Wednesday: Search Continues, WGA Wrap Up, High Risk Pool

By Beacon Staff

Good morning; on the Beacon today, the annual conference of the Western Governors’ Association, meeting here to celebrate 100 years of its existence, provides state leaders with an amiable environment in which to discuss extraordinarily thorny problems. A committee in Whitefish tasked with solving the planning doughnut dilemma, made up of representatives from the county, city and doughnut jurisdiction, gave final approval at a June 23 meeting to direct attorneys to draft a proposed amendment to the current interlocal agreement that would address four main issues. The search for a missing plane with four people is entering its third day and authorities pledge they’re “not quitting.” The small aircraft may have been flying too low when last seen near the Flathead River in northwestern Montana with three passengers on board, including two newspaper reporters, authorities said Tuesday. Gov. Brian Schweitzer has ordered that flags be flown at half-staff Friday to honor a soldier whose mother says was killed in an attack on an Army base in Louisiana earlier this month.

The state Public Service Commission has denied a request from NorthWestern Energy for a temporary increase to its gas and electricity rates. Rough seas generated by Hurricane Alex pushed more oil from the massive spill onto Gulf coast beaches as cleanup vessels were sidelined by the far-away storm’s ripple effects. Maine U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe is among a group of bipartisan senators asking the secretary of Homeland Security not to overlook the needs of the U.S.-Canadian border when allocating resources to the southern border. Starting Thursday, several hundred Montanans with high-risk health conditions and no insurance can sign up for a new insurance pool, which is part of the federal health-reform bill passed in March. Fifteen domestic sheep and goats have tested positive for the same pathogen that caused a pneumonia outbreak that killed half the bighorn sheep in the East Fork of the Bitterroot. The largest state and local government employees’ pension fund has proposed some changes to turn around and stabilize its finances after its investment assets lost a fourth of their value during the market downturn in 2008 and 2009. Montana’s traveling cannabis caravans, responsible for signing up thousands for medical marijuana cards in the last year, will be a thing of a the past if a group of lawmakers here get their way. The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision extending the right of individuals to bear arms is unlikely to have much effect in Montana or to strike down gun restrictions on the Montana State University campus, says the state’s leading gun rights advocate.

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