people mentioned perks as the reason they sought less urgency, they weren’t the most important factor. important, with concerns about the virus being the most common response as well. child care and existing financial cushions.

Carlos Ponce, center

Protesters urge senators to support the maintenance of unemployment benefits in Miami Springs, Fla. (Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

“Another way to look at it is that UI benefits have an impact, but maybe they work in confluence with other factors,” Bunker said. “Yes, UI allows some people more concerned about the virus to hang back, but even if you take away the benefits some people might get back to work faster, but it pushes them into a situation that might not be the best for them at that time.

While the June jobs report was promising, the economic recovery still has a long way to go, with COVID variants of inflation potentially hampering growth. Still, Biden and the White House celebrated the latest report.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the improved UI benefits have been a huge boon – they have precisely served their purpose of providing insurance for workers affected by the pandemic. “ Biden administration economic adviser Jared Bernstein said Friday.


Learn more about Yahoo News:

Ennis Rodeo returns to boost the local economy

ENNIS – The 4th of July festivities are back in Ennis and the NRA rodeo kicked off on Saturday night,

“It brings joy back to your life,” said Gretchen Furlong, a resident, of people returning to the city after COVID-19. “I mean seriously, after being locked up last year and no one came, it was kinda sorry. Now it’s fun. It’s alive. Life is back.

Despite the closure that hit the small tourist town last year, it hasn’t been hit as hard as you might think. The 2020 rodeo has always been held, but with minimal fans.

“We had a great influx of tourists and visitors later in September,” said the executive director of the Ennis Chamber of Commerce. “Our fall has been very busy. Economically we have done a lot better than everyone thought. It was great. It was a tough year for us, the country, the world, but Ennis did very well. got out.

On Saturday night, they were once again able to proudly display their city for their biggest events of the year in the rodeo.

“It’s a lot of fun and it gives the opportunity to show our cowboy heritage and what Ennis is,” said Bettendorf.

Tourists come from all over for the July 4th weekend of this year to Ennis to watch the parade and rodeo.

“We are very lucky here in town and we have people from all over the country,” said Bettendorf. “We even had visitors from out of the country yesterday. It’s really cool to see.

Businesses are more than ready for customers to generate foot traffic again, but it’s also nice to just see people.

“Well that was a little overwhelming, but in a good way,” said Furlong, owner of Saddles & Co. “People seem happy and they really seem to want to get out of the house. They are enjoying their vacation, c It’s good to see. As you just saw, the traffic comes in and out without interruption. It’s great and it’s fun.

Bettendorf is hoping for at least a return to 2019 revenue figures, but he feels revenue could be 10% higher.

“At first glance, 2021 is going to be huge,” he said. “(It will be) a great influx of cash for our businesses, which is really important. Hope people come here – maybe for the first time, have a nice day and take another visit.

Analysis: US states ending unemployment benefits hit labor market milestone in March | The powerful 790 KFGO

By Howard Schneider

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. states prematurely suspending federal unemployment benefits crossed a key milestone in their economic recovery in early spring, with the number of available jobs outpacing the number of unemployed, according to new federal data.

The data, which estimates state-level job vacancies and turnover, showed the ratio of job vacancies to the unemployed rose to 1.01 in March in the 26 states that are ending a Federal unemployment benefit of $ 300 before it expires nationally in September. The ratio was 0.74 in the other 24 states and the District of Columbia, meaning there were still more unemployed people than jobs available in those parts of the country.

The new figures – currently released on a quarterly basis by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics as an experimental series – offer some texture to the uneven nature of the US labor market recovery and the fierce political debate over the necessity continue with safety net measures. for people out of work as the coronavirus pandemic eases across the country.

Matt Luzzetti, chief U.S. economist for Deutsche Bank, said his analysis comparing job postings to hiring, known as “job vacancy performance,” showed that if hiring was difficult across the country, it had experienced a particular lull this spring among the states. who subsequently decided to end the federal supplement.

“For this group of states, they have had more difficulty translating vacancies into hires,” Luzzetti said, while warning that the data did not allow conclusions to be drawn on the impact of the drop in employment. unemployment benefits in the labor market.

The data uses the agency’s Job Openings and Rotation Survey (JOLTS) to produce state-level estimates of the number of jobs available. It also provides state-by-state hires, layoffs and “quits” volumes, information economists use to understand how labor markets perform above unemployment numbers.

Chart: State Labor Markets March 2021 –

More recent data is not available and JOLTS state-level estimates do not answer the central question of whether the early termination of unemployment benefits will affect hiring and job creation by encouraging people currently dependent on these allowances to take a job.

A preview on that could come later this month when state-level employment estimates are released for June, when the first of the states suspended federal benefits.


So far, data and surveys point to a potentially modest impact from policies that have taken on a partisan tinge, with virtually every Republican governor in the country stopping the benefits early, and only Louisiana, among Democratic-led states, joining them.

Benefits began to run out in early June, with states typically announcing their plans in May. Since then, ongoing state unemployment claims have declined further in states that have already halted or intend to halt benefits earlier than elsewhere.

This does not mean that these unemployed people have taken a job. A recent online survey by hiring site Indeed suggested that federal benefits fall behind other factors such as spouse’s income, lingering fears of the coronavirus, family obligations, and even the desire to take time off. to influence individual decisions to work.

Critics argue that the end of benefits now puts workers at risk at a still sensitive time in the pandemic.

Economists, meanwhile, analyzed the data in what has become an experiment in unemployment policy at a time when the US economy seems almost muddled – with record vacancies, relatively high unemployment, but hires. slower than expected.

“All the signs we have right now are that the disappearance of these advantages could have positive effects on the labor supply, but it will not be huge,” said Nick Bunker, director from economic research for North America to Indeed Hiring Lab.

The online survey of 5,000 people from May 26 to June 3 revealed “an emergency lag,” Bunker said. “Employers would like to ramp up quickly. But a large portion of job seekers are more patient and want to take more time.


Still, the new data suggests that labor markets in early-cutting states had tightened faster than elsewhere, underscoring the concerns of officials like Republican Gov. of Montana Greg Gianforte, who announced on May 4. that he would stop federal unemployment benefits early.

Chart: Job seekers by vacant position –

“I hear from too many employers across our state who can’t find workers. Almost every sector of our economy is facing a labor shortage, ”Gianforte said in a statement announcing his plan to cut benefits in June. In March, according to BLS estimates, Montana had 1.75 job vacancies for every unemployed person, the seventh highest ratio in the country.

The overall US figure was around 0.84 at this point – half that of Montana, but an improvement from previous months. The fact that nationwide job vacancies were approaching the level of the unemployed has caught the attention of policymakers like Federal Reserve Chairman of St. Louis, James Bullard, a sign that labor markets could be closer to a full recovery than expected.

The data, which the BLS will begin publishing monthly in October, showed large regional variations and the potential for geographic mismatches between labor demand and supply to slow hiring nationwide.

In a highly politicized political debate, both sides may be right: 21 of the 26 states that stopped benefits early had more job vacancies than job seekers, while 16 of the remaining 24 states had even more unemployed than jobs available in March.

There are outliers on both sides. Vermont doesn’t stop benefits, for example, but in March it had the highest ratio of jobs to unemployed, with 2.07 openings for every job seeker. Texas, Arizona and Louisiana – three of the states that ended benefits prematurely – still had significantly more unemployed than job vacancies.

(Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Dan Burns and Paul Simao)

Trump mentions Montana election – Tschida has protest update

At a rally in Ohio last week, former President Donald Trump mentioned voting problems in Montana.

“In Montana, over 6% of a certain county’s mail in the ballots is missing,” Trump said. “Evidence to prove that whether they were legitimate or not, they lack all that evidence. Think about it; Montana. You know, there was a lot of mail in the ballots, and everywhere you got the mail in the ballots.

State Representative Brad Tschida is still awaiting responses from Missoula County and the state regarding the November election.

“I believe what he (President Trump) meant was that there was a county in Montana that had more than 6% of its ballots that did not have affirmation envelopes , and that would have been Missoula County, ”Tschida said. “So that brings us back to where we are. And we talked. There is a group of us who keep watching what is going on.

Tschida presented more problems with the recent elections.

“We found that 10,712 ballots were distributed to people who have not voted for two election cycles,” he said. “They were mailed in the ballot for the 2020 election. And they should have been removed from the voters list at the end of the 2018 election because if you missed two rounds you are automatically kicked out. The county therefore did not do its job. The Election Office did not do its job of removing people who should have been removed from the voters lists. “

Tschida said he also contacted Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen for clarification on electoral matters, and KGVO asked if he had received a response.

“At the moment, we haven’t done it,” he said. “I asked Secretary Jacobson to just put forward something that says the following. “We understand that there is an allegation of irregularities. We don’t know what happened. But we encourage both the Election Office and the citizens’ group who have looked into this issue, to work to resolve it, so that we find out what caused it and what we can do to prevent it from happening. the future.

After the election, a UM survey found that a majority of those polled trusted the postal voting process.

The KGVO has contacted Missoula County Election Administrator Bradley Seaman for their reaction.

KEEP READING: Scroll Down to See What Headlines The Year You Was Born

Airports have always struggled to attract workers. Expect longer lines for some time, experts say.

A workforce shortage at the Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport became so severe last month that one of its senior executives sent a message to stores and restaurants: don’t rob one another’s employees and others.

“As you know, we are experiencing one of the biggest recruiting challenges in the history of DFW Airport,” wrote Ken Buchanan, executive vice president of revenue and customer experience management, at dealers in a May 27 letter reviewed by CNBC. “As we prepare for a busy summer, please continue to uphold DFW Airport’s high hiring standards and avoid soliciting employees from other DFW operations (‘poaching’). “

After more than a year of lockdowns linked to the coronavirus pandemic, travelers leaving their homes on vacations have faced long security lines, hours of waiting with airlines and less. options at the airport for everything from coffee to fried chicken sandwiches due to understaffing.

Workers must be prepared to go through a federal security check, which can take more than two weeks, and travel to the airport to return burgers or sell magazines.

The Transportation Security Administration is offering hiring bonuses of $ 1,000 as part of its campaign to add 6,000 screening officers by the end of September. She has hired around 4,000 so far, a TSA spokeswoman said. Airports serving Austin, Texas; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Charlotte, North Carolina, have asked travelers to arrive up to three hours earlier in recent weeks due to long security lines.

Some airlines, which have received $ 54 billion in federal wage support to keep them from laying off workers, are now rushing to hire staff for reservation lines and other parts of the business. Carriers have urged employees to take temporary leaves or buy-backs during the pandemic to cut costs. American recently cut its schedule by 1% for the first half of July, citing a lack of staff.

Leisure and hospitality jobs in the United States increased by 292,000 last month, accounting for more than half of May’s employment gains, according to the Department of Labor’s monthly report. Almost two-thirds of employment gains in the sectors came from food and beverage establishments.

The national trend that has challenged managers trying to fill these types of jobs is even more acute at many airports.

Potential workers who are willing to go through a federal security check, which can take more than two weeks, and travel to the airport to flip burgers or sell magazines come at a steep price – if they can be found.

“Airports, even in normal times, have enormous difficulty in getting people to want to come to the airport for work,” said Earl Heffintrayer, senior airport analyst at Moody’s Investors Service.

The strong recovery after spending a year struggling with falling demand has created a scramble for workers.

Employers “cut a lot [of jobs last year] and all of a sudden they want to hire a lot. Many employers are trying to hire at the same time, ”said Ioana Marinescu, an assistant professor of public policy at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied the impact of stimulus checks during the pandemic. “The pool of workers is roughly constant, while the number of employers trying to hire is growing. “

TSA airport checks rebounded to around 80% of 2019 levels, a sharp turnaround from last year when passenger volume in the United States fell to its lowest level since 1984 – and 20 billion dollars in federal assistance to airports have eased the blow from worker shortages, Moody’s told Heffintrayer. That includes $ 8 billion in airport subsidies announced last week by the Federal Aviation Administration – of which $ 800 million was earmarked for rent relief for airport retailers and food and beverage operators.

Airports Council International estimates that US airport revenue losses will total $ 40 billion through March 2022 due to the pandemic.

“There is definitely money left on the table,” Heffintrayer said of the effect of the lack of manpower at airports. Food and beverage concessions in terminals and retail stores contributed about 7% to the nearly $ 25 billion operating revenue of U.S. commercial airports in 2019.

Gilbert Aranza, CEO of Star Concessions, which jointly operates or manages more than 50 food, beverage and retail businesses at DFW and Dallas Love Field, said he wanted the airport to add rules against the poaching of employees in leases. He said the idea was inspired by the NFL’s anti-tampering rules, which prohibit rival teams from wooing a player under contract with another club.

Star Concessions operates several restaurants and concessions in a new four-door chain at DFW, but said it had not been able to recruit enough staff. A senior manager said he brought food from the kitchen to customers. A cook at one of her other restaurants, who declined to give her name, said she was approached by a manager at another restaurant asking if she would join an extra $ 1 an hour, or 16 $. The Aranza restaurant corresponded to the proposed increase.

At the end of May, Star Concessions organized a job fair at a nearby airport hotel, with four of its employees. Nine candidates presented themselves. The company offers referral bonuses of $ 400 to current employees and $ 200 bonuses to employees who work 35 or more hours per week, said Mollie Standridge, vice president of Star Concessions.

Companies often look to bonuses on pay increases. Once “you raise the wages, it’s harder to lower them,” Marinescu said. But some employers are increasing wages to attract workers.

Star Concessions has increased hourly wages for non-tip employees at its concessions to $ 14 to $ 17 an hour, from $ 12 to $ 14, Standridge said.

OTG Management, which operates terminal restaurants in Newark, New Jersey, Houston and other major hubs, offers signing bonuses of $ 750, CEO Rick Blatstein said. Cooks are the most popular and get $ 1,000 signing bonuses, while new managers get $ 3,000 in bonuses.

The company, which like other dealerships laid off workers at the start of the pandemic, was still short by around 1,000 employees at the start of the month. That doesn’t prevent the locations from opening, but OTG is obligated to limit menu items, Blatstein said.

“After hiring 75 people, only 34 showed up on day one.”

Star Concessions hired 75 people, who were badged by the airport; 34 showed up on day one, Standridge said.

A lack of workers can mean longer waits for food, which passengers often don’t have.

Customers typically take “15 minutes between butt and butt” in airport bars and up to about 22 minutes in restaurants, she said. Travelers don’t come to the airport “to eat at Maggiano’s,” in reference to the Italian-American restaurant chain, Standridge said.

The problem is not limited to DFW.

“We’re treading water,” said Les Gunderson, chief operating officer and employee for more than two decades of Montana Gift Corral, which operates 11 gift shops and four restaurants in Bozeman, MT and at the Bozeman International Airport. Yellowstone, selling everything from paints to thermos to support claw-shaped salad servers.

Gunderson said the company has started sending flyers to nearby towns, announcing bonuses of $ 2,000 for workers. There is a shortage of employees after many students left town during the pandemic.

“We are hiring more high school students than ever before,” she said.

Montana’s tight job market hits businesses in all industries | 406 Politics

“It’s really over,” said Blair, who has worked in the mental health industry for 30 years. “… This is unprecedented, in terms of workforce availability, and it truly is sort of a near crisis for us as behavioral health care providers. “

Target unemployment benefits

Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte made headlines last month after his administration announced it would preventively end four different types of unemployment benefits created to provide additional support as the country and Montana saw a historic spike in jobless claims when the pandemic first hit the United States last spring.

When the four unemployment benefit programs linked to the pandemic end on Monday, around 10,000 unemployed Montanais will no longer receive benefits, according to the commissioner of the Ministry of Labor and Industry, Laurie Esau. The total number of people receiving some form of unemployment benefit is expected to increase from around 17,000 to 7,400, Esau said.

In February 2020, before the pandemic hit Montana, an average of about 12,000 people were filing unemployment claims each week. This number peaked in April 2020, at more than 77,000 complaints.

As of mid-June, 5,800 people, or about a third of all claims in the state, included self-employed workers and others ineligible for unemployment benefits. The leisure and hospitality industry accounted for another 2,400 claims, while education and health services, trade and transportation, professional services and construction each accounted for between 1,000 and 2,000 weekly claims. .

Biden praises bipartisan infrastructure deal as a good start

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden on Thursday announced a hard-won bipartisan deal on a scaled-down infrastructure plan that would begin its top legislative priority and validate its efforts to cross the political aisle. But he openly acknowledged that Democrats will likely have to tackle much of the rest on their own.

The bill’s price at $ 973 billion over five years, or $ 1.2 trillion over eight years, is a small but still significant part of Biden’s broader proposals.

He includes over half a trillion dollars in new spending and could open the door to the president’s more sweeping $ 4 trillion childcare proposals and what the White House later calls human infrastructure.

“When we can find common ground, work across party lines, that’s what I’ll be looking to do,” said Biden, who considered the agreement “a real bipartisan effort, breaking the ice which has too often kept us frozen in place “.

The president stressed that “neither side got everything they wanted in this deal; that’s what it means to compromise, ”and said other White House priorities would be taken care of separately in a Congressional budget process known as reconciliation, which allows for the passage of a majority without having to need Republican votes.

He insisted that the two would be done “in tandem” and that he would not sign the bipartisan agreement without the other, bigger one. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and progressive members of Congress have said they will maintain the same approach.

“There will be no bipartisan bill without a reconciliation bill,” Pelosi said.

Claiming a major victory five months into his presidency, Biden said, “It reminds me of when we used to do a lot of stuff in the United States Congress.” Biden, a former Delaware senator, said that putting his hand on the shoulder of stoic-looking Republican senator Rob Portman of Ohio as the president made a surprise appearance with a bipartisan group of senators to announce the deal in front of the White House.

But the next steps are unlikely to be so smooth.

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell complained that Biden was “giving in” to Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s plan to “hold the bipartisan deal hostage” for the biggest package in the government. president of what he called “unnecessary” spending.

“That’s not the way to show you’re serious about a bipartisan outcome,” McConnell said.

And there is a lot of skepticism on Biden’s left flank. Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said the bipartisan deal is “way too small – paltry, pathetic. I need a clear and foolproof assurance that there will be a truly adequate robust package ”that will follow.

Thursday’s deal was struck by the bipartisan group led by Portman and Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, including some of the Senate’s most independent lawmakers, some known to oppose their parties.

“You know, there are a lot of people who say bipartisanship is dead in Washington,” Sinema said. “We can use bipartisanship to resolve these challenges. “

And Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, said, “It also sends an important message to the world that America can work, can get things done.”

The proposal includes both new and existing expenditure for long-term programs and highlights the struggle lawmakers have faced to find ways to pay for generally popular ideas.

Investments include $ 109 billion in roads and highways and $ 15 billion in electric vehicle infrastructure and transit systems as part of the $ 312 billion in transportation spending. There is $ 65 billion for broadband and spending on drinking water systems and $ 47 billion for resilience efforts to tackle climate change.

Rather than Biden’s proposed corporate tax hike that Republicans oppose or the gasoline tax increase the president has rejected, the funds will come from a variety of sources – without a full tally yet. , according to a White House document.

The money will come from $ 125 billion in COVID-19 relief funds approved in 2020 but not yet spent, as well as untapped unemployment insurance funds that Democrats have been reluctant to poach. Other revenues are expected to rise after tax evasion by bolstering the Internal Revenue Service enforcement which Portman says could bring in $ 100 billion.

The rest is a mishmash of asset selling and accounting tools, including funds from the sale of 5G telecommunications spectrum leases, a strategic oil reserve, and the hope that large-scale investment will generate economic growth – what the White House calls “the macroeconomic impact of infrastructure investment.” “

Senators from both sides stressed that the deal will create jobs for the economy and rebuild the nation’s position on the world stage, a belief that clearly transcends partisan interests and creates a framework for the deal.

“We will continue to work together – we are not finished,” said Republican Senator Mitt Romney of Utah. “But America works, the Senate works.”

Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana said it would show the world “we’re not just, you know, a hot mess here.”

For Biden, the deal was a welcome outcome. Although for far less than he was originally looking for, Biden had bet his political capital that he could work with Republicans on major legislation.

Additionally, Biden and his aides believed they needed a bipartisan infrastructure deal to create a licensing structure for more moderate Democrats – including West Virginia’s Sinema and Joe Manchin – to then be ready to go. vote for the rest of the party line. the president’s agenda.

The announcement leaves uncertain the fate of Biden’s promises of massive investments to slow climate change, which Biden this spring called “the existential crisis of our time.”

Biden’s presidential campaign had helped gain progressive support with promises of significant spending on electric vehicles, charging stations, as well as research and funding for overhauling the U.S. economy to run on less oil. , gas and coal. The administration is expected to push for some of this in future legislation.

Senator Bill Cassidy, R-La, pointed out that there were billions of dollars for resilience against extreme weather conditions and the impact of climate change and said Thursday’s deal was a “start-up investment. “.

Biden sought $ 1.7 trillion in its US jobs plan and the $ 1.8 trillion U.S. family plan for child care, family tax breaks and other investments Republicans dismiss as beyond “infrastructure.”

The sweeping reconciliation bill would likely include tax increases on the rich, those who earn more than $ 400,000 a year, and lower the corporate rate from 21% to 28%.

The signing of a bill in the White House is still long. The Senate expects to consider the bipartisan package in July, but Biden’s larger proposal is not expected to see final votes until the fall.


Associated Press editors Kevin Freking, Mary Clare Jalonick, Alan Fram, Matthew Daly, and Darlene Superville contributed to this report.

Senator Tester Reintroduces Montana Headwaters Legacy Act – Explore Big Sky

US SENATE – US Senator Jon Tester reintroduced his Montana Headwaters Legacy Act, legislation on June 24 that will protect 377 miles of rivers in the Custer-Gallatin and Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forests, the most significant wilderness and scenic designation in nearly 45 years.

“Our outdoor heritage is not only at the heart of our identity as Montanais, but a staple of our growing economy,” Tester said. “This legislation, developed from the ground up and with the support of a diverse coalition of stakeholders, will ensure that some of our most pristine rivers will be enjoyed by future generations of young Montanais, and untouched by special interests for years to come. to come up. “

Tester’s Montana Headwaters Legacy Act will protect some of Montana’s most iconic recreational rivers, including the Gallatin, Madison, and Smith, to ensure they are always protected from short-sighted special interests. The legislation brings together environmentalists, outfitters and recreation enthusiasts, and is supported by the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, American Rivers, American Whitewater, the Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and the Gallatin River Task Force.

“Our family has owned a ranch on the Smith River for over 40 years, and we have left many fond memories there,” said Willie Rahr, a Smith River landowner. “This bill will keep the river as it is so that future generations of Montanais can enjoy it as we did.”

“I am very pleased to see that the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act includes the portions of the Gallatin River, Taylor Fork and Hyalite Creek Crown lands, which is Bozeman’s primary source of drinking water,” said Mayoress de Bozeman, Cyndy Andrus. “Protecting these important headwaters will also protect all downstream water users, including farmers and ranchers, municipalities, industrial users and riparian recreationists who contribute to the recreation economy. $ 7.1 billion Montana outdoor pool. “

“Clean, flowing rivers are the backbone of Montana’s economy and way of life. By passing the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act, we can return some of our most cherished rivers to future generations to be even better than we found them, ”said Scott Bosse of American Rivers. “It’s a gift they will be eternally grateful for.”

In 1968, Congress passed the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to preserve rivers of cultural and recreational value in their free-flowing state for present and future generations. Less than half a percent of Montana’s roughly 170,000 miles of river is referred to as “wild and scenic.”

The Best Banks and Credit Unions in Every State 2021

AAs the US economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, banks and credit unions across the country have been at the forefront of a rapid economic recovery. There are just over 10,000 banks and credit unions nationwide, most of them small local lenders who are essential to American life, providing low cost financial products and personalized customer service.

During the pandemic, these lenders were relied on by small businesses and acted as the most active participants in the Small Business Administration’s paycheck protection program, pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into millions of businesses across the country. nationwide, preventing layoffs and business closures. As the recovery is in full swing, these banks and credit unions have gone on the offensive, lending to households buying homes and cars and helping existing homeowners refinance their mortgages to take advantage of low interest rates.

Small community lenders are the most competitive when it comes to offering low rates on mortgages, consumer loans, and deposit accounts. But there is a huge divergence on how the banks are doing. To assess which companies have the most satisfied customers, Forbes in partnership with a market research firm Statistical to survey nearly 25,000 people in the United States about their banking relationships. The result is our fourth annual ranking of the best banks and credit unions.

Consumers were asked 20 questions about their financial transactions. Banks and Credit Unions were rated based on overall recommendations and satisfaction, as well as five sub-dimensions (Trust, Terms and Conditions, Branch Services, Digital Services, and Financial Advice). Overall scores ranged from 77.38 to 95.63. Only 2.7% of all banks and 3.6% of all credit unions were on our list.

Domestic financial institutions with branches in at least 15 states were excluded from the final ranking. Nearly a dozen domestic banks were omitted, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase Bank, PNC Financial, US Bank, Truist Financial, and Wells Fargo. The Navy Federal Credit Union, which operates in more than 30 states, was the only credit union eliminated for its size.

Between one and five banks and up to ten credit unions in each state have received the Best-In-State designation, based on the number of responses in each state. On average, each bank and credit union received 40 consumer surveys that asked users about everything from the ease of use of mobile banking and transparency of fees and interest rates to opening hours and accessibility of bank branches. A total of 135 unique banks and 190 unique credit unions qualified.

Citizens Financial Group and Huntington Bancshares were the best performing banks in several states, each winning five awards. Huntington Bancshares was the top bank in Michigan and Ohio State, ranked # 2 in Indiana and Kentucky and # 3 in Pennsylvania, still operates a branch in Columbus, Ohio, where it was founded in 1866. A leading lender across the Rust-Belt and Midwest, Huntington has $ 175 billion in assets, $ 142 billion in deposits and $ 116 billion in loans and is growing rapidly. Earlier in June, the company completed its acquisition of TCF Financial, increasing its presence in states like Colorado and Minnesota.

