Michael Layman, senior advisor to the Coalition to Save Local Businesses (CSLB), issued the following statement highlighting CSLB’s rapid nationwide growth. Since its November relaunch, CSLB has driven almost 60 groups across 10 states to call on their state congressional delegations to support a bipartisan resolution to overturn the job-killing joint employer rule.

“Momentum is building to stop the job-killing joint employer rule,” said Layman. “Small and local business owners across America know this overreaching and unworkable regulation will kill jobs, shutter storefronts, increase litigation and make an already uncertain economic outlook that much worse. It’s encouraging to see the widespread support in communities across the country for overturning this disastrous rule.”

The NLRB’s final joint employer rule would expand 6he definition of joint employer, stripping small business owners of authority over their employees. This new joint employer rule expands on an old joint employer rule that destroyed an estimated 376,000 jobs, cost small businesses an estimated $33 billion, and led to a 93% spike in lawsuits in the franchise sector alone.  Proposed in Sept. 2022, the expanded joint employer rule was finalized on Oct. 26, 2023, was scheduled to take effect on Dec. 26, 2023 and has now been postponed until February 26, 2024.

Brad Griffin, CEO of the Montana Equipment Dealers Association said, “Agriculture is the lifeblood of Montana’s economy and supplying this vital industry with proper equipment is fundamental to its success. We oppose the joint employer rule, because it will negatively impact our dealer-member’s relationships with their agriculture partners. The Montana congressional delegation should absolutely support the effort to overturn this harmful rule.”

Earlier this year, a group of 72 organizations sent a letter urging Congress to use the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to overturn the NLRB’s final joint employer rule. Following the initial letter, organizations in Arizona, California, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, and North Dakota sent similar letters to their state congressional delegations.

U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Joe Manchin (D-WV), Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chairwoman of the House Education and Workforce Committee, Representative John James (R-MI) and Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) introduced resolutions of disapproval under the CRA to overturn this new job-killing rule.

The Coalition to Save Local Businesses represents hundreds of thousands of local businesses and millions of American jobs through its membership and partner organizations.  The coalition’s goal is to raise the voices of everyday Americans who own, operate, work for and depend on local businesses for their livelihoods.

United Airlines has added two additional daily flights with direct service to Denver, Colorado. The announcement joins other recent announcements of additional air service for Billings.

United Airlines’ announcement brings Billings to five daily flights with direct service to Denver, according to The City of Billings, in partnership with the Visit Billings, the Billings Chamber of Commerce, and Big Sky Economic Development.

Expanded service will be in full effect on May 23, respectively, with the fourth flight being added as early as March 31, 2024.

Director of Aviation and Transit for Billings Logan International Airport, Jeff Roach said, “Billings Logan International Airport (BIL) is excited to see United Airlines continued commitment to our market with expanded daily service to Denver. United Airlines has been a great partner for the airport and the additional direct flights will enhance connectivity and provider increased business and tourism travel opportunities.”

This week’s announcement immediately follows numerous successes at the Billings airport, including new seasonal service from Sun Country Airlines to Minneapolis, direct, seasonal service to LAX via Allegiant Airlines, and a community air service event where attendees were updated on the airport’s construction plans, the state of the air service industry, and continued strategy to increase air service were discussed.

The Air Service Committee, comprised of business and community leaders, continues to strategize on air service goals to expand and improve air service for leisure and business travel for our community.

Allegiant Airline has also announced a new flight service connecting Billings to Los Angeles, California.

This strategic expansion by Allegiant signifies an exciting milestone in enhancing travel options for residents and visitors alike, stated The City of Billings, in partnership with the Tourism Business Improvement District (TBID), the Billings Chamber of Commerce, and Big Sky Economic Development in making the announcement.

Scheduled to commence on May 16, 2024, the new flight service will offer unparalleled convenience and accessibility for travelers seeking seamless connections between Billings and Los Angeles. With this addition, passengers will enjoy exploring new opportunities for travel and business. This service will undoubtedly elevate the overall travel experience for all flyers.

Roach said, “I am very excited that Allegiant has chosen to add non-stop seasonal air service to LAX next summer. Allegiant has been a great partner with Billings and we look forward to this new chapter in our journey together.”

Launching flights from California to Billings is a game-changer for our tourism economy. Meeting the demand from this market to explore our diverse attractions, from our National Monuments to access to Yellowstone National Park, bolsters our status as a premier destination,” added Aly Eggart, Leisure Marketing Director for Visit Billings and the Billings Chamber of Commerce.

