The Billings Outpost

Group seeks carbon tax

Story and Photo - By STEPHEN DOW - For The Outpost

Around 20 people gathered at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship on Saturday morning for the inaugural meeting of the Billings chapter of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

During the meeting, the attendees were introduced to the philosophy, goals and strategies of the CCL and received basic training in how to be a citizen lobbyist who could bring these issues and ideas to elected officials.

The speaker at the workshop was Kristin Walser, who is the leader of the Bozeman chapter of the CCL. Walser was a teacher at Bozeman High School for many years before she started to develop an interest in climate change – and how to stop it.

Walser began to search for an organization that could help her fight climate change, and she eventually came across the nonpartisan Citizen’s Climate Lobby. The CCL, which was started seven years ago by California resident Marshall Saunders, trains its members to lobby about climate change issues clearly and concisely to their legislators.

However, Walser said that it’s not enough to simply tell legislators that there’s a problem.

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 October 2014 11:14

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Badlands beckon

Chimney Rock is probably the most striking formation in all of the Terry Badlands.
Story and Photos - By ED KEMMICK - Last Best News

TERRY — We went to the Terry Badlands on Saturday knowing that the natural bridges — huge spans of sandstone over a dry gulch — were prime attractions of the area.

What we didn’t know was that one of the first things you encounter as you approach the badlands from the frontage road west of Terry is a bridge of an entirely different kind: the old Milwaukee Road railroad bridge across the Yellowstone River.

This behemoth, four big spans of black iron, is a single-lane bridge with foot-wide strips of grated steel laid over the timbers for a driving surface. In more than a few spots the old timbers have rotted away, the gaps replaced with lengths of scrap iron held in place by enormous bolts. It doesn’t really feel unsafe, but I think our jokes about plunging through the bridge to the river far below were tinged with a sliver of nervousness.

Last Updated on Thursday, 30 October 2014 11:12

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LR-126 aims at last-day registration

By ERIN LORANGER and JAMES A. ROLPH - Community News Service - UM School of Journalism

Voters face only two ballot issues this election, and the one getting the most attention is about voting itself.

Since 2006, Montanans have been able to register to vote on the same day they cast their ballots. That would end if voters approve Legislature Referendum 126 on Nov. 4.

A “yes” vote would repeal same-day voter registration. If that happens, citizens who don’t register by 5 p.m. on the Friday before an election won’t be able to vote.

A “no” vote would keep the system as it is.

Sen. Alan Olson, a Republican from Roundup, says he sponsored the referendum because late registrants are distracting election officials and making for long lines at the polls.

“This is to take the burden off of county elections administrators on Election Day,” Olson says. “They get spread very thin by trying to manage everything out in rural areas.”

That sounds right to Rosebud County Clerk and Recorder Geraldine Custer, who runs elections in a rural county with a limited staff. She says moving the registration deadline to the Friday before would help staff keep its Election Day focus on voting.

“It would give us as workers a little more free time to do what we are intended to do and run the polling stations,” she says.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 October 2014 21:37

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Dems aim for gains in Legislature

By MADELYN BECK and MICHAEL WRIGHT - Community News Service - UM School of Journalism

From the seat of his combine in the Helena Valley, Republican Senate candidate Joe Dooling talked about why he decided to run for the Legislature.

“I’m just wondering where all the grownups are,” he said.

The 2013 legislative session was marked by a split between conservatives and moderates in the Republican majority, at least one day of banging on tables and more than 70 vetoes from Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat. Dooling said he was frustrated by all of it.

Even so, political scientists Jeffrey Greene, of the University of Montana, and Craig Wilson, of Montana State University Billings, are predicting a more productive session when lawmakers gather in Helena this winter.

Both expect Republicans to maintain control in the state Senate and House of Representatives, but said gains by Democrats and a waning influence of tea party conservatives could lead to more compromise.

“The tea party may have reached its zenith,” Wilson said.

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 October 2014 21:35

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