Founded in 1828 in Providence, RI, Citizens Financial Group was ranked # 2 in Michigan and its hometown of Rhode Island, # 3 in Ohio and New Jersey, and # 5 in Pennsylvania. Formerly owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland, Citizens was re-listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014 and saw its stock roughly double in value, based on strong fundamentals in the US economy. With $ 151 billion in deposits and $ 187 billion in total assets, Citizens’ loan portfolio is split roughly evenly between consumer bank lending and commercial bank lending, underscoring its presence with households and consumers alike. businesses, mainly in the northeast.

Banks receiving three Best-In-State awards included Arvest Bank, BBVA, Citibank, Fifth Third Bank and South State Bank, including its merger with CenterState Bank.

Arvest Bank, ranked # 4 in the state of Kansas and # 5 in Arkansas, is owned by the Walton family behind the Wal-Mart fortune. It operates in Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas and has a history dating back to the Walton family’s purchase of Bank of Bentonville in 1961 in the hometown of their retail giant, Wal -Mart. Through acquisitions and expansion, Arvest has grown from $ 3.5 million in assets to $ 24 billion in assets and a footprint of 270 locations in 135 communities.

SouthState Bank was ranked # 1 in our Best-In-State ranking for Florida, # 2 in Georgia, and # 3 in South Carolina. Last year, the Winter Haven, Florida-based lender completed its merger with South Carolina-based Center State Bank, roughly doubling the lender’s size and expanding its footprint in the Carolinas and Virginia. It now has $ 32 billion in deposits and $ 40 billion in loans and a branch network that spans six states in the Southeast and Central Atlantic.

Other banks that have received multiple Best-In-State awards include BancorpSouth, Banner Bank, Capital One, Fulton Bank, Great Southern Bank, IBC Bank, Peoples Bank, Renasant Bank, and Washington Trust Bank.

Top-ranked banks in the states also included smaller lenders providing specialist services in only a small number of states. Skowhegan Savings in Skowhegan, Maine tops our list for the state of Maine, while

Hills Bank, First Security Bank, Points West Community Bank, Conway National Bank and First Community Bank lead our rankings in Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina and Arkansas respectively.

The highest-rated bank overall was First Bank Kansas, which had an overall ratio of 94.13. Founded in 1961 by Glenn Bramwell at the bank’s current headquarters in Salina, Kansas, First Bank has been a family lender throughout its history.

Mcharcoal credit unions only are an unrecognized lifeblood of the U.S. economy, where tens of millions of Americans look to get the most competitive interest rates on mortgages, savings accounts, consumer loans, and certificates deposit. Their not-for-profit model, where the members of the bank are its owners, helps put customers first and results in higher levels of satisfaction.

Many of America’s largest credit unions were founded decades ago by workers from large local businesses, military bases, labor groups, and industries looking for banking services have grown into large institutions with dozens of thousands of customers, large loan portfolios and sophisticated digital banking services. .

The credit union with the best overall score was the Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union, based in Chatanooga, Tennessee, which obtained a score of 95.63. Founded in 1936, a few years after then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt enacted the Federal Credit Union Act, TVFCU was to serve members of the Tennessee Valley Authority, a public service that was an essential part of the “New Deal”. “. TVA workers built a hydroelectric power station on the Tennessee River, which is now the base of a utility serving 10 million people in six states. The credit union for these employees, TVFCU, now serves 160,000 members in 19 branches, carrying the mission of “people who help people”. The credit union’s assets now stand at nearly $ 2 billion, while deposits are $ 1.7 billion.

Credit unions generally operate locally, but five of them have qualified as the best in the state in several locations.

Mountain America Credit Union, founded in the 1930s, finished in the top five in Arizona, Utah and Idaho, where it placed first. With $ 13 billion in assets and 990,000 members, it is one of the largest and fastest growing credit unions in the country, covering clients in the western United States and in the mountains. Rockies.

America First Credit Union ranked first in Nevada and second in Utah. Founded in 1939 in Salt Lake City, Utah, America First initially used a can of Prince Albert tobacco to hold all of its cash deposits, then only $ 788. It has since become a major lender in the Mountain West States. The total membership stands at nearly 2 million members, making it the fifth largest credit union in America by number of members. America First’s $ 15.9 billion in assets make it the eighth largest credit union in terms of assets.

Community America Credit Union, DCU, Visions Federal Credit Union, and Security Service Federal Credit Union, founded in 1956 at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, were other credit unions to receive several awards from the state’s top credit unions. .

The other best performing credit unions were small credit unions serving specialized communities. Founded in 1953, Otero Federal Credit Union, based in Alamogordo, New Mexico, is one of the smallest in the country, with just 95 employees in total. He placed second overall according to our poll with a score of 93.65, ranking No.1 in New Mexico.

Other top credit unions in the state with the highest overall ratings included Visions Federal Credit Union in New York, ELGA Credit Union in Michigan, CSE Federal Credit Union in Ohio, and Sikorsky Financial Credit Union in Connecticut, all of which received top 92 ratings.

Fourth relaunch of live updates: can it be approved in June? Tax Refund, $ 3,600 Child Tax Credit Portal …


-The White House responds to questions about labor shortages caused by generous federal unemployment benefits (Full details)

Vice President Kamala Harris visits Pittsburgh promote the child tax credit

Fourth dunning check linked to lower retail spending (Read more)

Child tax credits: IRS launches new online portal to allow those who do not declare tax to claim the benefit

– May survey results 53% of parents know “almost nothing” about the child tax credit, with Data for Progress estimating that 4 million children were not enrolled by the tax deadline

New online portal on the child tax credit can be used to claim the missing raise money (Details)

– Petition for recurring dunning checks exceed 2.37 million signatures. Sign it here.

-Which organizations favor another round of stimulus checks? (All the details)

Wages rising faster in the United States will help anchor inflation

– The IRS has confirmed that the monthly child tax credit payments will start on July 15 (Read more)

– Fund of 10 billion dollars for homeowner stimulus checks (How to register)

– Many American taxpayers continue awaiting tax refund (find out more)

Louisiana announces that he is going end the $ 300 unemployment compensation reminder end of July, becoming the first state ruled by Democrats

Twenty-six US states, all led by the GOP, are terminate supplementary unemployment insurance start (full story)

– You can follow your third raise check using the IRS online Get my payment tool

Read some of our related press articles:

Cyber ​​Insurance Underwriters Launch Risk Mitigation Company

AIG, Travelers, and other cyber insurance companies launch CyberAcuView, which compiles and analyzes data to help organizations get the most from their cyber insurance.

Seven cyber insurers have launched CyberAcuView, a risk mitigation company that compiles and analyzes data to help organizations get the most from their cyber insurance.

CyberAcuView intends to use its collective expertise to help the cyber insurance industry improve its services, the company said. To achieve this, CyberAcuView focuses on the following initiatives:

  • Provide industry best practices
  • Collaborate with regulators, law enforcement and other security agencies
  • Develop systemic risk solutions
  • Advancing the language of cyberpolitics
  • Analyze cyber trends to better understand cyber attacks

The founding members of CyberAcuView include:

  • AIG
  • AXIS
  • Beazley
  • Chubb
  • The Hartford
  • Freedom Mutual Insurance
  • Travelers

CyberAcuView is led by CEO Mark Camillo, who most recently served as EMEA Cyber ​​Manager at AIG. The company’s management team also includes Monica Lindeen, former Montana State Insurance Commissioner and President of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and James Schweitzer, a FBI veteran and former chief operating officer of the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

What services does CyberAcuView offer?

CyberAcuView provides the following services:

  • Industry data collection and analysis: Develops cyber insurance intelligence, so insurers can educate organizations about cyber risks
  • Cyber ​​Industry Data Information Standards: Creates voluntary standards for cyber data information to promote consistency in the cyber insurance market
  • Collaboration between regulators and government agencies: Fosters relationships with regulators and government agencies to discover ways to help organizations deal with cyber risks
  • Coordination of law enforcement and security agencies: Works with law enforcement and security agencies to explore ways to mitigate cybercrime
  • Systemic risk assessment: Focuses on improving industry understanding of systemic cyber risk

CyberAcuView is supported by the industry, the company said. It works for the benefit of cyber insurance policyholders, the insurers who serve them and the global economy.

Go home

National and Regional Farm Leaders Take a Close Look at Lower Snake River Dam Problems | Environment

LEWISTON, Idaho – Leaders of national and regional farm organizations joined efforts to protect the four lower dams on the Snake River last week, taking part in a day-long briefing on the role structures in the economy of the Pacific Northwest.

Among those who joined the group were Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation – the largest agricultural organization in the country – and Chandler Goule, CEO of the National Association of Wheat Growers.

Farmers shouldn’t let their guard down when it comes to Rep. Mike Simpson’s call to cross the Snake River dams in the name of salmon recovery, Goule warned.

Simpson’s $ 33.5 billion concept calls for the failure of the four lower Snake River dams and mitigation of affected communities and industries.

The idea is gaining traction in Congress as the midterm elections approach, Goule said.

Simpson, a member of the House appropriations committee, has not proposed any legislation, but he will work to squeeze the money into an appropriation bill without instructions to break the roadblocks, Goule said.

“If that money is earmarked, it gives him a much stronger hand to come back and demolish the dams,” said Goule.

Simpson used a similar tactic on another issue 10 years ago, Ghoul said.

“He already knows politically that this strategy is going to work,” Goule said.

It would likely be in next year’s credits, Goule said. The bill would have to go through the House and the Senate, and the president would have to sign it.

Duvall, Goule and 43 other representatives from agricultural organizations, cooperatives and related businesses were welcomed by the Idaho Grain Producers Association and the Idaho Farm Bureau.

Tour participants passed a boat navigation lock and toured the dam complex, seeing fish ladders and juvenile and adult fish, and toured the Lewis-Clark Terminal, owned by CHS Primeland, Pacific Northwest Farmers Co-op and Uniontown Co-op.

Agricultural advocates say breaking dams is not the ‘silver bullet’ for salmon recovery according to conservationists, noting mortality rates on the Snake River are similar for salmon elsewhere on the west coast .

“I did not see today the problems that (Simpson) described. … I didn’t see the science that supported this, ”said Duvall, of the American Farm Bureau Federation.

Duvall compared Simpson to a doctor who orders a heart transplant when certain medications are sufficient.

“If we think about the $ 34 billion and take just a part of it, put it into research and development of the other problems that salmon might face, we can fix this problem with a little medicine rather than transplant a heart, ”said Duvall. mentionned.

Failure of the dams would render the lower Snake River “completely non-navigable” and require the addition of 38,000 more railcars or 150,000 more trucks to replace the barges, Goule said.

About 60% of Washington and Idaho’s wheat is shipped by barge, according to the Lewis-Clark Terminal. It takes five and a half hours to load a barge of 3,600 tonnes, the equivalent of 120 trucks of wheat.

A transport credit or subsidy offered under the Simpson plan could also potentially be non-compliant with World Trade Organization regulations, Goule said, adding that it could be seen as trade-distorting and undermining competition. for export.

The dams are critical to the West Coast export and import markets, said Jeff Van Pevenage, president and CEO of Columbia Grain International in Portland.

Some 60 to 65 percent of the wheat exported through the Columbia-Snake River system comes from the Lower Snake River region, made up of 13 barge facilities with more than 10 owners, Van Pevenage said.

“Without the current volume, you will be jeopardizing the economic viability of at least two of the export facilities that exist in Portland,” Van Pevenage said. These facilities are heavily dependent on barges and do not have the capacity to increase rail capacity, he said.

Barging offers transportation competition and alternatives to control freight rates, Van Pevenage said. Without it, rail costs for grain shipments to Portland could potentially more than double, especially in the fall, when corn and soybean shipments from the Midwest are also heavy.

Without a barge, many regional farmers could find themselves in a “captive expedition” scenario, similar to what Montana farmers are experiencing today, Van Pevenage said.

“For example, sometimes today you can ship wheat from eastern North Dakota via Montana to the west coast at lower rates than you can ship from Montana to PNW,” he said. -he declares. “It’s very possible that these types of scenarios exist here without the competition. “

Zoning Council Listens to Citizen Feedback on Basin Creek Solar Project

BUTTE – The Commissioners Council chamber was packed to capacity as the Butte-Silver Bow Zoning Council listened to passionate pleas from community members for and against the proposed 1,600-acre solar project. if approved, the project will be built on a private ranch south of Butte.

John McDermott owns the ranch where the panels will be built.

“Over the years, family ranches are kind of fading away and you know the time for a change is approaching. I was sort of faced, you know, with a few options of a few things to do,” McDermott said.

McDermott started working with Madison River Equity LLC, a subsidiary of FX Solutions owned by Rick Tabish, in 2018 to build this project.

Community members supporting the project said it was built on private property and green power was in demand, which could pave the way for well-paying jobs in Butte.

“The market speaks. Fossil fuels are dying. It is not a public policy problem, it is a market problem of the economy and as this fossil fuel disappears it must be replaced by something. With green energy, ”said Evan Barrett.

Jack McBroom said the project could transform Butte’s image on the world stage.

“This plant is going to be the power producer and we have to be the leaders of the change,” McBroom said.

Community members opposed to the project say they are worried about their perspective on the landscape if the project comes to fruition.

“I feel like if we’re so thirsty for change and growth that we’re even considering that, I think we should be ashamed,” said Kyle Parvinen.

Cindy Perdue-Dolan, who lives near the airport, said residents near the proposed project have not purchased their homes near the industrial zoning.

“These residents deserve better. They have worked too hard for their home, their views and their residential values ​​when it comes time to sell, ”said Perdue-Dolan.

The council will have 60 days to decide.

Montana’s solar resource is 26% higher than the national average, according to the state of Montana.

Zoning Council Listens to Citizen Feedback on Basin Creek Solar Project

Unemployed checks may soon end for three in four people who receive aid – People’s World

Courtesy of the National Employment Law Project.

WASHINGTON – Nearly three in four workers who now receive federal unemployment assistance – especially weekly $ 300 checks – could fall off an economic cliff in the coming weeks and millions of people could not get anything at all, warn Heidi Shierholz, policy director of the Economic Policy Institute, and the National Employment Law Project. .

“About three-quarters of people receiving Unemployment Insurance (Unemployment Insurance) benefits are on ‘the two federal programs that pay out those $ 300 checks,” Shierholz tweeted.

“So in the 21 states where these programs are being canceled, a large majority of workers will not only lose the extra $ 300, THEY WILL BE ENTIRELY CUT OF BENEFITS (emphasizes his emphasis). “

Maryland’s jobless workers will be the biggest losers, according to NELP charts. Some 84% will lose all aid.

Shierholz made this point about the overall losses when discussing the weekly data on unemployment benefit claims from the Department of Labor. This report showed that there were 402,352 new claimants for state-paid unemployment assistance during the week ending June 12, and 118,025 for checks for $ 300.

Together, those numbers have increased by 83,896 applicants from the previous week, indicating that the economy is still recovering from the depression caused by the coronaviruses of last year. This depression shows up in the year-over-year numbers, where new claims in 2021 were half of those in comparable weeks in 2020.

But the numbers that sounded the alarm for Shierholz and NELP were the number of checks for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (6.12 million) and for Emergency Unemployment Compensation in Pandemic (5 , 16 million) during the week ending May 29. These figures are still two weeks behind the weekly. new claims figures.

The first group is made up of “concert” workers, independent contractors and others who are not eligible for state aid. The $ 300 checks are their only unemployment aid. The second group is that of workers who have exhausted their state aid.

The two groups would fall off a cliff when the $ 300 check program ends just after Labor Day. But 21 governors, almost all Republicans, are withdrawing the $ 300 checks now or in the weeks to come. It could affect 3.606 million people right now, NELP said. And most of the losers are people of color, adds a NELP board and card.

The top five states losing those $ 300 checks – and the percentage of losers who are workers of color in each – are Texas (981,334 check losers, 59%), Ohio (484,782, 25.4 %), Maryland (389,707, 57.7%), Georgia (278,122, 51.8%) and Indiana (231,790, 32.9%). The next five are Arizona, Tennessee, South Carolina, Missouri, and Florida, in that order.

All ten have GOP governors. When Maryland Governor Larry Hogan cuts checks by $ 300 on July 3, 84% of all his unemployed will lose money. # 2 is Alabama, at 80%. Here are Indiana, Texas, Arkansas, South Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Montana and Tennessee, all over 70%. The cuts to unemployment aid show “the depth and scale of the havoc that these governors”, once again all Republicans, “will be on their voters with their unilateral actions,” NELP added.


Marc Gruenberg

Senators urge Home Secretary Haaland to suspend oil lease

WASHINGTON (AP) – Republican and Democratic Senators demanded answers from Home Secretary Deb Haaland on Wednesday after a federal court blocked the Biden administration’s suspension of new oil and gas leases on land and land. federal waters.

In a harsh ruling Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Terry Doughty in Louisiana ordered lease sales plans to continue in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Alaska and in “all eligible onshore properties” to nationwide. The move came after President Joe Biden halted sales of oil and gas leases of the country’s vast public lands and waters during his early days in office, citing concerns about climate change.

“It’s a new decision. Our department is reviewing the judge’s opinion as we speak and consulting with the Department of Justice, ”Haaland said when interviewed at a Senate hearing on her department’s budget.

“We will respect the judge’s decision. Any other information will be communicated, ”she said.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, the top Republican on the Senate Interior Appropriations subcommittee, said she was flabbergasted that Haaland had not addressed the court ruling – or the broad agenda of government oil and gas lease – in its prepared remarks.

“I was really struck by the fact that in 17 pages of discussions outlining the budget, there is really no recognition for production in our federal territory and the role it plays,” Murkowski said.

In light of the court ruling, she told Haaland, “I expect to hear your plans to resume implementation of these rental sales. We expect you to obey the law.

Haaland, a former Democratic congresswoman from New Mexico, replied, “I will always obey the law.

Democratic Senator Jon Tester of Montana also seemed impatient with Haaland, saying the review Biden ordered – nearly two months before Haaland took office in mid-March – seemed to drag on.

“As this review progresses, a hiatus in leasing gives people in the oil and gas industry a lot of uncertainty,” Tester said. “It is increasingly difficult to extend that trust without concrete information in the exam. “

The tester asked Haaland when the review will be “ready for prime time.”

The officials have “said throughout the start of the summer … so I guess they’ll get it in the near future,” Haaland said.

“I’m taking this because it’s coming out next month,” Tester replied. Haaland did not commit to a firm timetable.

The back-and-forth over the rental break and the court ruling has shown the stakes in Biden’s efforts to reform – and possibly scale back – the multibillion-dollar rental program without crushing a major sector of the U.S. economy .

Doughty’s decision, in a lawsuit brought by Louisiana Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry and officials from 12 other states, is a blow to Biden’s efforts to steer the country away from fossil fuels and avoid the worst effects of climate change, including including catastrophic droughts, floods and forest fires.

Biden and Haaland said the rental ban was only temporary, although officials declined to say how long it would last. And it’s unclear how much legal authority the government has to stop drilling on approximately 23 million acres (93,000 square kilometers) previously leased to energy companies.

Wyoming Senator John Barrasso, the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, called the judge’s ruling a “victory for the rule of law and American energy workers.”

“Biden’s illegal ban (on the sale of new leases) has hurt workers and deprived Wyoming and other states of a primary source of income that they use for public education,” Barrasso said. “President Biden should immediately reverse his punitive ban and let the Americans get back to work.”

Following Biden’s Jan. 27 order, the Home Office canceled sales of oil and gas leases on public land until June – affecting Nevada, Colorado, Montana, New- Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, as well as offshore sales in the Gulf of Mexico. The department also dropped a public comment period for a planned offshore sale in Alaska.

The 13 states that sued said the administration had bypassed comment periods and other bureaucratic steps required before such delays could be undertaken and said the moratorium would cost states money and jobs.

Doughty, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Donald Trump in 2017, said “millions and possibly billions of dollars are at stake” for local governments and other public uses.

Mayor of Tempe calls for ‘continue and increase’ housing and transportation funds | Cronkite News

A construction worker works in a building in downtown Phoenix in this 2018 photo. Housing is one piece of the Biden administration’s infrastructure that the mayors say is desperately needed and that it says criticism, is a waste and should not be viewed as infrastructure. (File photo by Nicole Neri / Cronkite News)

WASHINGTON – Tempe needs “continued and increased” federal funding for affordable housing and public transportation, Mayor Corey Woods said Tuesday, telling a Senate panel that local investment alone cannot do work.

Woods was one of many state and local officials across the country to testify before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. audience on infrastructure needs, as Congress and the White House fight over the Biden administration’s $ 2 trillion spending plan.

Tempe has invested his own money in housing and transportation, Woods said, but that is not enough to meet the needs of residents without federal help.

“Increased investments in infrastructure would provide the city with an important tool to face the negative economic impacts of COVID-19 and continue to develop our community with a sustainable and smart approach”, Woods said.

But critics have called the administration’s U.S. employment plan a waste, saying if infrastructure is important, the Biden plan will do too much and let the local government do too little.

“The Biden administration appears to have lost sight of the fact that the federal role in infrastructure spending has been historically limited,” said Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Penn., Who added that the states “are currently inundated. money ”from the previous COVID. -19 relief bills.

Toomey said states and local communities are primarily responsible for financing infrastructure. He said that a deal on a bipartisan infrastructure package will only be possible if “we support real physical infrastructure that we pay for with existing funds – without raising taxes or borrowing billions.”

Related story

The American Jobs plan, unveiled on March 31 by President Joe Biden, would both raise taxes and fund everything from roads to housing to clean energy projects – something Toomey ridiculed as Democrats spent “taxpayer money for their Green New Deal program and other liberal policies “.

Despite the size of his plan, Biden called it is a one-time investment in the economy that would be paid off, without borrowing, by raising corporate tax rates. Negotiations between the White House and a group of moderate Republican senators have stalled recently, in part because lawmakers have refused to raise the taxes, Biden said, needed to pay for the plan.

This opened the door for talks with a second group of negotiators, 10 bipartisan senators, including Senator Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz. But Sinema said in a report last week, as the new group lobbied for a plan that would be “fully paid for and not include tax increases” – something the president has rejected in previous talks.

At Tuesday’s hearing in Lancaster County, Pa., Commissioner Josh Parsons said that federal spending in response to the pandemic is too high.

“At this point, rather than sending more money, the best solution would be to sideline the government and let the economy recover,” Parsons said.

But Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said local officials know the needs of their communities better and they need more resources.

“Over and over, I hear the same from leaders in places large and small, rural and urban: to attract good jobs, they need more resources.” Brown said. “They need housing that their workers can afford and the means to get to work.”

Related story

This was echoed by Bozeman, Montana Mayor Cyndy Andrus, who said prices for apartments and single-family homes in her town have risen significantly and wages are not keeping pace.

“Every week I hear from business owners in our community who have top candidates turning down jobs because house prices are out of control.” Andrus said. “People who cannot afford a house in Bozeman are not only hourly workers earning $ 15 / hour, but also potential employees with doctorates and salary offers between $ 75,000 and $ 100,000 per year. “

While Woods was the only mayor of Arizona to testify on Tuesday, he is not the only mayor of Arizona to support the president’s plan.

In an editorial For the Arizona Daily Star this week, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero said the U.S. Jobs Plan “would be transformative for Tucson and communities across the country, rebuilding our nation’s transportation networks, creating millions of well-paying, union and green jobs, historically prioritizing sub-vested communities and redefining “infrastructure” to encompass basic necessities such as high-speed internet and affordable housing. “

Mesa Mayor John Giles and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego signed two separate letters with dozens of mayors across the country, calling on Congress to take “bold action” on infrastructure, especially funding for affordable housing.

“America needs this level of support because current federal programs and funding as well as the supply of affordable housing fail to meet the skyrocketing national housing demand,” the April 13 letter said. both signed from Mayors and CEOs for investment in housing in the United States.

Dry wheat and the economy – AG WEST INFORMATION NETWORK

Dry wheat and economy

University of Idaho agricultural economist Garth Taylor talks about a wheat field west of Moscow that looked very, very green, but was only a few inches tall, which is well below normal. Noting that we were in the midst of a very severe drought that could seriously affect the state of Idaho’s economy, I asked him what kind of numbers he came up with when thinking about the drought. It’s a bad photo to take in the background here, because look at this beautiful wheat field, it might have been a little bigger than that, but it’s a beautiful wheat field. It is a bad representation. But you can see some very scorched areas here due to the pollution that we just haven’t had the rain here to bring up at a very critical time for grain development. But in the state we have some really bad places, much worse than here. In the Lewiston area. We won’t get a lot of grain crops this year. It is simply too late for much of the ripening wheat. But it’s still not as bad as affecting other parts of the state. Drought or no drought, TAYLOR says we could have a good crop year in Idaho. One of the things I want to highlight, we’ve talked about when we’re talking about drought, we’re talking about an effect on agriculture in the state. There is always a bit of paradox in this, a bit of drought, always a bit beneficial for certain farmers in particular, such as potato producers, the reduction in the quantity of products is largely offset by the increase in prices. . Wheat won’t, but some of the crops we grow here in the state of Idaho do. Crossed fingers.

Stimulus Check Live Fourth Update: Is It Coming In June? Tax refund status, owner’s stimulus check, child tax payment …

Cash Payments for New Mexico Citizens Who Missed Federal Aid

New Mexico Department of Social Services will begin accepting requests this week for a second round of cash payments at people who were not eligible for federal stimulus funds, including elderly residents claimed as dependents by the caretakers.

Payments will be made to low-income households depending on the availability of funds. State legislature allocated $ 5 million to the relief effort.

Applications are available on the Yes New Mexico site, state, from Monday June 14 at 9 a.m. and to be submitted before June 25, 2021 at 3 p.m.

The following information will be required on each request: First name, last name; an identifier such as a New Mexico driver’s license number, individual taxpayer identification number, or Social Security number; Residential address and / or postal address; and direct deposit information (US bank account number and routing number)

Payments will be processed by the New Mexico Department of Taxation and Revenue and will be issued by the end of July 2021. Applicants will receive notification of their qualification status from the Social Services Department.

To be entitled to relief, a taxpayer must not have qualified for federal stimulus programs. In addition, they must be a New Mexico resident and have the relevant identity documents.

The Associated Press reports that the first round of this funding in December distributed checks to approximately 15,000 people, excluding about half of those who applied.