The introduction of this flight service comes at a pivotal time, catering to the increasing demand for accessible, efficient, and comfortable travel options. “Los Angeles is a desired destination for our business leaders, especially in the private sector and retail industry, to continue to grow their economic partnerships in California. We’re pleased to see Allegiant’s investment and continued partnership in Billings” said Ashley Kavanagh, Senior Director of Recruitment and Community Development at Big Sky Economic Development. Tickets for this new flight service are now available for purchase through Allegiant’s website and mobile app. For more information or to book flights, visit https://www.allegiantair.com

Tickets for this new flight service are now available for purchase through United’s website and mobile app.


Cogburn Holdings LLC/ Dick Anderson Construction, 6767 Tun Tavern Rd, Com Remodel, $4,000,000

Billings Logistics Center One LLC/ Bauer Construction, 3218 S Frontage Rd, Com Remodel, $320,000

Billing Real Estate Holdings LLC /Intermountain Wind and Solar LLC, 600 S 27th St, Com Remodel, $384,087

Homefront/ Safetech, Inc,  511 N 26th St, Demolition Permit Commercial, $17,845

Fitness Properties LLC/ Donahue Roofing & Siding LLC, 777 15th St W, Com Fence/Roof/Siding $155,753

Charter Communications Inc, 1860 Monad Rd, Com Remodel, $765,000

Black Hills Federal Credit Union/ Langlas & Assoc., Inc,.4002 Montana Sapphire Dr, Com Remodel, $15,000

Lana M Craig Trust/ J & T Roofing LLC, 920 Central Ave, Com Fence/Roof/Siding ,$36,000

236 N 9th St Trust /Neumann Construction, 50 24th St W, Com New Restaurant/Casino/Bar, $800,000

Edward E & Doris L Jones Trust/ Burnett Enterprises LLC, 1032 N 29th St, Com Remodel, $174,550

Black Hills Federal Credit Union/Langlas & Assoc., Inc., 4002 Montana Sapphire Dr, Com Remodel, $660,000

Darcey Frewin/ Carter Construction, 300 S 24th St W Com Remodel $50,000


Comstock, Anthony & Suzette /S Bar S Supply Contractor, 144 Monroe St, Res New Accessory, $20,000

Infinity Home LLC/ Infinity Home LLC, 509 Montecito Ave, Res New Single Family, $237,729

Buscher Construction/ Buscher Construction Ltd, 3129 Falcon Cir, Res New Single Family, $420,000

Infinity Homes/ Infinity Home LLC, 953 Ortega St, Res New Single Family, $247,609

Schott/ Mueller Contracting, 3035 Donegal Ct, Res New Single Family, $325,460

Na /Infinity Home LLC, 503 Montecito Ave, Res New Single Family, $244,996

John Haman/ HD Building Inc, 1410 Anchor Ave, Res New Single Family, $234,889

Trails West Homes LLC/ Trails West Homes LLC, 5733 Bear Track Trl, Res New Single Family, $227,838

Dirk Arnold Construction/ Dirk Arnold Construction, 1312 Emma Ave, Res New Single Family $340,000

By Shirleen Guerra, The Center Square

About 4,000 auto dealers from all 50 states have signed a letter to President Joe Biden saying electric vehicles are “stacking up on our lots” as the demand for electric cars has “stalled.”

“BEVs [battery electric vehicles] are stacking up on our lots,” the auto dealers stated in the letter. “Last year, there was a lot of hope and hype about EVs. Early adopters formed an initial line and were ready to buy these vehicles as soon as we had them to sell. But that enthusiasm has stalled. Today, the supply of unsold BEVs is surging, as they are not selling nearly as fast as they are arriving at our dealerships – even with deep price cuts, manufacturer incentives, and generous government incentives.”

The  letter stated: “Mr. President, it is time to tap the brakes on the unrealistic government electric vehicle mandate. Allow time for the battery technology to advance. Allow time to make BEVs more affordable. Allow time to develop domestic sources for the minerals to make batteries. Allow time for the charging infrastructure to be built and prove reliable. And most of all, allow time for the American consumer to get comfortable with the technology and make the choice to buy an electric vehicle.”

There are 18,230 light vehicle dealerships in the United States.

The Sierra Club is the largest leading grassroots environmental organization focused on promoting green energy and the healing power of nature. The group conducted surveys throughout several dealerships across all 50 states.

The Sierra Club said the U.S. auto industry is “largely” failing to meet consumer demands when it involves electric vehicles.

In May, the Sierra Club did an investigation of car dealerships and their sales of EVs.

While electric vehicles did exceed 5% of new car sales in 2022, and eventually reaching 10% by the end of the year according to the surveys, still 66% of dealerships did not have electric vehicles available for purchase, leaving only 34% of dealerships with available electric vehicles for sale.

