Unanimous huckleberries to the Montana Board of Regents’ unanimous vote Wednesday morning to pursue a judicial review of House Bill 102, the new law that allows the carrying of concealed firearms on Montana University System campuses. The review will help determine whether the new law conflicts with the regents’ constitutional authority to set safety policy within the university system. HB 102 also included a provision to rescind $1 million in funding if regents took their case to court. Kudos to regents for not accepting this blatant bribe and for defending their ability to protect university students, employees and campus communities.
Creatively arranged huckleberries to the Hogan Senior Group Living project, a proposed 36-bedroom facility off South Sixth Street that aims to provide affordable group housing for people 55 and older. If the plans and required federal certifications all go through, the project could help pave the way for other innovative solutions to Missoula’s worsening housing crisis.
A river of chokecherries to the decline in brown trout in southwest Montana. Significant declines in brown trout numbers have been clocked in sections of the Clark Fork, Big Hole, Beaverhead and Madison river and elsewhere, reaching their lowest levels in years of surveys. The drop has biologists bewildered, as the last few years have seen relatively strong river flows that normally help fish populations rebound.
Convoluted chokecherries to the conflicting and confusing guidance on wearing face masks from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. The CDC relaxed its mask rules for fully vaccinated people in most settings, but gave vague recommendations for continued mask use in health care facilities, on public transportation and in government buildings such as courts and post offices. The CDC has noted that even fully vaccinated individuals may still contract COVID-19, although the risk is greatly reduced. Different states and local governments may still require masks depending on their vaccination rates and other factors, and private businesses also may require that their employees and customers wear masks.
Clearly outlined huckleberries to the University of Montana and Montana University System for clearly stating that face coverings are no longer required on campus, except for the Curry Health Center. Face masks are still recommended for any gathering on campus, indoors or outdoors, and COVID-19 vaccines are encouraged. In fact, Curry Health Center will be holding vaccine clinics throughout the summer. A judicious helping of huckleberries as well for Montana Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike McGrath for his orders this week directing courtrooms to scale back their face mask requirements and begin returning to in-person hearings.
Ten thousand huckleberries to the 10,000th veteran to be vaccinated for COVID-19 through the Montana VA Health Care System. Given that Montana has one of the highest numbers of veterans per capita in the nation, the milestone is an important one for helping to protect vulnerable populations from coronavirus. It was celebrated this week at the David J. Thatcher VA Clinic in Missoula, but clinics throughout the state plan to continue offering COVID-19 vaccines to Montana veterans, their spouses and caregivers.
This editorial represents the views of the Missoulian Editorial Board: Publisher Jim Strauss, Executive Editor Jim Van Nostrand and Opinion Editor Tyler Christensen.