For folks in rural areas — particularly veterans, the elderly, or the disabled — innovations in telemedicine can improve health and quality of life. A federal net neutrality law to prevent broadband providers from unfairly throttling or blocking traffic could spur investment in telehealth applications by giving startups and investors the confidence to know they won’t have to pay for special access to online fast lanes. Congress has debated net neutrality for over a decade without passing legislation. A bipartisan solution is long overdue.
Advances in telemedicine will only benefit those Montanans with the broadband connections required to access them. In too many rural areas of our state, broadband infrastructure is inadequate or non-existent. As lawmakers in Washington continue to debate net neutrality, any legislation must avoid creating hurdles to broadband infrastructure investment. Unfortunately, the legislative debate over the past year has focused on reclassifying broadband under utility rules from the 1930s, which experts warn are a terrible fit for the internet and would discourage investments necessary to expand broadband access in rural areas.
Two senators from opposing parties — Sen. Wicker (R-MS) and Sen. Sinema (D-AZ) — are leading a bipartisan effort to permanently protect net neutrality while creating a more modern regulatory framework for broadband services that would encourage the network investment we urgently need in our state. Montana’s senators should consider joining that working group. Telehealth startups deserve the protection of a permanent net neutrality law, but not at the expense of rural broadband.
The State of Montana has "misplaced" (their words, not mine... my word would have been "lost!") my corporate tax return and had sent a letter stating that I was in danger of having to pay up to $1,000 because I was a delinquent taxpayer.
I called my accountant who filed my return electronically and was told that I was one of many clients that received that letter because the state had lost the returns in question.
Then I call the state. After a few attempts to speak to a live person, I finally got someone to assist me. They wanted my tax ID, my name, copies of tax returns, etc. I tried to calmly explain that I had knowledge that there were many people who received the same letter that I had, and I just wanted an email or some way to send them the electronic receipt of my filing. The person acquiesced, and acknowledged that the state had lost some electronic files.
That begs the questions:
1. Why were they lost? 2. Was there a hack that caused the loss? 3. Just how many returns were lost? 4. Is there anyone or any agency that will accept responsibility for mishandling (my word, not theirs), our returns? The answer was clear as mud... probably. not.
Kudos to the BSB Council of Commissioners for proposing an ordinance that would force group homes and recovery houses to get special permits before they can be built in residential areas! It is so good to know our local government is looking out for the safety and welfare of Butte residents!
However, I am a little confused about something. Why is it that when Butte residents protested this recovery house being built in their neighborhood, and when several Butte neighborhoods opposed a homeless shelter being built near their homes, the Council of Commissioners not only listened to the concerns of those people, but also took action to make sure residents’ concerns were addressed? But when the entire village of Ramsay spoke against the Love’s Truck Stop from being built across the street from our homes, we were blatantly ignored by those same commissioners. In fact, Chief Executive Dave Palmer’s response was “We don’t have a dog in the fight.”
While our Commissioner, Dan Callahan, has been extremely sympathetic and very supportive of our cause, the majority of commissioners ignored both Ramsay residents’ concerns and BSB Sheriff Lester’s warning that the truck stop would without a doubt bring crime to our community.
Isn’t it the local government’s job to protect all BSB residents and not just the ones with money or name recognition? We pay just as much taxes as everyone else, and now we get to shoulder an increase in crime so thirty or so Butte residents can have jobs at a gas station. It disgusts me that the safety, health, and well being of only certain BSB residents matter, while the rest of us are forced to fend for and fight to protect ourselves.
I sincerely hope all BSB residents will remember this when election time is upon us!
It’s incredibly disheartening to watch the continued decline of civility and respect in Washington, D.C.
A new low was displayed for Americans at the State of the Union address. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi stood up at the conclusion of the President’s speech, and with great pageantry ripped the transcript of that speech in half. Are you kidding? I think that kind of behavior is what we call a temper tantrum, a meltdown, or a childish outburst. Pick one. At any rate, let’s pray that 2020 will bring restoration of civility in our nation’s capital, as it is paramount to the survival of our great republic.
Our Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is asking for public feedback to handle crowding and conflict on the Madison River. The issue is much more broad-based than simply the Bozeman-area fisheries, as Montanans need a comprehensive solution. Many fishermen from Bozeman who feel pressured out of their home waters are venturing to Helena areas to fish and thereby adding pressure here. I feel that the problem is based on too many commercial guides allowed. A recent Cabela’s catalog sent throughout the United States offers fly-fishing on the Missouri for $1,000 per day, so this billion-dollar company is adding nationwide pressure on our fisheries. This reduces the wilderness fishing experience for Montanans to something similar to a Disneyland promotion. The April 2019 disaster on Holter Lake was a desperate Bozeman-area fishing guide who brought a Missouri state client to his death to fish in a blizzard.
FWP is responsible for allowing this excessive commercial overcrowding, reducing the Montana experience to a cash equation. One can hunt in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and see some commercial guides with their clients, where the number of hunting guide companies is strictly regulated to maintain a fine balance, allowing Montana hunters the ability to enjoy the wild hunt without being crowded out by commercial interests. As it is now, the Missouri River is crowded by guide companies, with ever-increasing pressure from saturated areas like Bozeman. It is time to get a handle on this problem statewide, unless we turn our majestic Montana into just another Cabela’s Disneyland style commercial destination. The well-funded lobbyists for the guide industry are now working hard to buy our rivers. May FWP resist the organized pressure and reduce the number of these companies, to keep the experience from being forever destroyed.
