By William Patrick, The Center Square

Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry is asking a federal court in Lafayette to halt a Biden administration plan to apply climate change “social cost” damages when regulating certain industries.

President Joe Biden issued an executive order shortly after taking office that resurrected an Obama administration initiative aimed at determining dollar-amounts for social damages stemming from carbon emissions.

Landry said they are “the most important numbers you never hear of.”

“We are hoping to explain to the judge why he needs to stop the executive order. What we’re hoping for is a nationwide injunction,” Landry said outside the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.

Lawyers from the attorney general’s office and the U.S. Department Justice made oral arguments before Judge James Cain, a President Donald Trump-appointed judge. Louisiana and nine other states had sued the administration in April, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Landry said the order was a backdoor “takeover” with wide-ranging effects on virtually every federal agency, including the Departments of Interior, Commerce, Energy, Agriculture, Transportation, Environmental Protection, Defense, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and Treasury.

“It hits home right here in Louisiana because the state has always been a leader in domestic energy,” Landry said.

The Department of Justice argued including greenhouse gases in federal planning has occurred for decades and federal agencies only are considering carbon emission climate change costs, not requiring them.

The executive order refers to the Bush administration as having first developed a metric to determine the emissions costs. The Obama administration expanded the program, and Trump disbanded it.

“One specific tool – called the ‘social cost of greenhouse gases’ – combines climate science and economics to help Federal agencies and the public understand the benefits of reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” a White House statement said. “The metric is a range of estimates, in dollars, of the long-term damage done by one ton of greenhouse gas emissions.

“As this process proceeds, we are committed to engaging with the public and diverse stakeholders, seeking the advice of ethics experts, and working to ensure that the social cost of greenhouse gases consider climate risk, environmental justice, and intergenerational equity.”

According to the multistate lawsuit, the estimates for carbon emissions apply to carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.

“Carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are by-products of activities that make life in America what it is today, including energy production, agricultural production, industrial production, transportation, construction and waste disposal,” the lawsuit said.

Landry told reporters that when the lawsuit was filed in the spring, he speculated the administration could apply the order to the beef industry and raise prices on meat.

“Sure enough, only three or four months later, they did a study on the amount of methane that cattle release and they are going to attach a cost to that,” he said. “A cost is going to be added to each of these products.”

Crash Champions, 315 N 15th St, 59101, 708-631-0403, Matthew Ebert (CEO), repair & installation

Debra Sheppard PHD, 1430 Country Manor Blvd #3, 59102, 238-6350, Debra Sheppard, service

Bamn Junk Removal and Mover, 4303 Stone St, 59101, 623-1326, Michael Hart, service

Casey’s Carpentry, 1903 Dogwood Dr, 59105, 518-596-2262, Casey Artz, service

Jin’s Garden, 1310 Main St #8, 591-05, 894-2025, Jinyun Zhao, restaurants

Square tight Flush Construction, 844 Avenue D #5, 59102, 500-1139, Wade Crow/Shellie Young, general contractor

Freestone Fabrication and Construction Services LLC, 2735 Louise Ln, 59102, 861-4100, Casey Kemp, service

Pamper Cottage LLC, 1831 Main St Ste 1, 500-1556, Chantel Nelson/Jamie Egeland, service

Mountain West Mobile Home Supply, 300 Moore Ln, 59101, 969-5448, retail sales

Imperial Bag & Paper Co LLC, 255 US Hwy 1 and 9, Jersey City, NJ 07306, 201-638-6369, Silvana Avella, distributors

Friendly Favors APP LLC, 4260 Smohawk Trl, 59106, 208-4467, Spencer Bakick, service

Cutie-T, 506 S 30th St, 59101, 661-5459, Timika Harris, retail sales

Cryptic Tattoo Company LLC, 317 16th St W, 59102, 702-1244, Matthew Morledge, service

Anahata Counseling PLLC, 110 Grand Ave, 59101, 647-1369, Leanna Winslow, service

Great Falls Fire Sprinklers, 32 Collins Rd, Ulm 59485, 315-7666, Karn Vogl, service

Limitless Construction, 1835 Mary St, 647-9991, Taylor Thoreson, general contractors

Precision Plumbing & HVAC, 1935 4th Ave NW, West Fargo ND 58078, 701-238-1753, Jon Hanson, service

Fire and Ice Casino Inc, 3839 Grand Ave, 59102, 861-4463, Janelle Crowley, beer license

Jennifer Ceynar Photography, 2044 Burlington Ave, 59102, 517-817-9429, Jennifer Ceynar, service

