Bill proposed to address sex trafficking

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By ZACHARY COE/Montana State News

A bill to prevent sex trafficking in Montana was presented to the state House Judiciary Committee Wednesday.

Senate Bill 197 is proposed to prevent girls from being abducted from public institutions and sold into sex trafficking. It would require the Office of Public Instruction in collaboration with law enforcement and Montana Department of Health and Human Services, to support schools educating students on the dangers of sex trafficking a district policy.

The bill will be funded through the Department of Justice, as Health Education. Specialists will need to be brought into to educate public schools, and will have a net expenditure of around $90,000 per year with zero net revenue received. The price will fluctuate each year while considering inflation, but should level out around the desired price range for the foreseeable future. More

Senate panel nixes bill on brucellosis status

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By MICHELLE BURGER/Montana State News

A state Senate committee tabled a measure that would remove brucellosis from the federal disease list.

Although this disease, which is carried by many wild elk and bison, can be transmitted from animals to humans, it is uncommon and can be cured easily. Some believe this disease still poses a lingering threat with over $3 billion already used trying to vaccinate cattle. SJ 19, introduced by Sen. Mike Phillips, D-Bozeman, was tabled by an 8-1 vote by the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Safety Committee.

According to testimony on the measure, many believe that once the disease is taken off the federal disease list, research will restart as scientists try to develop an effective vaccine. More

Zebra mussels threaten state hydro systems

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By EMILY SCHABACKER and SAMANTHA SUNDLY/Montana State News

On the shores of Tiber and Canyon Ferry reservoirs in northern Montana, adult zebra mussels threaten indigenous aquatic life as of Fall of 2016. Without any natural predators in the region, zebra mussels threaten aquatic ecosystems and cause damage to man made hydropower systems.

After the discovery of invasive mussel larvae, known as veligers, in Tiber and Canyon Ferry Reservoirs in November, Gov. Steve Bullock declared a natural resources emergency, according to the Billings Gazette. This order provides state access to $750,000 in emergency funds to begin the eradication process.

Zebra mussels found in North America, typically indigenous to European regions, survive in waters with unusually low calcium levels, according to the United States Geological Survey. The mussels require calcium in order to transform from veligers to shellfish.

Calcium concentration is a key factor in mussel distribution, according to Andrew N. Cohen and Anne Weinstein, authors of Zebra Mussel’s Calcium Threshold and Implications for its Potential Distribution in North America. Zebra mussels in North America have been known to initiate shell growth in 10 milligrams of calcium per liter. More

AG rules Missoula gun ordinance illegal

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By CULLAN STAACK/Montana State News

Montana’s Attorney General Tim Fox says Missoula’s controversial gun background check ordinance, passed in September, violates Montana state law.

The law in question requires private gun owners to complete a background check before selling a gun within Missoula city limits. Essentially, a background check on the buyer must be completed before a legal sale of a gun can occur, even between friends or colleagues.

Support for the ordinance originated in the local chapter of the Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America advocacy group, which presented the Missoula City Council with data about the incidence of suicides and acts of intimate partner violence committed using guns that were not legally allowed to be in a person’s possession. More

Berkeley Pit on track to overflow soon

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By EMILY SCHABACKER/ Montana State News 

Toxic water levels approach maximum capacity in Butte’s Berkeley Pit, potentially threatening the city’s groundwater system by 2023. Montana’s environmental advocacy groups have started looking for clean up or containment methods for the abandoned copper mine.

After the mine closed in 1982, rain and groundwater flooded underground shafts, forcing contaminated water to accumulate in the pit. The acidic pond stretches one mile long by a half mile wide and reaches down more than 1,700 feet.

Current water levels reach 5,336 feet above sea level, 74 feet below maximum capacity as determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Act, according to the website Pit Watch: Berkeley Pit News and Info. 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

Montanans face future trouble on Real ID

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By JORDAN SPARR/Montana State News

In less than a year, a Montana drivers license will be insufficient identification for getting on a domestic airline flight.

And according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, this month Montana issued drivers licenses will not be enough to get into military bases, federal agencies and nuclear facilities due to state’s non-compliance with the federal Real ID Act.

The Department of Homeland Security’s website for Real ID compliance says that the Real ID Act, “… established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards and prohibits Federal agencies from accepting for official purposes licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards.”

Starting Jan. 30, the extension granted the state by the federal government will cease, and identification cards issued by the state of Montana will no longer be accepted as valid forms of ID.

The Motor Vehicle Division of Montana website states that state Legislature rejects the Real ID Act over concerns of federal overreach and privacy. More

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