A new video being promoted by the American Petroleum Institute (API), the nation’s largest oil and gas trade association, and a fact sheet put out by the Western Energy Alliance refute claims about natural gas production made by Democratic presidential candidates who vow to ban fracking.

API’s video points to how domestic natural gas production is essential for U.S. energy security.  https://youtu.be/ALEY2lqAOGU

Bulletproof Fabrication, 2104 E Maryland Ln, Laurel 59044, 671-7167, Spencer Powell, service

Sandy Taylor, 803 Lewis Ave Apt 5, 59101, 272-0118, Sandy Taylor, service

Rollin’ Express LLC, 1700 Lockwood Rd, 59101, 534-2670, Jill Hinman, service

Jigsaw Consulting, 4325 Lone Eagle Dr, 59106, 661-3247, Jo Swain, service

Double AA Builders, 624 N 13th St, 59101, 384-8011, Andrew Nelson, general contractor

TWM, 1303 Bitterroot Trail, 59105, 591-3709, Trever McFarren, general contractor

Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation, 12 Avanta Way, Ste 2, 59102, 272-8369, Jennifer Schwartz, bank/loan agencies

Molly Adair LMT, 27 Shiloh Rd Ste 7, 59102, 208-7166, Molly Adair, service

A&A Auto Repair, 470 Lake Elmo Dr, 59105, 850-0946, Andrea & Anthony Garza, auto business

Buzzer Home repair, 7029 Lance Street, Shepherd 59079, 696-2878, John Strahan, service

Petroleum Consultants Inc, 2812 1st Ave N Ste 434, 59101, 490-7560, Darren Gollehon/Doug Rubick/Cody Danielson, service

Muster Cluster LLC, 2812 1st Ave N, 59101, 490-7560, Darren Gollehon/Doug Rubick/Cody Danielson/Kris Mindrum, service

Oildigger resources LLC, 2812 1st Ave N, 59101, 490-7560, Darren Gollehon/Doug Rubick service

Biker Betty, 836 Cook Ave, 599102, Jacqueline Brown, retail sales

Diana Marcecla Merrifield, 2240 Monad Rd Apt 3, 59102, 591-0328, Diana Merrifield, service

Coffee Date Counseling Services LLC, 1925 Grand Ave Ste 141, 59102, 690-6875, Michelle Pinnow, service

Wood Be Creative, 764 Antelope Pl, 59101, 208-406-8473, Brittany Coulson, misc

J&J excavating and trucking Inc, 1004 Eastside Hwy, Corvallis 59828, 961-1511, Jake King, service

Stompin Grounds, 510 N 28th St, 59101, 619-495-6551, Cynthia Johnson, restaurant

Patrick Onstad Fencing, 520 O’Malley Dr, 59102, 697-2784, Patrick Onstad,  general contractor

EDH Builders, 712 St John’s Ave, 59101, 690-1225, Erik Hamilton, general contractor

 Precise Heating and Air Conditioning, 712 Oasis Dr, 59105, 281-0746, Justin Lewis, service

CBD American Shaman, 937 Grand Ave, 59102, 435-414-3945, Vee Etre, retail sales

Magic City low Voltage, 2227 bench Blvd, 59105, 672-2491, Jeremy Cartwright, service

Ann Lewis, LMT, 4209 Audubon Way, 59106, 970-0588, Ann Lewis, service

True North Family Therapy, 1643 24th St W Ste 310, 59102, Janna North, service

Casey’s Dream LLC, 411 24th St W Ste 113, 59102, Brittany Curl, service

Clark Consulting, 307 S. Billings Blvd #69, 59101, 662-347-8022, Charles Clark, service

406 P.A.L.S. 316 Lewis Ave, 59101, 855-9952, Brian Steele, service

Chau Kitchen, 225 E Airport Rd, 59105, 969-1136, Phil Chau, restaurants

B&L Welding Services, 2793 N 26 Rd, Worden 59088, 200-1074, Bo Fish, service

The Windy Mill Press, 1500 Poly Dr Ste 113, 59102, 698-9000, retail sales

Mountain Mudd Espresso, 509 24th St W, 59102, 321-2090, Tanya Weinreis, retail sales

Hickory Farms, 1749 Main St 59105, 307-262-9667, Cordell Wistisen, retail sales

A&J Properties, 135 Rolling Meadows Dr, 59101, 860-7700, Aaron Johnson, service

Foxy G Enterprises, 923 US Hwy 87 E, 59101, 672-1705, L. Michelle Gabaldon, retail sales