Jason Duncan Construction, 1714 East Castle Stone Sq, 59106, 850-4987, Jason Duncan, general contractors

Toms Plumbing Repair, 2206 East Maryland Ln, Laurel 59044, 672-0717, Thomas Amundson, plumbing contractors

Kathy’s Business, 2716 Highwood Dr, 59102, 670-7723, Kathleen Akre, real estate rental

Treal Treasure Construction, 1230 Lynn Ave, 59102, 598-6382, Tyler Christensen, general contractors

T&S Limited LLC/Cloudz Vape, 1217 US Hwy 87 E Unit B, 59101, 861-0289, Chris Tullar, retail sales

JSP Services, 6611 Shepherd Rd E, Shepherd 59079, 801-644-4520, James Pavelka, service

Glitz Glam Tumblers, 1428 Hondo Way, 59105, 794-4616, Jennifer Huschka, retail sales

JC Cleaning Services, 448 S Lakeview Dr, 59105, 200-3712, Lauretta Aaby, service

160 Driving Academy, 2736 Main Street Ste 184, 59105, 775-455-1010, Steve Gold, schools

Cloudz Vape #1, 1819 Grand Ave, 59102, 534-1015, Warren Child, retail sales

406 Disaster Response LLC, 1943 Main St, 59105, Laura Sciacca, service

Loomis Armored US, LLC, 2500 Citywest Blvd Ste 2300, Houston TX 77042, 713-435-6700, Sarah Kattapong, service

Specialty Foundation Systems LLC, 1993 Morocco Dr, 59105, 530-5424, Taj Mukadam, general contractors

Right Temp Mechanical Inc, 1803 Willow Dr, Grand Forks, ND 58201, 701-213-3759, John Richards, service

Wild Creek Carpentry, 430 Clark Ave, 59101, 802-249-0888, Kyler Moriarty, general contractors

Korey’s Flooring & Remodeling LLC, 307 Dominic Ln, Acton 59002, 897-4674, Korey Gonzales, general contractors

Zachliv Inc., 3011 Lyons Ln, 59101, 861-1255, Pamela Lindsay, real estate rentals

Green Wind Recycling, 6624 S Frontage Rd, 59101, 702-335-4308, Rocky Marks, service

Barns N Such, 101 GTA Lane, Hardin 59034, 679-0880, Cole Redger, general contractors

Neat Freak Professional Organizing Services, 3640 Mount Rushmore Ave, 59102, 534-9201, McKenzie Grubbs, service

TriHydro Corporation, 710 Grand Ave Ste 8, 59102, 307-745-7474, Kurt Tuggle, service

CIP Construction Technologies Inc, 134 1st Ave W, Kalispell 59901, 291-8017, Jim Swain, service

Alohomora Nail Salon, 530 S 27th St, 59101, 861-7428, Sheryl Cox, cosmetology

Big Game N, The Dustbusters Cleaning, 1607 17th St W, Apt 105, 59102, 200-3398, James Palmer, service

CBW Construction, 2022 McKay Ln, 59102, 360-915-4080, Chris & Breanna weaver, general contractors

Frae Everyday Goods LLC, 1821 Annas Garden Ln, 59101, 697-2220, Tiffany Miller-OBrien, retail sales

Yellowstone Mobile Auto Repair, 5229 King Ave W Unit B4, 59106, 855-8193, Brett Heyneman, service

Lofi Threads LLC, 3225 McLeod Dr Ste 100, Las Vegas, NV 89121, 272-2255, retail sales

Nomad’s K-9, Training LLC, 602 S 31st ST, 59101, 303-253-0713, Christopher Eggleston, service

Cordell Armstrong Services, 629 Washington St, 59101, 951-421-5654, Cordell Armstrong, service

2 B Created Boutique, 2101 Grand Ave Ste 4, 59102, 670-0944, Tammie Grubb, retail sales

Mobile Vinyl Professionals, 3073 W Copper Ridge Loop, 59106, 530-4883, Dallin Woo, service

Amusematte Corp., 300 S 24th St W, 59102, 805-306-1285, Robert Bordeleau, service

Montana Professional Inspections, 7130 Lakeshore Dr, 59106, 850-2859, Dale Bull, service

Bob Pepalis, The Center Square

Montana’s outdoor recreation industry suffered huge losses in the first three months of 2020 because of the pandemic, but it made a major turnaround for the rest of the year, according to an industry representative.