“This is a significant effort to help people in our community who have been overlooked by federal stimulus programs and who we know need the extra money to help feed and house their families.” , said Angela Medrano, HSD Undersecretary.

Customer Reviews: Stone-Manning Needed to Lead BLM | Chroniclers

Tom France is seen with his dog Britt.

Courtesy photo


In Montana, choosing a hunting partner is not to be taken lightly. It must be someone you can spend hours with, in trucks, boats, and long hikes. Someone who will go wholeheartedly into the work that follows a successful hunt and will be with you when things don’t quite go as planned. Choosing a hunting partner comes down to someone with skill, courage, and a character you respect.

The same could be said for the head of our largest public land agency, the Bureau of Land Management. Competence, courage and character. Tracy Stone-Manning is that leader. I have known Tracy for thirty years, both as a hunting partner and as a colleague working on public land policies that will benefit both people and wildlife. As an athlete and activist, Tracy will be an outstanding BLM Director and I strongly support her appointment to lead the agency.

Leading the BLM is one of the most important jobs in the country. The agency oversees more than a third of our public lands, including extensive grasslands across the Great Plains and the Intermountain West, beautiful rainforests along the West Coast, and deserts and grasslands to the Southwest. . In Montana, the BLM manages over 8 million acres of land.

Tracy understands the great heritage of our public lands and their importance to fish and wildlife, clean air and water, and as ecological treasures for future generations. She understands that BLM lands are shared lands that are important to hunters and anglers, to loggers and ranchers, and to many other users of public lands and rural economies.

Against solar project | Letters

Regarding the proposed zoning exception for a solar array of over 1,600 acres and 700,000 panels between Basin Creek and Little Basin Creek: It is hard to believe that this is under serious consideration. This project would have clear and quantifiable negative effects, including complete ecological destruction of the area; constant noise pollution linked to a massive, multi-year construction project; and a decrease in property values ​​due to the aforementioned changes. The character of the surrounding community and neighborhoods, not to mention the natural features, will be irreparably marked. The proposed fencing and “landscaping” will destroy native vegetation and topography, which in turn will destroy wildlife ecosystems in this area, including obviously affecting the natural movement of big game, which could reasonably be expected to have a negative effect. direct on the resulting economic benefits. at Butte Silver Bow during hunting seasons. The lighting and reflective properties of solar panels will create well-documented nuisances in surrounding areas for miles. Reclassification for the purposes of this private enterprise will fail to enhance or promote the overall development of the immediate neighborhood and community, which in turn will negatively affect the values ​​of neighboring properties, let alone the aesthetic features of this area. There can be no assurance that the short-term jobs and two-year construction contracts will all and only go to the benefit of Butte businesses and therefore the Butte economy; the long-term jobs which total around 8 are practically an insult given the destruction proposed.

Guest Column: Building the Internet will be transformative for Montana | Guest columns

The world is changing faster than ever. If we want Montana to continue to be a place where you can make a living and raise a family, we must build the infrastructure we need to seize the opportunities of the modern economy.

Montana is the worst state for broadband Internet connectivity right now. It is a problem that we must resolve. Reliable high-speed internet access is not only important for high-tech companies and teleworkers; almost every element of our economy depends on it these days.

Modern agricultural and transport equipment is increasingly interconnected online. Telehealth has exploded in popularity during the pandemic. Hotels, outfitters and guides, rafting companies, and other outdoor tourism and recreation businesses depend on online reservations.

All industries, from energy and mining and retail, to restaurants, real estate and local small businesses, use the Internet to recruit employees, manage their books, make sales and promote their products and services.

So, how do you address the state’s treasure trove’s lack of broadband and connect Montana to jobs and opportunities in the modern economy?

On June 8, we had the first meeting of the ARPA Communications Advisory Board. ARPA refers to the “American Rescue Plan Act,” Washington, DC’s massive and fiscally irresponsible spending program. So it was unwise to cut billions of dollars in stimulus spending for an already indebted federal government of nearly $ 30 trillion, thanks to responsible budgeting by conservative state lawmakers. in Montana, our state is prepared to devote a large portion of our allocation to long-term investments.

Over the next several months, our commission will use sophisticated mapping and analysis to plan for unprecedented growth in Internet access throughout Montana. We have allocated hundreds of millions of federal funds to this project, but the law I passed ensures that it will not be a freebie for big business. The private sector will also have to contribute funding, and all suppliers, large and small, using a variety of technologies, will come up with projects and compete for funding. When all is said and done, we could envision a total investment of almost half a billion dollars in Montana broadband internet.

The closest parallel in Montana history to this effort is rural electrification in the 1930s and 1940s. Internet access today is almost as essential as electricity for commerce. Heck, when the power goes out, you’re probably using your phone’s cellular connection to check for updates for outages. A half billion dollar Internet build will transform the future of our state.

In order to keep Montana the last best place, we must have an economy that allows people to make a living and raise families. Legislative Republicans and the administration of Governor Gianforte are leading this endeavor to literally connect Montanais to opportunity, via the Internet. Democratic lawmakers also have a seat at the table and will be working with us. As chairman of the ARPA Communications Commission, my goal is to provide this infrastructure in a way that is both well planned and efficient.

To see what else is happening in County Gallatin, subscribe to the online journal.

Senator Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton, is the pro-tempore President of the Montana Senate and the Chairman of the ARPA Communications Committee.

Hecla moves forward with Northwest Montana mines

Officials at an Idaho-based mining company developing two large copper and silver mines in northwest Montana said they were not discouraged by a recent move that could allow the state to call its CEO a “bad actor” because of a failed mine clean-up more than two decades ago. in another part of the state.

Calling CEO Phillips S. Baker a “bad actor” could derail Hecla Mining Co.’s efforts to develop the Rock Creek and Montanore mines, two projects in Lincoln and Sanders counties that have been underway since. decades. One of the reasons the company might not be concerned is that the new occupant of the governor’s mansion in Helena has been a strong supporter of the plans.

The projects were first proposed by various companies in the early 1980s. Mining officials have said that together, the two mines under Cabinet Mountain Wilderness could produce more than 500 million ounces of silver and 4 billion pounds of copper, making it one of the largest untapped deposits of either mineral in the world. Both projects stuck in the state and federal government approval process for decades, led by two junior mining companies, one of which operated the now-closed Troy Mine. The protracted process frustrated local officials, who said the mines could provide much-needed jobs in one of the state’s most economically depressed areas. In Libby, posters stating “We support Montanore” are common in store windows.

IN 2015, local authorities received a new dose of optimism when Hecla, based in Coeur d’Alene, purchased both projects. Hecla was founded in 1891 and currently operates mines in Idaho, Alaska and Quebec. If one company could get Rock Creek and Montanore up and running, local officials believed, it was Hecla. But those hopes were dashed in 2018 when the Montana Department of Environmental Quality announced that Hecla and its CEO had violated state mining laws and therefore could not open any of the mines until the company had not paid $ 32 million in restitution.

At the heart of the state’s argument is Baker’s involvement with Pegasus Gold Corp., which went bankrupt in 1998 and left the state on the hook for a $ 32 million recovery effort on three mine sites in the Little Rocky Mountains south of the Fort Belknap reserve. .

Montana’s “Bad Actors” Mining Act was passed in the 1980s and aims to hold companies accountable for not cleaning up polluted mine sites. The law has been used sparingly since its passage, and the decision to apply it to Baker, who was vice president of Pegasus, has been celebrated by environmental groups.

“Historically, mining companies have gotten away with leaving the unrecovered mine sites to taxpayers to clean up, some of which will require treatment for decades to come,” said Mary Costello, executive director of the Rock Creek Alliance, a group created in 1996 to oppose the Rock Creek mine. “This is why it is so important that the Montana Bad Actors Act, which was passed with bipartisan support, be enforced. This law ensures that mining executives are held accountable to Montana taxpayers so that sites abandoned toxic mines remain a thing of the past. “

HECLA AGAINST Baker is innocent and had already left Pegasus when he went bankrupt and left the state with the Cleanup Bill. Shortly after DEQ attempted to label Baker a “bad actor,” Hecla sued. In May, Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge Mike Menahan ruled that DEQ had the power to apply the “bad actor” label to Baker, but did not rule on the merits of the case.

“The laws we have in place to protect drinking water and ensure that mine sites are fully reclaimed will only be effective if the wrong actors are held accountable and the law is properly enforced,” said Derf Johnson, director of the Clean Water program with the Montana Environmental Information Center. “We are incredibly encouraged to see the court order, and now the DEQ can fully pursue this case on the merits.”

It is not known if DEQ will continue to pursue the case. In a statement to Montana Free Press, spokeswoman Moira Davin said the agency was reviewing the decision and “assessing the resources we have available to pursue the next steps.”

Governor Greg Gianforte has spoken favorably about proposed mines in the past and last year hosted a campaign event at Hecla’s offices in Libby. During this event, he criticized state and federal authorities for the time it took for the two mines to be cleared. Although state and federal agencies have issued permits for mines in the past, they have been challenged in court on several occasions.

“I believe we can develop our natural resources while protecting the environment and, where there has been a problem, such as in Libby, [we’ve] got to work cleaning it up, ”Gianforte said in Hecla’s offices last July, referring to the massive Superfund cleanup resulting from the WR Grace & Co. asbestos mine that sickened and killed residents. . During that same event, he called DEQ and the Montana Department of Natural Resources “project prevention departments.”

A spokesperson for Gianforte directed all questions about Hecla and the “bad actor” affair to DEQ.

EVEN IF the state continues its efforts to label Baker a “bad actor,” Hecla officials said, they are confident they will be victorious in the courts and continue to push the plans forward. Spokesman Luke Russell said Rock Creek and Montanore are good projects that can provide the copper and silver needed to power a greener, more eco-friendly economy. Mining officials note that copper and silver are needed to produce electric vehicles and wind turbines.

Over the years, environmental groups have raised concerns about how two large copper and silver mines located beneath a federally designated wilderness area could affect surface water and wildlife. Opponents said either mine could permanently damage the area. But Hecla officials counter that copper and silver can be responsibly mined and cite the nearby Troy mine, which was closed by Hecla’s predecessor, Revett Mining Co., in 2015 when demand for copper dropped, as an example of what Montanore and Rock Creek would do. look like. Russell said Hecla has completed most of its reclamation work at this site, including covering a 300-acre tailings dump with topsoil, and is currently working on demolishing the buildings. Russell said it would ultimately be difficult to tell that there had ever been a mine at the site.

“It’s a great example of what modern mining can be,” he said.

Guest column: We must protect the public resources we rely on | Guest columns

It’s spring in Montana and summer is just around the corner. The streams begin to swell with the life-giving waters of last winter’s snowpack; the poplar seeds drift on the afternoon air currents to land on these rising waters, which will carry them to fertile soil. Montana’s population is also growing, as residents and visitors alike put their skis away and prepare for what many predict will be record numbers of tourists to our parks and other wild places.

For the nearly 900 members of FOAM – the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana – this is what we have been waiting for all winter. We are ready and we are excited. But after a year of profound societal changes, we are also thinking about the future. Ours and our rivers ”.

Our future is inexorably intertwined with that of rivers. Economically, we rely on clean, healthy rivers to deliver the iconic experiences that attract our customers from around the world. Whether it’s the cry of a reel as a Madisonian brown trout peels, or the humble beauty of a native cutthroat caught and released in a secret stream, there’s a reason. that so many people come to Montana for. Yet these are just the most obvious ways our rivers fuel our $ 7.1 billion outdoor recreation industry. For all the cars hired to view wildlife in Yellowstone, the unforgettable dinners with iconic mountain views, and amenities purchased from local businesses, rivers are the lifeblood that keeps the environment healthy. In doing so, they keep our economy healthy.

Of course, that’s only half the story. Like many of our colleagues, we do what we do because we love rivers. We like to spend our days in the water. Perhaps more than anything, we love to share this joy with others.

For all of these reasons and more, FOAM supports the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act (MHLA). This historic, locally supported legislation would protect a landscape of rivers in the Greater Yellowstone and Smith river systems by designating them as Wild and Scenic, the strongest form of federal river protection in the United States. This will help us better understand the health of our rivers and respond to any threats that may emerge tomorrow or ten years from now. Equally important, the wild and scenic designations will help raise awareness of the quality of our waters and the urgent need to protect them.

Each of the 17 rivers and streams in the MHLA is unique, and we all fall in love with something different. For some, it’s the scenic mountain views of the Paradise Valley of the Yellowstone River. For others, it’s the roar of living water above an isolated hole in the Boulder. This is part of what makes MHLA’s holistic approach so powerful. Each waterway is part of a larger, connected system. If we secure this system enough to keep it whole, we are protecting something more than the sum of its parts. It is vital that we do this for fish, wildlife and people.

Our river systems, as we know them today, will not last if we do not act now. Many who visit Montana’s rivers see them as limitless pristine resources. But those of us who live and work on the water every day see a more complete story. Indeed, we have a lot to lose. Between increasing human pressures, lower flows at the end of the season, an uncertain snowpack and increasingly frequent algae blooms, our rivers are changing rapidly. These changes are too ambitious to respond with anything less than what the MHLA is proposing. We must look beyond our own personal impacts and act together to achieve the greatest collective impact our rivers need.

FOAM calls on those chosen to represent the Montanais – Senator Jon Tester, Senator Steve Daines and Representative Matt Rosendale – to reintroduce and pass the Montana Headwaters Legacy Act today. We also call on all guides and outfitters in the state, whether or not they work on the rivers, to answer this call and to lead by example. We all depend, directly or indirectly, on public resources. It’s up to us to protect them.

To see what else is happening in County Gallatin, subscribe to the online journal.

Michael A. Bias is the Executive Director of the Fishing Outfitters Association of Montana. Jason Fleury is the chairman of the organization’s board of directors.

Guest Reviews: Stone-Manning Wanted at BLM Bar | Chroniclers

Tom France and Britt.


In Montana, choosing a hunting partner is not to be taken lightly. It must be someone you can spend hours with, in trucks, boats, and long hikes. Someone who will go wholeheartedly into the work that follows a successful hunt and will be with you when things don’t go as planned. Choosing a hunting partner comes down to someone with skill, courage, and a character you respect.

The same could be said for the head of our largest public land agency, the Bureau of Land Management. Competence, courage and character. Tracy Stone-Manning is that leader. I have known Tracy for thirty years, both as a hunting partner and as a colleague working on public land policies that will benefit both people and wildlife. As an athlete and activist, Tracy will be an outstanding BLM Director and I strongly support her appointment to lead the agency.

Leading the BLM is one of the most important jobs in the country. The agency oversees more than a third of our public lands, including extensive grasslands across the Great Plains and

intermountain West, beautiful rainforests along the west coast and deserts and grasslands to the southwest. In Montana, the BLM manages over 8 million acres of land.

Tracy understands the great heritage of our public lands and their importance to fishing and

clean wildlife, air and water, and as ecological treasures for future generations. It

May jobs report falls short of projections | national

(The Center Square) – Total non-farm payroll jobs rose by 559,000 in the United States in May, lower than the 650,000 predicted by economists, according to data from the United States Department of Labor.

The unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage points to 5.8 percent, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported.

Notable job gains have taken place in leisure and hospitality, public and private education, and health care and social assistance, reports the BLS.

The data cover two labor force measures, the household survey, which includes unemployment and demographic characteristics, and the establishment survey, which measures non-farm employment, hours and hours. revenues by industry.

The adult unemployment rate was little changed, as was the participation rate, which has hovered at 61% since June 2020. The number of people employed part-time for economic reasons has remained essentially unchanged. In May, the number of inactive people who currently want a job also remained largely unchanged, reports the BLS.

May was the second consecutive month of lower-than-expected job creation, with labor market participation declining and overall economic growth hampered by a labor shortage.

“The reasons are clear: Many employers say that increasing unemployment benefits make it harder to hire low-wage jobs, working parents continue to struggle for childcare and some workers are sitting on the sidelines. persistent Covid-19 problems, ”Barron reports. “Wages are rising as employers try to attract workers. The labor force participation rate has dropped unexpectedly, suggesting that people are reluctant to re-enter the workforce despite a record number of vacancies.

Economists at the University of Chicago estimate that more than two-thirds of unemployed workers are paid more than if they were working – in some cases two to three times as much.

In response, 25 Republican-led states withdrew from the additional $ 300 in weekly federal payments, in hopes it will encourage individuals to re-enter the workforce.

The additional weekly federal benefits of $ 300 are expected to expire on June 12 in some states, including Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi and Missouri.

Additional benefits end June 19 in Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Additional benefits end June 26 in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah.

Additional benefits end June 27 in Montana and Oklahoma, July 3 in Tennessee, and July 10 in Arizona.

The dates vary depending on when governors notified the US Department of Labor. Federal law requires that the effective date of the change be at least 30 days after notification.

All 25 governors argue that the end of the additional benefit encourages individuals to apply for available jobs.

In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little said, “Employers tell me that one of the main reasons they can’t recruit and keep some workers is that these employees are paid more unemployed than they would during. that they were working. My decision is based on a fundamental conservative principle. – we don’t want people to be unemployed. We want people to work.

In Texas, Governor Greg Abbott said, “The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities across the state.

“According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job postings in Texas is almost the same as the number of Texans receiving unemployment benefits. This assessment does not include bulky jobs that are typically not listed, such as construction and catering jobs. In fact, there are nearly 60% more jobs open (and listed) in Texas today than there were in February 2020, the month before the pandemic hit Texas. “

Current jobs in Texas are high paying jobs, according to the Texas Workforce Commission. Almost 45% of available jobs pay salaries over $ 15.50 an hour. About 76% pay more than $ 11.50 an hour. Only 2% of posted jobs pay around minimum wage.

The Texas Association of Business and 50 other associations had asked Abbott to end Texas’ participation in the program.

“By eliminating the federal supplement, employers will be able to fill their vacancies and unleash the full power of the Texas economy,” said Glenn Hamer, CEO of TAB.

Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority Adds Another Member

The Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority (BSPRA) got a bit bigger this week when its board of directors approved Carbon County as the Authority’s newest member last Wednesday.

Carbon’s addition brings the number of counties that joined Big Sky to 13, stretching across the state from Wibaux County on the North Dakota border to Sanders County on the Idaho border.

“Being a member of the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority is big business for Carbon County, and we look forward to what it will bring to the citizens of our county,” said Scott Miller, Carbon County Commissioner. “Montana is moving forward, and Carbon County must stand with the state to provide the economy and infrastructure necessary to support this generation and the next. We need the Montanais to stay in Montana and for the right people to settle down to help keep Montana alive.

With the addition of Carbon County, BSPRA will look to continue growing in the coming months. Other counties are currently considering applying for membership in the Authority.

The BSPRA hopes that all counties eligible to join the authority – both those along the old Amtrak North Coast Hiawatha route and those along the old passenger routes going south to Denver and Salt Lake City – the will.

To join the BSPRA, a departmental committee must first pass a resolution requesting the Authority to become a member, and then the Authority passes a resolution expanding the boundaries of the Authority.

“With the membership of another county, the Authority continues to demonstrate the importance of passenger rail to the state of Montana and the ability of passenger rail to bridge partisan, ideological, geographic and urban-rural divisions,” said Dave Strohmaier, President of BSPRA.

While only county committees can pass the joint resolution to join the authority, BSPRA encourages city councils, chambers of commerce, CVBs, business owners and private citizens in eligible counties who do not ‘have not yet joined to encourage their county commissioners to consider applying for membership.

Eligible counties that have not yet joined the BSPRA are Custer, Rosebud, Treasure, Big Horn, Yellowstone, Stillwater, Sweet Grass, Madison, Beaverhead, Deer Lodge, Lewis and Clark, Lake and Mineral counties.

“Carbon County is the first outside of BSPRA’s 12 founding counties to join, and we hope their decision will inspire other counties to join,” said BSPRA Vice President Jason Stuart, representative of Dawson County. “Our effort to restore passenger rail service is not a ‘red against blue’, or ‘conservative against liberal’, or ‘rural against urban’ issue, as evidenced by the political, social and economic diversity of the counties that make up the BSPRA: We hope other counties that have yet to join recognize this and come to see the tremendous economic and social opportunities that the successful restoration of passenger rail service would present to our communities.

For more information, visit

BSPRA members



Darrel folkvord

Butte-Argent Arc


Shawn fredrickson



Scott Miller


Economic development

Director of the Board

Jason stuart



Scott Mac Farlane


Elena Gagliano


Mayor of Whitehall

Marie hensleigh



Dave strohmaier

to park


Bill Berg


Discover Deer Lodge

Terry jennings



Deanna bockness


Jerry mcdonald



Edward Anderson

200 W. Broadway

Missoula, MT 59802


The BSPRA was formed in late 2020 under a Montana state law that allows counties to come together to form a regional rail authority for the purpose of defending passenger rail service. Each county that joins is allowed to appoint a representative to the BSPRA board of directors.

Including the addition of Carbon County, the other members of the BSPRA are Wibaux, Dawson, Prairie, Park, Gallatin, Broadwater, Jefferson, Butte-Silver Bow, Powell, Granite, Missoula and Sanders counties.

Does an extra $ 300 a week in unemployment benefits really stop anyone in Minnesota from taking a job?

As more Minnesotans are vaccinated against COVID-19, features of a post-pandemic world are emerging: faces without masks, hugs – and “Now Hiring” signs on storefronts and businesses. It seems like everyone is hiring, from restaurants to big box stores to bars, and many are struggling to find enough workers to fill their vacancies.

At the same time, there are still a lot of people out of work. And workers who are unemployed receive an additional $ 300 per week as part of the US federal bailout passed earlier this year.

Many people – experts, employers, politicians – are sure that these extra unemployment benefits are a problem, causing workers to stay at home instead of looking for work. In fact, 25 states, including Montana, Florida, Arizona and Ohio, are ending the weekly supplemental benefit early in an attempt to push unemployed people into work.

But is a $ 300 increase in weekly benefits really enough to prevent the unemployed from taking a job?

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Measure unemployment

Unemployment in Minnesota reached 4.1% in April – just a little higher than the low unemployment rate before the pandemic and the lowest since the pandemic started in March 2020.

It sounds like good news, but the real picture of the workforce is a little less rosy. The standard unemployment rate only measures the percentage of people who are unemployed and looking for work. This does not include people who are unemployed and have stopped looking for work. And the data suggests that for some reason there are a lot of people in this boat.

As of the start of 2020, Minnesota’s labor force participation rate, or the percentage of people 16 and over who are either working or actively looking for work, rose from 70.2% to 67.7%, the lowest since June 1978, when far fewer women were in the labor force. If you compare this drop to the size of Minnesota’s population aged 16 and over, that means about 112,000 fewer people in the workforce compared to just over a year ago – a comparable loss in size to the population of Rochester, Minnesota.

Throughout the pandemic, a historically high number of people were unemployed. Because of the crisis this posed to the economy, the federal government added additional unemployment benefits to the usual amounts people were eligible for.

Under the federal CARES law, passed last year, unemployed people received an additional $ 600 per week from the start of the pandemic until July. By decree of former President Donald Trump in August, unemployed people received an additional $ 300 per week from the federal government. As part of the US bailout, the additional $ 300 per week has been extended until September 6.

Minnesota’s unemployment system pays people half of their old weekly wages, up to $ 740. With the additional payment of $ 300, the maximum an unemployed person in Minnesota would earn is $ 1,040, or $ 26 an hour for a 40-hour work week. But DEED commissioner Steve Grove said the vast majority of unemployed people earn much less than that.

Is this enough to keep Minnesotans out of the workforce?

“Businesses certainly think so,” said Ron Wirtz, director of regional outreach at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, in an interview last week. “We do a lot of surveys and we started asking them what they thought of the reasons why labor availability is restricted, and that tended to be the main thing they mentioned – just that unemployment insurance benefits are very generous, and that is what keeps people from working.

Frictions in the labor market

In fact, it is difficult to determine the effect of additional unemployment benefits, as there are many other factors currently causing friction between workers and jobs, Wirtz said.

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One, Wirtz said, is that many workers are still concerned about contracting or spreading COVID-19. While more than 50% of Minnesotans have been vaccinated against COVID-19, many people, including young children, are yet to be vaccinated.

“The fear of COVID is always present, especially for multigenerational households,” he said, citing surveys. Although this share is probably decreasing, it is not nonexistent.

Another is the mismatch between the jobs available and the jobs workers want or are qualified for. Employment counselors interviewed by the Minneapolis Fed and the Department of Employment and Economic Development found that a significant number of job seekers were looking for telecommuting options.

“There are a lot of people who are fired and didn’t have that option, and think, ‘I think I would like that option,'” Wirtz said.

Others may not be qualified for jobs that offer many opportunities: the construction industry, for example.

“We have a lot of front desk workers who are not working right now. They can’t easily go into construction very well, even though there are tons of openings in the construction, ”Wirtz said.

DEED’s Grove pointed out that Minnesota had a labor shortage before the pandemic, and now the job market is different from what it was before.

Another factor is the issue of family care.

Some daycares have operated at lower capacity, and others have operated intermittently due to COVID-19 cases, which can make it much more difficult for parents with children to return to the workforce if they are absent .

Julia Pollak, labor economist at ZipRecruiter, a company that connects job seekers with employers, said some parents with the option to stay at home might not see the point in returning to work now, with kids at school for a short time before being home during the summer vacation starting soon. Once the children return to full-time in September, there may be a return to the workforce.

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Combined, all of these issues paint a complicated picture of the Minnesota and nation’s labor market as the pandemic subsides.

“It sounds easy: if you’re unemployed and there are a lot of jobs, well, just go get a job,” Wirtz said. “I think the pandemic has shown that life is complicated and that it gets more complicated as you dig into the different households and the different obstacles they might face to easily relate to work.”

Wirtz said there is no doubt that rising unemployment has eased some of that friction for people, allowing them to reassess their employment status in some cases, but it is difficult to determine to what extent it is. of that extra money or the problems workers face getting back. tell.

“It’s safe to say that improved unemployment benefits are affecting some workers. How much, I think that’s a very important question that I don’t think we know the answer to, ”Wirtz said. “I think I’m pretty sure I’m saying it’s probably more than those who claim it has no effect. And I think it’s probably less than those who believe pandemic-era unemployment [is] the only reason people aren’t working now.

