The MSUB College of Business and ISPGAYA University in Vila Nova de Gaia, Portugal have partnered for the Spring 2024 semester to facilitate collaboration between faculty and students. Working in cross-cultural teams, students will work with Owen Haacke, Owner of Empress Brokers International to create an international business plan for the company. 

In February, students from both countries will work together remotely on the initial phases of the plan. In March, MSUB students will meet with their teams in Portugal for a week. To conclude the collaboration, the ISPGAYA students will travel to Montana in April to give their final presentations. 

Dr. Jessie Perius, Assistant Professor and instructor for the course says, “This collaboration will help our students further develop their digital and soft skills as they work in multicultural cross-disciplinary teams. Plus, the opportunity to experience a new culture and make professional connections will provide them with valuable life experience I can’t give them in a classroom.”

By Christen Smith, The Center Square

The Biden administration cut a $7 billion check to launch its vision for a hydrogen-fueled future.

The money augments $40 billion in private investment to build seven hydrogen hubs across the nation that will decarbonize transportation and industrial manufacturing, slashing 25 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

The amount “roughly” equates to removing 5.5 million gasoline-powered vehicles from the road, or just under 2% of the estimated 286 million operational cars in the United States.

After calling climate change “the only existential threat to humanity” during a news conference in Philadelphia, President Joe Biden touted federal infrastructure spending as the key to reigning in greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning away from fossil fuel reliance.

“Today’s announcement is all part of a bigger vision to do just that,” he said.

The hubs expand across seven regions and 16 states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, New Jersey, Delaware, California, Texas, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Washington, Oregon, and Montana.

Together, the network of pipelines, storage facilities and refueling stations will use natural gas to produce energy and capture the resulting carbon emissions underground, creating 3 million metric tons of hydrogen annually – or about 30% of the federal government’s “clean hydrogen” goal for 2030.

“I found that when the government invests in the needs of the American people, guess what? The private sector jumps on real quick,” Biden said.

Hydrogen can be produced in three ways – referred to as gray, blue or green. Gray hydrogen is produced with natural gas and steam; blue is produced the same way, but its carbon gets captured and stored underground; and green is produced with renewable energy, such as wind or nuclear.

Others warn that relying on federal subsidies may waste taxpayer money, especially since the promised benefits of carbon capture, in particular, haven’t panned out.

Despite this, the administration said two-thirds of the projects will work with green hydrogen, in some capacity, and has publicized a four-year timeline to complete construction on the hubs.

By Jack Miller

In 2020, many American corporations and academic institutions adopted new policies to promote “diversity, equity, and inclusion” (DEI). Among these, Boston University decided to build an “anti-racist” research center around activist Ibram X. Kendi. Now, however, Kendi and his center are under fire for mismanaging resources and failing to deliver on the racial reconciliation they promised.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are all laudable virtues– unfortunately, though, Kendi’s ideology fails to live up to these high ideals. In his book “How to be An Anti-Racist,” for instance, Kendi offers the nonsensical statement that, “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination.” That is not what America is about.

Achieving true diversity, equity, and inclusion starts with recognizing we are all individuals first. Instead of assigning collective guilt or praise to arbitrary groups, we need to recognize the promise of the Declaration of Independence. We are all, as that document says, “created equal,” not in some physical or other attributes way, but with “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

America is a very diverse nation. Every age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, nationality, and socio-economic background is represented in this country. This contributes to a rich tapestry of perspectives and experiences. Genuine diversity means celebrating these differences, not trying to homogenize individuals into group identities that claim a special “oppressed” status.

We are also a nation striving for equity for all, which means focusing on the principles of fairness and justice for all. America is built not on the false promise of equal outcomes, but on the notion that everyone is owed an equal opportunity to succeed. We haven’t fully achieved this goal, but we are getting ever closer.

And the same applies to “inclusion,” the concept that we have a society where “all individuals, regardless of their background, characteristics or differences are treated with respect, fairness and equity and are provided with equal opportunities.”

