Thursday, January 31, 2013

LGBT issues in the Legislature: Dallas Erickson strikes again

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 4:18 PM

Despite gains by the LGBT rights movement this past year, including the Montana Republican Party’s June removal of a plank that for years called to re-criminalize gay sex, Dallas Erickson isn’t giving up on his fight to preserve Montana’s long-standing prohibitions against homosexuality.

For years, Erickson, founder of a group called Help Our Moral Environment, has testified in front of the Montana Legislature about the perils of homosexual sex. Nearly every time a proposal to further gay equality comes before lawmakers, Erickson is there to oppose it. His most recent effort to fend off the gay rights movement garnered support earlier this month from Republican Rep. Nancy Ballance of Hamilton. Ballance worked with Erickson to draft a bill, now called "Legislative Council 1854," or LC 1854, that aims to create a separate criminal penalty for sexual assault or child molestation, if the crime is perpetrated by an individual who is the same biological sex as the victim.

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“That should be an additional charge if it’s a deviate rape,” Erickson says. “It’s additional harm.”

In 1997, the Montana Supreme Court struck down the portion of the state’s deviate sexual conduct law that made gay sex a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. Since then, progressive lawmakers have attempted to remove the law from the books. Republican opposition has prevented that from happening.

Missoula Democratic Sen. Tom Facey estimates that he’s introduced legislation to erase the homosexual acts prohibition during four previous sessions. This year, he’s trying again with Senate Bill 107, which is slated for a second reading next week. “I think it will get a good vote out of the Senate,” Facey says.

He’s got reason to be optimistic. During the last session, the Senate passed a bill that mirrors SB 107. The House, however, let the legislation die in committee.

In light of that track record, Erickson hopes that the House will approve provisions included in LC 1854.

It remains to be seen, however, if Erickson will be able to make his proposal fly. He admits his effort faces challenges. Most notably, Erickson says he’s short on resources, making it tough for him to launch an aggressive lobbying effort. Further complicating issues is the fact that, as of Thursday morning, Erickson didn’t have a sponsor to carry LC 1854.

While Ballance worked with Erickson to draft LC 1854, she says she’s too busy to carry the bill. So busy, in fact, that Ballance says she hasn’t yet read the proposed legislation very carefully. “I don’t know that I’m for or against, at this point,” she says.

In light of those challenges, Erickson says he might simply wait until Facey’s bill reaches the House. Perhaps then he can persuade lawmakers to use language from LC 1854 to amend Facey’s bill. Rather than simply striking the prohibition against consensual homosexual sex, as Facey proposes, Erickson wants to make same-sex rape, sexual assault and child molestation a felony, above and beyond existing punishments for forced intercourse and child abuse.

“I’m thinking of just waiting,” Erickson says. “SB 107 is probably going to go through the Senate. I might just wait until it gets out and try to amend it.”

Photo of Dallas Erickson by Sarah Daisy Linkmark

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As if we needed another reason to drink more beer: Big Sky Brewing is helping to fix Brennan's Wave

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 12:44 PM

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Brennan's Wave is broken. It needs about $50,000 to fix a crack. That's a lot of money, but worth it because Brennan's Wave is awesome.

Big Sky Brewing was a primary partner in building the wave back in 2006. Big Sky, which brews a ton of delicious beers, is concerned about Brennan's Wave's crack. So, Big Sky has pledged to donate $1 toward the wave's repairs for every case of beer sold in Missoula County.

“All Big Sky beer sold anywhere within county boundaries, cans, bottles, kegs, and $1 per Moose Drool growler sale in our taproom will receive a matching contribution from us," said brewery co-founder Bjorn Nabozney in a press release. He added that Big Sky Beer brands available include Moose Drool, Scape Goat, Trout Slayer, Big Sky IPA, Cowboy Coffee Porter, and a new flavor that will be released the last week February. “We’re excited about this latest beer, as it’s a new one for us. We think it will be well received by Missoula and help add to our giving,” he said.

Lots of good news here. So, drink up.

