Wednesday: CFAC Speculation, Tester Forest Bill, Prison Rape Petition

By Beacon Staff

Good morning; on the Beacon today, there’s some talk that the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company may be able to begin operations again next year. A Columbia Falls High School junior returned to school on Tuesday after the school board made the unanimous decision not to expel her for unintentionally having an unloaded hunting rifle on school property in the trunk of her car. The Montana Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a stay of execution for a Canadian man as the death-row inmate challenges the state’s method of lethal injection. A 23-year-old man has been sentenced to 10 years in federal prison after prosecutors say he shot a man who was trying to steal cocaine from him in Kalispell. And business columnist Mark Riffey reflects on what we can all learn from logger James Stupack.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s bill to increase both logging and wilderness areas has been included in a final spending package the lame-duck Congress is expected to take up in the coming days. The state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation says land and mineral management this year has produced $133.3 million for Montana public education. President Barack Obama has signed legislation that calls for the U.S. mint to produce palladium coins if there is sufficient market demand. A growing chorus of conservative criticism is prompting some House members to rethink the $850 billion package of tax cuts and extended jobless benefits that President Barack Obama negotiated with top Republicans in Congress. Enacting new crackdowns on drunken driving is a near certainty at the 2011 Montana Legislature – and the only question may be, how will lawmakers do it? A Missoula man who has long proclaimed his innocence in a jailhouse rape case filed dramatic new evidence Tuesday with his latest petition to overturn his conviction: a signed statement from the alleged victim, saying the rape never happened. There will be important discussions regarding health care, housing and economic development when Indian leaders from across the country – including Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Chairman E.T. “Bud” Moran – meet Thursday with President Barack Obama and White House officials.

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