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are virtues that should spark a powerful movement to unify Americans. We should insist that we, as a nation, live up to those rights that we are guaranteed. DEI should not be a movement that tears us apart, but rather a movement that unites us as Americans.

Our Declaration goes on to state that since we are all equal, we all are guaranteed our life and our liberty. But what about that last guarantee, the guarantee of, “the pursuit of happiness?” Notice that it does not guarantee happiness – only the “pursuit” of happiness.

In America it is up to each individual, based on their own abilities and their own efforts, to achieve their own happiness. This is what is meant by meritocracy, the notion that we can each rise into success according to our abilities and hard work. To make all this a reality, everyone should have as equal a place at the starting line as possible. And the best way of assuring that is by giving everyone the best education possible. So, where do we start?

Since over two thirds of high school graduates do not go to college, and many who do go drop out, the obvious place to start is in the K-12 system. Everyone should receive a great education in reading, math and other basics. Everyone should also learn what has made America “the land of the free” where living “the American Dream” is possible for all in their “pursuit of happiness” so they are prepared to help achieve that vision for themselves.

To make this happen, we need the best teachers possible. Teaching is a noble profession and teachers should be well paid, with the best receiving more and the worst being fired. We should look to promote competition in other parts of our school system, as well. One policy we should consider is voucher programs, in which parents can choose the best schools for their children, whether public, religious, charter or private. That kind of competition is what has made our economy the strongest in the world. It would also work in education.

We also need to devote more resources to improving higher education for those who do go to college. And for that vast majority who do not go onto college, the educational opportunities should not stop on graduating from high school. There is a wide array of internships, trade schools and junior colleges available that will help young people find good, well-paying careers. There should be more such post high school training opportunities and young people should be encouraged to attend them.

What unites all Americans is a shared belief in the power of opportunity. We are a vast, diverse nation, with a multitude of identities and social groups. And yet all Americans should be able to affirm the individualism at the heart of our experiment. As an Orthodox rabbi recently asked me, “Are you an American first or a Jew first?” Without a pause, I said, “I am me first, an individual, and I am also a very proud American and a very proud Jew. In America that is possible.”

In America the belief in diversity, equity and inclusion combined with my own hard work, meritocracy, has led to a great life for me and my family. This should be possible for all. Instead of tearing down what we have already achieved, we must build on it to make it a reality for all.

Jack Miller is the founder and chairman of the Jack Miller Center, a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to reinvigorating education in America’s founding principles and history, from K-12 through college.

Humana  and Greater Good Health have announced the opening of primary care clinics in Missoula, Billings and Great Falls, Montana. 

The clinics are in-network with all Humana Medicare Advantage HMO and PPO plans offered in Montana, as well as a Humana Dual Eligible Special Needs Plan for certain patients qualifying for both Medicare and Medicaid. Greater Good Health will also see patients with Original Medicare.

Greater Good Health’s value-based, senior-focused clinics will have a strong commitment to delivering high-quality care and addressing the specific needs of senior patients through prevention, condition management, and coordinated care.

The first Greater Good Health clinic to open will start seeing patients in Missoula at 2230 North Reserve Street today, Oct. 30, 2023, followed by the Billings location at 1423 38th Street W, Ste. 3, which is scheduled to open on Nov. 27, 2023.  There are also plans for a third location to open by the end of this year in Great Falls at 405 3rd Street NW. 

“Greater Good Health is focused on simplifying and coordinating care while educating and empowering seniors,” said Jesse Gamez, Humana Intermountain Medicare President. “I am so grateful to have helped bring this new model of healthcare to the state of Montana, which will expand access to primary care to a rapidly growing senior population.”

“Physician shortages have created massive gaps in healthcare,” said Greater Good Health Founder & CEO Sylvia Hastanan. “Meanwhile, seniors across Montana struggle with access to primary care, and we are responding to the needs of the community by opening comprehensive primary care clinics in partnership with Humana.

By Olivia Johnston, Mountain States Policy Center

Is the U.S. Supreme Court posed to slam the door shut on efforts by some to impose wealth taxes across the country?

We may soon find out.