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Rockies Today, Jan. 31

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

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After public outcry, Glacier National Park will keep red buses on the road
One of the provisions contained in the National Park Service's contract to operate concessions in Glacier National Park in Montana for the next 16 years was a provision to replace 18 of the iconic red buses with alternative fuel vehicles, but after considerable public response, the Park Service is rewriting the contract.
Flathead Beacon; Jan. 31

Montana land trust completes conservation deal on 266 acres near Helena
The Prickly Pear Land Trust has completed a deal that puts a conservation easement on 266 acres of land near Helena on which a subdivision had been proposed, and 230 of those acres are now owned by a rancher, with the remaining 36 acres donated to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks for a future fishing access site.
Helena Independent Record; Jan. 31

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Part-time Whitefish resident Jim Nabors, aka Gomer Pyle, marries Stan Cadwallader

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 3:30 PM

And now for this week's installment of Montana celebrity news.

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Even if you didn't watch the television shows (or the reruns), you'd probably recognize Gomer Pyle as the simple-minded auto mechanic from Mayberry, N.C. Jim Nabors, the actor who played Gomer—first on "The Andy Griffith Show" and then on the spinoff "Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C." in the 1960s—has had a home in Whitefish for decades.

Celebrities living in Montana is not a new phenomenon, though Nabors hasn't necessarily been the highest profile of them. He was mentioned in a story by former Indy editor Brad Tyer on Blacktable.com. But other than that, not much has been made of the amiable actor's presence here.

Nabors, 82, made news today, however, for recently marrying his longtime partner Stan Cadwallader, 64. The couple, who first met in 1975 and also reside in Honolulu, married in Washington, a state that made gay marriage legal last month. According to US Weekly, Nabors has never really been "out" to the media before, though he's never hidden his 38-year relationship.

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Sportsmen seek definitive answer on corner-crossing

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 11:30 AM

A little more than a week ago, the Montana Sportsmen Alliance launched an online petition calling on the 2013 Montana Legislature to pass House Bill 235, a measure legalizing corner-crossing in the state. The group hoped to see at least some interest in the petition. But MSA co-founder Vito Quatraro was stunned when, by the end of the first day, the group already had nearly 1,000 signatures—many from out-of-state supporters keen to improve access to public lands.

Montana’s landscape is a checkerboard of private and public property, with an estimated 1.3 million acres of state and federal land locked where the public can’t get to them. House Bill 235 tried to change that this week, but failed in committee on a party line vote.
  • Chad Harder
  • Montana’s landscape is a checkerboard of private and public property, with an estimated 1.3 million acres of state and federal land locked where the public can’t get to them. House Bill 235 tried to change that this week, but failed in committee on a party line vote.

“Other states are watching us,” Quatraro says. “If the precedent gets set, you’ll see other states try to bring forth a similar bill. This is not unique to Montana.”

In other words, Montana was primed this week to be the first state to answer one of the biggest questions facing public access in the West: Is corner-crossing legal, or illegal? But precedent passed us by Wednesday morning; HB 235 failed in the House Judiciary Committee with all Republican committee members—including the bill’s own bipartisan co-sponsor, Laurel Rep. Krayton Kerns—voting against the measure.

The bill’s primary sponsor, Missoula Democratic Rep. Ellie Hill, now intends to blast the bill to the floor of the House and let the entire body decide its immediate fate.

Corner-crossing is sportsmen slang for the act of accessing a parcel of land by stepping—or, in some cases, fence-hopping—over the point at which four parcels meet. It’s not as easy as it sounds when you consider Montana’s patchwork of public and private lands; step over private property to get to an adjacent piece of federal or state property and, technically speaking, you’re trespassing. The state currently has an estimated 1.3 million acres of land-locked public land that, unless you’re an adjacent landowner, you can’t get to. And while Montana’s trespassing laws are largely vague on the subject, most consider corner-crossing illegal.

The legal debate first came to Hill’s attention a decade ago. She distinctly remembers hanging out in her parents’ restaurant in Idaho, listening to a pair of “old-timers” just back from a Montana hunting trip bemoan their run-in with the sticky nature of corner-crossing. It’s the kind of story you’ll hear around campfires all over the West, she says. A similar attempt to legalize corner-crossing by then-Rep. Paul Clark failed in 2005. Hill felt the chances for success this time around were significantly better, given the increased strength of sportsmen organizations in recent years and the apparent support of Kerns, who chairs the Judiciary Committee.

