Hopeful huckleberries to Senate Bill 312, the bill that would close a longstanding — and too-often abused — loophole in Montana law that allows private group homes for troubled youth to operate without oversight so long as they claim a religious affiliation. Introduced by Missoula Sen. Diane Sands, whose work in the previous session was instrumental in finally passing important reforms to help ensure the safety of vulnerable children and teens in those programs, SB 312 had its first hearing in the Montana Senate Public Health, Welfare and Safety on Wednesday.
A block of chokecherries to U.S. Sen. Steve Daines for joining with Wyoming Sen. Cynthia Lummis this week to put a hold on the nomination of Rep. Deb Haaland to lead the Interior Department. With the Senate appearing on track to confirm Haaland as the first Native American to hold a top cabinet position, the unnecessary hold serves only to delay the vote and give senators like Daines who oppose Haaland’s nomination a second opportunity to grandstand against her (the first was during her recent two-day hearing).
Huckleberries pressed in the pages of history to Governor Greg Gianforte’s proclamation of March as Women’s History Month and March 8 as International Women’s Day. In his proclamation, Gianforte noted that “Montana women, whether Native American, pioneers, lifelong Montanans, or migrants from other state, have transformed and shaped our state’s rich history in all areas of our society, including business, philanthropy, military service, education, medicine, and elected and appointed public service.” The proclamation highlights Montana’s Jeannette Rankin, the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. To this growing list of women in public service, Montana can add our current Lt. Gov. Kristen Juras, who is only third female lieutenant governor to serve in Montana’s history; the first being Republican Judy Martz (1997-2001) and the second Democrat Angela McLean (2014-2016).
Chokecherries to whomever is responsible for the death of Big D, a saddle mule owned by Eve Deering in the Bitterroot. At first Deering believed her mule had been shot, but a later examination and an anonymous tip point to blunt force injuries from a vehicle instead, likely between late Thursday, Feb. 25, or early Friday, Feb. 26. The Ravalli County Sheriff’s Office is investigating, and a reward account has been set up through the Wings Programs for further information about the incident.
Banks of huckleberries to the new climate research from Scripps Oceanography Institute that appears to show Montana holding onto its snow longer than coastal areas and the southern Rocky Mountains. This is good news not only for Montana’s ski hills, but for the residents and wildlife throughout the state — as well as Idaho, Utah and Wyoming — that depend on the snowpack to stave off wildfires, feed ice-cold fisheries and prevent grasslands from browning too quickly.
This editorial represents the views of the Missoulian Editorial Board: Publisher Jim Strauss, Executive Editor Jim Van Nostrand and Opinion Editor Tyler Christensen.