The Wednesday Read: Flynn, Zinke, & Guns

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate. – The Captain (Cool Hand Luke)

Today I provide independent commentary about the following items for this edition of The Wednesday Read:

  • Trump & Flynn
  • Zinke’s Confirmation Vote
  • Montana Legislature

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Great Falls: Smoke em if you got em!

The “smoking shelter” calamity in Great Falls (MT) has been interesting to follow.

In case you were wondering about it, a law called “The Montana Clean Indoor Air Act” banned smoking in enclosed public places in 2009, so some bars/casinos built “smoking shelters” that, as the Great Falls Tribune reported in December 2013, “are intended to circumnavigate the law to create spaces where gamblers can smoke while they play.”

A local district judge ruled the shelters were OK, but the Montana Supreme Court overturned that ruling. Apparently the shelters were not open enough. Businesses have spent thousands of dollars on the shelters. Some shelters were pretty nice, which means they are not just a picnic table with an umbrella blowing in the wind and a five-gallon bucket for the butts.

The Great Falls Tribune had two sides submit their arguments about the shelters. You can read the pro-shelter column HERE and the con-shelter column HERE. Both sides make good arguments, but overall it’s kind of a silly mess they are in.

According to local television station KRTV, today (Wednesday, June 3) the Cascade City-County Health Department is holding a public hearing “to consider a proposed regulation governing smoking rooms.” The meeting is scheduled for 11:30 in the Great Falls City Commission Chambers.

I’ve lived in Montana about 25 years and checked out the casinos a few times. I found the casinos in Montana to be pretty boring compared to other casinos I’ve seen in other states and overseas. I’ve always felt if you’re going to allow gambling in a state, you might as well go big or go home. By the way, going big does not mean a mom and pop casino on almost every corner, like you’ll see if you drive down 10th Avenue South in Great Falls.

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Religious Freedom, Cakes, & WWJD

We’re fortunate to live in a country where we can choose to participate in a religion or not. Drive down a street in just about any town all across our fruited plains in this great country and you’ll see churches. You and I can pick and choose where we go to church or if we even want to attend church or not.

How’s that for freedom? Is this a great country or what?

Back in the early 1990s along came something called the religious freedom law. You can ask ten people what it means and get 10 different answers. It’s been around in one form or the other since 1993 when President Bill Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993. I know some folks on the right are checking Google about this because Clinton was the devil to them before Obama was the devil to them. They are asking the question, “How could Bill Clinton do anything even remotely religious?”

States felt they needed their own versions of the Federal law, so they started passing laws. I believe there are about 21 states that have some form of a religious freedom law. You may have recently heard about Indiana’s law. It’s causing the state a lot of problems and rightly so. Many folks believe the bill was nothing but a backdoor way to discriminate against gays. It’s kind of like the same way conservatives keep introducing bills to chip away at abortion rights.

This is 2015, and there’s a growing number of people who want religious freedom as long as they can make the rules and define the freedom.

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Tuesday’s Political Potpourri

When there are several political stories out there that I want to comment about, I combine them into a “potpourri” column.

Today I provide valuable independent commentary about the targeting of Republican state legislators, orange being optional, Montana Governor candidate, the Department of Defense budget, western wear, Obamacare & Daines, vaccination politics, and much more!

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Graduation Does Matter

It was great to read the story from the Associated Press about Montana’s high school graduation rate increasing to 85.4 percent.

According to Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau, this is the highest it’s been since the state’s Office of Public Instruction (OPI) began calculating the rate in 2000.

Last April the Washington Post reported that in 2012, the United States had reached its highest graduation rate in history, with 80 percent of students receiving a diploma in 2012.

Montana seems to be far ahead of the national average, and that should make all Montanans proud.

Students, parents, teachers, administrators, volunteers, school boards, OPI officials, and elected officials all deserve a pat on the back for improving the graduation rates Montana.

It’s a team effort.

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Tuesday’s Potpourri

When there are several stories out there that I want to comment about, I combine them into a “potpourri” column. This is one of those days!

Today I write about the Montana Legislature and Larry’s bill, snowplowing in Montana, Mitt Romney Part III, College Football Playoff National Championship, the Denver Broncos, and much more!

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Montana: Drunk Driving Epidemic

Many years ago when I was a child living in the Midwest, my dad was working away from home on road construction one summer, so it was just me, my mom, and my 16 year old sister living at home. My sister was out late with her friends one night, so mom and I went to bed. Around 1:00 a.m. there was a very loud knock on our door. A family friend was at the door and told my mom that he was driving home and came upon a wreck – a wreck that involved my sister and her friends.

I heard my mom ask, “What happened?” The friend said a man was driving drunk and hit the car that my sister and her two friends were riding in head-on.

Just about every time I hear about a drunk driver having a wreck or getting arrested for DUI, I remember my sister and what she went through and what my mom and dad went through.

It seems that just about every day we read or hear about someone driving drunk and getting arrested or about a wreck that “speed and alcohol were both factors in the crash.” If you think DUIs are on the increase here in Montana, apparently they are.

Great Falls television station KRTV (CBS) aired a story on Tuesday about driving under the influence (DUI) arrests and fatalities increasing not only in Great Falls, but across Montana:

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