“There are a lot of other issues that, in the end, we’re just Montanans,” says Hill, who worked up the bill’s language with three University of Montana law students. “Hunting and sportsmen and public lands—a lot of us have a lot in common.”

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Rockies Today, Jan. 30

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

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Bill to limit small power projects gets preliminary OK in Montana House
Montana state Rep. Keith Regier's House Bill 188 would limit the size of small, independent power projects eligible for special contracts with NorthWestern Energy and other utilities in the state, and the bill got initial approval on a 63-37 vote in the House on Tuesday, and faces another vote before it can move to the Senate.
Montana Standard; Jan. 29

USFS says Vail Resorts' summer plan in Colorado leads the way
Ski resorts across the nation are working on ways to entice visitors during the summer, and White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said Vail's "Epic Discovery," set to open at the Colorado resort in July, will set the standard for other such summer projects.
Aspen Times; Jan. 30

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Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Wageni ni baraka is a Swahili proverb that means "guests are a blessing." That's not always true, of course. Sometimes guests can be a boring inconvenience or a messy burden. But for you in the coming weeks, Aries, I'm guessing the proverb will be 98 percent correct. The souls who come calling are likely to bestow unusually fine benefits. They may provide useful clues or missing links you've been searching for. They might inspire you to see things about yourself that you really need to know, and they might even give you shiny new playthings. Open your mind and heart to the unexpected blessings.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rockies Today, Jan. 29

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

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Japan eases restrictions on U.S. beef
On Friday, Japan will begin allowing meat from cattle in the United States 30 months old or younger into the country, easing the 20-month age restriction put in place a decade ago, a bit of good news for the beef industry that has been hit hard by drought and rising costs.
New York Times; Jan. 29

Idaho ranchers angry about BLM's grazing limits in Owyhee County
Bureau of Land Management officials said they had no option other than reducing grazing on three of four allotments in Idaho's Owyhee County, given the order handed down by U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill that required the federal agency to review 75 grazing permits.
Idaho Statesman; Jan. 29

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Monday, January 28, 2013

Remembering Ken "The Stinger" Staninger

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 11:39 AM

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Missoula sports agent Ken Staninger, who represented hundreds of professional football players over the last 30-plus years, including many former Grizzlies, died Saturday of pancreatic cancer. The Stinger, as he was affectionately known, was 63.

Back in 2007, the Indy profiled Staninger leading up to Super Bowl XLI. One of his clients, offensive lineman Jake Scott, was starting in the game for the Indianapolis Colts, and Staninger was planning on attending. In his typical fashion, Staninger maintained a low-key and blue-collar approach to the event. In fact, he was combining it with a meeting with another prospective client.

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“I don’t go for the party,” he said at the time. “I’m not that kind of agent.”

The type of agent he was — a throwback, as I wrote at the time — is so important and admirable in a mega-popular sport that often lacks perspective these days. But Staninger stuck to his guns and managed to maintain his foothold in the business, representing workingman clients through the years like Scott, former Griz and current Philadelphia Eagle Colt Anderson, and Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien, just to name a few.

If you missed that story the first time, here's a link to it, in its entirety.

Services to celebrate Ken's life are scheduled for Sat., Feb. 2, at 2 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn. A reception will follow.

Top photo of Staninger in 2007 by Sarah Daisy Lindmark

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Rockies Today, Jan. 28

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

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BLM reviews trail proposal in Montana
The Bureau of Land Management is reviewing a series of non-motorized trails proposed by the Montana Mountain Bike Alliance in the Doherty Mountain area north of Cardwell that would provide an economic benefit to an area that will be greatly affected by the closure of the Golden Sunlight Mine, currently planned for in 2017.
Montana Standard; Jan. 28

Washington, Montana companies team up to build Alberta oilfield equipment
Greenberry Industrial of Vancouver, Wash., and American Pipe and Supply of Cut Bank are working together to build an assembly facility near the Montana community along the "high and wide" route designated by the Montana Department of Transportation to put together equipment to be used in Alberta's oilsands.
Great Falls Tribune; Jan. 28

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