While some say it’s the weekly $ 300 unemployment benefits that keep workers at home, others say companies just aren’t paying workers enough to make the work worth it.

This can be a problem, but it’s not accurate to say that’s the only reason employers struggle to find workers, Pollak said.

The labor shortage has increased pressure on wages at many employers – Target, WalMart and other big chains among them. The number of unemployed Minnesotans is decreasing from week to week. And some workers are drawn to higher wages – and many of them aren’t people who were unemployed in the first place, Pollak said. Nationally, for example, adolescent employment is higher today than it was before the pandemic as young people seek employment, suggesting that adolescents are drawn into the labor market by higher wages.

A natural experience

Soon it might be easier to tell how big an impact the extra $ 300 per week has been. The additional benefits of the American Rescue Plan go until September 6 of this year, but at least 25 states end it sooner, creating a sort of natural experiment where researchers could see if more people are returning to work in states where the benefits have ended.

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Pollak said economists would work to determine the effects of ending the $ 300 per week benefit versus some of the other differences in states that end earlier.

But for now, Pollak said any easy answer ignores the complexity of the job market.

“I think the two things that are definitely wrong: the idea that unemployment benefits have no effect and the idea that they are entirely responsible are two extremes and completely wrong,” she said. market is complicated – that job seekers are complex, they have many, many different motivations, ”she said.

Why states like Maine, Utah and the Dakotas are hit the hardest

  • The labor shortage is spread across three regions, ZipRecruiter told the Wall Street Journal.
  • Closures, tourism and the number of “pandemic refugees” could explain why.
  • See more stories on the Insider business page.

Labor markets in some states are recovering much faster than others – and local lockdowns, the size of their tourism industries and the number of people who moved there during the pandemic could be the reason, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

As a result, employers in states like Iowa, Nebraska, and New Hampshire are particularly struggling to attract new hires amid the labor shortage, which the US Chamber of Commerce described on the week. last of “national economic emergency”.

The tightest job markets are spread across three regions, job search site ZipRecruiter told the Journal.

Read more: McDonald’s franchisees blame hiring problems on unemployment benefits, say ‘inflation time bomb’ will force them to raise Big Mac prices

Northern Mountain West, which includes Montana, Idaho and Utah, has about 2.9 job openings per unemployed job seeker, ZipRecruiter said, using data from April. That number rises to 3.6 in the plains, which include the Dakotas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Kansas, and in northern New England, made up of Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire.

This is corroborated by House data, which found South Dakota, Nebraska and Vermont to be the most affected states.

They had fewer lockdowns

The Plains States reopened faster and did not enforce such stringent measures during their lockdown.

Iowa, for example, lifted its mask mandate in early February, while North Dakota allowed it to expire on January 18.

The faster reopens meant that fewer people lost their jobs during the pandemic, and those who did were able to return to their old jobs faster, Oren Klachkin, chief US economist at the research firm, told the Journal. world Oxford Economics.

Their main industries were not as affected by the pandemic

The Plains have high levels of employment in the agriculture and food processing industries, the Journal reported. As essential industries, these were able to stay open during the pandemic – so fewer people lost their jobs.

And northern Mountain West, the Plains, and northern New England are much less dependent on tourism than states like Hawaii and New York. The tourism industry has been devastated by the pandemic, forcing some retail and hospitality workers to look to other industries and reducing the amount of money spent on local goods and services.

New businesses opened during the pandemic

“Mountain states have become pandemic refugee states,” Julia Pollak, labor economist at ZipRecruiter, told the Journal. This is partly because they had fewer foreclosures – but also because of their affordable housing and the abundance of open space, according to the publication.

And as new residents moved to the United States, they increased the volume of economic activity – and, in turn, the demand for labor.

Low wages and COVID-19 concerns could be the root of nationwide labor shortage

In addition to these local factors, the national labor shortage is likely due to a mix of unemployment benefits, COVID-19 health issues, family responsibilities and low wages, reported Ayelet Sheffey. from Insider.

The United States Chamber of Commerce said the labor shortage was hampering the country’s economic recovery after the pandemic, while the

Federal Reserve
said the labor shortage can last for months and is already causing price hikes.

Wyoming’s Upcoming Reclaiming & Growing Webinar Series Ends Tuesday

CHEYENNE – On Tuesday, June 8, the Powder River Basin Resource Council will conclude its spring webinar series, Reclaim and develop the future of Wyoming, helping community leaders and potential entrepreneurs explore the tools available to support sustainable community development.

Experienced Wyoming economic and business development professionals will share what has worked in other communities and direct those interested in starting a business to resources and programs. This event promises to be useful for community planners, local government officials, and anyone interested in starting a business.

In this discussion, Resources and opportunities of the new economy, speakers Jay Stender from WY Ranch, Kelli Roemer from Resources and Communities Research Group at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT, and Josh Dorrell and Ron Gullberg from Wyoming Business Council will discuss various aspects of attracting and sustaining economic development in the communities. Wyoming State Representative Chad Banks of Sweetwater County will moderate the panel.

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“The unprecedented challenges of 2020 have reinforced the need for Wyoming to move beyond mere survival mode and find ways to thrive. Seeing people come together, find creative solutions and really take care of their neighbors gives me a great sense of pride and excitement for the future. We need to tell our stories and learn the lessons we’ve learned so far, ”said Dorrell, CEO of Wyoming Business Council.

The webinar is free but requires prior registration. Registration is available on The webinar will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., starting with speaker presentations followed by a question and answer period.

For more information on the webinar series, visit, email [email protected] or call 307-672-5809.

June 8 webinar speaker bios:

Jay stender

Since graduating from the University of Wyoming in 1979, Jay Stender has accumulated four decades of business experience in a variety of technology and service-oriented industries. Most recently, Stender served as CEO of Forward Sheridan from 2009 to 2020, a privately funded economic development entity. Currently, he is the Director of WY Ranch, a Sheridan-based center for organizations working within the community and related industries across Wyoming. There, he seeks, identifies and pursues new opportunities for Wyoming’s business partners and explores forward-thinking diversification options for communities. Stender’s experiences in his coal community have shown that the diversification of economic sectors enables vitality and sustainability.

Kelli roemer

Kelli Roemer holds a doctorate. candidate and researcher in the Resources and Communities Research Group at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT. She studies political and planning processes in rural communities affected by coal-fired power plant or mine closures. Roemer served two AmeriCorps terms in Helena, Montana and Lakeview, Oregon. Roemer holds a Master of Science degree from the University of Idaho and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Montana. Roemer has conducted research on planning rural communities for the social and economic impacts of coal plant closures. Specifically, she focuses on the opportunities and challenges of local planning and key strategies that support community resilience.

Josh Dorrell

As CEO of the Wyoming Business Council, Josh Dorrell’s extensive private industry experience in technical sales, business innovation processes, identifying customer needs and leveraging partnerships, as well as mentoring entrepreneurs / start-ups, are perfectly suited to the leading role of the agency in economic diversification and growth. Dorrell was Senior Vice President of Technology Services and Solutions at Laramie-based Trihydro Corporation before joining the WBC in February 2020. After graduating from the University of Wyoming, Dorrell worked for IDES, a small business in software in Laramie. He is a lecturer at UW College of Business.

Ron Gullberg

Ron Gullberg is Director of Strategic Partnerships for the Wyoming Business Council. Gullberg’s extensive experience in communications, team building and project execution supports the agency’s leadership role in diversifying and growing Wyoming’s economy by leveraging public partnerships. public, public-private and B2B. Gullberg joined the Business Council in March 2014 as Director of Communications, then served as Director of Business Development for 2.5 years before becoming Director of Strategic Partnerships in December 2019. He previously served as Journalist, Sports Editor, Director Online and Editor-in-Chief for a 25-year career in the daily press, including 22 years with the Casper Star-Tribune.

Banks of the Republic of Chad, Moderator

Wyoming Representative Chad Banks (Sweetwater) is a community champion who has spent most of his career trying to improve his community and state. He currently works as a director of Rock Springs Main Street / Urban Renewal Agency (URA), where he primarily focuses on small business growth and expansion. Banks holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of Wyoming.

Biden faces backlash over ‘shameful’ surrender to GOP governors as they end unemployment lifelines

Biden administration officials publicly signaled on Friday they had no plans to fight as Republican governors in 25 states prematurely cut emergency unemployment programs, snatching lifelines from millions of unemployed and depriving local economies of billions of dollars.

In the wake of a solid but a weaker-than-expected employment report – which showed the United States created nearly 560,000 jobs in May – President Joe Biden Told to reporters that it “makes sense” that the federal unemployment increase of $ 300 per week expires across the country in September, although he acknowledged that “we are going to run into obstacles along the way” to recovery economic.

“Cutting off adequate supports for these workers to try and force them to accept any available job is cruel.
—David Cooper, Institute for Economic Policy

White House National Economic Council director Brian Deese echoed the president, saying it was “appropriate” for improved unemployment benefits to end in September.

Press secretary Jen Psaki, meanwhile, told a briefing on Friday that Republican governors “have every right” to prematurely end federal unemployment programs that were approved under the CARES Act. last year to help workers overcome the pandemic-induced economic crisis.

‘Shameful’, progressive activist Jonathan Cohn tweeted in response to Psaki’s comments, which came as the economy remains nearly eight million jobs below pre-pandemic levels.

More than two dozen Republican governors recently announced that instead of waiting for the official September 6 expiration date, they were removing the $ 300 per week increase in UI starting in mid-June. . Twenty-one Republican-led states are also ending emergency benefits for the long-term unemployed and concert workers.

GOP leaders justified their potentially devastating actions by claiming that rising unemployment benefits are holding back hiring – a narrative that experts have dismissed as unfounded and simplistic, given other potential factors such as lack of child care, low wages and coronavirus-related health issues.

White House officials have previously rejected the right-wing narrative; last month, Biden mentionned there was “nothing measurable” to indicate that unemployment benefits discouraged people from returning to the labor market. But they refused to push back again on Friday.

“I would leave it up to you and your outside analysts to decide if this is an important factor,” Psaki told reporters.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) And labor law experts from the National Employment Law Project recently argued that under the CARES Act, the Biden administration is legally obligated to continue to distribute unemployment benefits emergency regardless of Republican governors. actions, which could affect more than four million workers.

But officials in the Biden administration never responded to Sanders’ letter detailing that argument, choosing instead to anonymously tell the media that they are powerless to arrest Republican governors.

“There is nothing we can do,” said an official Told CNN last month.

Progressives were quick to express their outrage on Friday at the Biden administration’s refusal to defend emergency unemployment programs, which have helped millions of unemployed meet basic expenses and supported economic recovery. Now, about 15 million people in the United States receive benefits from federal unemployment programs approved in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“You can’t cut people’s temporary lifeline when they still need it to stay afloat,” tweeted Claire Guzdar, Director of Campaigns and Partnerships at Groundwork Collaborative. “The fight doesn’t know you’ve got a September 6 deadline, you know? Your bills don’t go away, your rent isn’t paid, all the stress of a year of unemployment isn’t over. rescue when people aren’t drowning. “

Rachel Deutsch, worker justice activist at the Center for Popular Democracy, called the Biden administration’s stance on emergency unemployment benefits “appalling” and said the White House “sides with employers who want to force people into bad jobs.”

“Some will be forced into abject poverty because no deprivation can make them work at the moment,” Deutsch added, citing testimonies of unemployed people unable to find jobs or unable to work due to family circumstances.

Montana unemployed man identified as Emily mentionned the medical team caring for her terminally ill, disabled seven-year-old son “told me to keep him at home until he can get the vaccine.”

Unemployment insurance “helped us keep going so that I could choose the health and safety of my son and prevent the two children from getting sick.”

Once the 25 Republican-led states end emergency unemployment programs, millions of jobless workers will be left with paltry state benefits or, in the case of temporary workers and the long-term unemployed, no benefit.

Like David Cooper of the Economic Policy Institute highlighted last week, “Almost all of the states that cut unemployment insurance still have far fewer jobs than before the pandemic. “

“Those who still depend on these programs are probably those who need them the most – the people who have the most difficulty finding suitable work or who face significant constraints in their ability to return to work due to family responsibilities, health issues or other factors, ”Cooper said. Noted. “Cutting off adequate supports for these workers to try and force them to accept any available job, even if it is poorly paid, high risk, unsuitable for their skills or incompatible with their responsibilities at home, is cruel and not in the long-term best interests of a state’s workers or businesses. “

Letter to the editor: the delegation should reintroduce the bill for the protection of rivers | Letters

For over a decade, I ran a small non-profit organization in Bozeman that provides opportunities for self-discovery, growth, learning and adventure for young people through whitewater kayaking experiences. . For a program focused on whitewater kayaking programs for kids, we often discuss that it’s not really kayaking. Kayaks are simply the vehicles we use to teach young people clear communication, confidence, challenges and their relationship to our environment. Montana’s free-flowing rivers are our must-have classrooms.

As such, I was excited when Sen. Tester introduced the Montana Headwater Safety Act last summer, making real the possibility of over 300 miles of Montana rivers earning the Wild and Scenic designation by incorporating 17 new river sections into the system. national. This includes rivers like the Upper Gallatin, Upper Madison, and Upper Yellowstone. This prestigious designation would help maintain the pristine and unique characteristics of these rivers. I encourage Senator Tester, Senator Daines and Representative Rosendale to reintroduce MHLA in this legislative session.

Whether you enjoy the tranquil scenery while fishing the boulder or enjoy crossing the Gallatin rapids from one watershed to another, these free-flowing rivers support an irreplaceable way of life and a strong outdoor recreation economy. air. Wild and scenic river designations will protect our quality of life, our businesses and ensure these experiences are available for future generations. For me, it protects the smiles and sense of accomplishment we see in our young participants as the waves crash onto the decks of their colorful kayaks and they successfully navigate the white waters of southwest Montana. .

Three states make it easier for home cooks to be entrepreneurs –

With a flurry of new food freedom laws, more and more states are allowing home food producers to do what they’ve been doing since the dawn of commerce: sell their produce directly to customers without the heavy burdens. a commercial food license. This wave of legislation comes at a time when the pandemic has shaken the food industry and locked the nation into their homes, leading many astute individuals to turn to home food production as a means of making money. and serve their communities.

Oklahoma, Alabama and Montana are the latest states to deregulate domestic food production.

oklahoma Homemade Food Freedom Act, enacted on May 10, is one of the most permissive food freedom laws to date. It allows people to sell any homemade food products that are free from meat or seafood without a license, permit or government inspection. Shelf-life and perishable products can be sold direct to consumers, in person or online, and non-perishable items can also be sold in farmers’ markets and even in retail stores.

Oklahoma law also lifts the $ 20,000 sales cap that previously weighed on domestic producers. Companies can now be considered “Home feeding establishments” as long as they have gross annual sales less than $75, 000.

For many farmers, bakers and other small food business owners, the new law removes barriers to competing with large companies and will allow small local businesses to thrive. This is “a critical step in getting hardworking Oklahoma residents to embark on their home catering business,” Thanh Tran, a leader of the Oklahoma Young Farmers Coalition, tell the Institute for Justice (IJ), a libertarian legal organization that helped develop the Oklahoma bill, They can start directly with their own resources and not have to spend tens of thousands of dollars “each year to operate a commercial kitchen.

A similar invoice was adopted in Alabama on May 6. Like the Oklahoma bill, it expands the foods home chefs – also known as country food producers – can sell, removes regulatory barriers, and lifts the sales cap that keeps small producers small.

Melissa Humble testified in favor of the bill before the Alabama Senate health care committee. Humble was a teacher and photographer, but quit working those jobs when the pandemic started because her husband was immunocompromised and it would have put his health at risk. To support his family and pay off debt incurred during the pandemic, Humble started his own home bakery business, HumbleBee Bakes, specializing in French macaroons. “Being able to start a business under the Cottage Act has helped me pay my bills and feel like an active member of society,” she wrote in her testimony.

But Humble ran into Alabama’s $ 20,000 cap on home-cooked food sales. Last December alone, she had to turn down 20 orders, or $ 400 in sales, forcing her to take another job for a living. “If I could earn more income,” she said, “I would have the opportunity to grow my business and hire employees, thus providing jobs for more people.

A 2017 IJ Study of 775 home food producers in 22 states found that a majority of them were, like humble, married women living in rural areas with household incomes below the national average. Selling homemade food gives these women the opportunity to use their skills to participate in the economy on their own terms. Now that the $ 20,000 barrier has been lifted, home bakers in Oklahoma and Alabama are not prevented by regulation from turning their home projects into small businesses.

Meanwhile, Montana Choice of Local Foods Act allows certain categories of home-made food producers, including those who operate small dairies, to sell products to individuals or to “traditional community social events” without “”permit, permit, certification, packaging, labeling, test, sampling, or inspection. “(Cottage food producers will still be required to pay $ 40 for a cottage food license and meet certain labeling requirements.) It also includes a provision extend the legal sale of raw milk by small producers.

Small local farmer Sara Richardson of JLbar farm supported the bill. “For the little ones, they usually can’t cope with the regulatory system put in place to control the big ones,” she says. Reason. “There’s absolutely no way for the little guys to compete with the big guys in the system.”

the National Association for Environmental Health possesses identified 41 invoices linked to the artisanal food industry proposed in 24 states to date during the 2021-2022 legislative session. These include new Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations Laws in California and Utah and Colorado meat deregulation law. Food freedom laws were also recently passed in Arkansas and Minnesota, and bills are under consideration in Illinois, Florida and Washington.

This barrage of bills reducing food regulations appears to be one of the benefits of the devastation the pandemic has wrought on the traditional food and restaurant industry.

Comment: Rebekah Entralgo – Do you want workers? Then pay them fairly

The sudden shift from “we love our essential workers” to “they live on government aid” apparently happened overnight.

Across the country, local media coverage has been filled with stories of business owners lamenting that they are not able to fill positions as economies reopen.

“We are understaffed. Please be patient with the staff who have introduced themselves. Nobody wants to work anymore, ”read a sign outside a drive-thru window at McDonalds in Texas, according to a viral video on the Internet.

These viral anecdotes, in addition to a weaker-than-expected April jobs report, raised concerns about a labor shortage in the United States and how best to address it. The Wall Street Journal reports a record 8.1 million job postings across the country.

But it’s not that people don’t want to work, it’s that they don’t want to work for so little.

It receives 300 applications for each opening.

It turns out that there is no such thing as a “labor shortage” – just a shortage of people who will work for pittance, especially during a pandemic that is hitting low-income workers hardest. salary. What we are seeing now is a reckoning and reassessment of the future of work.

But rather than think critically about why so many workers are reluctant to return, some pundits and right-wing politicians blame unemployment benefits. President Joe Biden’s US bailout is offering an additional $ 300 per week to people out of work during the pandemic.

The GOP now wants to take that away. Republican governors in Montana, South Dakota, Utah, Iowa and Arkansas, for example, have already announced they will cut unemployment benefits in order to force more people back to work. .

If Republicans were serious about upholding their free market ideals, they would recognize that to remain competitive employers must adapt to market demands and pay their workers what they are worth.

Instead, they choose to cut unemployment benefits, oppose significant increases in the federal minimum wage, and ask the government to subsidize businesses by forcing employees to depend on aid such as food stamps. to get by. Like always.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the reality that our economy depends on exploitation. As the virus spread, many workers saw their bosses prioritize profit over the lives of employees, who risked their health and lives to take frontline jobs during a pandemic that has killed more than 500,000 people in this country.

While these low-wage workers braved the pandemic, their CEOs cashed in.

A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies has found that of the 100 S&P 500 companies with the lowest median salaries, 51 rigged the rules in 2020 to give CEOs big bonuses while their low-paid employees suffered from it. Average CEO salaries soared 29% to over $ 15 million, while average employee salaries fell to just $ 28,000.

It’s been well over a decade since Congress raised the federal minimum wage. But meanwhile, CEOs and speculators who get rich off working for minimum wage have seen their fortunes skyrocket. If the minimum wage had risen at the same rate as Wall Street bonuses since 1985, it would now be worth $ 44 an hour.

With all of that in mind, would you put your life on the line for $ 7.25 an hour? For employers, the lesson should be simple: if you want workers, pay them a living wage.

Rebekah Entralgo is editor-in-chief of This editorial was distributed by

Butte named one of the best places to find a high paying sales job Regional

BUTTE, Mont. – A recent survey with data collected from over 50,000 employers across North America revealed that Butte was one of the cities with the highest percentage of well-paying sales jobs available.

Ladders, Inc. is an online job search service that collects employment data weekly.

CEO Marc Cenedella said in a press release: “The economy is accelerating and our Ladder data shows that sales professionals are in high demand right now. Many job seekers will be surprised that they don’t necessarily have to commit to a big city to meet their income goals. The list includes many small and medium sized markets.

The chart below includes Ladders, Inc. data on the cities with the highest percentage of their six-figure total jobs available in sales.


Percentage of the city’s total well-paying jobs available for sale

Odessa-Midland, Texas


Corpus Christi, Texas


Tallahassee, Florida


Jackson, MS


London, ON


Little Rock, Alaska


Butte, MT


Charleston, West Virginia


New Orleans, LA


Birmingham, Alabama


Data courtesy: Ladders, Inc.

Of the 50,000 companies surveyed by Ladders, the data found around 150 six-figure jobs currently available in Butte.

Well-paying jobs available as a percentage:

  • Accounting & Finance-11.41%
  • Engineering and construction-3.3%
  • Health-11.41%
  • RH-2.68%
  • Marketing-10.07%
  • Operations-5.37%
  • Project and program management -5.37%
  • Science and education-.67%
  • Technology-34.23%

The highest percentage for The Mining City is tech and one of the top-rated STEM schools in the country, Montana Tech, along with some of the area’s top employers could be a reason.

“A lot of it comes from you know Montana Tech, NorthWestern Energy, our hospital and the one that wasn’t on the list is Montana Resources, the mine here in town,” Joseph Willauer, director Local development company of the Butte mentionned. “I can’t speak to what jobs are actually available at these companies, but they are our biggest employers and they pay some of the best salaries in our community. “

According to the Montana Tech website, the median starting salary for graduates 2019 at the School of Mines and Engineering was $ 65,000.

Butte named one of the best places to find a high paying sales job

tester, Rosendale makes stops in the area Tuesday | Local

The City of Helena and the County Governments of Lewis and Clark are expected to receive $ 8 million and $ 13.4 million in projected funding through ARPA.

Additionally, the law is allocating around $ 60 million for new and existing COVID relief programs to help a wider range of small businesses, especially in the hospitality industry.

Tester also announced a new $ 25 billion federal grant program tailored to local restaurants.

Paul Mabie is the co-owner of Oddfellow Farm and Inn, a French farm-to-table restaurant on this property called Maison, and the Smokejumper Cafe inside the Helena Regional Airport.

Mabie said without federal help over the past year, he and her husband’s business would not have survived.

“We put everything on the line to open this project in July 2019, and when COVID hit we thought we were going to lose everything,” Mabie said of Oddfellow Farm and Inn and Maison. “We are here today in full swing, vaccinated and ready to open our businesses to receive the roar of hospitality that Montana is enjoying because of the funding that has come through these programs.”

Mabie said Wage Protection Program loans as well as aid through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act kept his business afloat.

With the money provided by the $ 25 billion Restaurant Revitalization Grant program, Mabie said he was able to hire new employees, replenish inventory and, in the weeks to come, to reopen the Smokejumper Cafe with its long shutters.

Wyoming Unemployment Rate Rises Slightly | State and regional

CASPER – Wyoming’s unemployment rate edged up from 5.3% to 5.4% in April, according to new figures released by the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services last week.

Despite this, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remains below the national average, which currently stands at 6.1%.

David Bullard, senior economist in the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, told the Casper Star-Tribune that there was more than one way to increase the unemployment rate.

“The most obvious way is for people to lose their jobs,” Bullard said. “But in the other direction, people who are not in the workforce are starting to look for work. If they decide to start looking, then they are counted as unemployed.

And that’s what the state saw in March and April, according to Bullard.

In May, Governor Mark Gordon announced that Wyoming would end its participation in federal supplementary unemployment benefits effective June 19, joining several other states, including Montana and Idaho. Bullard believes this will encourage even more people to look for work, or at least push them in that direction.

Unemployment rates in the state from March to April generally fall due to seasonal job gains in construction, retail trade and professional and business services, according to the report.

Park County’s rate fell from 5.9% to 5.1%, Big Horn’s from 6.1% to 5.3%, and Johnson’s from 5.9% to 5.2%.

Natrona County, meanwhile, had the highest unemployment rate in April at 7.4%.

“We have seen significant job losses in the energy sector over the past year,” Bullard said. “Natrona County and the Casper region depend heavily on the energy, oil and gas industry.”

On top of that, Bullard pointed out that low energy prices have sunk businesses that support the energy sector, such as transportation and wholesaling.

Unemployment peaked at 8.5% in Wyoming last May, but in January it fell back to 5.1%. It has since fallen to 5.4%. Still, Bullard believes that several factors have contributed to a rapid recovery within the state.

“From my understanding, [Wyoming] never close like other states, ”Bullard said. “Even though we had restrictions, they weren’t as severe as what we see in many other states.”

Wyoming’s economy is also a bit more diverse than some states, such as Hawaii, which has the highest unemployment rate in the country, according to Bullard.

However, despite Wyoming’s relatively low unemployment figures, the state faces an uncertain future with the decline of fossil fuels that have long supported its economy. Earlier this year, the Wyoming legislature cut state spending by $ 430 million and eliminated 324 state positions.

Still, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future. Due to improved revenue forecasts, the 2022 state budget is planned without cuts.

News Release: Nevada Legislature Approves Bill To End Debt-Based License Suspensions

Bill would end widespread license suspensions for traffic debt

Today, the Nevada legislature approved a bill that would end the widespread practice of suspending an individual’s driver’s license when they cannot afford to pay fines and fees for a ticket. minor traffic.

The vast majority of Nevada driver’s license suspensions relate to tickets residents cannot afford. Between July 2017 and June 2019, more than 38,000 Nevadans had their driver’s licenses suspended because they could not afford to pay fines and court costs.

