Neutrally transmitted huckleberries to Gov. Steve Bullock for taking a creative and direct approach to maintaining net neutrality in Montana. On Monday, he signed an executive order requiring all internet and data providers to meet net neutrality requirements in order to qualify for contracts with the state.

The move was precipitated by a Federal Communications Commission vote in mid-December that tossed out Obama-era rules prohibiting service providers from blocking or prioritizing certain content, or from manipulating the flow of online traffic to certain sites or services. Net neutrality essentially requires service providers to treat all Internet content equally — allowing customers to make their own decisions about which sites and services to enjoy free from third-party interference.

The state of Montana, with its county and local governments, has about $50 million in contracts with local and national providers. Bullock’s order makes Montana the first state to seek its own path to enforcing net neutrality — but other states may follow if this approach proves successful. In fact, one state already has. The governor of New York signed a very similar executive order just a couple of days after Bullock. 

An unlikely number of chokecherries to the Centers for Disease Control for relying on whatever shaky methodology it used to determine that two tiny counties in Montana are among the nation’s most at-risk for HIV. The CDC’s report, first released in 2016, places Mineral County in 161st place, and Treasure County in 211th – which came as a surprise to Montana’s public health experts, who would certainly be aware if there had been any sudden outbreaks but have seen no cause for special concern in either county.

A copy of the First Amendment written in huckleberry ink to Humanities Montana for its continuing efforts to promote media literacy. Call us biased (some of you will anyway), but we at the Missoulian feel it’s more important than ever to learn about the critical role of journalism in America’s democratic system, and how to be a well-informed news consumer. With grant funding, Humanities Montana is taking its Informed Citizen Initiative to classrooms and other public places to host discussions on different issues revolving around journalism and democracy. For more information, visit HumanitiesMontana.org.

Bronc-bucked chokecherries to the Flathead County Fair Board, Flathead County Board of Commissioners and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for opposing a rodeo in Bigfork. The Bigfork Summer Rodeo would have taken place in early July – more than a month before the NorthWest Montana Rodeo in Kalispell. Nevertheless, Flathead County leaders worried that the competition wouldn’t be good for their rodeo, set to mark its 65th anniversary this year. Unfortunately, PRCA rules allow existing rodeos to object to new ones proposed in the same marketing area, and this week, PRCA officials voted to reject Bigfork’s rodeo.

Focused huckleberries to Julian Bain, a former Missoula International School student and current freshman at Hellgate High School, for placing among 30 finalists for the Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology and Engineering for Rising Stars). This was out of nearly 2,499 middle-school students who applied for the opportunity to participate in the final event, which took place last October in Washington, D.C. In Missoula this week, Bain demonstrated his innovative project for his former classmates at MIS: a pair of auto-focusing eyeglasses.