Friday, March 29, 2013

Rockies Today, March 29

Posted By on Fri, Mar 29, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

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Western lawmakers furious about demand for return of Secure Rural Schools funds
The U.S. Forest Service is requesting the return of $17.6-million in payments made to counties under the Secure Rural Schools payment program because the payments were sent out without accounting for sequestration cuts, and in Oregon, counties have been asked to return $3.6 million in payments.
Portland Oregonian; March 29

Utah's loss of $9M in federal mineral royalties will hit rural counties hardest
Royalties from federal mineral leases flow into the Community Impact Fund in Utah, which disburses the money for such things as road projects in rural counties where oil and gas development is occurring, but with a $9 million reduction in those funds between now and the end of September, projects in mostly rural Utah may go unfunded.
Deseret News; March 29

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rockies Today, March 28

Posted By on Thu, Mar 28, 2013 at 11:10 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

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Montana's federal mineral royalties payment cut by $2.5 million
The Interior Department notified the 35 states that receive federal mineral royalties what their share of a $110 million budget cut would be, with Wyoming's $53 million the highest, followed by New Mexico at $26 million. Story has a sidebar showing all 35 states and their share of the budget cut.
Great Falls Tribune (AP); March 28

Obama administration rolls out plan to help wildlife adapt to climate change
On Tuesday, the Obama administration released the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, a five-year, nationwide plan to help species that are at risk as warming temperatures change their historical habitat.
Los Angeles Times; March 28

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Rockies Today, March 27

Posted By on Wed, Mar 27, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

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Idaho legislator holds multistate meeting on sage grouse
Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke hosted a meeting last weekend in Salt Lake City with legislators and gubernatorial advisers from Idaho, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada to find a way for western states to work together to stave off the federal government's listing of sage grouse as endangered, and one of the first decisions the group made was to extend an invitation to Oregon, Montana and Colorado to send representatives to the next meeting set for April 9 in Salt Lake City.
Idaho Statesman; March 27

Colorado town to lose its largest private employer in May
Total Merchant Services announced it is closing its offices in Basalt, putting 123 of its 140 workers in the Colorado town out of work by May 28, and relocating 17 others to its offices in California.
Aspen Times; March 27

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Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Mar 27, 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): I was too lazy to write your horoscope this week, so I went to a website that hawks bumper stickers and copied a few of their slogans to use as your "advice." Here you go. 1. Never follow a rule off a cliff. 2. Have the courage to honor your peculiarities. 3. It's never too late to have a rebellious adolescence. 4. Criticize by creating. 5. Never make anything simple and efficient when it can be elaborate and wonderful. 6. Complex problems have simple, easy-to-understand, morally clear, wrong answers. APRIL FOOL! I lied. I wasn't lazy at all. I worked hard to ensure that all the suggestions I just provided are in strict accordance with the astrological gestalt.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tester comes out for gay marriage

Posted By on Tue, Mar 26, 2013 at 5:55 PM

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Three hours after Montana Sen. Jon Tester came out in favor of gay marriage today on Facebook, his announcement garnered 2,020 “likes,” 727 shares and 244 comments, many of them from LGBT people and their allies.

As one woman commented on the site, “Wow! I was so proud to read about this today. Thank you so much for standing up for ALL Montanans!”

Tester’s support of gay equality came just as the U.S. Supreme Court began deliberating the issue today. It seemed an abrupt turnaround for the freshly reelected senator who previously pointed to a 2004 law passed by Montana voters that limits marriage to a union between a man and a woman, when stating that he doesn’t support such unions.

National media jumped on the news, including front page stories on Salon, Politico, Washington Post ("Why Democrats are racing to back gay marriage") and Huffington Post, which listed the 10 Democratic senators still against gay marriage. But not all of the feedback is supportive, however. As one Facebook commenter wrote, “You have zero integrity. And why is there only a ‘like’ button?”

Here’s what Tester wrote in his announcement:

“Montanans believe in the right to make a good life for their families. How they define a family should be their business and their business alone. I’m proud to support marriage equality because no one should be able to tell a Montanan or any American who they can love and who they can marry.” -JT

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Rockies Today, March 26

Posted By on Tue, Mar 26, 2013 at 11:01 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

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Utah judge makes initial ruling on stream access law
On Monday, the Utah State District Judge Derek Pullan rejected most of the state's defense of the 2010 law that restricts public access to rivers where they cross private lands, although the judge stopped short of overturning the law and said he needed to hear more evidence about the law.
Salt Lake Tribune; March 26

Legislation tweaking Colorado water law heads to the state House
Despite massive changes to her Senate Bill 13-19, Colorado state Sen. Gail Schwartz said the bill that would not penalize agricultural users of water for curtailing use during drought, is an important first step in changing the state's water laws to address dwindling supplies.
Aspen Times; March 26