SB219 is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Canizzaro and co-sponsored by MP Ceclia Gonzalez, who sponsored a similar bill in the Assembly. Legislation will help thousands of safe drivers regain the freedom to drive automatically reinstating – and free of charge – licenses that have been suspended for legal debt.

“This is a victory for all Nevadans – especially those who have been caught in a cycle of poverty due to traffic debt,” said Member of the Gonzalez Assembly. “I am honored to have co-sponsored such an important piece of legislation that impacts the lives of our constituents.”

Ending debt-based license suspensions enjoys broad bipartisan support. In the past four years alone, 17 U.S. states – including red states like Mississippi, Idaho, Montana, Utah, West Virginia, Texas and Arkansas – They succeeded major reforms to curb debt-based driver’s license suspensions.

President Biden’s Platform includes reform of fines and fees, while Vice President Harris previously co-sponsored the federal government Driving Act for Opportunities. This bipartite federal legislation which was reintroduced this year and past the Senate Judiciary Committee last month would encourage US states to end debt-based driver’s license suspensions by providing them with additional federal funding. If the Driving for Opportunity Act is passed and Governor Sisolak signs SB219, Nevada will be eligible for these funds.

“After a decade of advocacy, we were pleased to work with the sponsors of the bill, legislative leaders and to partner with the Fines Fees Justice Center to support SB219 this legislative session,” said Yvette Williams, President of the Clark County Black Caucus. “We are celebrating the end of debt-based driver’s license suspensions that prevent Nevadans from caring for their families. Nevada’s roads will be safer thanks to the bipartisan leadership and support of the Nevada Legislature. “

Without a license, many Nevadans lose the ability to work, care for their children, and access basic needs. Driving is such a necessity that 75% of people continue to drive after their license is suspended. If caught, they can be arrested and jailed for driving with a suspended license, which is one of the most common criminal charges in Nevada. After their arrest, people face more fines and fees, and are often incarcerated long enough to miss their rent or lose their jobs.

“This is a major step towards ending the criminalization of poverty,” said Nick Shepack of the ACLU of Nevada. “This practice has targeted the most vulnerable among us. Let’s be clear, in much of Nevada the ability to drive cannot be separated from the ability to work. We congratulate elected officials for taking this important step. “

A study found that 42% of people lost their jobs after their driver’s license was suspended. Of those who found a new job, 88% reported a drop in pay. Another study of Phoenix, Arizona, found that the median annual income loss after license suspension was $ 36,800 per person.

“Today’s vote is a win-win for struggling families and Nevada’s economy,” mentionned Leisa moseley, Nevada State Director at the Fines and Fees Justice Center. “This is another important step towards ending our state’s two-tier justice system where the poor – and especially communities of color – are disproportionately punished. With his signing, Governor Sisolak can have a profoundly positive impact on the economy of our state and thousands of lives across Nevada.


Childcare shortage linked to economic challenges at Flathead

A typical workday for Whitney Aschenwald begins with a drive north from Bigfork to Kalispell, where she drops off each of her two young children in separate child care centers.

After spending the day working as a writer, Aschenwald returns to both establishments to pick up each child – one nearly 3 years old, the other nearly 5 months old.

It’s a lot of shuffling, but Aschenwald is grateful that she got the two childcare spots. She feels lucky with the many local families struggling to find adequate child care.

“Now I have two dumps and two pickups from each daycare, each morning and evening,” Aschenwald said. “But I think our family is really lucky compared to a lot.”

Renee Harkins, another working mom of two, shares Aschenwald’s gratitude.

“We were very lucky at the end of the day,” Harkins said. She spent eight months on numerous waiting lists before finding places for her daughters in two different daycare centers.

He came over in the case of his youngest daughter, now 3 months old. Harkins said she finally heard about an infant care opening just a week before the birth of her second child.

“Right now there isn’t a lot available,” said Collette Box, owner and operator of the Discovery Developmental Center on Glenwood Drive in Kalispell. She has worked as an early childhood advocate for 30 years.

Box said the valley’s child care system was inadequate due to a lack of public investment in resources. Facilities are understaffed and underfunded, caregivers are underpaid, and families cannot afford to do much, but wait and hope that their child will find a place in a good facility.

Discovery charges $ 950 per month for one child to attend daycare. Box said it would be impossible to raise the rate higher because most families simply couldn’t afford it.

But that, she says, also means she can’t pay her entry-level employees more than $ 10 an hour, even if their position requires them to have a bachelor’s degree.

This makes childcare an unappealing area for new workers, creating staff shortages and ultimately “damaging the children,” Box said.

COVID-19 the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem. At a time when disrupted workplaces forced many more parents to seek child care, centers have been forced to limit capacity or shut down entirely due to concerns about the virus.

Among the local facilities that recently closed was the early childhood center at Flathead Valley Community College, where Bigfork resident Aschenwald used to take her toddler.

For four months, Aschenwald searched for a replacement while his extended family helped watch his son. Without their help, Aschenwald said she would have had to take time off work to care for him.

“Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to [keep working]”she said of her family’s contributions.” I know a lot of people in the area don’t have that luxury. “

His experience shows the greater effects of the shortage of child care services.

Box noted that the problem often goes unnoticed by people without small children, but its ramifications are felt throughout the community.

AS MUCH Businesses in Montana and across the country say they are struggling to hire workers, Governor Greg Gianforte recently ended federal pandemic unemployment benefits and began offering bonuses of $ 1,200 to unemployed Montanans who are returning to the labor market.

But there haven’t been any major new investments in Montana’s child care system, although there is plenty of research indicating the impact this can have on the state’s economy.

“About 40% of companies said the shortage was having an impact on their ability to recruit or retain skilled workers,” said an investigation report from November 2020 from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

“Inadequate child care costs Montana businesses nearly $ 55 million a year,” it says. a September 2020 investigation report from the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana.

With better access to child care services statewide, Montana’s economy would save about $ 232 million per year, according to the UM report.

UM researchers surveyed more than 400 Montana households with children under the age of 6. They found that 12% of respondents quit their jobs the previous year because they could not meet their child care needs. Another 15% had to switch from full-time to part-time work for the same reason.

The UM report noted that inadequate childcare disproportionately affects women and female-dominated career fields, contributing to labor shortages in the childcare sector. .

PARENTS LOVE Aschenwald and Harkins are still waiting for solutions.

Earlier this month, Gianforte vetoed bill 624, who is said to have created a task force to analyze the shortcomings of child care services in Montana.

“Montana has never had more resources available to increase access and invest in child care, ultimately reducing a major barrier to re-entry into the workforce,” Gianforte wrote in its veto note.

He cited federal pandemic relief funding and his recent decision on unemployment benefits as proof of the abundant resources available to stimulate the state’s economy. A stronger global economy, argued Gianforte, would spill over into the child care sector.

The scrapped task force joins many other official efforts to improve childcare services that have been slaughtered at local and state levels.

The Republican-controlled legislature this year nixed bills proposing the creation of a subsidy program for childcare providers and the expansion of eligibility for the childcare scholarship program. of State. He also cut funding for the state health department’s Stars to Quality program. In an email, Box said the old program, which offered incentives to providers, “has improved the quality of programs over the past 10 years.”

Box tries to keep her hopes up for the future of child care in Flathead Valley, but she’s not optimistic about the Gianforte administration’s approach. She said child care deserved to be a funding priority.

“It will take a huge, huge, billion dollar investment in child care to make the system work for families,” she said.

At a recent economic conference in Kalispell, she warned that a continued lack of investment could result in “very sad children and families.”

Journalist Bret Anne Serbin can be reached at 406-758-4459 or [email protected]

The daughters of the American Revolution remember those who passed

HELENA – Every Memorial Day weekend, the Oro Fino Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution lays 135 American flags in 19 cemeteries.

Rain or shine, the members came to place these American flags on the tombstones of their deceased sisters.

For Jane Hammon, being part of the organization pays homage to her family history and her country. “I was inspired to join the DAR because of the stories my grandmother told me when I was little, we had patriots involved in the American Revolution,” she said.


To join the DAR, a member must prove that their grandfather served as a patriot during the American War of Independence.

The organization is also proud of its public service and civic leadership. Past members like Helen Mcintire have helped make Helena a better place.

“Helen and Henry were well known in Helena circles due to her active role as a lawyer in the city and her active work in numerous charities, including St. Peter’s Cathedral and St. Peter’s Hospital. -Pierre, ”Hammon said.

Betty Babcock was also a member of the organization and a former First Lady of Montana. Hammon, who knew Babcock personally, says they both shared the value of joining DAR.
“I loved DAR, because you support patriotism, our soldiers and educate our children, and these are the things that make a wonderful society,” Hammon said.

Every Memorial Day weekend, the Oro Fino Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution places 135 American flags in 19 cemeteries.


On most tombstones, members can add a spinning wheel which is the logo of the organization. The thirteen rays resemble stars and represent the 13 colonies. The spinning wheel also has a deep meaning.

“One of the most important contributions women could make was spinning and making goods and clothing, because the more they earned, the less they were imported from Britain, which meant they were detrimental to the British economy and were contributing to the time war effort, ”Hammon said.

To find out more about the organization, visit their website.

High school students ‘get their share’ from invasive weeds

SUN RIVER VALLEY – High school students from Great Falls and Simms spent Thursday in the Sun River Valley shooting spotted knapweed, a invasive species, as part of an annual program with school districts called “Pull Your Share”.

Almost as soon as a group of students set out for a short hike to a patch of spotted knapweed high in the mountains, they were able to celebrate as one of their own spotted some of the grass and l ‘unearthed.

“We have raised about 85 high school students and they are adopting a knapweed site, an invasive species site, which they are going to come year after year to ensure a long term sustainable reduction of knapweed at their site,” explained Dan Wilkins, Great Falls Public Schools Coordinator.

This was the fifth year Wilkins had taken students on a trip to help prevent spotted knapweed from entering the Sun River Game Range.

He explained, “The plant puts a chemical in the soil called catechin. The catechin in the soil is poisonous and it prevents other plants, especially forage plants, from growing in that area. So we could end up with it. a monoculture, this knapweed, let’s say in this play area and the elk could not survive the winter because it does not have sufficient nutritional value for the elk.

After their first celebratory draw, the students placed a sign to mark their site, then walked about 15 minutes to most of the weeds and got busy pulling.


“Montana is a very popular tourist spot as well as agriculture and I think invasive species like this threaten the agricultural economy as well as the tourism economy here,” said Luke Lee, sophomore student at Simms.

“I really enjoyed coming here. (It’s a) good learning experience, ”said Ezra Leach, a second year friend of Simms.

weed puller.jpg


The day also included education on noxious weeds and how to reduce them.

Stephanie Criswell coordinates the Montana Invasive Species Council and says she really enjoys the “Pull Your Share” program.

“What I really love about what Dan has done is that he approaches it from all angles. One thing is a change in behavior. To really tackle invasive species, people have to understand how they are. impact not only our but our economy and our recreation opportunities, “Criswell” He also teaches children about integrated weed management … The last element is that he follows up. “

If you would like to learn more about the “Pull Your Share” program, contact Wilkins at 406-750-4116 or [email protected]

Click here to visit the Montana Invasive Species Council website.

Advanced Payroll Solutions is helping Billings get back to business. | Back to business

Photo credit by Advanced Payroll Solutions

One way to gauge how eager the Montanans are to reopen the economy and get back into business comes from advanced payroll solutions, better known as APS. APS is a new billing company that provides payroll services, human resources, tax planning, and other benefits for Montana businesses.

Almost as soon as APS opened in February, the phone rang. The callers were in the process of starting a business or are already in business and are looking for ways to deal with paperwork headaches.

“People who come here usually don’t have the time to deal with things related to the presence of employees. This includes payroll, employee management and other types of deposits, ”said Jeannie Schweigert, director of marketing and sales for APS.

Schweigert describes APS as a one-stop shop that manages many essential but behind-the-scenes functions of a business so that the owner can focus on the essential tasks of running their business.

Homeowners often face important questions when trying to grow their business. These include whether it is cheaper to rent or buy equipment, whether it makes more sense to rent or buy the property, or whether it makes financial sense to open a second location. When it comes to operations related to employee activities, it almost always makes sense for business owners to outsource those functions to APS, Schweigert said.

So far, our clients range from one to 15 employees and represent a variety of industries such as contractors, local governments, retail outlets, restaurants and child care centers.

“Entrepreneurs are very important to us because everyone in this business is extremely busy and it’s a labor intensive business that needs a lot of attention,” said Schweigert.

Filing income tax can be one of the most complex tasks of a business owner. APS offers tax planning and contract preparation services for businesses, by staff with many years of expertise in tax and business operations.

Sandra Welch, the company’s chief financial officer, is a retired IRS revenue manager with over 30 years of experience in Washington and Montana. Welch has the title of Registered Agent, which means she can represent the company’s clients before the Internal Revenue Service.

Advanced Employment Solutions also streamlines the payment process for workers’ compensation insurance. A client’s premiums are paid as they accrue, eliminating the need for deposits, early premium payments, and year-end audits.

APS is a co-employer, an agreement in which two companies both have rights and obligations as an employer. The client maintains control of their on-site employees and is the registered employer, while APS takes responsibility for the paperwork and manages personnel-related functions.

APS – Advanced Payroll Solutions – 801 Grand Ave Billings, MT – 406-894-2526 –

This content was produced in partnership with the advertising department. News and editorial services played no role in its creation or presentation.

Legislature Expands Educational Opportunities – Flathead Beacon

Education has been one of the sectors most disrupted by COVID-19. The ripple effects of school closings and distance learning have put additional pressure on families and our economy. The legislature has responded by giving more flexibility to students, families and educators to engage in individualized learning.

We started the session by ensuring the stability of the local school boards as they began their annual budgeting process. Bill 15, which provides for an inflationary increase in funding for schools, was enacted in February and is reflected in the education section of the state budget. In general, our state budget reflects strong support for public education from kindergarten to grade 12 and post-secondary. The budget also provided additional support for students with special needs who were even more disrupted by COVID than the general student body.

While we’ve learned that distance education can’t replace face-to-face teaching, the past year has shown us that rigid schedules and seat time requirements don’t necessarily reflect academic progress. We have also found that online learning can complement in-person learning, which is why the broadband investments that lawmakers have made are critical for the future of education, especially in our rural communities. Using federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, the legislature allocated $ 250 million for broadband and telecommunications projects for Montana.

House Bill 246 was a crucial bill in moving our state towards individualized learning. It replaces obsolete seat time and program requirements by allowing districts to offer alternative measures of academic progression. These include workplace learning, custom course design, distance learning, credit flexibility, and other learning methods that reflect the individual educational needs of families and students.

Other bills that complement House Bill 246 include Senate Bill 109, which requires public schools to offer gifted and talented programs, Senate Bill 22 to boost funding technical and career student organizations, House Bill 252 which provides tax credits to employers for careers and technical education, and House Bill 556 to provide alternative means of obtaining a high school diploma.

All of these expanded flexibilities for schools and families will strengthen our public education system. However, families should not be denied access to an education that meets their needs because of financial barriers. The legislature also broadened educational choice opportunities by making non-public education more accessible to low-income families.

House Bill 279 increased the tax credit for donations to scholarship-granting organizations which, in turn, provide tuition scholarships in private schools to low- and middle-income families who, otherwise, might not be able to access a non-public school. House Bill 129 allows families to use education savings accounts for K-12 expenses, as opposed to just college expenses.

Finally, we began to address the teacher shortage in Montana by passing Bill 143, which calls for increased starting salaries for teachers. Teacher compensation varies from district to district and is based on local resources and union negotiations. However, the state has increased some matching funds that districts can request to supplement teachers’ starting salaries. Other laws have also been passed to reinforce the “grow your own” models in Montana educator preparation programs at our colleges.

The next school year, when COVID is released, families, students and educators in Montana will have more opportunities than ever to succeed.

Wylie Galt, R-Martinsdale, is the Speaker of the Montana House of Representatives; Casey Knudsen, R-Malta, is the President Pro Tempore; Sue Vinton, R-Lockwood, is the Majority Leader.

Legislature expanded education for all Montana families

Education has been one of the sectors most disrupted by COVID-19. The ripple effects of school closings and distance learning have put additional pressure on families and our economy. The legislature has responded by giving more flexibility to students, families and educators to engage in individualized learning.

We started the session by ensuring the stability of the local school boards as they began their annual budgeting process. Bill 15, which provides for an inflationary increase in funding for schools, was enacted in February and is reflected in the education section of the state budget. In general, our state budget reflects strong support for public education from kindergarten to grade 12 and post-secondary. The budget also provided additional support for students with special needs who were even more disrupted by COVID than the general student body.

While we’ve learned that distance education can’t replace face-to-face education, the past year has shown us that rigid curriculum and seat time requirements don’t necessarily reflect academic progress. We have also seen that online learning can complement in-person learning, which is why the broadband investments that lawmakers have made are critical for the future of education, especially in our rural communities. Using federal funds from ARPA, the legislature allocated $ 250 million for broadband and telecommunications projects for Montana.

House Bill 246 was a crucial bill in moving our state towards individualized learning. It replaces obsolete seat time and program requirements by allowing districts to offer alternative measures of academic progression. These include workplace learning, custom course design, distance learning, credit flexibility and other learning methods that reflect the individual educational needs of families and students.

Other bills that complement House Bill 246 include Senate Bill 109 which requires public schools to offer gifted and talented programs, Senate Bill 22 to strengthen funding for technical and career student organizations, House Bill 252 which provides tax credits for employers for careers and technical education, and House Bill 556 to allow other means of ” get a high school diploma.

All of these expanded flexibilities for schools and families will strengthen our public education system. However, families should not be denied access to an education that meets their needs because of financial barriers. The legislature also broadened educational choices by making non-public education more accessible to low-income families.

House Bill 279 increased the tax credit for donations to scholarship-granting organizations which, in turn, provide tuition scholarships in private schools to low- and middle-income families who otherwise , could not access a non-public school. House Bill 129 allows families to use education savings accounts for K-12 expenses, as opposed to just college expenses.

Finally, we began to address the teacher shortage in Montana by passing Bill 143 which calls for increased starting salaries for teachers. Teacher compensation varies from district to district and is based on local resources and union negotiations. However, the state has increased some matching funds that districts can request to supplement teachers’ starting salaries. Other laws have also been passed to reinforce the “grow your own” models in Montana teacher preparation programs at our colleges.

The next school year, when COVID is released, families, students and educators in Montana will have more opportunities than ever to succeed.

Wylie Galt (R-Martinsdale) is the Speaker of the Montana House of Representatives; Casey Knudsen (R-Malta) is the President Pro Tempore; Sue Vinton (R-Lockwood) is the Majority Leader.

New law changes nitrogen and phosphorus standards for water quality

In 2015, Montana became a national leader when adopted numerical nutrient standards to protect water quality. Environmental groups celebrated the move, saying that implementing clear, consistent, and science-based limits for nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus would help the state protect the cold, clean water that is the cornerstone of Montana’s $ 7.1 billion outdoor recreation economy.

It was also a movement that the United States Environmental Protection Agency had been working towards for nearly two decades. The EPA has long said that numerical nutrient standards are important tools for regulators to prevent rivers, streams, lakes and gulfs from experiencing the type of nutrient load that leads to harmful algal blooms. , fish mortality, oxygen-starved “dead” zones and health problems linked to impaired drinking water and increased exposure to toxic microbes. A growing number of states have followed the EPA’s lead and made the switch to digital standards.

But now with the legislature passed Senate Bill 358Montana goes the other way by removing numerical nutrient standards and replacing them with more subjective narrative standards.

We were the first to adopt numerical nutritional criteria, so we set a precedent, ”said Guy Alsentzer, executive director of Upper Missouri Waterkeeper. “The EPA praised us by saying, ‘Look at you, you are a visionary.’ Well we’re # 1 in recidivism right now. It is a 100% reflex reaction that makes us the laughing stock of the scientific community.

Alsentzer said that narrative standards that rely, for example, on the observable presence of algal blooms are more reactive than proactive – and bad news for the ecological integrity of waterways and the organizations and agencies that will be responsible for cleaning up. degraded waterways.

“It’s much better economically to keep something clean than to pay to fix it when it’s polluted,” he said.

Nutrient pollution is prevalent in Montana. 35% of Montana’s river miles and 22% of its lake acres are considered to be altered by nutrient pollution.


Senator John Esp, R-Big Timber, said he sponsored the SB 358 because the numerical standards that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality arrived at through regulation are too strict for municipalities and water districts to and sewers are respected. He said that as a result, many of these groups have requested deviations to give them more time to meet the criteria.

“No one can meet the digital standards in place without a gap,” Esp told the House Natural Resources Committee. “We cannot achieve it now, or in the foreseeable future, with the technology we have today.”

Alsentzer disagrees. He said the technology might require an investment, but it exists. It is not so much a question of technical capacity as of will, he said.

“The regulated industry has made a political calculation that they think they can get away with saying, ‘We don’t want to do this and we don’t have to. We are going to pass state laws to do whatever we want and protect our wallets, ”he said.

Despite far more opposition than public support – the Legislature had 18 comments in favor of SB 358 and 215 in opposition – the legislature passed the bill and Governor Greg Gianoforte passed it. recently enacted.

Now, the Department of Environmental Quality has until March 1 to work with the nutrient working group, which includes representatives from industry and environmental groups, to develop alternative standards. It remains to be seen exactly what the outcome will be, but the DEQ has told Montana Free Press that it will use existing peer-reviewed science to “drive the development of this narrative standard.”

DEQ also said the adaptive management required by SB 358 allows the agency to develop different standards for different waterways. This approach has its champions, but language from a nutrient working group meeting before the passage of SB 358 is remarkable.

“The narrative standard prohibits substances in water that ‘create conditions that produce undesirable aquatic life’,” the DEQ document reads. “Translating the narrative standard into enforceable license limits on a case-by-case basis takes time, depends on controversial judgment, and can lead to inconsistent or different license limits … Numerical criteria will solve this problem.”


Galen Steffens, head of DEQ’s water quality office, said the agency is committed to keeping the nutrient working group’s rule-making process open and transparent. She said the group will include representatives from environmental and conservation organizations as well as industry groups such as mining companies. EPA will also participate.

The role of the APE is important. For nearly 50 years, the EPA has been responsible for enforcing the federal law on sanitation of water. In some states, including Montana, the EPA has delegated regulatory authority to state agencies. Other states do not have a DEQ equivalent to oversee water quality, so the EPA takes a more direct role in licensing, regulating, and enforcing environmental protections. In these states, the agency serves as a “federal safety net” for the regulation of clean water.

The EPA is also approving new state laws that could impact water quality. This means that if the narrative standards developed by the Montana task force do not pass the federal test, the EPA can send DEQ back to the drawing board to revamp its efforts.

Myla Kelly, supervisor of DEQ’s water quality standards section, said she hoped that didn’t happen.

“We’re going to work with the EPA throughout this process to get it out of the way. This is not where we need to be, ”she said.

It is also possible that the EPA will challenge the mandate of SB 358 even before arriving at the nutrient working group.

Upper Missouri Waterkeeper sent a letter to Tina Laidlaw, the EPA’s digital nutritional criteria coordinator for a region of six states, including Montana, on April 23 – before Gianforte signed the measure – asking her to urge the governor to veto SB 358. In the letter, the group claims that SB 358 throws a wide web of categorical exemptions for nutrient discharges and is itself in violation of the Clean Water Act .

Laidlaw has not indicated whether the agency will actively oppose SB 358 or work alongside the Nutrient Working Group to develop narrative standards it can endorse.

“The EPA is in the process of reviewing the legislation and is not yet in a position to provide comments,” she wrote in an email to the MTFP.

Amanda Eggert writes for the Montana Free Press, a Helena-based nonprofit news organization.

On Senate Floor, Portman Calls on Biden Administration to Address Nationwide Worker Shortage Due to Expanded Unemployment Benefits

May 18, 2021


Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today on the Senate floor, Senator Portman once again called on the Biden administration to address the current shortage of workers by dismantling the disincentives to work put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. He discussed how the federal $300 per week unemployment supplement, passed by Democrats in the last spending bill, is undermining employers’ efforts to hire new workers for the more than eight million job openings around the country. Many Americans are not returning to work because their expanded unemployment insurance is more than their previous income, leading to a large number of unfilled jobs.

While Portman supported bipartisan proposals to expand UI when the pandemic forced widespread business closures and resulted in millions of Americans losing their jobs through no fault of their own, he argued that the widespread vaccinations have allowed our economy to reopen and that now the focus should be on filling the record number of jobs that are available.

A transcript of his remarks is below and a video can be found here:


“Mr. President, I’m here on the floor this afternoon to talk about the economy, how to get it on the right track, and particularly how to deal with the jobs crisis that we face right now. It’s a different kind of crisis than we normally talk about. There are a lot of jobs open and the workers that are needed are not coming forward. 

“Washington needs to change direction to get the economy on the right track. Current law provides that at least until Labor Day, that’s in September of this year, that there will be a federal supplemental payment of $300 per week added to the state unemployment benefit. So if somebody is on unemployment insurance, they will get their normal state benefit, which in Ohio is about half of whatever your income was. But on top of that, now there’s a $300 federal supplement that was put in place during COVID-19, but it continues until at least September. By doing so, adding that $300, it nearly doubles the unemployment insurance benefit on average. It also results in about 42 percent of those people who are on unemployment insurance making more on UI than they were making at work.

“It has the effect of, in most states, more than doubling the amount of unemployment insurance, and it also doubles the minimum wage. So you can imagine why this is a disincentive for some people to go back to work if they can make more not working. On top of that, Democrats here in Congress during the COVID-19 legislation added another benefit to people who are on unemployment insurance compared to people who are working. And that is to say that your first $10,000 of unemployment insurance is tax-free.

“So if you’re a truck driver making $35, $45,000 a year, you don’t get that tax benefit. But if you’re on unemployment insurance, you do get that benefit. Again, another disincentive to go back to work. People are logical, and if the government’s going to pay you more not to work than to work, it creates a problem. And you can see that problem. 