Across the nation, the outdoor recreation economy fell 19% from 2019 to 2020, compared with a 3.4% decrease for the overall U.S. economy, according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). The value of the goods and services produced by the nation’s economy for the outdoor recreation economy decreased 17.4%, while outdoor recreation compensation fell 12.5% and employment decreased 17.1%.

In Montana, outdoor recreation value added was 4.3% of the state’s gross domestic product, or $2.2 billion, according to BEA data. Outdoor recreation employment decreased in 2020 nationwide, and fell 17.5% in Montana. That still meant more than 26,000 people were employed in the industry in the state, with compensation of more than $1.1 billion, the agency said.

Staycations and hastily developed COVID health safety procedures helped the industry recover, according to Mac Minard, executive director of the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association (MOGA).

“The fishing industry suffered probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 to 45% vacancy, we lost almost all of the spring turkey season, and we definitely were impacted by about 50% on the spring black bear season,” Minard told The Center Square.

From June through the end of the year this part of the outdoor recreation industry had a strong rebound, he said, running at or near capacity. Families chose staycations within the state or picked Montana as a family destination.

“That would be one factor of demand, just simply due to the restrictions in Canada and Mexico, you’ve really caused people to seek the recreational opportunity, particularly out here in the American West,” Minard said.

Conventional outdoor recreation accounted for 37.4% of U.S. outdoor recreation value in 2020, an increase from 30.6% in 2019. The BEA attributed the increase to higher spending on boating/fishing and RVing.

Approximately $943 million was spent on these conventional outdoor recreation activities in Montana. Of that, $288 million was spent on boating and fishing, up from $168 million in 2019. And RVining increased to $139 million compared to $125 million in 2019.

Minard said his organization working to get COVID protocols approved so the recreation industry could operate. The association worked with the governor’s office and the Office of Outdoor Recreation to get protocols in place.

The outdoor industry began to understand things better as it moved from fishing to hunting season.

“People were absolutely clamoring for the services of an outfitter,” he said. “Where they hadn’t been booked before they were now being booked fully.”

In 2020, Montana ended up with a tremendous amount of pent-up COVID demand for outdoor recreation. That translated to $63 million in hunting, shooting and trapping, though that was approximately $6 million less than what was spent in 2019.

The applications for big-game licenses set an all-time record entering the 2021 draw, with 30 to 40% more applicants than the number of non-resident licenses that were available.

“And that created a pretty damn serious problem post-draw,” Minard said.

The industry ended up with a 40 to 50% vacancy factor because many hunters who had booked for a hunting trip didn’t get licenses, so they canceled plans to visit the state, he said. The random draw translated into a detriment to the industry because it didn’t meet demand for the state’s fourth largest economic driver. 

Minard said the state had 35% more applicants than ever before. The overbooking compared to license sales would have cost the industry potential revenue if the Legislature hadn’t taken action.

He said MOGA approached the Montana Legislature for a one-time expansion of the number of licenses available.

“Mind you, we are talking about the fourth largest economic driver in the state with non-resident spending,” Minard said. “And the first three are food, fuel and lodging. And nobody comes to Montana just to drive, sleep and eat.”

The Legislature passed legislation for the one-time issue of additional licenses, which the governor signed.

“It is vital to the well-being of rural communities across the state because of the commerce it generates,” he said.

That legislation enabled the industry to get back to capacity and generated approximately $30 million in commerce, according to Minard.

More than 1,700 nonresident hunters with outfitters have purchased the newly available big game licenses as of September, the Ravalli Republic reported, adding approximately $1.6 million in new license revenue to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

“If we were able to generate that kind of commerce, put people back to work, this wasn’t a handout, this was a jobs bill,” Minard said.

He credited an astute legislature and a governor looking for creative ways to beat the COVID economic impact for making it happen by granting MOGA’s request.

“What we wanted to do was put people to work and hire people and buy tires and buy food and support, support the hotels, motels,” he said. “All this stuff like that is what the goal was, and it worked.”

The industry got out of 2020 in good condition because the final three quarters of the year went well.

“By 2021, the applications were off the charts, the application for big-game hunting, and for the fishing industry,” Minard said. “The fishing industry was absolutely slammed this year, record levels of fishermen out in the outdoors, both guided and unguided.”

Governor Greg Gianforte has announced the appointment of Brett Linneweber to serve on the Thirteenth Judicial District Court in Yellowstone County. Linneweber fills the vacancy created by 13th Judicial District Judge Gregory Todd’s retirement.

Since 2014, Linneweber has served as Senior Deputy Yellowstone County Attorney, where the vast majority of his practice has been in criminal litigation.