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Monday, March 25, 2013

Rockies Today, March 25

Posted By on Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 11:07 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

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Montana Supreme Court to hear stream access case at MSU
On April 29, the Montana Supreme Court will hold a daylong session at Montana State University and the lone case on its docket is an appeal of 2012 decision on a stream access case that has pitted public access proponents against private property rights advocates.
Montana Standard; March 24

Colorado U.S. Sen. Bennet introduces Thompson Divide Protection Act
On Friday, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet introduced the Thompson Divide Withdrawal and Protection Act, which would withdraw unleased minerals in the 221,000-acre area in Colorado from future oil-and-gas development, and provide a process by which existing leases could be retired.
Aspen Times; March 23

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How to defend your right to whistle (and more from In Other News)

Posted By on Mon, Mar 25, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Curses, Foiled Again
After agreeing to give a stranger a ride to a convenience store in Spotsylvania County, Va., a 29-year-old man bought some items at the store and returned to his pickup truck. The stranger assaulted and robbed him, then hopped into a waiting car, which drove off. The victim called 911 and followed in his truck but lost sight of the getaway car. Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Polliard kept searching and found the vehicle 10 miles from the robbery scene with its blinkers flashing after it ran out of gas. He arrested suspects Johnny Ray Brooks, 28, and Jon Dean Kimmel, 37, who were standing beside the vehicle. (Fredericksburg’s The Free Lance-Star)

Police investigating a drive-by shooting that wounded 13 people in the District of Columbia identified Craig Steven Wilson, 19, as a suspect after surveillance videos showed shots fired from a vehicle registered to him at the scene. Wilson was also wearing a court-ordered electronic ankle bracelet with a GPS tracking device, which indicated his movements coincided with those of one of the shooters. (The Washington Post)

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Rockies Today, March 22

Posted By on Fri, Mar 22, 2013 at 11:05 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

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BLM releases updated plan for 1.2M acres on Montana's Hi-Line
The Bureau of Land Management released its draft management plan for 1.2-million acres of its lands along the Montana's Hi-Line, and the agency's preferred alternative would give priority protection to 11,000 of 386,000 acres of land identified as having wilderness characteristics, with the remaining 375,000 acres having fewer restrictions.
Great Falls Tribune; March 22

Montana's annual wolf survey finds lower numbers but more packs
For the first time since 2004, Montana's wolf population has decreased, with the 2012 survey indicating there are at least 625 wolves in 147 packs in the state, with 59 wolves in 13 packs in the Bitterroot Valley.
Ravalli Republic; March 22

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Republicans embrace ALEC in new national report

Posted By on Thu, Mar 21, 2013 at 3:15 PM

The Republican National Committee unveiled a comprehensive 100-page report earlier this week containing detailed strategies it hopes will carry the GOP to victory in 2014. The report—now the template for the RNC’s Growth and Opportunity Project—marks a concerted effort by Republicans to revise the party’s playbook and appeal to voter groups that conservatives have so far failed to win over.

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  • Courtesy PRWatch

How earnest that desire is to usher more Hispanics, African-Americans and women into the Republican fold, however, is debatable. Buried on page 67 of the report, under recommendations for reviewing and revising state campaign finance laws, is a measure calling for the development of model legislation that can be replicated in statehouses nationwide. Among the organizations the RNC says “may wish to take a leading role” in the effort is the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a group with a less-than-inclusive track record on minority issues.

Watchdog groups have repeatedly decried ALEC, which strives to give state legislators and corporate representatives an equal voice and vote on issue-based task forces, as nothing short of a corporate “bill mill.” ALEC’s extensive library of model legislation includes a bill based on Florida’s 2005 “stand your ground” law, a bill requiring parental consent for minors seeking an abortion, and a bill inspired by Arizona’s hotly contested—and constitutionally questionable—anti-illegal immigration measure. Montana Rep. David Howard introduced two immigration reform bills in the 2013 Legislature bearing similar or identical language to ALEC’s controversial model.

ALEC’s been a constant player in the Montana Legislature over the years. Another bill introduced this session—Rep. Jonathan McNiven’s House Bill 390—contained several verbatim passages from an ALEC model establishing a special needs scholarship program that would incentive enrollment of disabled students in nonpublic schools. The bill died in committee. ALEC recently posted hundreds of its model bills online in response to pressure from watchdogs, including a copy of what it calls the "Special Needs Scholarship Program Act."

The fact the RNC would cite ALEC as a possible leader in model legislation seems odd enough, considering the overarching goal of diversifying the party’s voter base. But the report lists only the RNC and the Republican State Leadership Committee as additional examples of organizations who could lead the model legislation effort—raising ALEC to the level of an equal. That particular section of the Growth and Opportunity Project report may only address model legislation on state campaign finance issues. Then again, ALEC’s effort to quash same-day voter registration was partly the reason dozens of corporate members abandoned the nonprofit last year.

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