CBD Releaf, 1313 Grand Ave Ste 8B, 59102, 694-6166, Andrew Baker, retail sales

Jammie J Pilgram, 1739 Avenue B 59102, 839-7868, Jammie J Pilgram, general contractor

Rachel Bahre, 635 Burlington Ave, 59101, 970-980-5143, Rachel Bahre, service

Thomas Hofer Construction, 3815 Avenue F, 59102, 605-660-2122, Thomas Hofer, general contractor

Timeless Blooms LLC, 610 Lake Elmo Dr, Apt 11, 59105, 647-2482, Sierra Brooke Whittemore, service

Sutton Heating & Cooling Inc, 1925 Grand Ave, 59102, 777-4326, Brent Sutton, service

Accurate Exteriors, 4522 Stone St, 59101, 697-0054, Matthew Boyd, general contractor

Bedroc Inspection Services LLC, 2905 Lynwood Circle, 59102, 927-9018, Rocci Lamantia, service

Ferreira Construction Company, 214 3rd St N, Huntley 59037, 913-638-3218, Antonio Ferreira, general contractor

Immortal Design & Everything Art, 1615 Alderson Ave, 59102, 860-5055, Dustin Flynn, service

Ebon Coffee Collective LLC, 3024 2nd Ave N, 59101, 839-2030, Jaxi & Nathan Howes, restaurants

The Brokerage LLC, 3203 3rd Ave N, 59101, 671-6160, Keith Hart, service

Montana hemp Boys LLC, 741 Conway St, 59105, 672-1074, Brian Bowers, office only

Norbury Drywall Paint & Repair, 146 Stillwater Ln, 59105, 208-4489, Michael Norbury, general contractor

Safety Colorz, 249 Coburn Rd, 794 5803, Rita Gausen, retail sales

Body by Scotty, 1409 Avenue E, 59102, 690-6301, Scott Reidy, service

BTU Buster, 23 Monroe St #2, 59101, 861-7701, Trent Currie, service

Multifacetid Design Inc, 1939 Colton Blvd, 59102, 259-3103, Jason Prigge, service

Thrift N Things, 608 Ray Rd, Lavina 59046, 320-2601, Rebecca Haaland, retail sales

Natalie Enterprise Inc, 2500 Grand Ave Unit N, 59102, 403-8991, Shanni a Moulton, service

Tevlin Consulting LLC, 2404 Quinn Haven Dr, 59102, 670-5883, James Tevlin, service

Arete Consulting LLC, (Investments) 2223 Montana Ave Ste 103, 59101, 894-2121, Lyndon Scheveck, service

Arete Consulting LLC, (Entertainment) 2223 Montana Ave Ste 103, 59101, 894-2121, Lyndon Scheveck, service

Speedy Wrecker Service, 12885 Medicine Man Trail, Molt 59057, 669-3254, Darlene Howard, service

Northwest Tower LLC, 9760 Summit Dr, Missoula 59808, 728-0988, Mike McCue, service

Smith & Company Construction, 1220 Weil St Ste 3, 59101, 259-9229, Cory & Rose Smith, general contractor

Shaylah Tokar LMT, 27 Shiloh Rd Ste 7, 59106, 201-7353, Shaylah Tokar, service

Redstone Wildlife Studio, 5231 King Ave W Ste C-1, 59106, 200-5031, Scott Adamson, service

Iron Oil Operating LLC, 2507 Montana Ave, 59101, 318-8018, Mitch Thompson (mgr), service

Montana State University Billings recently received board of regents approval to rename and restructure two of their colleges. The College of Allied Health Professions’ new name will be the College of Health Professions & Science, and the College of Arts & Sciences will change to the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences.

This shift assists in the development of pathways to more effectively serve students interested in health professions and the sciences.

“Restructuring the College of Health Professions & Science will provide more opportunities to collaborate with the health service industry to develop career pathways to meet our community and regional needs,” said Kurt Toenjes, acting dean of the College of Allied Health Professions.

From The Center Square

Earning a salary of $100,000 a year is a major financial milestone for many Americans. The good news is that with steadily rising wages and increasing demand for skilled jobs, the goal of earning a six-figure salary is more attainable than ever before.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that the percentage of individuals with a total income of $100,000 or more per year (in 2018 dollars) has increased dramatically. While only 3.5 percent of earners in 1980 had the equivalent of a six-figure salary, that number rose to over 11 percent in 2018. This upward trend closely follows the trend in mean individual income over the same period. Nationwide, the mean annual income was $50,413 in 2018 for all individuals ages 15 and over.