Multiple states, Idaho and Montana included, along with over 25 organizations have filed amicus briefs in favor of a Washington state couple, Charles and Kathleen Moore, against the United States, for what is anticipated to be the biggest tax case to reach the Supreme Court of the United States in several decades.

This upcoming term, the highest court will hear Moore v. United States, which is on appeal from the 9th Circuit. This litigation poses the Court with the ultimate question: is a realization event necessary for the federal government to impose a tax? A realization event occurs when a taxpayer has money in their hands.

Here is what we know about the case: The Moores hold an 11% ownership interest in KisanKraft, a farming manufacturing company operating out of India. Since the Moores bought in, the company has done exceptionally well, with profits increasing each passing year. The Moores are seeing gains on paper from their overseas investment, but they haven’t cashed in here in the United States. They were taxed on this increase in investment value, which only existed on paper.

The Moores’ position is that the tax imposed is unconstitutional under the Sixteenth Amendment and numerous prior court rulings. The Moores argue that the Ninth Circuit essentially took away the constitutional limit of the federal government to only tax what is deemed as income, and that, “This case is the cleanest vehicle the Court will ever see to address realization under the Sixteenth Amendment.”

The dispute arose due to Section 965 of the Internal Revenue Code, the repatriation tax, being applied to the Moores. This tax was a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, requiring U.S. corporations operating outside of the country to transfer wealth back, a one-time tax. The portion affecting the Moores requires that any person who holds more than 10% of a foreign company that is composed of over 50% U.S. ownership, also called a “CFC”, is subject to taxation; realization event, or not. The Moores were placed in this category due to their 11% ownership in KisanKraft, a CFC. Sec. 965 was codified to combat companies leaving the U.S. and making their money elsewhere.

The government’s position is that while it is true that the government has not historically implemented a tax without realization, “the Supreme Court has made clear that realization of income is not a constitutional requirement. Essentially, the government seeks to overturn the definition put forth in Glenshaw Glass, that “undeniable accessions to wealth” are taxable.

The government seeks to broaden what constitutes a taxable event. If the Court decides in favor of the Moores, it is likely the Court will attempt to sever the statutory language. This would be the easiest solution, as it would allow for the single clause of the repatriation tax to discontinue while maintaining the other portions of the Trump tax legislation, and there is a strong presumption of severability.

If the Court sides with the government, this decision would have great implications for Americans – both financially, and administratively. Not only would the government create greater amounts of paperwork for the taxpayer and the government, but it would also tax money that individuals don’t actually have, in their hands.

The greater concern this case presents is the impact on the legality of wealth taxes.

The National Taxpayers Union Foundation amicus brief offers what several Mountain State policy analysts believe the Court will do; “This Court could uphold the MRT for C corporations but excuse individuals such as the Moores. This Court could determine that the MRT does not violate the realization requirement because the business realized them even if the individuals did not receive a distribution.”

Under this likely approach, the purpose of the MRT is maintained while upholding the constitutionality of a realization requirement.

The Moore name might be on the documents, but there are many Americans whose interests could be significantly hindered if the government prevails. This is not a Court that has shown a desire to increase tax liability. It is unlikely the majority will be receptive to accepting the Solicitor General’s arguments on behalf of the government during oral arguments.

But, as lawyers say daily, it depends.

ONEOK, Inc. announced that it has completed its acquisition of Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P. (Magellan), creating a more diversified North American midstream infrastructure company focused on delivering essential energy products and services to its customers, and continued strong returns to investors.

Said Pierce H. Norton II, ONEOK president and chief executive officer, “Our expanded products platform will present additional opportunities in ONEOK’s core businesses and further enhance the resiliency of our company. We are committed to ensuring a smooth transition aimed at delivering on the many benefits of this combination for our customers, employees and shareholders.”

ONEOK, Inc. is a midstream service provider and owns one of the nation’s premier natural gas liquids (NGL) systems, connecting NGL supply in the Rocky Mountain, (including Montana) Permian and Mid-Continent regions with key market centers and owns an extensive network of gathering, processing, fractionation, transportation and storage assets.