Boy – O – Boy but Friday was a banner day for the ultra-lefties on the Opinion page of The Montana Standard. First up was the Guest View by Heather White. Writing about “Global Warming” (aka “Climate Change”) she states that she is an environmentalist trained to “use scientific facts and figures to convince people to protect the planet”. Then goes on to quote the International Panel on Climate Change that we only have a decade left to reverse the “dramatic effects of global warming”. I guess she hasn’t yet read that the earth has been undergoing these climate changes every 100,000 years or so for the past 3 million years, caused basically by perturbations in Earth’s orbit via interactions with the planet Jupiter, the second biggest gorilla in our solar system (Richard Alley, “The Two Mile Time Machine, 2000). But this time it’s going be different, right?
Then there’s “The rule of fear” by Kathy Belke of Stevensville, bashing Republican senators for not hearing more testimony and reviewing more documents in the trial phase of President Trump’s phony impeachment effort by the Democrats. I thought all that was supposed to be done in the House phase by those genius leaders Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler. Why should we expect our Senate to continue their charade of an impeachment investigation? She says we voters will have to decide come November. She’s right, and I hope she doesn’t have a stroke over the results.
But the real kicker was James C. Nelson’s piece “Senate’s sorry example”, inferring that the Senate didn’t “actually try all articles of impeachment”. The house only brought two. What else did he have in mind? After reading all his “picky points”, I thought his concerns applied more to Speaker Pelosi and the House investigations than the Senate.
The truth is Democratic leadership still cannot accept that Trump beat Hillary in 2016. They cannot accept that Trump has been our president now going on 4 years, and has accomplished miraculous things for America. Everything for securing our borders to dumping hordes of mind-numbing Obama-era regulations to improving employment for all Americans to making possible a stock market that has been surging since his election. No, what I find sorry is that Mr. Nelson was once a justice on Montana’s Supreme Court, and, after reading his little diatribe, I find that worrisome too.
The latest public spectacle put on by the Senate Republicans was as blatant a disregard for the rules of law and order as I have ever witnessed.
The jackals who were the instigators of unscrupulous acts need to reprimanded.
Any society that would allow this type of conduct can not long endure as a champion of freedom and justice. This spectacle is alarming as to how fast law and order can be buried under greed, graft, corruption, lawlessness and complacency. What is the next move???
BLM has no designated motor-free hiking trails in the Pryors. (The Forest Service has just one - less than two miles.) BLM’s proposed Travel Plan designates only a couple dozen miles of interesting motor-free trails. Unfortunately, BLM may open many of these new trails to mountain bikes.
Brett French’s article “Appraising the Pryors” (The Billings Gazette, Jan. 26) reports BLM discussed “one-way trails” and trimming vegetation “to improve sight lines” to reduce speeding bike collisions. Wouldn’t it make more sense to designate quiet and peaceful trails limited to foot traffic — without hazards of racing mountain bikes? There are already over 200 miles of mountain bikes routes in the Pryors. I’ve ridden several. But there are places bikes don’t belong.
BLM staff suggested one proposed three-mile trail “seemed an unlikely mountain bike route because of its length... Six to 12 miles is closer to the distance that cyclists are looking for.” Does BLM think that only trails too short for mountain biking should be proposed for quiet walking? Hikers and equestrians like longer trails, too.
To her credit, Jenny Alexander, BLM outdoor recreation planner, noted the Acton Recreation Area “used to be pretty quiet” but has turned into a popular downhill mountain biking area since bike trails were built. It’s fun riding bikes downhill fast. But BLM should avoid this fate for quiet trails in the Pryors by designating mountain bike-free trails. As Alexander said, people go to the Pryors “for the solitude and to get away from the crowds.”
NW Energy has filed its 1,100-page plan “Protective Order” to the Montana Public Service Commission asking the PSC’s approval for it plan to buy a large share of Colstrip Power Plant. In approving this proposal, the PSC would commit NWE’s customers to paying costs, currently undisclosed, related to its share purchase.
Protective Orders are used to keep confidential information that could compromise NWE’s competitiveness in a market environment. Only, NWE is a monopoly and doesn’t operate in a market environment. NWE is requesting that PSC keep secret the impact of the cost ratepayers will have to pay to for NWE’s long-term customer debt requirements needed to pay for future replacement costs of the failing/badly damaged superheated Colstrip Unit 4, about $20 million.
Also in the works is the estimated total cleanup of Colstrip of $400 million, a bill that will be unevenly split among the 4-unit power plant’s six owners. And more, shielded from the public were cost estimates of capital expenditure projections and operating budget for the power plant.
NWE’s refusal to be transparent about increasing costs required to operate an aging power plant undermines its false claim that “this will be good for ratepayers”. We all are aware that there is a reason investors and utilities are exiting dirty and expensive coal. Avista Corp. is proposing a settlement in Washington in which it would not agree to any Colstrip-related expense that would prolong the life of the plant. Why should the PSC agree to ask Montanans to do so?
Please write to the Public Service Commission at 1701 Prospect, Helena MT 59601 or phone 406-444-6199 or visit web site: psc.mt.gov. Protect your rate costs and future transparency thereof by asking the PSC to deny NWE’s request for a “Protective Order”.