“We have a record number of job openings right now. 8.1 million jobs are open in America today. And the economic recovery we all are looking forward to is being hampered by what? A lack of workers. And if you go down your Main Street, wherever you live, you’ll see the ‘help wanted’ signs up. If you go by your restaurants, you will see instead of the marquee saying, ‘come and come and check out our great apple pie or our hamburgers,’ they say ‘we’re paying signing bonuses. $500. $250.’ 

“I went by a Frisch’s Big Boy on the way to the airport on Monday and that’s what I saw. McDonald’s offering a $500 bonus. Manufacturers I know in the state of Ohio I represent offering much more in terms of signing bonuses. I talked to a woman last week who is a friend of mine who runs a manufacturing company, a great little company, got about 200, 250 employees. She is looking for 60 people right now. She is offering a $1,000 signing bonus plus other incentives, benefits to be able to come to work. And she can’t get people to show up to apply for work. So this is a real problem in terms of our interest in getting this economic recovery going. 

“It’s time to stop this extraordinary federal unemployment supplement. By keeping in place the $300 per week on top of this UI benefit and not taxing that benefit, President Biden and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are putting us in a tough position, and I think on the verge of a real jobs crisis, because some of these jobs will end up going away, some permanently, if we don’t do something about it.

“I believe that the federal unemployment insurance was necessary – the federal supplement — when we were at the heat of the COVID-19 crisis, let’s say a year ago now. People were losing their jobs through no fault of their own. Their businesses were shutting down, in part because the government was putting in place social distancing guidelines or otherwise saying that businesses had to temporarily close and a lot of people lost their jobs. In my view, Congress rightly put in place expanded unemployment benefits to help those families get by when the economy was largely shut down.

“But we are in an entirely different place now, entirely different place. Again, 8.1 million jobs are open right now. It’s an historic high. We’ve never had this many jobs open in America. Thanks to the hard work of a lot of our researchers and scientists the vaccines got out there at record pace. We now have had vaccinations at levels that we’d all hoped for earlier. And as a result, with more than half of Americans already having had one vaccination, in my state of Ohio it’s even better than that, restrictions are easing. Businesses are opening up, fully open again in my home state of Ohio. There is no longer a mask mandate here in the United States Senate as an example. Things are opening up. With that reopening, again, has come all these job openings that can’t be filled. 

“The economic recovery you would expect right now is not happening because people are not getting back to work. We just had the jobs numbers from last month. The country added 266,000 jobs in April. This was alarming because it was only one quarter of what the economists predicted. Only 25 percent of what people predicted. It’s an early warning sign that should not be ignored. These disappointing monthly job reports typically tell bad news on two fronts. One is that there hasn’t been as many new jobs added as you would want, and that’s certainly true. But second, it says there’s not enough available jobs out there. There aren’t enough open jobs out there.

“That’s not the problem now. Adequate number of jobs is not the problem. The jobs are available. But if the president and Congress don’t change course, that could become a problem. If steps aren’t taken to dismantle some of the disincentives to work, some of these record numbers of available jobs we talked about are going to go away. Let me give you an example. There’s a restaurant called Geordie’s in Columbus, Ohio. They have closed down. Geordie’s has closed down. They can’t find workers. That’s the reason.

“The owner was quoted as saying something like, ‘COVID-19 didn’t take me down’. He got the PPP loan, he kept going, he struggled through, he was staying open. He said, ‘My own government has taken me down,’ because you can’t compete with unemployment insurance at that level. We have lots of other businesses in Ohio. Here’s some; Your Pizza Shop, Muddy’s, Donato’s, all in Wooster, Ohio who told me they are closing down one day a week or more because they’re understaffed 

“Facing no alternative, other businesses are figuring out ways to permanently move forward with fewer employees. This concerns me. In some cases, they tell me they are just downsizing their business. So if you can’t find those 60 employees and you’re the manufacturer right now, what do you do? You’re restricting your business. You’re not opening new markets and you’re closing down maybe even some existing customers because you can’t serve them. And so these jobs are going. Others are figuring out ways to do it with fewer people. And again some might say that’s a good thing, using technology and using automation to displace workers, I don’t think it’s a good thing. I’d rather have more people working. And that’s what they want to do, too. But they can’t afford it. So they are going to more automation, they tell me, going to anything they can do to do with fewer workers. 

“This is a problem, and again, Washington is creating this problem. Why would we do that again? Again, I understood it and supported it when we had the COVID-19 crisis and people were losing their jobs through no fault of their own. But the opposite is happening now. We’ve got to change gears. We’re at a crossroads. We can continue to have this economy stagnate, continue to hurt working families, or we can get people back to work and create robust and sustained economic growth. I would take the $300 a week, by the way, and shift it to a six week temporary bonus of $100 a week to go to work. A work bonus. You could do that immediately. Even while keeping the $300 in place for a short period of time, because right away you could help people to get back to work, it would happen.

“And by the way, some states have decided on their own just to get rid of the $300 because they know it’s not working for the small businesses, it’s not working for the economy, it’s not working for individuals who are not getting back to their career track, who are losing training and losing the ability to keep up with what’s going on at work because they are, again, given this disincentive to go back. And it’s working. There was a hotel, I’m told, in the first state that decided to do this, which was Montana, did it about two weeks ago, a hotel where they were offering every week to hire more employees. They’re looking for more employees. They were getting one person a week to show up. Last week, 60 people. Sixty people, because they are not offering the $300 anymore, they are giving the money back. 

“The Biden administration, as you know, would like to spend a lot more money on a lot of different things. The totals, about $6 trillion when you add it all up to prime the pump, more stimulus, get the country back to work, as they say. What’s happened is a lot of this stimulus money, particularly in the $1.9 trillion COVID package, has overheated the economy. And you can see it in the higher inflation numbers, which is what a lot of people predicted, including Democratic economist and former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers. And a lot of us on the Republican side were concerned about this. Well, it’s happening and we are seeing more and more proposals for more and more stimulus. Inflation is not what we need. And by the way, that spending of $6 trillion is about six times what the government spent during the New Deal in the 1930s. And that’s inflation-adjusted. So, I mean, this is a lot of money. 

“Instead, what we ought to do is help get people back to work, encourage them, and let this economy grow on its own, which it’s going to do. During the COVID-19 discussion, the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan group here in Washington and in Congress, told us that the economy is going to recover to its pre-COVID level by mid-year if we do nothing, no more stimulus.

“And yet people insisted on more and more stimulus and we can see what’s happening. Part of that stimulus, part of that spending was this $300 until Labor Day. $300 per week in expanded unemployment benefits from the federal government, on top of the fact that you don’t get taxed on your first $10,000. And again, that $300 is on top of whatever the state benefit is. 

“Are there other factors that are leading to this labor problem that we have now in our country? I think there are. I think there are. One is that we have a situation now where some people just can’t afford childcare. So they’re not only getting more money on unemployment perhaps than they are getting at work. If they go to work, they’ve got to pay for child care. And child care is too expensive. And I’d like to work on that. One of the reasons we’re hearing is that schools are not open, so they’ve got to use child care because their kids are not in school with only 54 percent of K-8 schools actually being open today – that’s the latest number we have — that’s a real problem. Again, that’s when we can solve, and CDC is playing a role in that by saying, ‘Get kids back to school, they can do so safely.’ There certainly should not be any reason for this now, given the fact that so many people have been vaccinated and thank goodness the infection levels are going down so much. So I know that that’s an issue. Child care is an issue. 

“The other issue I think that we have to know is that some people are concerned about still getting infected at work and what the virus might lead to in terms of an unsafe workplace. But I will tell you, that concern is a lot less now that so many people have been vaccinated and the CDC, again, has responded to that and said, ‘You can have a safe workplace, you can have a safe school.’ It’s not hard to do. So let’s get back to work. And particularly let’s deal with this unemployment insurance issue, because that is the main reason that people are not returning to work I’m told by the employers out there. With more than 40 percent of workers making more with unemployment insurance and that supplement than they would in their jobs, businesses just can’t compete. 

“Think how tragic this is. A small business owner works tirelessly to keep the lights on through COVID-19 — again, maybe uses a PPP or otherwise stays in business — and finally, after more than a year, we reach this point where the virus is in retreat, we are doing all the things we should be doing to make our workplaces safe. And now they might have to close because they just can’t find people to work. The same story is being told all over the country, certainly all over my state, and again, this is why 21 states now as of this afternoon, including my home state of Ohio, have decided to give the $300 back.

“But we shouldn’t here in Washington continue to provide that $300 to everybody else. Governors in these states understand that encouraging workers to return to the job market is essential to the economy, but it’s also good for that workforce to get back to work, get back to what happens when you go to work, which is you have that sense of fulfillment. That dignity and self-respect that comes with work and you are keeping up with whatever the technological changes at work and getting back on your career track. 

“Guidance from the Biden administration CDC says we can move forward with getting back to normal. It’s time for President Biden to follow that advice and to end the disincentive to work that is holding back the economic recovery. These are simple steps that we can take. Again, I would do a $100 bonus to go back to work for six weeks. But the most important thing is to end the $300 and to let people, once again, have the opportunity to pursue their American dream. Which is not unemployment — It’s getting a job. And with 8.1 million jobs being offered – an historic number, the most ever – it’s time to make that change. I urge my colleagues and I urge the administration to change course.”


Amazon Extends Ban on Police Using Its Facial Recognition Tools: Live Updates

Credit…Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Amazon said Tuesday that it would indefinitely prohibit police departments from using its facial recognition tool, extending a moratorium the company announced last year during nationwide protests over racism and biased policing.

The tool has faced scrutiny from lawmakers and some employees inside Amazon who said they were worried that it led to unfair treatment of African-Americans. Amazon has repeatedly defended the accuracy of its algorithms.

When Amazon announced the pause in June, it did not cite a specific reason for the change. The company said it hoped a year was enough time for Congress to create legislation regulating the ethical use of facial recognition technology. Congress has not banned the technology, or issued any significant regulations on it, but some cities have.

The primary suppliers of facial recognition tools to police departments have not been tech giants like Amazon, but smaller outfits that are not household names.

Still, privacy advocates cheered Amazon’s latest move.

“This is a huge win for privacy and is the direct result of years of work by activists and advocates who have shed light on the dangerous use of this flawed technology,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The Google campus in Mountain View, Calif. The company focused on its technological vision in a developer conference.
Credit…Christie Hemm Klok for The New York Times

Google held its I/O developer conference on Tuesday. And, as usual, it was a dizzying two-hour procession of new features, products and services across the company’s vast array of businesses, from its smartphone software to its artificial intelligence systems.

But each demonstration laid bare the gap between how Google wants to present itself — a tech pioneer pushing the boundaries of what’s possible — and how politicians and regulators see the company — a deep-pocketed monopoly choking off the competition. There was no talk of the antitrust trials facing the company or the congressional hearings that have become a routine part of the calendar of Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google’s parent company Alphabet.

Google barely discussed any of the ways it makes money. There was almost no mention of advertising, the main driver of Google’s revenue last year, or even up-and-coming financial engines like Google’s cloud computing business.

Instead, Google focused on its technological vision. Mr. Pichai revealed the company’s next so-called moonshot. Google aims to power the entire company using carbon-free energy by 2030. It will require using artificially intelligent software systems to allocate energy wisely as well as investments to tap into geothermal energy in addition to wind and solar.

“We aim to operate on carbon-free energy 24/7,” Mr. Pichai said. “This means running every data center, every office on clean electricity every hour of every day. It’s a moonshot.”

As for products and software, there were new privacy controls for its Android smartphone software as well as new design elements that select a personal color palette based on a person’s photos. There were also improvements in how computers understand human communication.

In one odd demonstration of a computer’s ability to carry on a natural-sounding conversation, Google demonstrated how the language model could be used to take on the character of Pluto (the “dwarf planet,” not the Disney character) to answer questions.

Like most big tech conferences, there was an awkward celebrity cameo with the actor Michael Peña trying to find humor in quantum computers. There were inspirational examples of how Google technology was bringing information to people outside Silicon Valley with a video of an Indonesian high school student using Google’s camera vision technology to help her with her math homework.

It was hard to pinpoint a common theme of the show-and-tell event. Mr. Pichai tried to fit everything under a big tent of “building a more helpful Google for everyone,” and Google explained that there was so much to share, because the company had to call off the event last year because of the pandemic.

Traditionally, the conference has been held in an outdoor amphitheater near the company’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, but this year’s presentation was held virtually from an outdoor stage at Google’s offices, with a handful of in-person attendees sitting in lounge chairs.

Some Republicans have said expanded unemployment benefits are making it hard for businesses to hire.
Credit…Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Texas, Indiana and Oklahoma this week joined the growing number of states that are withdrawing from federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits.

Supported by Republican governors and lawmakers as well as national and state chambers of commerce, the decision will eliminate the temporary $300-a-week supplement that unemployment recipients have been getting and will end benefits for freelancers, part-timers and those who have been unemployed for more than six months.

In Wisconsin, where the governor is a Democrat, Republicans in the Assembly and Senate have introduced legislation to end participation.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming also plan to end federal unemployment benefits, beginning in June or early July.

“The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a news release. “According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment benefits.”

The moves will affect more than 3.4 million people in the 21 states, according to a calculation by Oxford Economics, a forecasting and analysis firm. Of those workers, 2.5 million currently on unemployment would lose benefits altogether, it said.

Although business owners and managers have complained that unemployment benefits are discouraging people from answering help-wanted ads, the evidence is mixed. Vaccination rates are picking up but less than half of adults are fully vaccinated. In surveys, people have cited continuing fear of infection. A lack of child care has also prevented many parents from returning to work full time.

Arizona, Montana and Oklahoma are offering newly hired workers an incentive bonus.

Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut, a Democrat, said this week that his state would offer $1,000 bonuses to 10,000 workers who have experienced long-term unemployment and obtain new jobs. His state is not dropping the federal benefits.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump, disputing the results of the election won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Fox News Media, the Rupert Murdoch-controlled cable group, filed a motion on Tuesday to dismiss a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought against it in March by Dominion Voting Systems, an election technology company that accused Fox News of propagating lies that ruined its reputation after the 2020 presidential election.

The Dominion lawsuit and a similar defamation claim brought in February by another election company, Smartmatic, have been widely viewed as test cases in a growing legal effort to battle disinformation in the news media. And it is another byproduct of former President Donald J. Trump’s baseless attempts to undermine President Biden’s clear victory.

In a 61-page response filed in Delaware Superior Court, the Fox legal team argues that Dominion’s suit threatened the First Amendment powers of a news organization to chronicle and assess newsworthy claims in a high-stakes political contest.

“A free press must be able to report both sides of a story involving claims striking at the core of our democracy,” Fox says in the motion, “especially when those claims prompt numerous lawsuits, government investigations and election recounts.” The motion adds: “The American people deserved to know why President Trump refused to concede despite his apparent loss.”

Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox News presented the circumstances in a different light.

Dominion is among the largest manufacturers of voting machine equipment and its technology was used by more than two dozen states last year. Its lawsuit described the Fox News and Fox Business cable networks as active participants in spreading a false claim, pushed by Mr. Trump’s allies, that the company had covertly modified vote counts to manipulate results in favor of Mr. Biden. Lawyers for Mr. Trump shared those claims during televised interviews on Fox programs.

“Lies have consequences,” Dominion’s lawyers wrote in their initial complaint. “Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process.” The lawsuit cites instances where Fox hosts, including Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, uncritically repeated false claims about Dominion made by Mr. Trump’s lawyers Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

A representative for Dominion, whose founder and employees received threatening messages after the negative coverage, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday night.

Fox News Media has retained two prominent lawyers to lead its defense: Charles Babcock, who has a background in media law, and Scott Keller, a former chief counsel to Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas. Fox has also filed to dismiss the Smartmatic suit; that defense is being led by Paul D. Clement, a former solicitor general under President George W. Bush.

“There are two sides to every story,” Mr. Babcock and Mr. Keller wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “The press must remain free to cover both sides, or there will be a free press no more.”

The Fox motion on Tuesday argues that its networks “had a free-speech right to interview the president’s lawyers and surrogates even if their claims eventually turned out to be unsubstantiated.” It argues that the security of Dominion’s technology had been debated in prior legal claims and media coverage, and that the lawsuit did not meet the high legal standard of “actual malice,” a reckless disregard for the truth, on the part of Fox News and its hosts.

Media organizations, in general, enjoy strong protections under the First Amendment. Defamation suits are a novel tactic in the battle over disinformation, but proponents say the strategy has shown some early results. The conservative news outlet Newsmax apologized last month after a Dominion employee, in a separate legal case, accused the network of spreading baseless rumors about his role in the election. Fox Business canceled “Lou Dobbs Tonight” a day after Smartmatic sued Fox in February and named Mr. Dobbs as a co-defendant.

Jonah E. Bromwich contributed reporting.

Jennifer Piepszak, left, and Marianne Lake were named heads of JPMorgan’s consumer and community bank.
Credit…JPMorgan; Reuters

JPMorgan Chase named two female executives as joint heads of its largest division, potentially paving the way for the nation’s largest bank to be led by a woman.

Marianne Lake, chief executive of the consumer lending division, and Jennifer Piepszak, chief financial officer, both age 51, were named heads of JPMorgan’s consumer and community bank, the sprawling division that handles auto loans, mortgages and private wealth management for bank customers. Their promotions are effective immediately.

In a message to employees on Tuesday, Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s longtime chief executive, praised both Ms. Lake and Ms. Piepszak, who will now run a division that takes in more than $50 billion per year in revenue and competes neck and neck with the bank’s corporate and investment bank for dominance.

“We are fortunate to have two such superb executives who are both examples of our extremely talented and deep management bench,” Mr. Dimon wrote. “They have proven track records of working successfully across the firm.”

The two executives step into a role previously held by Gordon Smith, the firm’s co-president and chief operating officer, who said he would retire at the end of the year. His retirement also paves the way for Daniel Pinto, the other co-president and chief operating officer, as well as the head of its corporate and investment bank, to become the sole No. 2. Jeremy Barnum, currently global head of research for the corporate and investment bank, will succeed Ms. Piepszak as chief financial officer.

Tuesday’s announcement brings renewed attention to what has been a hotly debated question within financial circles for years: who would replace Mr. Dimon, the charismatic C.E.O. who led JPMorgan through the financial crisis and is the longest-tenured bank leader on Wall Street. Mr. Dimon, 65, took on his role in late 2005 and has since quadrupled the bank’s stock price. He has said that leading JPMorgan is his calling, adding on more than one occasion that he planned to stay at the helm for at least another five years. But over the past decade, as a number of executives once viewed as potential successors have exited, concerns about who might replace Mr. Dimon have mounted.

The market’s reaction to the announcements was modest, suggesting that investors didn’t expect imminent changes at the top of the bank.

“Obviously, with each year that goes by, how could he not be a year closer,” Glenn Schorr, a banking analyst who covers JPMorgan for Evercore ISI, said of Mr. Dimon’s retirement. At the same time, he added, the elevation of Ms. Lake and Ms. Piepszak doesn’t necessarily mean that the chief executive’s departure is any closer. “I’ve seen this so many times,” Mr. Schorr said. “It doesn’t mean that at all.”

“The board has said it would like Jamie to remain in his role for a significant number of years,” Joseph Evangelisti, a JPMorgan spokesman, said in a statement.

If Ms. Lake or Ms. Piepszak were eventually named to succeed Mr. Dimon, neither would be the first woman to run a Wall Street bank. That distinction belongs to Jane Fraser, who took the top role at Citigroup earlier this year.

  • A sell-off near the close of trading on Tuesday caused the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite to end the day lower.

  • The S&P 500 fell 0.9 percent, and the Nasdaq composite lost 0.6 percent. The Nasdaq had been in positive territory for most of the day.

  • Shares of Apple, which has the biggest weight in the S&P 500, lost 1.1 percent, mostly in the last 10 minutes of trading. The next six largest companies in the index — including Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet, Google’s parent company — all had similar dips.

  • Energy prices fell, with West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the U.S. benchmark, down 1.2 percent, to $65.49 a barrel. The S&P’s energy sector fell 2.6 percent, led by Chevron, with a 3 percent drop.

  • AT&T, which fell 2.6 percent Monday after it announced it was spinning off its WarnerMedia division and becoming more of a strictly telecommunications company, was the worst-performing stock in the S&P 500, with a decline of 5.8 percent.

  • In Asia, the Nikkei in Japan gained 2.1 percent the same day the government reported that the economy had contracted in the first quarter, after two consecutive quarters of growth.

  • In Taiwan, the stock market jumped more than 5 percent after the government recently imposed restrictions to control a coronavirus outbreak. Reuters reported that Taipei’s top official in Washington was in talks with President Biden about securing doses of vaccine from the United States.

Brooks Brothers, the oldest apparel brand in continuous operation in the United States, has struggled to adapt to the casualization of workplace dress codes and the digital era.
Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

The fallout from one of the most prominent retail bankruptcies of the pandemic continues.

The billionaire Italian former owners of Brooks Brothers have been sued in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York by TAL Apparel and Castle Apparel Limited, manufacturing companies based in Hong Kong and the retailer’s former minority shareholders, claiming more than $100 million in damages.

The lawsuit, which was filed Monday, claims that Claudio Del Vecchio, the former chief executive of Brooks Brothers, and his son, Matteo Del Vecchio, who was the company’s chief administrative officer, “put their own financial interests ahead of those of the company” by refusing to pursue acquisition bids solicited in 2019 “that would have yielded hundreds of millions of dollars for Brooks Brothers’ shareholders.” Instead, they held on to the brand and then were forced into bankruptcy proceedings last year.

TAL, a longtime Brooks Brothers supplier that claims to make one out of every six shirts sold in the United States, became an investor in 2016. It claims that the reason for what the lawsuit termed “bad faith” was a clause in the shareholder agreement that made the Del Vecchios responsible for paying back the balance of TAL’s $100 million investment if the company was sold for less than its $652 million valuation at the time of investment. The suit claims that the Del Vecchios wanted to avoid that eventuality at all costs and opted to “roll the dice” with a Chapter 11 declaration.

Brooks Brothers, which was founded in 1818 and is known for its suits and preppy clothes, is the oldest apparel brand in continuous operation in the United States. It was bought for $225 million in 2001 by the elder Del Vecchio, whose father, Leonardo, is one of the richest men in Europe. Despite Brooks Brothers’ storied past (it has dressed all but five U.S. presidents), it struggled to adapt to the casualization of workplace dress codes and the digital era. In 2019, Claudio Del Vecchio hired the investment bank PJ Solomon to explore the possibilities of a sale or further investment, and a restructuring plan was put together.

In 2020 he told The New York Times that none of the sale and investment discussions “matched the needs we saw.” The TAL lawsuit, which also names the Del Vecchio family’s holding company, Delfin, as a defendant, claims that none of the discussions were shared with the board or the shareholders. Like many global apparel suppliers, TAL, which owns 11 factories and employs over 26,000 people, according to the lawsuit, was hard-hit by the volatility caused by the onset of the pandemic. At one point, the slump in demand from retailers saw garment production fall to just 30 percent of group capacity, prompting the permanent closure of several factories and a shift toward manufacturing personal protective equipment.

In August 2020, after the forced store closures of lockdown wreaked havoc on their balance sheet, Brooks Brothers was sold for $325 million to SPARC group, a joint venture between Simon Property Group, the biggest mall operator in the United States, and Authentic Brands Group, a licensing firm. TAL is also an unsecured creditor in the bankruptcy litigation.

Paul Lockwood of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a lawyer for Claudio Del Vecchio, said, “The allegations in the complaint are false and we expect the court to dismiss the case.” Katie Jakola of Kirkland & Ellis, the law firm representing TAL, said they were looking forward to their day in court.

Some observers doubt it will come to that, however.

“This seems like two rich parties airing grievances,” said William Susman, managing director at Threadstone Advisors. “Brooks Brothers’ owners have taken their pain already. TAL is a large, sophisticated company. Hard to feel they were swindled. Sounds like a settlement is in everyone’s future.”

Elizabeth Paton contributed reporting.

A Walmart in Mililani, Hawaii. The retailer reported that its operating profit grew about 27 percent to $5.5 billion in the first quarter.
Credit…Marie Eriel Hobro for The New York Times

Walmart reported a strong first quarter on Tuesday, as its e-commerce business continued to drive sales and customers were helped by stimulus checks.

The retail giant said its sales in the United States in the first quarter increased 6 percent to $93.2 billion, while operating profit grew about 27 percent to $5.5 billion.

“Our optimism is higher than it was at the beginning of the year,” Walmart’s chief executive, Doug McMillon, said in a statement. “In the U.S., customers clearly want to get out and shop.”

Walmart is among a group of larger retailers that have experienced blockbuster sales during the pandemic, particularly for online groceries. The company’s e-commerce sales increased 37 percent in the first quarter.

The question now is whether Walmart can continue its pace of growth as shopping habits start to normalize.

Mr. McMillon said although the second half of the year “has more uncertainty than a typical year, we anticipate continued pent-up demand throughout 2021.”

Sales in the company’s international division declined 8.3 percent in the first quarter, as Walmart divested from some of its subsidiaries in places like Japan and Argentina. The company’s total revenue increased 2.7 percent to $138.3 billion.

Walmart raised its financial guidance for the rest of the year, projecting “high single digit” growth in operating income in its United States operation, with sales up in the single digits.

John Stankey, the chief executive of AT&T.
Credit…Mike Segar/Reuters

AT&T is painting a rosy picture for the future of its media business, which it will spin off and merge with Discovery. That new streaming giant is a formidable stand-alone competitor to Netflix and Disney. The move leaves AT&T to focus on its telecom business, which looks less bright after being overshadowed by its expensive — and ultimately futile — deal-making binge in media and entertainment under its previous chief, Randall L. Stephenson.

The DealBook newsletter explains how AT&T got here, in three key deals:

  • A $39 billion bid to buy T-Mobile. After regulatory pushback, in 2011 AT&T walked away from an effort to become the country’s largest wireless company. T-Mobile paired up instead with Sprint, and the two went on to buy huge amounts of spectrum in the high-stakes battle for 5G, leaving AT&T behind as it lobbies regulators to step in. The failed deal hit AT&T with a $3 billion dollar breakup fee, at the time the largest ever.

