The Billings Outpost

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Landowners win with HB 417

During this year’s legislative session, lawmakers and Gov. Steve Bullock put the interests of landowners ahead of the corporations that condemn property for private, for-profit purposes when they passed HB 417, a bill that helps restore some fairness in the eminent domain process.

It was sponsored by Rep. Kelly Flynn, R-Townsend.

While Montana’s property owners are eager to build our state’s economy (most are business owners themselves), I believe that the power of eminent domain should only be used for public projects that advance the public good. The process should be fair, and landowners should receive just compensation for the property taken.

HB 417 makes the condemnation process more fair by requiring that the entity condemning the property give a landowner a final written offer before initiating condemnation proceedings, preventing bad actors from playing manipulative games with various offers that leave the landowner unsure of where they stand.

There is more work to do to restore balance to our eminent domain laws, but HB 417 was an important start and now a good law.

Tom Reeves



Last Updated on Thursday, 11 July 2013 14:56

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Common sense and guns

Editorial critic Jack McKenzie sounds a bit paranoid stating that a May 2 Outpost editorial suggested “repeal” or “taking the power out of the Second Amendment.”

The Outpost editorial certainly did not suggest such an extreme position, but McKenzie’s response proved the editorial’s point that some gun advocates “imagine that the founders would have unhesitatingly ascribed constitutional protection to the array of weapons available today.”

With the array of weapons and the serious social problems of today, it is only sensible to do careful background checks to keep those weapons out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.  That is not “repeal” of the Second Amendment, or even “weakening it.” That is plain modern common sense.

Joan Hurdle



Last Updated on Thursday, 04 July 2013 10:59

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Ask for Tester’s help

It’s not just me.

It seems that everyone I know has been touched personally by Alzheimer’s.  My precious mom slipped away from us, day-by-heartbreaking day, over the course of 10 years. My beloved father-in-law suffers now. So do a staggering 21,000 Montanans and 5 million across the country. About 15.4 million Americans are Alzheimer caregivers. And the numbers are rapidly growing.

We are at a critical moment in the epidemic, and it is urgent that our leaders ensure the promise of the first-ever National Alzheimer’s Plan — it will advance research, improve the quality of care given to those with Alzheimer’s, and increase support for the millions of caregivers across America.

We Montanans are blessed by Sen. Jon Tester and his dedication to our families. Please join me in urging the senator to support a strong National Alzheimer’s Plan with the needed resources, including $100 million in fiscal year 2014, for Alzheimer’s research, education, outreach, and caregiver support activities.

Alzheimer’s is already America’s most expensive disease. It is devastating physically, emotionally and financially to all it touches.  And the number of families impacted by Alzheimer’s will only continue to escalate if resources are not allocated now. Please contact Sen. Tester as soon as you can and ask for his crucial support to help Americans affected by Alzheimer’s.

Joanie Tooley

Alzheimer’s Association Montana



Last Updated on Thursday, 04 July 2013 10:58

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Democrats’ war on women

Michelle Bachmann announced she is not going to run for re-election. The Democrat news shows learned this from her video speech which she sent to her Facebook friends, whom she wanted to learn of it first.

She is a victim of the Democrats’ War on Women. They have attacked any and all women who dare to speak up about their conservative ideals and morals. Women who are members of the Republican Party, and TEA Party Movement supporters, like Bachmann and Sarah Palin.

Also, other conservative women in Congress who are not in the limelight as much.

I know highly intelligent and conservative women who are involved in politics. They are also victims of the Democrats’ War on Women. They believe in freedom and the Constitution, but have to battle all the way for our rights. 

More power to them. Michelle Bachmann has had to deal with the Democrats’ attack on her helpers since her run for president. Supposedly they didn’t spend donations to Bachmann properly.

Of course, since the Democrats control the media (except FOX), the public is led to believe she is just automatically guilty - of what someone else might have done.

One can find her speech on the internet, so you don’t have to rely on gossip for your news. The Democrat news shows have only shown clips of her speech, which of course they twist around to their liking. 

I hate to see Bachmann leave Congress. However, she has vowed to keep up the fight for our freedom. I am glad someone does it.


“Conservative Bill” Ackerley

Wyarno, Wyo.


Last Updated on Thursday, 04 July 2013 10:58

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Avoid Otter Creek coal

I am writing in response to the increasing interest in mining Otter Creek coal. It is my opinion that this development will be not only harmful to the immediate community surrounding Otter Creek, but also to the state of Montana as a whole. 

Decline in the demand for coal has been fueled recently by a rise in alternate sources, such as cheaper natural gas. The environmental impacts on air quality due to emissions are causing coal power plants to be shut down; this coupled with a decline in plant production makes coal a questionable investment. The Otter Creek coal is even less desirable due to high sodium content. This means coal from Otter Creek will be destined for Asian markets.

Knowing that we will be destroying our own state to ship a product to Asia to be burned and release pollutants into the air is a disturbing thought. As Montanans we should be focused on an effort to minimize our impact on the environment, and to become leaders in setting an example for moving towards America’s energy independence.

It is hard to put a monetary value to the land destroyed to access the coal, the air and water polluted to ship it overseas, and the cultural impacts of such an operation on the communities it touches. In the end it seems clear to me that the products and profits from such a venture will go to Asia, coal companies and railroads; and the bill will come to Montana.

Chris Blackwell



Last Updated on Thursday, 04 July 2013 10:57

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Avoid federal cutbacks

Bless the dedicated federal employees who work for a cause greater than themselves. Our president and Congress have frozen their salaries for two years for a savings of $103 billion.

Yes, one hundred and three billion dollars. This is to the disparagement of federal services. We are the Giant Piggy Bank!

The House passed H.R. 273, which will extend the pay freeze through 2013.  On top of the pay freeze, sequestration became a reality. Federal agencies are putting their employees on furlough for as many as 22 days this year, which equals a 20 percent pay cut.

Montana will feel the pain. There are more than 12,500 federal employees in the state. There are more than 12,500 federal retirees. We are not takers, we are contributors. We didn’t cause this financial mess, but we are paying for it.

People’s livelihoods are at stake. There are proposals to cut retirement benefits. Fundamental services are already suffering. Eighty-five percent of federal employees are outside the beltway.

Local TV stations have shown the national park cutbacks. Airport lines are slower going through security. Lines are longer going into some federal buildings to get through security with the number of entrances cut back. 

Our senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester, know about federal employees and their importance to the Montana economy. A note to remind them would not hurt. Our freshman Congressman Steve Daines needs to hear from those of you who are affected by the pay freeze and sequestration.  He supported H.R. 273. Don’t stand by and watch Congress weaken our federal workforce and the vital services it provides us all.

Janice Erfle

National Active and Retired Federal Employees



Last Updated on Thursday, 04 July 2013 10:57

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