The share of high-paying jobs is expected to increase significantly over the next 10 years, especially due to increased demand in the healthcare, management, and technology industries. The average projected employment growth rate across all occupations for the period 2018-2028 is 5.2 percent, but occupations with a mean annual pay of $100,000 or more are expected to increase twice as fast, at almost 10 percent. High-paying healthcare jobs, in particular, will expand rapidly as an aging population requires increased medical care.

Jobs that are most frequently attaining this goal are CEO’s, college health specialties teachers,  Health Specialties Teachers, marketing managers, construction managers, administrative services managers, pharmacists, medical and health services managers, sales managers, computer and information systems managers, financial managers, lawyers, physicians and surgeons, software developers and programmers, general and operations managers.

By Bethany Blankley, Market Square

The U.S. economy added far more jobs than expected in November according to the latest numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The joblessness rate also reached another 50-year low.

Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 266,000 in November. Job growth has averaged 180,000 per month so far in 2019, BLS reports, compared to the average monthly gain of 223,000 in 2018.

Overall, the private sector added 254,000 new jobs in November, far more than the 178,000 expected jobs, and the 163,000 added in October.

Education and health services industries added 74,000 jobs, more than double the numbers added in October. Business services and leisure also added 38,000 and 45,000 positions, respectively.

The manufacturing sector added 54,000 jobs, exceeding the estimated 40,000 jobs initially projected by economists.

“This is a blowout,” Maria Bartiromo, Fox Business Global Markets Editor Mornings, said. “Look at these manufacturing numbers, a blowout.”

The unemployment rate also dropped to 3.5 percent, matching September’s, the lowest level since 1969.

“The incredible job growth we saw in November is more evidence that now is the perfect time for work-focused welfare reform,” said Kristina Rasmussen, senior fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountabily, of making sure those who can work, are able to get off the sidelines and into “the hottest job market in a generation.”

Montana ranks in the top ten best states for millennials to live and work. In fact, it seems millennials would fare best in western states.

As a group, 23-38 years old earn less and have less assets than their parents did a generation ago. However, where they live can make a huge difference in their quality of life, reports Zippa.com

After finding the states where it is worst to be a millennial, Zippa.com decided to shine some light on states where millennials are thriving.

The 10 Best States For Millennials are: Utah, Iowa, Wyoming, North Dakota, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, and Montana.

Of the top 10 states, only New Hampshire is on a coast. The reasons for the Western states’ line-up are low cost of living and high rates of home ownership.

To determine the ranking Zippa.com looked at Millennial Unemployment Rate, Average Student Loan Debt, Millennial Home Ownership, Percent Of Millennials Living In Poverty.

The analysis stated about Montana, “Montana is sometimes referred to as ‘The Last Best Place.’ which seems fitting as end our top 10. Montana has a lot to offer millennials. The low millennial unemployment and low average student loan debt and definitely help millennials thrive.”

The 10 worst states for millennials: District of Columbia, Georgia, New York, Florida, North Carolina, California, South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

By Bethany Blankley, Central Square

Montana’s economic freedom demonstrated the very slightest of improvements over the past year, according to the 2019 Economic Freedom of North America report.

Historically, economic freedom has been declining in North America, according to a new report published by the Economic Research Center at The Buckeye Institute in partnership with Canada’s Fraser Institute.

However, the report indicates that several U.S. states are faring better.

The most economically free state in the U.S. is New Hampshire, followed by Florida, Tennessee, Virginia and Texas, according to the report. Montana ranks 16th, reflecting a four-year trend of improvement.

The least economically free state is New York, followed by West Virginia, Alaska, Vermont, and Oregon.

“As the size of government expands, less room is available for private choice,” the authors of the report conclude. “When the government taxes one person in order to give money to another, it separates individuals from the full benefits of their labor and reduces the real returns of such activity.

“When government owns what would otherwise be private enterprises and engages in more of what would otherwise be private investment, economic freedom is reduced,” they add. ““Policymakers should seize the chance to prioritize workers by lowering their tax burdens and level the private sector playing field with smart regulatory reforms that promote job creation and business investment.”

Over regulation is Montana’s greatest threat to freedom.

“Residents of Big Sky country enjoy ample personal freedom and good fiscal policy, but regulatory policy has seen a worrying, long-term decline in both absolute and relative terms,” said the report.

