Vote Smart to leave Montana roots behind

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By JORDAN SPARR/Montana State News

Nonprofit activism organization Vote Smart will leave its Philipsburg ranch in favor of Drake University’s campus in Des Moines, Iowa. After troubles arose from the remote location on Vote Smart’s Great Divide Ranch, President Richard Kimball has decided that a university-owned building in Iowa would be a beneficial change.

With a mission that reads, “Provide free, factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials to all Americans” and a history dating back to its inception in 1992, Vote Smart has become an important voice within the American political activism circuit.

According to its official website, Vote Smart is dedicated to helping American citizens take an unbiased look at political candidates in an election environment that is increasingly more dependent on how much those running for office spend on their campaign.

Vote Smart founders, such as American Presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, wanted to make sure the organization was dedicated to defending democracy and fighting back against threats to the democratic election process. More

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Tester seeks remedies for Citizens United ruling

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By JORDAN SPARR/Montana State News

Montana Sen. Jon Tester has proposed changes in the law to tackle anonymous political donations and how the law views corporations as people following to the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court case.

According to a press release from the office of Jon Tester, two proposed bills are the Senate Campaign Disclosure Parity Act and the Sunlight for Unaccountable Non-profits Act. Alongside these two acts is also a proposed Constitutional Amendment pushing to disallow the practice of regarding corporations as people within lawmaking and campaign financing.

These legislative actions presented by Tester are in direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision of 2010. According to the official record of the case, the ruling allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money in helping or hurting political candidates. More

Ralliers target Daines’ office over DeVos

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By BAY STEPHENS/Montana State News

Teachers and other concerned citizens rallied in front of Montana’s U.S. Republican Sen. Steve Daines’ office on Monday to protest president Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, who is considered inexperienced by many in the realm of education.

Kali St. Germain, a demonstration participant and Montana State University student, described the protest as stretching for at least half a block. The party marched outside Daines’ office, while some chanted, “We want education, not a corporation.”

St. Germain said that Daines’ did not appear before the crowd. A man from the office met the crowd to tell them that they “weren’t sure who they were going to vote for,” which, according to St. Germain, the crowd did not receive well. The protesters addressed postcards to the senator voicing their specific concerns, then disbanded. More

State history, culture showcases at march

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By SARAH SNEBOLD/Montana State News

HELENA – All of the recent women’s marches around the country that followed the day after President Trump’s inauguration had a focus on human rights issues, such as women’s reproductive health, clean water, and access to healthcare.

But the march in Helena had a unique twist, with a focus on Montana history and culture. March organizers worked to actively include the indigenous population. Both the Cheyenne and Blackfoot tribes were represented, with speakers and march participants.

Janna Weaselboy-Caplette sang a Cheyenne veterans honor song. He said, “Women are the backbone of Native North America and we can say that to all women of this world…[We] recognized that the women needed their own flag and honor song.” As Janna sang, the significance in the words pointed to the woman beside him, Lauren Small Rodriguez Tsitsistas. She is the first Northern Cheyenne woman to join the U.S. Coast Guard. More

Bill would ban bikes on two-lane roads

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By SAMANTHA SUNDLY/Montana State News

Bicyclists and joggers would be banned from most two-lane roads in Montana if a bill under consideration in the state Legislature is approved

Republican Rep. Barry Usher is sponsoring the bill, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, which concerns local bicyclists about the future of their hobby and method of transportation.

As of now, the guidelines for bicyclists on two-lane roadways require that “every person operating a bicycle upon a street or roadway shall ride as near to the right-hand side of the roadway as practicable” and that “whenever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a street or roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the street or roadway,” according to the city of Bozeman’s bicycle municipal codes. More

Sanders supporters rally in Bozeman

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By KRISTIN ROCHNIAK/Montana State News

Montanans for Bernie Sanders showed off their political enthusiasm last Saturday as they marched down the sidewalks of Main Street in Bozeman, in support of their man, the 74 year old U.S. Senator from Vermont.

Upwards of 400 people arrived to show their support for the candidate who is changing the face of fundraising in this year’s race for the Democratic presidential nomination. The rally lasted over two hours, and they marched over 12 blocks. There was no fighting despite the provocation by Trump supporters that drove by yelling such slights as, “build the wall!”

Chants rang through the crowd endorsing the candidate for running a no nonsense campaign, trumpeting the fact that he has funded his bid almost entirely by small individual donations. One chant that sounded from the crowd, “We don’t need no super- PAC!” was quickly followed by the response, “Bernie Sanders has our back!”

According to his campaign, last month Sanders raised over $39 million in individual contributions of an average of just $27 each. They hope to surpass that during the month of April by reaching their previous record of $43 million in one month.

“I have given the Bernie campaign about $75 over the course of the last six months,” said Derrick Krueger, a Montana State University senior in the College of Business. “I wish I could give even more, but being a broke college student – it’s all I can do,” he laughed.  “But that fact about myself is why I am voting for Sanders. He is investing his entire life into my future, so I plan on investing all I possibly can on him.”

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Concealed weapons permits on the rise

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By PATRICIA MORSE/Montana State News

In the past three years the nation has experienced a rise of concealed carry gun permits; Montana especially has achieved a steady increase of 5.5 percent in the last two years alone, according to the Crime Prevention Research Center.

Furthermore, according to the last state data collection in March 2015, Montana had 43,567 active permits.  This data means that about 1 out of every 23 Montanans has a license to carry, and nationally 1 out of 80 adults, according to Concealed Nation.

The rise of concealed carry permits, has sparked debates on the national and state level about the safety or lack thereof that the weapons create.

However, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Mercer is not concerned about the rise of permits.

“It puts my mind at ease,” said Mercer. “I’m probably not dealing with a felon.”  Mercer, states that during traffic stops the information is flagged and he is made aware that the individual has a permit.

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