A third helping of huckleberries to Montana’s DISCLOSE Act, which survived a court challenge for the third time in the last seven months, according to the Montana Attorney General’s Office. Attorney General Tim Fox has been defending the state’s campaign laws against legal challenges, the most recent coming from Montanans for Community Development, a political committee alleging that the campaign reporting requirements designed to ensure transparency in elections are too vague, broad and unconstitutional besides. Fortunately, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals found that the laws passed by the Montana Legislature in 2015 are indeed constitutional. It’s good to know these much-needed laws remain in place as Montana marches through another contentious election season.
Possibly contaminated chokecherries to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its “completely inadequate” response to Missoula County commissioners’ concerns about a possible breach in the berm separating contaminated holding ponds at the old Smurfit-Stone mill site and the Clark Fork River. EPA officials are going to speed up the testing process to determine if the river has been contaminated – but lack any response plan if test results are positive. While historic flooding has led commissioners to treat the situation as the emergency it clearly is, the possibility of a breach has been a concern for many years and should have been addressed by the EPA long before now.
Healing huckleberries to Amber Kornak, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service field assistant who was mauled by a bear while working on a project in the Poorman Creek area of the Cabinet Mountains south of Libby — and then hiked 2 miles to her vehicle and drove for help. Kornak is now recovering at a Kalispell hospital after suffering skull fractures and severe cuts on her head, neck and back. Those familiar with the grizzly bear attack scene in the movie “The Revenant” will appreciate the grit it took for Kornak to hike such a distance with her injuries — and anyone who lives in bear country should take note of the wisdom she showed in carrying bear spray, which she used to end the attack, as well as a communication device she used to call 911 just afterward. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help Kornak with her medical expenses; as of Thursday, more than 500 individuals had contributed more than $34,500.
Gallons of chokecherries to the spike in gasoline prices that will have Memorial Day travelers paying more at the pump this weekend than they have since 2014. Nationally, gas prices have increased by about 50 cents, and drivers in the five-state Rocky Mountain region that includes Montana are paying an average of $2.97 per gallon, according to the Energy Information Administration. Last year the average was $2.37 per gallon.
A mouthful of huckleberries to the University of Montana professor whose proposal scored the highest rank possible and was consequently awarded a $4.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study language and dyslexia in children. Julie Wolter, professor and chair of the UM Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, noted that her international team includes others at the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions, University of South Carolina and the Royal Holloway University of London, and explained that their work “is essential to developing effective national testing and teaching practices to assess, treat and prevent dyslexia in children with and without developmental language disorders." UM noted that Wolter has previously received, in collaboration with the Rural Institute of Inclusive Communities, $1.25 million from the U.S. Department of Education to train speech-language pathologists in rural and tribal communities in Montana.