“Brett Linneweber brings to the table years of experience as a county attorney where he’s managed some of the most urgent issues facing Yellowstone County,” Gov. Gianforte said.

Prior to serving in Yellowstone County, Linneweber practiced in Park County for 13 years, serving as Deputy Park County Attorney from 2001 to 2005 and Park County Attorney from 2005 to 2014.

Linneweber graduated from Montana State University with a B.A in Political Science in 1991, before earning his law degree at the University of Montana School of Law in 2000.

This fall, Governor Gianforte announced an advisory council of attorneys and community leaders in Yellowstone County to assist in reviewing qualified candidates to fill the district court vacancy in the Thirteenth Judicial District.

The governor concluded, “I’m grateful to each member of the advisory council for giving their time to review and recommend a highly-qualified nominee from within their community to serve the people of Yellowstone County.”

Linneweber will be sworn in to serve on the Montana Thirteenth Judicial District in January of 2022.

From Competitive Enterprise Institute

October’s inflation reading was the highest since the recession of 1991. November’s is the highest since the 1982 recession, at an annualized 6.8 percent. The reason inflation is usually highest during recessions is because governments attempt to restart growth through a combination of monetary and fiscal policy. It is troubling that today’s inflation is happening while the economy is growing and unemployment is low.

In fact, the misery index is now in double digits, which rarely happens outside of recessions. The misery index is the inflation rate plus the unemployment rate—economist Arthur Okun came up with it as an easy-to-use statistic for President Lyndon Johnson’s benefit, and it remained a key statistic throughout the stagflationary 1970s. It may be time to dust it off again.

While unemployment is a very low 4.2 percent, when combined with 6.8 percent inflation, the misery index currently stands at 11. For context, its all-time high was 21.9 in June 1980. It was below 5 for a good chunk of the 1950s, and was at 5.3 in April 2015.

Inflation happens when the money supply grows faster than the supply of goods and services, as I explained earlier. In today’s case, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down large swathes of the economy for an extended period. Even if the money supply had remained stable, the supply of goods and services temporarily went down. The effects are still being felt in today’s supply chain problems.

But economic fundamentals remained healthy. There was no financial crisis or popped housing bubble. People hunkered down for a while, and are in the process of coming back. This is why COVID-era growth has bounced back in close tandem with increased vaccination rates and decreased caseloads. When people feel safe to open back up, they do—and nothing is stopping them except for bad public policy.

Both Congress and President Biden responded to a different type of recession with the same tools. The result is high inflation during a period of growth. The solution is to spend less and get money supply growth back in sync with growth in goods and services. Instead, Congress continues to spend at a record rate, with more likely on the way. The Fed has indicated that it will taper back monetary growth, but not until next year.

Policy makers are unlikely to do the right thing on the money side. But they can help the goods and services side by removing trade barriers, getting rid of unneeded occupational licenses, speeding up years-long permit processes, repealing the shipping cost-raising Jones Act, liberalizing trucking regulations, and other deregulatory measures. These would spark growth while helping to tame inflation—and without adding to the deficit.

MorganFranklin Consulting, a Vaco company, and a management and technology advisory firm that specializes in solving complex transformational challenges for its clients, has acquired Blue Marble Consulting, an SAP implementation partner and advisory firm based in Big Sky, Montana.

MorganFranklin’s addition of Blue Marble adds a robust SAP capability to the firm’s already extensive technology practice. Founded in 2001, Blue Marble has an extensive track record as an SAP implementation partner, having supported more than 100 SAP ERP clients across many industries including retail, higher education, professional services, manufacturing, as well as state and local government.

“The acquisition of Blue Marble adds to our robust digital transformation and enterprise cloud application solutions practice and enables MorganFranklin to meet the growing demands of our clients,” said Geoff Harkness, managing director and practice leader at MorganFranklin. “We are excited to welcome Blue Marble to our fast-growing team and look forward to collaboratively serving our clients.”

The acquisition continues MorganFranklin’s ongoing rapid growth.

“We are extremely excited to join the MorganFranklin team,” said Sabrina Sigourney, founder and CEO of Blue Marble Consulting. “Our approach has always been to simplify SAP and help clients maximize the return on their technology investment. Joining forces with MorganFranklin allows us to incorporate their broader set of capabilities, providing tremendous value to all our clients. We are truly two families blending together.”

The Bureau of Land Management has announced the correction of what it sees as having been an error of President Trump’s administration, according to the Center for Western Priorities. The agency is returning  to its Washington, DC headquarters.

BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning will be based in Washington, along with the agency’s deputy directors and other leadership. Additionally, the agency will fill approximately 30 vacant positions in Washington, while establishing a Western headquarters in Grand Junction, Colorado.

The Center for Western Priorities’ Executive Director Jennifer Rokala stated: “Today’s announcement marks the end of an error. I’m encouraged to see the Bureau of Land Management moving so quickly to reverse the damage caused by the Trump administration and anti-public lands extremist William Perry Pendley. Our nation’s public lands need strong leadership at the table in Washington, so there’s not a minute to waste rebuilding the Bureau of Land Management at Interior headquarters. 

“America’s public lands are at the center of the fight to slow climate change and the biodiversity crisis. Protecting our lands for future generations will take a concerted and coordinated effort across the entire government, which is why the Bureau of Land Management’s leadership must be located in our nation’s capital.”

Anna Paige is joining the staff of Billings Symphony Orchestra and Chorale as the director of marketing and audience engagement.

Previously, Anna was the arts and entertainment reporter for the Billings Gazette. She has worked in the newspaper and publishing industry since 2004, and she also worked in marketing and development for regional nonprofit and corporate organizations including Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming and Kampgrounds of America.

Originally from Wyoming, Anna has undergraduate degrees in journalism and anthropology from the University of Wyoming and a master’s degree in creative writing from the University of Denver. She has lived in Billings for more than a decade, where she teaches poetry in the elementary schools and is the co-host of Resounds: Arts and Culture on the High Plains on Yellowstone Public Radio. She is also the co-founder of Young Poets, winner of the 2021 Library of Congress Award for Literacy.

On the morning of Nov. 23, Vice President of NFIB’s Federal Government Relations Kevin Kuhlman appeared on the Washington Journal series of C-SPAN to discuss the State of Small Businesses. Hosted by Pedro Echevarria, Kuhlman talked about the impact of the Biden Administration’s policies on small businesses and answered questions from callers. 

 “Overall, there’s a lot to digest and I think small business owners are quite frankly overwhelmed,” Kuhlman says after listing the proposals in the Build Back Better Act legislation that may impact small businesses. The Biden Administration’s assessment of the economy’s strength and being in a position to attack inflation can only come to fruition if we look at the root cause of inflation. “The American economy isn’t going to fully recover to pre-pandemic levels until the small business half of the economy has recovered,” added Kuhlman. “So, our advice to Congress and the Administration is to do no harm to these small businesses. Create an environment to help these small businesses survive and thrive.”

Topics and questions  covered included:

* Small Business Surtax

* Paid Family & Medical Leave program

* OSHA vaccine mandate and implementation

* Inflation

* COVID-19 relief programs

* Supply chain disruptions

* Labor shortages

* Build Back Better Act

NFIB has analyzed various paid leave proposals for years and implementing such an expansive program in only two years will hurt small businesses. “Half of small business owners cannot fill open positions. That requires a flexible arrangement,” Kuhlman explains. “Previously, businesses with fewer than 50 employees were not subject to the Family Medical Leave Act. So, they’re really unfamiliar with paid family and medical leave requirements and policies… It’s an unfamiliar policy that could disrupt or exacerbate their labor force challenges.”

In Bozeman, Vance Thompson Vision plans to build a new eye care and surgical center. The 38,000 square-foot three-story surgical centers will be located on East Valley Center Drive just north of Costco. Currently, Vance Thompson Vision Bozeman partners with another surgical center to perform cataract, cornea, and glaucoma procedures..

Year over year Williston and Williams County North Dakota unemployment rate dropped from 10 percent in 2020 to 4.5 percent in October 2021. For the state the rate dropped rom 3.7 percent to 2.3 percent.

Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital plans to build an affordable workforce housing development for their employees to help mitigate the cost of housing in Bozeman which is unaffordable for many. Bozeman Health has partnered with ERES Capital to build the housing project in Belgrade next to the Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport. Bozeman Health said they have been investing a large amount of money into the project and patients will not see any financial impacts on their health bills. Construction for the new housing units are set to begin this spring and the project is will be completed by 2023. Bozeman Health is hiring for 500 open job positions, for which they have raised the minimum wage to $17 a hour.

The Butte Rescue Mission recently secured a $700,000 grant from the state to transform the old warehouse next to the mission at 610 East Platinum St. into a fully operational kitchen and dining space to provide occupants with more indoor eating options. The warehouse may provide room for extra cots as well.

The Williston, North Dakota is building a new $20 million Career and Technical Education project. The CTE building will be able to accommodate over 400 students in numerous programs to get them career ready upon graduating from Williston High School.