Weekend: Rep. Taylor Fall, Unemployment Drops, FWP Head Grilled

By Beacon Staff

Good morning; on the Beacon, a tap dance tradition, the Feat x Feet Youth Tap Ensemble, directed by Ashley Wold, will perform its 12th annual set of shows, “Contagious Rhythms,” in Whitefish. Rebecca “Becky” Broussard, who founded The Event at Rebecca Farm in 2001, died after a battle with cancer on Christmas Eve at the age of 68. Rep. Janna Taylor of Dayton was hospitalized Thursday after taking a fall down the main staircase in the Capitol building. And Mick Holien remarks on recent victories by the mens and womens Griz basketball squads.

The nation’s unemployment rate dropped to 9.4 percent last month, its lowest level in 19 months. That was because more people found jobs, but also because some people gave up on their job searches. Federal environmental officials said Thursday they plan to reject Montana air quality rules that allow oil and gas companies to obtain emissions permits after they have already started drilling. An advocacy group is defying the state medical board’s ban on using video teleconferences to examine people seeking medical marijuana cards, saying the medium is necessary for people who don’t have access to a doctor. State Revenue Director Dan Bucks told lawmakers Thursday if they want to chop his agency’s budget, they also will be reducing the amount of state tax revenue available for the next two years. A temporary U.S. Forest Service firefighter who lit some small fires and later worked on extinguishing them was sentenced Thursday in federal court in Missoula to two years of probation and ordered to pay $1,111 in restitution. Members of the Legislature’s joint natural resources and transportation subcommittee grilled the head of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks on Thursday over property acquisitions, potential bison relocations, the implications of the voter-approved abolishment of outfitter-sponsored nonresident big game licenses and an FWP bookmark one senator found at a local library. More visitors entered Yellowstone National Park by snowcoach last month compared with December 2009, though overall visitation to the park decreased slightly, officials reported Thursday. Still shaking his head that the IRS had taken so long to notice, U.S. District Judge Richard Cebull on Wednesday sentenced a Miles City man for collecting more than $1 million in illegal tax refunds. Nearly 100 employers from across the state will be telling legislators at four hearings Saturday what changes they think are needed to get Montanans back to work. As of Jan. 1, snowpack is 12 percent above average — and 46 percent greater than on Jan. 1, 2010, according to NRCS.

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