  • The $67 billion acquisition of DirectTV. In 2015, AT&T bet on cable TV as a way to amass customers whom it could eventually convert to streaming. But DirectTV bled subscribers as customers cut the cord, and AT&T unloaded a stake in the company last year to TPG that valued DirectTV at about a third of its acquisition price. The deal also cost AT&T about $50 million in advisory fees, according to Refinitiv.

  • The $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner. In 2018, Mr. Stephenson called the deal a “perfect match,” but the combined group struggled to invest in its telecom business while also spending enough to compete with the entertainment specialists at Netflix and Disney. Three years later, AT&T is now spinning off the company so it can (re)focus on its quest for 5G market share. AT&T paid $94 million in advisory fees to put the two companies together and an estimated $61 million to split them apart.

After all of that deal-making, AT&T is sitting on more than $170 billion in debt. As part of the deal with Discovery, AT&T will get $43 billion to help reduce its debt load. (The spun-off media business will begin its independent life with $58 billion in debt.)

AT&T also said it would reduce its dividend payout ratio — effectively cutting the amount it pays in half, according to Morgan Stanley. “You can call it a cut, or you can call it a re-sizing of the business,” said John Stankey, AT&T’s chief executive, in an interview. “It’s still a very, very generous dividend.”

AT&T’s shares closed down 2.7 percent on Monday. They lost another 5.8 percent on Tuesday, bringing the total decline in market capitalization since the deal was announced to nearly $20 billion. “Based on our conversations with investors today, sentiment seems mostly negative,” analysts at Barclays wrote in a research note on the day of the deal, citing overly optimistic cost savings targets and cash flow forecasts, among other things.

Market watchers expect the deal to kick off more consolidation among content providers as they race for scale to compete against another giant. Candidates include what John Malone, a Discovery board member (and not the chairman as was previously reported here), calls the “free radicals” — like Lionsgate, ViacomCBS and AMC, as well as NBCUniversal and Fox. Meanwhile, Amazon is in talks to buy another independent studio, MGM.

In a sign of the pressure that players face to spend big to bulk up, shares in Comcast, the telecom company that owns NBCUniversal, fell 5.5 percent on Monday.

Early morning commuters at Grand Central Terminal in New York. Working more than 55 hours a week in a paid job resulted in 745,000 deaths in 2016, according to a new study.
Credit…Timothy A. Clary/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Long working hours are leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths per year, according to a new study by the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization.

Working more than 55 hours a week in a paid job resulted in 745,000 deaths in 2016, the study estimated, up from 590,000 in 2000. About 398,000 of the deaths in 2016 were because of stroke and 347,000 because of heart disease. Both physiological stress responses and changes in behavior (such as an unhealthy diet, poor sleep and reduced physical activity) are “conceivable” reasons that long hours have a negative impact on health, the authors suggest. Other takeaways from the study:

  • Working more than 55 hours per week is dangerous. It is associated with an estimated 35 percent higher risk of stroke and 17 percent higher risk of heart disease compared with working 35 to 40 hours per week.

  • About 9 percent of the global population works long hours. In 2016, an estimated 488 million people worked more than 55 hours per week. Though the study did not examine data after 2016, “past experience has shown that working hours increased after previous economic recessions; such increases may also be associated with the Covid-19 pandemic,” the authors wrote.

  • Long hours are more dangerous than other occupational hazards. In all three years that the study examined (2000, 2010 and 2016), working long hours led to more disease than any other occupational risk factor, including exposure to carcinogens and the non-use of seatbelts at work. And the health toll of overwork worsened over time: From 2000 to 2016, the number of deaths from heart disease because of working long hours increased 42 percent, and from stroke 19 percent.

Dr. Maria Neira, a director at the W.H.O., put the conclusion bluntly: “It’s time that we all, governments, employers and employees, wake up to the fact that long working hours can lead to premature death.”

A worker prepared to shut down an oil well in Alberta, Canada, in 2020. To reach global climate goals, oil production must be reduced by 75 percent by 2050, the International Energy Agency said. 
Credit…Alec Jacobson for The New York Times

Investment in new oil and natural gas projects must stop from today, and sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles must halt from 2035. These are some of the milestones that the International Energy Agency said Tuesday must be achieved for the global energy industry to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

These conclusions seem surprisingly stark for the agency, a multilateral group whose main mandate is helping ensure energy security and stability. But it has increasingly embraced a role in combating climate change under its executive director, Fatih Birol.

In a news conference, Mr. Birol said he wanted to address the gap between the ambitious commitments on climate change that government and chief executives have been making and the reality that global emissions are continuing to rise strongly.

Just a year ago, the agency was deeply concerned about the disruptive implications of the collapse of the oil market from the effects of the pandemic. At the time, Mr. Birol referred to April 2020 as “Black April.”

Now Mr. Birol’s analysts are outlining in a report what looks like decades of disruption for the global energy industry. Oil production, for instance, will need to fall from nearly 100 million barrels a day to around 24 million a day by 2050, the report says.

The agency acknowledges that the disruption for the global energy sector, which produces three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions, could threaten five million jobs. “The contraction of oil and natural gas production will have far-reaching implications for all the countries and companies that produce these fuels,” the Paris-based group said in a news release.

Oil-producing countries may see different affects. This report, for instance, is likely to lead to further calls from environmental groups for the British government, which heads the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), to end new oil and gas drilling to set a global example. A halt would threaten jobs in Britain’s declining but still large oil and gas industry.

On the other hand, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are likely to see their share of a much-reduced market rise from about a third to more than 50 percent, the agency said, as nations with less efficient, higher-cost oil industries cut back.

At the same time, Mr. Birol said, there would be major economic benefits from the trillions of dollars in investment in wind, solar and other sources of renewable energy. Doing so could create 30 million jobs,and add 0.4 percent year to world economic growth, he said.




Janet Yellen Urges Business Leaders to Adopt Biden’s Tax Plan

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen urged business leaders to support the Biden administration’s proposals for making investments that would raise taxes on corporations to benefit the U.S. economy.

Alongside the jobs plan, we are proposing to fundamentally reform the corporate tax system — that will help offset the cost of the proposed public investments. With corporate taxes at a historical low of 1 percent of G.D.P., we believe the corporate sector can contribute to this effort by bearing its fair share. We propose simply to return the corporate tax toward historical norms. At the same time, we want to eliminate incentives that reward corporations for moving their operations overseas and shifting profits to low-tax countries. As part of this effort, we’re working with our international partners on a global minimum corporate tax to stop the race to the bottom. We’re confident that the investments and tax proposals in the jobs plan taken as a package will enhance the net profitability of our corporations and improve their global competitiveness. And we hope business leaders will see it this way, and support the jobs plan.

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Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen urged business leaders to support the Biden administration’s proposals for making investments that would raise taxes on corporations to benefit the U.S. economy.CreditCredit…Erin Scott for The New York Times

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen called on American business leaders on Tuesday to support the Biden administration’s proposals for making robust infrastructure investments that would be paid for by raising taxes on corporations, arguing that the plan would ultimately strengthen U.S. firms.

The comments, made at an event sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, came as the Biden administration is pressing ahead with negotiations with lawmakers over the scope of an infrastructure and jobs package. The White House has been exchanging proposals with Republicans in Congress and is under pressure from Democrats not to scale back its ambitions.

“We are confident that the investments and tax proposals in the jobs plan, taken as a package, will enhance the net profitability of our corporations and improve their global competitiveness,” Ms. Yellen said. “We hope that business leaders will see it this way and support the jobs plan.”

Business leaders have been supportive of government investment in infrastructure but are wary of paying for it with higher taxes. The Biden administration wants to raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent. It has been working on an agreement with other countries to raise their corporate tax rates, believing that a global minimum tax will help countries raise revenue and allow the United States to raise its rate without making its companies less competitive.

“With corporate taxes at a historical low of 1 percent of G.D.P., we believe the corporate sector can contribute to this effort by bearing its fair share: We propose simply to return the corporate tax toward historical norms,” Ms. Yellen said. “At the same time, we want to eliminate incentives that reward corporations for moving their operations overseas and shifting profits to low-tax countries.”

Ms. Yellen’s pitch was met with wariness from the nation’s largest business lobbying group. The Chamber has been arguing against the corporate tax increase and making the case that raising the rate would be bad for small businesses.

Immediately after Ms. Yellen’s remarks, Suzanne Clark, chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce, offered a rebuttal.

“It’s always an honor to hear from the Treasury secretary, including and maybe even especially when we disagree, as we do on taxes,” Ms. Clark said. “The data and the evidence are clear: The proposed tax increases would greatly disadvantage U.S. businesses and harm American workers. And now is certainly not the time to erect new barriers to economic recovery.”

Foxconn, which hopes to play a bigger role in the auto industry, in 2020 introduced tools and technology aimed at helping automakers develop electric vehicles.
Credit…Yimou Lee/Reuters

Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics heavyweight best known for making Apple’s iPhones, has found a big new partner for its auto-industry ambitions: the European-American car giant Stellantis.

The two companies on Tuesday announced a joint venture for building in-car digital systems and software, which automakers believe will be an increasingly important selling point for consumers in the coming decades.

“This is core to the future of Stellantis,” the automaker’s chief executive, Carlos Tavares, said during a conference call with reporters. The new partnership, he said, “is about putting software at the core of the company.”

Stellantis was created in January from the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA, the French maker of Peugeot, Citroën and Opel cars. The tie-up was motivated in part to put the companies in a stronger position to develop electric cars as fossil fuel-burning vehicles become history.

The 50-50 venture with Foxconn, which is called Mobile Drive, will supply so-called digital cockpits not only to Stellantis brands like Jeep and Maserati, but to other automakers as well, the two companies said on Tuesday. Mobile Drive will make digital systems for gas-powered cars in addition to electric ones.

Foxconn is moving rapidly to claim a bigger role in the car business, betting that its expertise in gadgets will give it a leg up as auto making fuses with electronics.

In October, the company released a kit of technology and tools aimed at helping automakers develop electric vehicles. Last week, it finalized an agreement with the California-based automaker Fisker to develop a new electric car that the companies aim to begin manufacturing in the United States in 2023.

During Tuesday’s call, Stellantis and Foxconn executives declined to say whether the two companies would also explore contract car manufacturing as part of their cooperation.

A Eurostar passenger train at the Gare du Nord station in Paris. The company has started to restore rail service between Britain and France.
Credit…Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Eurostar, the high-speed train service between London and cities on the continent that has been financially crippled by the pandemic, said on Tuesday it had received a refinancing package of 250 million pounds, or $355 million, from a group of banks and its shareholders.

The package includes £150 million in loans guaranteed by its shareholders, including SNCF, the French national rail service, which owns 55 percent. The financing notably did not include the British government, which in 2015 sold its stake in the rail company and last month declined to back a bailout package.

“Everyone at Eurostar is encouraged by this strong show of support from our shareholders and banks,” said Jacques Damas, chief executive of Eurostar International. The company said the backing would help it meet its financial obligations “in the short to mid term.”

The Eurostar once ran at least 17 trains a day linking Britain and France. The pandemic and lockdowns forced it down to one train a day between London and Paris, and one a day between London and Brussels and Amsterdam. But next week, it is scheduled to expand to two daily trains between Paris and London, and then three a day beginning the end of June.

CreditCredit…Irene Suosalo

Today in the On Tech newsletter, Shira Ovide talks to Jack Nicas about The New York Times investigation into the compromises that Apple makes to stay in the good graces of the Chinese government.

Attorney General Carr and 18 state attorneys general call on Biden to support energy infrastructure

From the Attorney General’s Office:

Attorney General Chris Carr and 18 other state attorneys general call on President Joe Biden to support additional energy infrastructure – including the Keystone XL pipeline – following the closure of the colonial pipeline which caused price spikes, shortages fuel and Carter-style lines at gas stations in the southern and eastern parts of the country. In a letter to President Biden, the coalition details the damage caused by its alleged cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline and urged him to put Americans’ national security and environment first.

“Georgians are now seeing firsthand that pipelines are the most critical mode of transportation for fuel,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “We will continue to push for President Biden’s unilateral and unconstitutional cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline in Federal Court because his politically symbolic decision destabilized our energy security and eliminated quality jobs and investment opportunities.”

The colonial pipeline situation showed the panic and widespread disruption that can occur when a single pipeline system goes offline. In the aftermath of the cyberattack, the Biden administration relaxed environmental and safety rules to secure[e] critical energy supply chains… alleviating shortages… [and] avoid[] potential disruptions to the energy supply of affected communities. “

“Most Americans, especially those do not located along the coasts – I now wish I had been so diligent and responsive before deciding that Keystone XL could be sacrificed on the altar of signaling left virtue, ”the letter reads.

In addition to meeting our own energy needs, an energy infrastructure is necessary to maintain our country’s leadership as a net energy exporter – a position that enhances our national security, increases global stability and creates well-paying jobs. for American workers.

“Americans depend on a safe and secure energy supply, which is why we must build and maintain a robust energy infrastructure that resists accidents and sabotage. A temporary halt to full-capacity pipeline operations should not put half the country on the brink of collapse. We need safer, cleaner sources of energy, ”Carr and the other attorneys general wrote to Biden. “But your administration’s current approach trades these factual findings for the fashionable concerns of your coastal elites.”

President Biden claimed to unilaterally cancel the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office, even though the Obama State Department has repeatedly concluded that Keystone XL is a net positive for the economy, the environment and energy security. And just a few days ago, President Biden’s own Energy Secretary recognized that pipelines are “the best way to go” when it comes to transporting fossil fuels.

“To be clear, we believe your Keystone XL decision was unconstitutional and illegal, and many, the undersigned states are now lobbying these claims in Federal Court. But beyond the fundamental anarchy of your decision, the current situation shows how bad a political decision it was, ”the letter said. “Your impulse to bow to an extreme climate program unrelated to scientific fact or reality – demonstrated by the cancellation of Keystone XL and other similar actions – is robbing Americans of the safe and clean energy supply they have. need now. It is undermining our energy independence by eliminating a large and secure source of oil at a time of growing global unrest. It damages our reputation with geopolitical allies, such as Canada, by reneging on our commitments. It destroys sophisticated, well-paying jobs. And it’s holding back sustainable economic growth in pipeline communities and across the country. “

In addition to Carr, the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana , North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming also signed on the letter.

Carr is also part of a coalition of 21 states currently suing the Biden administration over its unconstitutional revocation of the Keystone cross-border license.


First material shipped from East Helena Slag Pile

EAST HELENA – The material atop the East Helena slag heap has been in the same spot for over 20 years. Now some of that slag is packaged for a trip across the ocean.

The teams are currently working on the former ASARCO foundry site, bringing together the first of many expeditions. Over five years, they will send around 2 million tonnes of slag to South Korea, where it will be reprocessed.


“I think this will be a great result for the environment and for the economy and community of East Helena,” said Cindy Brooks, managing director of the Montana Environmental Trust Group, which oversees ongoing cleanup efforts on the foundry site.

METG has entered into an agreement with New York-based Metallica Commodities Corp. to remove the top layer of slag. The company will then transfer it to Korea Zinc Company, which will extract the zinc and other metals from the material and then use what is left to make cement.

East Helena Foundry 1927


The slag, which usually looks like large black rocks, is a byproduct of lead production at the East Helena smelter, which operated from 1888 to 2001. Workers currently load some of the material into hundreds of heavy bags. – each carrying a Thousand Pounds. The bags are then stacked in covered wagons.

Earlier this year, Montana Rail Link built new rail liner over the slag heap. The slag will be transported by rail to Washington State, then by boat to Korea.

This process is only followed for certain initial test shipments. Next month, a crusher is expected to be installed on the slag heap. Once the slag has been crushed, it can be loaded directly into the railcars, greatly speeding up the assembly of shipments.

Foundry East Helena 1984


When the project reaches its peak, 30,000 tonnes of slag will be shipped each month from East Helena. The 2 million tonnes of material that will be removed is only a small part of the 16 million tonnes of slag, but it could halve the height of the pile.

Metallica only takes “non-smoked” slag, which still contains zinc. A zinc plant operated on the foundry site from 1927 to 1982, and most of the material in the pile was already processed there, so companies weren’t as likely to move it.

East Helena Foundry 2001


Brooks said unburned material is believed to be responsible for nearly three-quarters of selenium contamination in East Helena’s groundwater. Reducing the size of the pile will also make it easier and cheaper to style it – the last major step in the foundry site clean-up project. Finally, Metallica is paying around $ 1 a tonne for the slag – money that will go into an account to support ongoing cleanup and monitoring efforts.

“These are just good results,” said Betsy Burns, EPA project manager for the site. “I don’t know how a project gets better, actually.”

East Helena Foundry 2009


However, the job brings mixed feelings for people like Manley Stallings. He worked for ASARCO for approximately 36 years, 30 of which were at the East Helena Foundry. He was working as a production manager when the foundry closed.

East Helena Foundry 2012


Stallings says the slag heap is now part of the East Helena community.

“The people who have lived here feel comforted when they have left and come back to see him: ‘Well, here we are, home again! “, He said.

East Helena Foundry 2019


He said it was a good thing that the slag was used, but that he was sad to see one of the last visible callbacks from the foundry getting smaller.

“You kind of feel bad because you’ve lived and worked here and it’s been your home for over 30 years,” he said. “A lot of those people who worked here were second, third generation family members – and seeing their family history disappear and not continue as it has for so many generations.

East Helena Foundry 2020


Burns said they had always been interested in moving some of the slag as part of the smelter site cleanup, but that was only after the growing need for raw materials over the past year that it eventually became economically viable.

Slag shipments are expected to continue until 2025.

Arntzen sees Bitterroot College as a new way to connect lifelong learning

HAMILTON – State Superintendent of Education Elsie Arntzen says it will be exciting to see Montana’s first new community college in over half a century create new opportunities for public and home school students .

Arntzen made the observation during last week’s swearing-in for the trustees of the new Bitterroot Valley Community College, saying it was a chance to make the connection between K-12 learning and the lifelong learning.

“And that’s what the administrators and the community are going to do,” Arntzen told MTN News. “They’re going to make sure they visit our K-12 partners. And it’s the public school, but it’s also the home and private school. To make sure that this opportunity is there for the continuity of learning. ”

It’s been 53 years since Montana launched a new community college. And Arntzen hopes BVCC will not only promote the economic development of Ravalli County and the surrounding region, but also provide new options for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. She says it’s especially good for high school students, who will no longer be exposed to a one-day-related career, but a continuous path to their future.

“But if we let our kids, our young kids from their schooling, know to really focus on this college, this year of training, they’re not saying high school is easier, but they know the doors are coming. open to the next step ”. Arntzen noted. “What could certainly be a community college, where that local flavor, that local control, those local Montana values ​​that are so dear to us, are at the heart.

Arntzen says the establishment of Bitterroot Valley Community College not only “rejuvenates” the economy emerging from the pandemic with “workforce development,” but also “rejuvenates people in the hope that they can. learn better, improve their lives and make Montana proud ”.

Gallatin Valley businesses scramble to fill vacancies

BOZEMAN – Rental signs are everywhere in Bozeman right now, as well as throughout County Gallatin and beyond.

So what does this mean for the future of the Gallatin Valley economy?

“I’ve never heard of anything like this before. We are extremely busy. Nobody wants to work, ”said Adam Paccione, owner of Red Tractor Pizza in Bozeman.

He says he and his employees are tired because they are understaffed and resumes are failing.

“A lot of us don’t have days off right now, and we all work, you know, 10 to 12 hours a day extra,” Paccione said.

Vincent Smith with Montana State University Regulatory and Applied Economic Analysis Initiative says this is a problem happening across the country.

“We have extended unemployment benefits for people who lost their jobs during the pandemic, and we have increased the amount of those benefits,” Smith said.

“This has tended to make it more difficult for industries where workers typically earn relatively modest wages to attract these workers to work.”

And now you see fast food restaurants in Bozeman offering higher starting salaries, like $ 17 an hour.

But Smith says some of our local businesses just can’t rock those higher wages.

One of the fundamental laws of economics must therefore take its course.

“What is likely to happen is that with the prices of the products sold by the small firms in the service sector that are particularly struggling, the prices they charge consumers will likely have to increase,” Smith said.

But he adds that the tight job market in County Gallatin runs deeper.

He says the unemployment rate in the valley is around 3%, roughly the same as it was in January 2020 before the pandemic.

“Bringing people to Bozeman who have relatively low incomes or the ability to earn relatively low incomes right now is very difficult because of the housing costs,” Smith said.

Smith predicts here in Gallatin County, as long as housing costs continue to skyrocket, this demand for service workers could persist.

As for Paccione at Red Tractor Pizza, he’s optimistic people will eventually return to work – and in the meantime he’s grateful for his hard-working team.

“I have a good team. There aren’t many of us right now, but we are all working very hard, ”said Paccione.

“These guys have my back, they have the restaurant back. We will therefore continue to make pizzas!

Growth Summit tackles tough housing and workforce issues

Flathead Valley is growing, as are the challenges facing its residents, leaders and business owners.

At the Growth Summit 2021, a new event hosted by the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, local experts discussed issues facing housing, transportation, child care and other critical components of the Kalispell economy. Flathead. They offered potential solutions, emphasizing again and again the interconnected nature of recent development.

The evidence for the growth trend is everywhere.

Kalispell City Manager Doug Russell said the city is awaiting the completion of 420 construction units already approved this year, in addition to a still countless number of units still awaiting approval.

In Whitefish, the number of short-term rentals recorded within city limits has increased from four in 2016 to 210 today, according to City Manager Dana Smith.

And even Columbia Falls, long known as “the entry-level, blue-collar place in Flathead where people found an affordable place to live,” as planner Eric Mulcahy describes it, recently overtook Kalispell in terms of median house value.

The spillover effects of these changes are considerable and, in many sectors, problematic.

Housing stood out as a unifying issue addressed by almost all of the speakers during the half-day conference.

It became so acute that some of the Growth Summit panelists moved away from the colloquial term “affordable housing” and instead emphasized the need for “accessible housing”. The subtle difference is a nod to the fact that even homes considered “affordable” under current market conditions are not realistically achievable for many workers and families in the area.

As Joe Kola, market president of First Interstate Bank pointed out, a worker earning $ 15 an hour could afford rent of $ 650, according to the Housing Accessibility Index guidelines which suggest spending 25 % of his annual housing salary.

Nikki Lintz, a representative for Entrust Property Solutions, said the cheapest efficiency unit at Highline Apartments in Columbia Falls – heralded as the beacon of affordability in the valley – starts at $ 700 per month.

Even there, Lintz said potential tenants must wait for an opening on the waiting list. In the rest of the valley, vacancy is only 1%.

And even higher-level buyers can’t find any housing inventory. “We can bring in people at any of those salaries – $ 100,000, for example,” said Jerry Meerkatz, president and CEO of Montana West Economic Development. “[They are] certainly able to buy in the valley and they say, “I can’t find anything”. “

As a result, the panelists explained, workers are unable to relocate to the area or stay here, leaving opportunities in tourism, hospitality, childcare and other important industries.

THERE IS downstream effects on services and infrastructure, such as public transport, where there are not enough drivers, or parking lots and roads, which lack manpower to build improved structures.

It’s a cyclical web of problems, but local experts see solutions.

“We need to attract better paying jobs here,” Kola suggested.

One way to do this could be redevelopment and infill, like the kind Bill Goldberg is striving to undertake in the KM building in downtown Kalispell. The new owner of the historic building wants to install a new restaurant, several bars and accommodation in the former mercantile.

“My real goal is to get residential units downtown,” said Goldberg, who was primarily drawn to Kalispell for the possibility of growing vertically in the city.

Others believe that these local issues could be better addressed by redirecting funding sources to areas that need it most.

“There really needs to be a shift in support for public investment of public money in early childhood systems,” said Colette Box of the Discovery Developmental Center in Kalispell. “It will take a huge, huge, billion dollar investment in child care to make the system work for families.

Nic McKinley, CEO of tech company Verafi in Whitefish, had a similar perspective to Box’s, except that he focused on the private sector rather than public funding.

In his keynote address, McKinley urged the local business community to “start siphoning money from the rest of the country into our state and then circulating it locally.”

“Most of the issues we talk about when we talk about pay, child care, housing… most of these issues can be solved by throwing money at them,” he said.

Journalist Bret Serbin can be reached at 758-4459 or [email protected]

How some states are trying to get people back to work: offering new hires bonuses of up to $ 1,200

Connecticut, Oklahoma and Montana are suspending an offer to persuade unemployed workers receiving enhanced unemployment benefits during the pandemic to return to work pronto: cash bonuses for people returning to full-time employment.

Connecticut mentionned On Monday, it would award $ 1,000 to 10,000 unemployed workers who find full-time work and hold that job for at least eight weeks. Oklahoma, meanwhile, mentionned On Monday, it would offer bonuses of $ 1,200 to the first 20,000 currently unemployed workers who find full-time jobs and hold them for at least six weeks. Montana announced earlier this month a similar initiative that will offer a bonus of $ 1,200 to people who return to work for at least four weeks.

The efforts are part of a larger labor market debate as the U.S. economy continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurants and other businesses that are now reopening say they have trouble finding workers to fulfill their open roles, while some conservative lawmakers have emphasized the disappointing job figures as proof that the extra $ 300 a week unemployment aid to help people get through the pandemic recession is keeping workers on the sidelines.

This prompted at least 19 Republican-led states to reduce additional unemployment assistance months before it expires in September, a move they say will help business owners who complain about not being able to find staff for vacant positions. Among those states are Oklahoma and Montana, which have added retention bonuses to mitigate the impact of the reduction in unemployment assistance, which ends June 26 for Oklahomans and June 27 for Montanans. .

“The biggest challenge facing Oklahoma businesses today is not reopening, it’s finding employees,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said in a statement on the new program.

Many economists and labor experts say the issue is more complicated than the added benefit of $ 300 in weekly unemployment assistance. About 4 million people said they were not in the workforce due to concerns about obtaining or spreading COVID-19, according to a census survey from April 14 to April 26.