Magellan Midstream Partners, L.P. is a publicly traded partnership that primarily transports, stores and distributes refined petroleum products and crude oil. Magellan owns the longest refined petroleum products pipeline system in the country, with access to nearly 50% of the nation’s refining capacity, and can store more than 100 million barrels of petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel fuel and crude oil.

By Michael J. Marino, Yellowstone County News

Originally constructed in 2006, the 22,500 sq. ft. S-Bar-S building in Lockwood will soon transform into a third location for Ranch House Meat & Sausage Company, a locally owned meat processing business, after a sale which was finalized in August.

S Bar S owner Ryan Stichman said, “We have no plans on shutting our doors.  January 1, 2022, I purchased S Bar S from my uncle, Tom Stichman.  I am the 3rd generation Stichman to own the business.” 

Stichman said his family has been looking at ways to downsize the store for a few years. They plan to break ground on a new, smaller lumber and hardware store late this fall or in early winter, as well as to renovate their original building to use as offices.

In the meantime, Stichman said S Bar S will lease an area of their old store from Ranch House as they prepare to move.

“We are excited about our future and our ongoing support of the Lockwood community that we have had since 1971,” wrote Stichman.

Ranch House Meats owner, Shane Flowers, said he plans to maintain the company’s two existing locations, which include one off Henesta Drive in West Billings, the other in Shepherd along Highway 312. Both stores sell hand-cut Montana beef, pork, and bacon as well as various smoked meats. In addition, the Shepherd location also offers custom smokehouse meats and private labeling.

What’s in store for the eventual third location off Old Hardin Road in Lockwood?

“It’s going to be strictly manufacturing,” said Flowers, “It’s going to be smoked products only.” He said, although a small area near the front of the building will serve as a retail environment where one can buy retail meat products, most of the space will be dedicated to “value added production” like snack sticks, jerky, and summer sausage.

The feedback from Lockwood residents as to this retail location has been “really positive,” according to Flowers. “I think, as a company, we will hopefully be an asset to the community, providing some jobs and tax base as well for them, [with] the amount of production we’re anticipating on doing.”

Flowers says he’s been eyeing the S-Bar-S building ever since it first went up for sale several years ago, noting its layout and open floor plan which would allow him to “build out the way we want it.” He also predicts that it will “create a great visual” for his future clients.

The decision to purchase the S-Bar-S building rather than expand the company’s existing locations was made for a couple of reasons. The first is that Flowers expects he will need “a fair amount of labor” to ramp up production work. “It’s going to be a lot easier to pull labor the closer we are to Billings,” he explained.

Flowers further said he looked into adding on to the Shepherd store but found the cost to be fairly significant due to the building running off less advanced utilities like wells and septic tanks.

As far as an opening date for the new Ranch House Meats location, Flowers told Yellowstone County News nothing is set in stone yet because some items, like equipment orders and construction supplies, are still being ironed out. However, as soon as the site is ready to launch, the company intends to make an official announcement.

Branden Stevens, the current Fire Chief for the Miles City Fire Department in Miles City, Montana, will be the new Fire Chief for The Lockwood Fire District. He will assume his new position on December 1, 2023.

The Lockwood Fire District Board of directors made the announcement on Tuesday after interviewing four potential candidates, last Friday, who submitted resumes during a nationwide search.

Stevens will replace current Fire Chief John Staley who has announced his retirement.

Chief Staley has been with the Lockwood Fire District since 2014, and was previously the Fire Chief in Thornton Colorado. Chief Staley also served with the Billings Fire Department for 26 years.

“We are excited to have been able to attract such and experienced and enthusiastic individual as our new Fire Chief” said board member Frosty Erben. The board had 18 applications from various states and organizations. The Fire Board narrowed the choices to four candidates and had them attend an assessment center process to determine the best fit for Lockwood. Chief Stevens distinguished himself in that process.

Chiefs Stevens is the 4th career Fire Chief in Lockwood’s brief existence, since 1988.

James Allen recently joined Stockman Insurance as an agent in Billings. His responsibilities include developing and servicing new client relationships and assisting them with both their business and personal insurance needs.

