Missoula moms say “Shame on You” to Senator Baucus for voting against background checks

photo  About a dozen people, including moms pushing babies in strollers, held a small rally today outside the Missoula offices of Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester over the issue of gun control. Organizer Nancy de Pastino of the group “Moms Demand Action” says they wanted to thank Tester for his support of expanded background checks on gun buyers, and to say “shame on you” to Senator Baucus for voting against the expansion.

“”It’s not infringing on anybody’s Second Amendment rights,” said de Pastino.”The whole point is to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the severely mentally ill.”

photo  Baucus’s office was closed during the lunch hour protest. The senator has said he voted against the background check expansion because that’s what the majority of Montanans wanted him to do. He says if a new bill is introduced he will evaluate it based on the feedback he gets from Montanans.
photo    Maggie Angle brought her two young daughters in a stroller to today’s rally. She says the Newtown shootings changed everything.

“”As a mom, obviously it hit really close to home,” Angle said.”The idea that you could send your children to school just like any other day…and something completely and totally devastating happens.”

Angle says she supports the Second Amendment but believes some measures, like expanded background checks, are reasonable




Closing the door on mining in the North Fork Flathead

The North Fork of the Flathead River borders Glacier National Park's western edge.

The North Fork of the Flathead River borders Glacier National Park’s western edge.

A Bill making its way through Congress would move a step closer to closing the door on mining in the North Fork Flathead. The North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2013 was recently reintroduced by Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester.

The Act takes US Forest Service

land next to Glacier National Park off the table for future oil and gas development. Senator Baucus’s office said more than 80-percent of the leases held for the North Fork have been voluntarily retired by the lease holders. This bill doesn’t affect the remaining lease holders, but efforts are ongoing to encourage the retirement of the remaining leases.

Glacier Program Manager Michael Jamison with the National Parks Conservation Association said the North Fork Watershed Protection Act follows up an agreement reached between former Governor Brian Schweitzer and former British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell in a Memorandum  of Understanding (MOU) in 2010 to protect the cross-border watershed. The North Fork springs from headwaters north of the border in a coal-rich part of British Columbia.

The Canadians followed up on the M-O-U in 2011 with legislation that made the headwaters area off limits for industrial development.

Jamison said the conversation is continuing with Canadians to preserve the area. He called the area unique and remarkable as an example of an intact ecosystem with the same predator-prey relationships that existed when Europeans first arrived.

“There’s really nothing else like it,” Jamison said. He described the North Fork as ecological and economic headwaters.

“We have 30-years of trans-boundary history relative to the conservation of this place, and there’s a lot of science that’s been done, and there’s a lot of interest that’s been placed on it, with Glacier Park and Flathead Lake immediately downstream, there’s tremendous interest from both sides of the political aisle,” Jamison said.

Senator Baucus has been involved with the North Fork of the Flathead since he was first elected as a Representative in 1974. Baucus pushed for the Flathead River to be designated a Wild and Scenic River, which it was in 1976. In 2010 some of the oil and gas companies that voluntarily gave up their leases in the North Fork include ConocoPhilips, Chevron, and a subsidiary of Exxon / Mobile.

Postal Service cutback to help or harm Montana?

A regional Postal Service spokesman seems to think it’s a good thing.
One of Montana’s U-S Senators isn’t convinced.
As you’ve probably heard, the USPS will stop delivering mail on Saturdays, but continue to disburse packages 6 days a week. That move is expected to begin the week of August 5th and could save the financially beleaguered Postal Service about 2-billion-dollars annually. Regional spokesman Pete Nowacki says the move accentuates one of the Postal Service’s bright-spots: package deliveries. In short, he says people want – and need – their stuff:

Here’s the argument laid out by the USPS.

And this is Tester’s press release:

Senator Jon Tester today criticized the U.S. Postal Service’s proposal to cut six-day mail delivery.  Under the plan, the Postal Service will continue delivering packages six days a week, but stop regular mail delivery on Saturdays:

“This is an irresponsible change proposed by Postal Service executives that refuse to share in the sacrifice they are demanding of everyday Montanans.  Six-day mail delivery lets folks run their businesses and get everyday necessities, and this decision will further slow down mail delivery in Montana and hurt Montana businesses.  I will keep fighting to pass strong, bipartisan postal reform that preserves efficient mail delivery and holds Postal Service executives accountable.”

Tester backed a bipartisan Senate plan last year that gave the Postal Service the flexibility it needs to restructure while protecting postal service in rural states like Montana, but the House of Representatives refused to vote on the plan.  Tester also amended the bill to cut Postal Service executives’ pay and deny bonuses. Tester, a member of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, also announced that the Committee will hold a hearing on the future of the U.S. Postal Service on February 13. The Postal Service is struggling financially in part due to the 2006 law – enacted before Tester was a member of the Senate – that requires the Postal Service to prepay retirement benefits of postal employees at a rate higher than necessary. 

Sally Mauk talks the politics of gun control with political scientist Rob Saldin…

NRAPresident Obama’s gun control proposals face a tough road in Congress. The lobbying power of the National Rifle Association is immense, and many members, including all of Montana’s delegation, are longtime supporters of the Second Amendment. In this feature interview, News Director Sally Mauk talks with University of Montana political science professor Rob Saldin about the politics of gun control…

Campaign Beat Nov 9 – Sally, Chuck and Mike give their final thoughts on the 2012 election…

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk, Mike Dennison

On this final edition of “Campaign Beat”, our weekly political analysis program, News Director Sally Mauk talks with Lee newspaper reporters Chuck Johnson and Mike Dennison about who won, who lost, and what happens next…



Sally Mauk and UM political scientists Rob Saldin and Chris Muste dissect the election…

Sally Mauk, Chris Muste, Rob Saldin

The smoke has finally – mostly – settled on the 2012 election and the winners and losers are assessing where they go from here. News Director Sally Mauk sat down with University of Montana political scientists Rob Saldin and Christopher Muste today to
sort out some of the drama of the Montana results…

Sally Mauk and political scientists Chris Muste and Rob Saldin preview the election…

Sally Mauk, Chris Muste, Rob Saldin

The long campaign season ends tomorrow when the votes are counted and we find out the winners and losers. Polls show almost all the top tier races in Montana, including the race for U.S. Senate and the governor’s seat, are in a virtual tie. News Director Sally Mauk sat down today with our political analysts – University of Montana political science professors Rob Saldin and Christopher Muste to preview the possible election outcomes…