Offering a bonus could help some workers transitioning from unemployment to working life, as there is often a gap between the end of unemployment benefits and a worker’s first paycheck, noted Andrew Stettner, an insurance expert. unemployment at the Century Foundation, liberal tendency. . But offering a bonus to people who already have a job does not help those who remain unemployed, he noted.

“I think it’s at best a supplement to unemployment benefits to help people make the transition to work,” Stettner said. “But as an alternative to unemployment, it’s a pretty cruel joke for people.”

Some workers may just bide their time until they find a job they want to do. And many families continued to be hampered by the lack of daycare and distance education, which made it more difficult for some parents – especially mothers – to return to full-time work.

“We have very generous UI right now and that means people have the ability to wait for the right job to come,” Leo Feler, senior economist at UCLA Anderson School of Management, told CBS Evening News . “Women have this greater responsibility when it comes to childcare and home schooling, which prevents them from going out and finding a job.”

Changes in the labor force

The workforce is also not what it was before the emergence of the novel coronavirus, according to a Bank of America report. It estimates that around 1.2 million people over the age of 65 have retired during the pandemic, while 140,000 other workers have died from COVID-19. Another 700,000 people have left the workforce due to a skills mismatch – meaning they lack the education or skills that employers now want in their new hires, the economist Joseph Song.

Song estimates that around 1 million people are not in the labor market due to the extra unemployment assistance, possibly low-wage workers who receive more unemployment than they did at the old job. The bottom line, he said, is that many of those workers will likely return to work when unemployment benefits expire in September.

The question now is whether the allure of a one-time bonus will convince people who have concerns about COVID-19, or who have childcare issues, to return to work. Connecticut said its bonus was aimed at helping longest unemployed people find jobs by helping cover the costs of finding and starting a new job. The state has not ended the additional weekly unemployment benefits of $ 300 paid by the federal government.

“This pandemic has disproportionately hit women, people of color and working poor, and it happened almost overnight,” Connecticut Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said in a statement. .

John Kass: Employers beg workers: “It’s the economy, stupid” | Notice

Have you ever wondered what happens to flat earthers?

Not all of them spend their days eating pudding from plastic spoons and revisiting old sitcoms – or as fabulists hanging at the end of the bar, bragging about their heroic exploits until it closes.

Some become president of the United States.

Or they find power in President Joe Biden’s administration and join him in enlightening the country on this dismal April jobs report as businesses struggle to come out of these government shutdowns in the event of a pandemic.

With so many Americans now vaccinated, economists predicted that about 1 million more Americans would find jobs, but only 266,000 jobs were added to the economy. According to Biden, this has nothing to do with the generous federal unemployment benefits that are expected to last until September, in addition to state unemployment benefits.

According to Team Biden, this has nothing to do with the federal government (i.e. taxpayers) paying workers to sit on their couches, watch Netflix, and collect unemployment checks, even though small business owners across the country are on their knees begging workers to come back now that many are vaccinated and the pandemic is drawing to a close.

“I know there has been a lot of talk since Friday’s report that people are being paid to stay home rather than go to work,” Biden said after the April jobs report was released. been made public. “Well, we don’t see much evidence of that.”

To see evidence, you have to open your eyes. Just like if you want a job, you have to take one.

The National Federation of Independent Business says a record 44% of all small business owners have vacancies they can’t fill. And according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in some states, workers can perceive unemployment for up to 46 weeks.

The United States Chamber of Commerce wants to end these additional government payments because they make people stay home.

And on top of the trillions already spent, Biden wants to spend trillions more. Will it lead to a workless utopia or inflationary disaster in the long run?

I don’t blame the workers. People make decisions based on what is offered to them. If the government pays them not to work, many will not work. Not all of them want to become entrepreneurs or work overtime and be promoted. Some just get by. And the government is currently facilitating this task.

Jason Webb, owner of GD Ritzy’s, a restaurant in Huntington, West Virginia, was forced to put up a sign: “MISSING – JOB SEEKERS.” IF FOUND, BRING INSIDE. “

“I feel like I’m competing with the improved unemployment benefits and the stimulus,” Webb told the Herald-Dispatch. “It’s hard to find workers when they can earn so much without working.”

The other morning I stopped by for breakfast with some Chicago business owners, including restaurant guys, who said the same thing.

“I don’t think Joe Biden ever had a job,” said my friend Jimmy Banakis. “Has he ever had a job or run a business?”

Before Biden spent his life as a politician, he was briefly a public defender, gaining little fame for successfully defending an accused cow thief. But he really liked to talk about being a lifeguard. During his presidential campaign, he told stories in the United States of which he was the hero, all about his leg hair turning blond in the sun and his epic showdown with the iconic “Corn Pop”.

He’s good at stories. But the one on how generous unemployment benefits don’t stop people from working didn’t have legs, hairy or otherwise. Biden’s managers got it, so they reshaped the message.

“In order to receive any kind of unemployment benefit, claimants must be available and actively looking for work, and workers are not allowed to refuse suitable work and continue to receive benefits,” said Jen Psaki, her Press officer.

OK, Jen, but it’s just talking. Fraud in the unemployment system increased sharply during the pandemic. Biden and the Democrats want to make it last even longer.

For example, in the locked blue state of Illinois, with Democrats in full control and small businesses collapsing or leaking, the Illinois Department of Job Security is an absolute disaster. And, like Biden, Democratic Governor JB Pritzker doesn’t seem to want to open his eyes to see his wonders.

Biden’s labor secretary Marty Walsh says there is no simple answer to the April jobs report. He mentioned two barriers that prevent people from working: closed schools and the lack of childcare options.

When the people of Biden speak this way, do reporters ever mention to Walsh and others that the country’s powerful teacher unions – which contribute powerfully to Democratic candidates – have been pushing for schools to be closed and that have the Democrats welcomed them?

Most don’t talk about it. They just let it sit there.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is pushing to end the distribution of federal unemployment benefits to get his state back to work. Florida joins other Republican-leaning states such as Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, South Carolina, and Arkansas.

But not in Democratic-led states where politics revolve around taxpayer-funded government benefits and programs.

Understandably, the Democratic Party and its media maids would much prefer Americans to think of something else, like the Republican Party’s feud with the left-wing iconic new hero, the American Republican Liz Cheney, the anti-Trump Republican of Wyoming.

Years ago, a moderate pro-business Democrat (remember that now extinct species?) Made a startling statement: There was something that mattered more to Americans than politicians who talked about politics:

It’s the economy, stupid.

John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of The Argus Observer.

Texas, Indiana and Oklahoma join states cutting unemployment benefits amid pandemic.

Texas, Indiana and Oklahoma this week joined the growing number of states withdrawing from federal unemployment benefits linked to the pandemic.

Backed by Republican governors and lawmakers as well as national and state chambers of commerce, the decision will eliminate the temporary supplement of $ 300 per week that unemployment beneficiaries received and end benefits for freelancers, time workers. partial and those who have been unemployed. for more than six months.

In Wisconsin, where the governor is a Democrat, Republicans in the Assembly and Senate have introduced legislation to end turnout.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Caroline from the south, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming also plan to end federal unemployment benefits, starting in June or early July.

“The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities across the state,” Governor Greg Abbott said in a press release. “According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job postings in Texas is almost the same as the number of Texans receiving unemployment benefits.”

The measures will affect more than 3.4 million people in the 21 states, according to a calculation by Oxford Economics, a forecasting and analysis company. Of those workers, 2.5 million currently unemployed would lose their benefits altogether, he said.

Although business owners and executives have complained that unemployment benefits discourage people from responding to sought-after ads, the evidence is mixed. Vaccination rates are increasing but less than half of adults are fully vaccinated. In surveys, people have mentioned the persistent fear of infection. The lack of child care has also prevented many parents from returning to work full time.

Arizona, Montana and Oklahoma offer new hire workers an incentive bonus.

Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut, a Democrat, said this week that his state offer bonuses of $ 1,000 to 10,000 workers who have experienced long-term unemployment and are getting new jobs. His state is not abandoning federal benefits.

19-state GAs urge Biden to reinstate Keystone after pipeline hack

A coalition of 19 states has urged President Joe Biden to restore the Keystone XL pipeline and reverse its energy policy due to recent gas shortages.

Gas shortages along the East Coast caused by a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline prove the need for reliable gas pipelines in the United States, wrote the 19-state coalition of attorneys general led by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen. in one letter in Biden on Monday.

The United States needs better energy infrastructure if a gas pipeline closure results in such extreme spikes in prices and lines to gas stations, state attorneys general have said.

“A temporary halt to full-capacity pipeline operations shouldn’t put half the country on the brink,” the coalition of states wrote to Biden. “We need safer and cleaner sources of energy. And that includes the Keystone XL pipeline. “

Biden revoked the federal Keystone XL pipeline license hours after it was sworn in on Jan.20. The White House explained that the United States would focus on developing a “clean energy economy” instead of installing gas pipelines.

But, the letter noted that the Biden administration had taken several emergency measures last week to secure the supply chain and alleviate gas shortages in response to the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack.

For example, the administration allowed tankers to carry overweight loads of gasoline on the highway in 10 states and waived environmental regulations preventing sufficient gas from being transported in certain areas, according to a White House. . declaration.

If Biden was willing to take action to save the colonial pipeline, he shouldn’t nix the Keystone pipeline either, the attorneys general argued.

“Most Americans, especially those not located along the coasts, now wish you had been so diligent and responsive before deciding that Keystone XL could be sacrificed on the altar of left-wing virtue signaling. They wrote to Biden.

“Maybe one day, later, we’ll get the utopian energy profile you desire,” the letter reads. “But until then, Americans want practical and effective leadership – not visionary deprivation.”

The administration of former President Barack Obama, of which Biden was a member, had also repeatedly determined that the Keystone pipeline was a net positive for the economy, the environment and energy security, Knudsen and other prosecutors said. generals.

The colonial pipeline resumption of operations Wednesday after the cyberattack, which was led by a foreign hacking group, causing its operations to stop for several days.

The nationwide average price of gasoline is $ 3.05 per gallon as of Monday, according to AAA. The average price in 2020 over the same period was $ 1.87 per gallon.

In March, Knudsen and 20 other state attorneys general sued the Biden administration for the revocation of the Keystone pipeline, alleging it was unconstitutional. States have deposited many further lawsuits against Biden for his energy policies.

“To be clear, we believe your Keystone XL decision was unconstitutional and illegal, and many of the undersigned states are currently lobbying these claims in federal court,” the letter reads. “But beyond the fundamental anarchy of your decision, the current situation shows just how bad a political decision it was.”

“Your impulse to bow to an extreme climate program unrelated to scientific fact or reality – demonstrated by the cancellation of Keystone XL and other similar actions – robs Americans of the safe and clean energy supply they have. need now, “according to the letter.

The Attorneys General of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Dakota North, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming joined the Montana attorney general in signing the letter on Monday.

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An Eastern Montana Perspective on the Legislative Session

We spent time in Miles City, MT this past weekend for the famous Buckin Horse Sale. Friday morning, just before the live radio show started, I went to The Ugly Mug cafe for a cup of Joe and bumped into Rep Ken Holmlund (R-Miles City). What a great opportunity to involve eastern Montana in the legislative session.

First off, what a difference it makes to have a governor in Helena who travels regularly to eastern Montana:

Holmlund: “This was a session that we were working for, for six sessions, six years, three sessions, because we had a lot of bills that were really good and good for the state of Montana, and not really bring- them all the way to the finish line. And this year we were able to get a lot of them. I had three myself that had been vetoed several times regarding conservation districts, and very important fact for eastern Montana. “

Holmlund also spoke of some of the other bills that have crossed the finish line, such as “the city’s wage distribution bill in effect”.

On top of that, Holmlund pointed out that Miles City native Kurt Alme served as budget manager and had a huge impact on the legislative session. Alme was able to get started in the race thanks to his vast experience in public and private sector services. Alme is a former director of the Department of Revenue and a former U.S. prosecutor under President Trump.

Representative Holmlund tells us that the legislature has left about 10 days available in case they need to be called back to session. He says there are a few topics that might bring them back to the session, including how Montana will spend American Rescue Plan Act federal dollars.

Click below for the full audio:

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The Democratic Senate problem in 2024

Democrats can possibly hold some, most, or all of those seats, of course. Tester, Brown, Casey and Manchin, for example, have shown their ability to attract white working class voters and win in a tough environment.

But Democrats who won contests in the 2018 midterm did so with a controversial Republican in the White House. Can they occupy their seat during a recession or with an unpopular Democratic president seeking (or not seeking) re-election?

Barring dramatic changes in state party preferences over the next several years, Republicans will likely only defend one or two competitive Senate seats in 2024 – Florida (Rick Scott) and, perhaps, Texas (Ted Cruz).

The Senate class partisan roster of 2024 dates back to 2006, when the GOP lost a net six Senate seats in President George W. Bush’s second midterm election. This wave of Democratic partisan created an extremely unbalanced class that continues to this day.

As the 2006 election approached, Democrats were defending 18 Senate seats (including that of Vermont independent Jim Jeffords) against 15 in the GOP. But the Republican Senate lost to Missouri (Jim Talent), Montana (Conrad Burns), Ohio (Mike DeWine), Pennsylvania (Rick Santorum), Rhode Island (Lincoln Chafee) and Virginia (George Allen) produced a Senate class that consisted of just nine Republicans and 24 Democrats, including two independents who met with them, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Q2 Montana This Morning Top stories with Victoria Hill 5-18-21

The week

Kevin McCarthy, Trump scramble to quash GOP support for bipartisan Jan 6 commission

On Wednesday, the House will likely approve the formation of an independent commission to investigate the Jan.6 siege of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of former President Donald Trump. The fate of the Senate committee hinges on whether 10 Republicans support bipartisan legislation, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Surprised many observers on Tuesday by leaving the door open in support of the commission. Minority House Leader Kevin McCarthy spent Tuesday scrambling to keep the number of Republicans voting yes to an absolute minimum on Wednesday. He declared his own opposition earlier today, “raising a few eyebrows at the GOP conference after Democrats conceded McCarthy on nearly all of his major demands on the committee,” reported the Washington Post. On Tuesday evening, he formally urged his GOP colleagues to vote no, Politico said, but “a last-minute revival of GOP interest” in the committee dashed his hopes for party unity. “The genie is out of the bottle, and people are trying to put it back,” a GOP lawmaker told Politico. McCarthy had deputized for Rep. John Katko (RN.Y.), the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, to negotiate a bill on his behalf, and his willingness to defeat the Katko deal. ” upset several members, who feel that McCarthy hanged Katko to dry out and now feel even more inclined to rally around Katko and his commission proposal, ”Politico reports.“ In a sign of momentum, the bipartisan Resolution Caucus issues the House, of which Katko is a member, officially voted in favor of the bill on Tuesday night. “On the other hand, Trump, who does not want an investigation into his own actions on Jan.6 and before Jan.6 January, criticized the legislation in a blog post on Tuesday, possibly tipping other uncertain House Republicans into the no-go camp. McCarthy’s opposition is seen as personal – he could be called as a witness in the event. ‘a phone call before ec Trump during the riot – and political, because he needs the support of anti-commission conservatives, and possibly Trump, to maintain his leadership position. A big bipartisan vote in the House would both increase the chances of passing the Senate and anger Trump. The threat of civil war did not end with presidency Trump Biden was able to test Ford’s electric F-150 Lightning, and the Israel-Gaza flight was not going to spoil his driving

It is not yet time to end unemployment supplements: Beshear

FRANKFURT, Ky. (WTVQ / CNET / AP)Some Kentucky lawmakers are urging Gov. Andy Beshear to join a growing number of states in canceling the $ 300 weekly UI supplement to force people back into the workforce and accept jobs.

So far, the state has tried using a job search reporting requirement to get people to start taking jobs, but companies say it may not be working fast enough.

Governor Beshear has said removing additional federal payments to unemployed Kentucky now will hurt the state’s economy as it recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. But, he says he’s ready to consider ending the $ 300 weekly federal unemployment benefit.

Beshear says he’s trying to “spin the needle” of sustaining federal improvements that inject money into the economy while encouraging people to return to work as the economy reopens.

Republican US Senate Leader Mitch McConnell has said governors “must take matters into their own hands and turn off” what he calls “extra-generous benefits.”

Much of the extra money is spent in grocery stores and other retail businesses, the governor said.

“The immediate termination of these additional benefits would hurt our economy and hurt many groups – restaurants and others – who have suffered during this pandemic,” Beshear said. “It would put a shock to our system and it could threaten the way our recovery is going.”

Governors are in a hurry on the extra benefits as companies say they can’t find people to fill the openings they have to keep up with the rapidly strengthening economic rebound. Some states will stop providing the additional federal improvement.

Many people blame the benefits of the pandemic, including the additional federal payment on top of state benefits, for the difficulties businesses have in filling jobs. They argue that people make more money staying home than going back to work. The challenge was highlighted recently when employers across the country created far fewer jobs than expected at a time when job opportunities have skyrocketed.

In a speech in the Senate on Monday, McConnell lamented that “a record number of small businesses are reporting vacancies they cannot fill.” He said governors across the country “must take matters into their own hands and turn off these extremely generous benefits.”

The Kentucky Republican blamed Congressional Democrats who “insisted on continuing to pay people more so they don’t work.”

“The policies we needed in March 2020 are not the policies we need in May 2021,” McConnell said. “It was obvious to Republicans, economists, and the American people.”

Critics of the end of the federal benefit say workers have multiple reasons they might not return to the workforce, such as women who quit their jobs during the pandemic to care for children.

Kentucky reported a preliminary unemployment rate of 5% for March of this year, down slightly from the previous month and better than the national unemployment rate of 6% in March.

Beshear predicted on Monday that some of the labor shortages “would resolve on their own.” Many Kentuckians are getting their full COVID-19 vaccine and will return to work, the governor said. Overall, 54% of adults in Kentuck have received at least one dose of the vaccine, although the percentages are lower in young adults, he said.

The governor said extra unemployment assistance should not be turned into a partisan issue.

“It looks like everything is now falling into the red or the blue or the politics of it,” he said. “In the same way that we have tried to use science to fight this pandemic, we want to be smart to thread the needle the right way on the economy.”

So far, 19 states – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming – have said they will end the benefit early, either in June or July, depending on the state.

The additional $ 300 per week from the federal government is expected to last until September 6 – Labor Day.

“These benefits were intended to keep Kentuckians afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, they are contributing to a massive labor shortage that continues to hurt already struggling businesses. Unless something is done, there will be no jobs to be found either, ”the Chairman of the House Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee said on Monday, Russell Webber.

“States in our country are announcing plans to get rid of pandemic needs, vaccines are widely available and life is getting back to normal. However, Kentucky companies face a different reality as they struggle to find employees, ”added Webber.

“We will not realize our potential with a participation rate of 56%. The people of Kentucky are hardworking, proud, and deserve to be able to improve their lives. The average weekly benefit works out to over $ 15 an hour for a 40-hour workweek, which leaves unemployed Kentuckians with no desire to return to work, ”noted Phillip Pratt, chairman of the Small Business and Business Committee. information technology, Georgetown.

“Without ending the Federal Unemployment Grant, not only will Kentucky businesses and employers face even greater hardships, but we will witness a failed Kentucky reopening and a hand development problem.” -work in the long term, ”he added, noting the state. 48th rowe in workforce participation.

According to the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the state has more than 100,000 vacant jobs. To find a list of employers who are hiring, visit

Several states are also ending pandemic unemployment assistance for the long-term unemployed and the self-employed, such as freelancers and on-demand workers.

Citing labor shortages, state governors say better unemployment coverage discourages workers from accepting jobs. Some economists and analysts disagree, noting several factors prevent people from finding suitable work, including lack of childcare and fear of contracting coronavirus.

The United States Chamber of Commerce called for an end to the weekly federal bonus of $ 300.

President Joe Biden’s administration is working with states to enforce work requirements.

“We will clarify that anyone affected by unemployment who is offered a suitable job must accept the position or lose their unemployment benefits”, Biden said. “It’s the law.

According to the Ministry of Labor, if you refuse a suitable job, you may be refused unemployment benefits: “You must be able, ready and willing to accept a suitable job”, according to a departmental FAQ. The New York Times reported that the Biden administration has asked the Department of Labor to work with states to ensure that the unemployed cannot continue to receive benefits if they turn down a suitable job offer.

While unemployment rates are lower than they were last year at the start of the pandemic, in April some 16 million Americans were still receiving some kind of unemployment assistance. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one in four unemployed Americans has been without unemployment for more than a year.

In 2020, as part of the CARES Law, the unemployed were entitled to a supplement of $ 600 per week until the end of last July. Weekly bonuses resumed with the December relief program of last year, but for half the amount, $ 300.

Legislature Expanded Educational Opportunities For All Montana Families | Chroniclers

Other bills that complement House Bill 246 include Senate Bill 109, which requires public schools to offer gifted and talented programs, Senate Bill 22 to boost funding Career and Technical Student Organizations House Bill 252 which provides tax credits for employers for career and technical education House Bill 556 to provide alternative means of obtaining a high school diploma.

All of these expanded flexibilities for schools and families will strengthen our public education system. However, families should not be denied access to an education that meets their needs because of financial barriers. The legislature also broadened educational choices by making non-public education more accessible to low-income families.

House Bill 279 increased the tax credit for donations to scholarship-granting organizations which, in turn, provide tuition scholarships in private schools to low- and middle-income families who otherwise , could not access a non-public school. House Bill 129 allows families to use education savings accounts for K-12 expenses, as opposed to just college expenses.

Finally, we began to address the teacher shortage in Montana by passing Bill 143, which calls for increased starting salaries for teachers. Teacher compensation varies from district to district and is based on local resources and union negotiations. However, the state has increased some matching funds that districts can request to supplement teachers’ starting salaries. Other laws have also been passed to reinforce the “grow your own” models in Montana teacher preparation programs at our colleges.

Wind River Tribes Consider Legalizing Marijuana | Economy and work

CASPER – The Eastern Shoshone General Council met at Rocky Mountain Hall in Fort Washakie on Saturday to vote on legalizing medical marijuana on the Wind River reservation, but did not meet a quorum. Still, several resolutions have been passed – the resolutions are law on reserve – including the power to move forward with a medical marijuana commission to regulate, supervise and operate owned grow and extract facilities. to tribes for cannabis-related products under the Fort Bridger Treaties of 1863 and 1868.

Meanwhile, the northern Arapaho tribe voted last weekend to decriminalize marijuana.

The East Shoshone General Council will meet again on June 12 to complete the voting process on whether to decriminalize and legalize medical marijuana on the reserve. A special General Council meeting will also be held on July 24, where General Council members can resume the process without having to start over. The General Council is made up of all the adult members of the tribe, while the Business Council is made up of elected representatives.

“We are looking for potential tribal members who could be part of the cannabis commission,” said Bobbi Shongutsie, member of the Eastern Shoshone tribe and advocate for medical marijuana. “We have tribal law-educated members and (interested) paralegals joining the commission.”

Almost all of the East Shoshone Business Council members voted against resolutions passed by the General Council on Saturday, according to Shongutsie. The only resolution the business council agreed to was that no council member, past or present, could sit on the medical cannabis commission.

“It’s OK because these six don’t determine what happens to our tribe,” Shongutsie said. “This is the (decision) of our entire General Council – the quorum of 75 and over.”

Shongutsie said there were exactly 75 people when the quorum was first counted at 10:35 am; members of the tribe were arriving slowly due to COVID-19 procedures. She suspects there were around 90 at some point during the meeting. It was at this time that the tribe was able to pass its resolutions.

Yet as the day went on, the tribe members slowly left the meeting. Shongutsie knew that two graduation ceremonies were taking place around the same time as the General Council meeting and personally knew a few people who could not attend due to the ceremonies.

On Thursday, a public information hearing was held at Rocky Mountain Hall.

Austin Hill, a member of the Shongutsie and Eastern Shoshone tribe, hosted the forum, which attracted around 40 people and had presentations from Angel Consultants, Hugelrado Farms, Newe Cannabis, Medical Secrets and legal representation from Leaf Legal PC.

While there was some skepticism at the event – attended by only one member of the Eastern Shoshone Business Council, Mike Ute – one thing was evident by the end of the meeting: Legalization of medical cannabis could be an issue. huge economic windfall for the Wind River reserve.

“Our casino owes us $ 50 million in debt,” Shongutsie said Thursday. “(Somewhere) around this. In addition, it has been closed for over a year. We need the income. “

Elaine Weed, who is Eastern Shoshone, attended the public forum and is hopeful that medical cannabis could help generate income for the Eastern Shoshone.

It can help “preserve our language and culture,” Weed said, “and help with the Shoshone Museum and the Hot Springs, where the funding has gone.”

Job Eagle, a descendant of Eastern Shoshone, said he hopes medical marijuana funds can bring back larger powwows and public events he remembers attending as a child.

The northern Arapaho tribe decriminalized medical cannabis on May 8 after meeting a quorum of 150 people. Still, Jordan Dresser, chairman of the Northern Arapaho Business Council, expects the process to move slowly. According to Wind River Radio Network, he said the process could take some time.

Ute, a member of the East Shoshone Business Council, said he sees a few issues ahead – namely the Shoshone and Arapaho Law and Order Code, which states that the two tribes on the reservation of Wind River must vote to change the code. Although, after members of the Northern Arapaho Business Council withdrew from the Joint Business Council in 2014, some Eastern Shoshone believe that the Northern Arapaho are no longer supported by the Fort Bridger Treaties. of 1863 and 1868.

Last year, members of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe braced for a potential vote on legalizing medical marijuana on the Wind River Reservation, but COVID-19 devastated the reservation and put an end to public gatherings.

A group called So-go-Beah Naht-Su, “mother earth and medicine” in Shoshone, has advocated for the economic and medical benefits of hemp, CBD and medical marijuana to leaders and members of the tribe of the Eastern Shoshone for a few years. Now the group and its supporters can move forward with the creation of a commission.

“It’s not just members of the Shoshone tribe who are interested; it’s the whole community, ”Shongutsie said.

Wyoming is increasingly surrounded by states that have legalized marijuana to some extent. Last year, residents of Montana and South Dakota voted to legalize, though South Dakota’s decision remains stuck in court. Colorado is approaching a decade of legalization.