A state Senate panel reviewed a bill that would give Montana eminent domain authority for federal lands, a proposal that its sponsor said was similar to a bill passed last year in Utah and is now going through the courts.
SB 254 is an opportunity for Montana to use eminent domain to take back federal land, Sen. Rowlie Hutton, R-Havre, said, adding passing the bill would send “a very strong message that Montana agrees with the legal theory of Utah
Hutton told the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee that nearly 30 percent of Montana’s 147,046 square miles are under federal control.
The USDA has announced it will partially deregulate Roundup Ready ® sugar beet root crops, which affects almost 100 percent of the nearly 31,000 sugar beet acres grown in Montana.
Awaiting the government to deregulate the use of Roundup Ready sugar beet seed threatened the prospects of next year’s crop for sugar beet producers. The US Dept. of Agriculture partially removed the restrictions, which will allow farmers to proceed with their business. USDA continues its study of the seed, which for as long as it continues leaves the industry in a state of limbo. The new seed hugely reduces the cost of production.
Gov. Brian Schweitzer has accused the Republican leadership of the Legislature of ordering its fiscal division to not release more optimistic revenue projections until halfway through the session so that they could follow their own agenda for cuts to state government.
GOP leaders quickly dismissed the Democratic governor’s claims, calling them “inaccurate” and accused him of turning “the Capitol into an arena for political theater.”
Schweitzer’s comments came on the same day Legislative Fiscal Division increased its revenue projections by $97 million said that due to improving tax collections.
“Isn’t that what we said in November?” Schweitzer said, referring to his estimates provided by Budget Director David Ewer.
The Montana Policy Institute has launched a new website (www. opengovmt.org) that allows visitors to see the salaries and benefits of state employees.
The new open government website is separated into two areas and will allow people to view both state employee salary information and detailed budget data on Montana’s K-12 school system.
As the economy goes so goes tourism. A gradual improvement in Montana’s tourism, non-resident travel industry is projected, as the economy improves, according to Norma Nickerson, Director of the Montana Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research.
2011 will be a better year than 2010 in terms of visitation. Non-resident visitor numbers will increase by two percent, predicted Nickerson, and rooms sold will increase by 1.5 percent. Yellowstone National Park visitation will increase 3.3 percent, giving it another record year. Glacier National Park visitation will increase by 0.3 percent. Skier visits will increase by two percent and airline travel will increase by one percent.
Helena has been added to the list of eight new communities to which The U.S. Small Business Administration will offer e200 Emerging Leaders executive-level training initiative. The program has been expanded to include 27 communities in 2011.
“Over the last few years e200 has been a catalyst for expanding opportunities for many promising small businesses in underserved communities – in particular those who have been most impacted by these tough economic times,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills said. “Graduates of the program have increased their revenue, created jobs and helped drive local economic growth in their communities. Adding eight new locations builds on this success and provides even more entrepreneurs in underserved communities with the support, resources and skills to succeed.”
The Big Sky Business Journal
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Billings, MT 59103