 Allen, a licensed insurance agent has a strong background in sales, which will be an asset for Stockman Insurance as they continue to grow in the communities that they serve. He is currently working towards his Associate’s degree in Business Management from Montana State University Billings. He is active in the community serving on the City of Billings Community Development Board and volunteering for Billings TrailNet Ales for Trails. He will also participate in Stockman related events.

Stockman Insurance, an affiliate of Stockman Bank of Montana, is a full-service insurance agency offering most lines of insurance. Their mission is to become the preferred leader in agribusiness, commercial and personal insurance by serving their clients’ needs with personalized and professional customer service.

Allen is located at the Stockman Insurance office at 1405 Grand Avenue. He can be reached at 406-896-4860. Stockman Insurance, headquartered in Miles City, has other offices located in Belgrade, Big Sky, Conrad, Glendive, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, Missoula, Richey, Stanford, Worden and Whitefish.

By Trish Schreiber

School choice is essential for improving educational outcomes for students, and open enrollment is a significant part of that choice spectrum. While Montana has made strides in this area, it lags behind neighbors like Colorado, Idaho, and Utah, all of which boast more expansive open enrollment policies and flourishing charter school sectors. 

 Open Enrollment falls into two categories: intra-district (choice within the same district) and inter-district (choice across district lines). Predictably, inter-district enrollment faces more opposition from the education establishment, presumably due to concerns about funding allocations. While 43 states have some form of inter-district choice, the accessibility varies significantly. Shockingly, in 19 of those state policies, it is not even mandatory for districts to offer open enrollment, but rather it is voluntary. 

 Susan Pendegrass, in her paper “Breaking Down Public School District Lines,” highlights the problematic nature of using district lines for school selection. Despite Brown v. Board of Education’s decisive conclusion that separate is not equal, “Using district lines to determine where a child goes to schools is a 200-year old mistake that has resulted in racial and socioeconomic segregation in U.S. public schools.” This practice inadvertently supports socioeconomic segregation in schools. Moreover, Pendegrass points out that voluntary open enrollment policies exacerbate disparities and can lead to districts “cherry picking” students. 

 While Montana has historically offered mandatory inter-district open enrollment, this was only because of certain circumstances due to geographical barriers between homes and district schools. Until recently, this option necessitated families to disclose personal details to validate their transfer request and subjected the decision to the sending district’s discretion. However, Montana recently improved its inter-district open enrollment policy, eliminating out-of-pocket-tuition fees for access to out-of-district schools.  

 Although many of the larger districts in Montana offer intra-district open enrollment, it is a voluntary policy, something experts discourage. A quick search of larger school district websites shows that Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell and Missoula all assign students within district boundaries to designated zoned schools. Bozeman SD7 even cites the criminal statute applied for false residence claims to attend one of their schools, echoing a nationwide issue. In keeping with Pendagrass’s assessment that district zoning leads to segregation, in a recent study titled “Where Do Americans Mingle?,” researchers demonstrated that there is significantly more socioeconomic integration in chain restaurants and gas stations than there is in American public schools. Given this, does Montana’s zoning of children into neighborhood schools truly offer “equality of educational opportunity” as guaranteed in its constitution?

It is also worth noting how Montana’s new charter laws differ in this “equality of educational opportunity” guarantee through their enrollment offerings. While the Community Choice Schools Act states “A Community Choice School must be open to any student residing in the state,” (Section 11(1)(a)) the Public Charter Schools Act includes that exact same sentence followed six sentences later with, “A public charter school shall give enrollment preference to students who are residents of the located school district” (Section 8 (2)(a)). Why this discrepancy in enrollment offerings if the intent is truly to give all students options?  

While I can’t answer this question, it’s evident Montana needs introspection. There’s an urgent need to break free from outdated education norms and embrace a more inclusive and adaptable education system. Other nations, admired for their educational outcomes like Poland, Finland, Canada and Estonia, have all embraced education pluralism. Why can’t Montana’s funding and school choice policies be equally pluralistic, focusing on funding students rather than funding structures?

Trish Schreiber is a senior education fellow at the Montana-based Frontier Institute.