The report ranks every state and province in North America based on economic freedom, as measured by government spending, taxation, and labor market restrictions. The current rankings are based on data from 2017.

“Economically free states encourage and allow families and businesses to pursue economic prosperity,” the Ohio-based Buckeye Institute said in a statement accompanying the report. “Although governments can never ensure economic success for every citizen, policymakers can take meaningful steps to make success more likely.”

Montana’s tax burden is well below the national average. Insurance freedom is middling, as the state imposes some restrictions on rating criteria but has gone to “file and use” for most lines. It joined the Interstate Insurance Product Regulation Compact in 2013–14. There is a general ban on sales below cost, and medical facilities and moving companies both face entry barriers. On lawsuit freedom it is slightly above average (less vulnerable to abusive suits). State taxes have held steady over the last several years at about 5 percent of adjusted personal income. Local taxes spiked in FY 2009 but have settled down since to about 3.1 percent of income. Montanans have virtually no choice in local government, as counties control half of local taxes. Montana’s debt burden has fallen from 20.2 percent of income in FY 2007 to 12.2 percent now. Government employment and consumption have fallen since the Great Recession and are now slightly better than average. Overall, Montana has posted consistent gains on fiscal policy over the time period we analyze.

Land-use freedom and environmental policy have deteriorated since 2007. Building restrictions are now more onerous than average. Eminent domain reform has not gone far. The state’s renewable portfolio standards are among the toughest in the country, raising the cost of electricity. The state has a fairly high minimum wage for its median wage level. Overall, Montana is one of the least free states when it comes to the labor market. Health insurance mandates are extremely expensive. Montana has gone from one of the least regulated states for occupational licensing in 2000 to one of the more regulated today. However, licensing was trimmed in 2016, and nurses enjoy substantial practice freedom. Montana is one of the better states for gun rights, although it has fairly extensive limits on where one may carry within cities. Montana also does well on gambling, where it has an unusual, competitive model for video terminals that does not involve casinos. On criminal justice, Montana is above average. Drug arrests are more than one standard deviation below the national average, but the incarceration rate is about average, when adjusted for crime rates. The state is schizophrenic on cannabis, with a reasonably liberal medical marijuana program but also the possibility of a life sentence for a single cannabis offense not involving minors and a one-year mandatory minimum for any level of cultivation. Montana reformed its terrible asset forfeiture law in 2015 but has not touched the equitable sharing loophole. Tobacco and alcohol freedoms are subpar, with draconian smoking bans, higher-than-average cigarette taxes, and state monopoly liquor stores. Educational freedom is slightly better than average, with fairly light regulation of private schools and homeschools and, since 2015, a strictly limited tax credit scholarship law. The state was forced to legalize same-sex marriage in 2014, and its oppressive super-DOMA was therefore also overturned.

The institute argues that policymakers can improve a state’s economy by reigning in government spending, reducing “needless regulations,” and simplifying a state’s tax structure.

The Fraser Institute has measured economic freedom in every state and province in the United States, Canada, and Mexico for 15 years, “creating a comprehensive assessment of trends in economic freedom.” The Buckeye Institute and its Economic Research Center co-published the report for five years in a row.

Zoot announced the results of the 2019 Lending Awards, where it was named “Best Technology Partner – Risk, Regulation and Compliance.” The Lending Awards recognize excellence and innovation in credit risk assessment in consumer, commercial and residential lending. Zoot’s lending solutions significantly improve the customer journey and enable smarter decisions through access to better data, faster policy changes and full configurability. Zoot was named as a ‘Top 20 Company in 2019,’  for its innovation, professionalism and the significant value it brings to its clients.

A few months ago, WMK & Co., a Billings-based steel fabricator, acquired KJ Fabrication in Butte, as part of a company plan to expand.

The United States Senate confirmed President Donald Trump’s nomination of Deputy Assistant Attorney General Lawrence VanDyke to serve as a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. VanDyke, who is expected to maintain chambers in Las Vegas or Reno, Nevada, fills the seat of Circuit Judge Jay S. Bybee, who will assume senior status. VanDyke joined the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division as the deputy assistant attorney general this year. Previously he served as the solicitor general for the states of Nevada and Montana, and before that position he served as the assistant solicitor general for the State of Texas. Earlier in his career he clerked for Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and worked as an associate attorney at the Dallas and Washington, D.C., offices of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher, LLP, before and after that clerkship. While in college, Mr. VanDyke was vice president of Performance Machinery Company and project manager of VanDyke Construction Company in Bozeman, Montana.