“We are in a climate crisis and at a major inflection point for the American electric vehicle industry, and yet automakers are still pumping out millions of gas-powered vehicles while they lag on their EV commitments,” said Sierra Club Clean Transportation for All Director Katherine Garcia in a media release.

Others are not convinced there is an appetite for more EVs.

“Despite taxpayer-funded subsidies that artificially reduce costs, consumer demand for EVs persistently lags supply, and the vehicles sit on lots longer than gas- and diesel-powered cars,” American Energy Alliance President Thomas Pyle, a founding member of the Save Our Cars Coalition said in a statement. “By speaking out, hopefully, these auto dealers will be able to help persuade the administration that American families should have the freedom to buy the vehicle that best suits their budget and lifestyle while encouraging fair competition in the automotive industry.” 

A German company has a novel product – wind turbine blades made from wood. A little recognized issue with wind energy is that the turbine blades only last 2 or 3 years and then they go to the landfill. — as many as 14,000 blades each year. Voodin Blades uses high-tech laminated lumber, that has similar characteristics to glass fiber, held together by a glue designed to work with wood. The blades can be reused or repurposed for construction or other products – or  burned. And they are biodegradable. They are also 20% cheaper than standard blades.

By Scott Hodge, Tax Foundation

Underlying every fiscal policy discussion in Washington is the question of progressivity: how much should tax and spending policy redistribute from high-income households to low-income households?

This debate is often more rhetorical than substantive, but a recent study by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) fills this void by presenting data showing that the current fiscal system—both taxes and direct federal benefits—is very progressive and very redistributive.

The CBO study estimates the impact of federal fiscal policy on household incomes in 2019 (the most recent data). It does this by contrasting how much households benefited from social insurance programs (e.g., Social Security and Medicare) and means-tested transfer programs (e.g., Medicaid, SNAP, and Supplemental Security Income) with how much they paid in total federal taxes—including individual income taxes, payroll taxes, corporate income taxes, estate taxes, and various excise taxes.

These policies lift the incomes of many households (who receive more in federal benefits than they pay in total federal taxes) while reducing the income of others (who pay more in federal taxes than they receive in direct federal benefits). CBO’s data allows us to measure the impact of these policies on the average household within various income groups and then aggregate the results to measure how these policies redistribute income between groups of households.

To be sure, households do benefit from other federal programs such as national defense, highway spending, and public education, but CBO does not include the benefits of such programs in this exercise. The study is solely focused on fiscal policy that directly impacts household incomes.

Federal benefit programs and taxes can either raise market incomes or reduce them. For example, in 2019, households in the lowest quintile paid almost no federal income taxes but received nearly $22,000 in transfer benefits. As a result, these policies more than doubled their household incomes, an increase of 126 percent.

The story is very similar for households in the second and middle quintiles, although not as extreme. After netting their federal taxes paid, direct federal benefit policies raised the incomes of households in the second quintile by 39 percent and the incomes of households in the middle quintile by 11 percent.

The story changes completely for average households in the top two quintiles. On average, they paid more in taxes in 2019 than they received in direct federal benefits. Households in the fourth quintile, for example, saw their incomes fall by 4 percent, while households in the highest quintile saw their incomes fall by 21 percent.

At the very top of the income scale, the story is even more dramatic. Households in the top 1 percent paid an average of roughly $600,000 in federal taxes and received about $15,000 in federal benefits. As a result, federal tax and spending policies reduced the incomes of households in the top 1 percent by nearly one-third (30 percent).

It is interesting to note that federal benefit programs are distributed relatively evenly across the income scale, while federal taxes skew very heavily to higher-income earners.

Federal fiscal policy increased the overall income for households in the lowest quintile by $566 billion in 2019. Households in the second quintile gained $390 billion in income while households in the middle quintile gained $187 billion in income.

Combined, the first three quintiles gained more than $1.1 trillion in income thanks to federal benefit policies, even after netting out their federal taxes paid.

On the other end of the income scale, progressive fiscal policy reduced the incomes of households in the fourth quintile by $109 billion in 2019. However, this is a fraction of the nearly $1.7 trillion that households in the highest quintile saw their incomes fall due to federal fiscal policy. Of this amount, some $702 billion came from households in the top 1 percent alone.

Overall, federal fiscal policy lowered the incomes of the top 40 percent of American households by roughly $1.8 trillion in 2019. Of this, more than $1.1 trillion was redistributed to lift the incomes of households in the bottom 60 percent of the population, while the remaining $656 billion went to pay for other federal spending.

The cost of prescription drugs will likely increase 42-57 percent for retired Americans enrolled in Medicare’s Part D prescription coverage in 2024. The reason is the manipulation of the market by government which encourages insurers to shift costs from one group of users to be borne by another.

A change in the Inflation Reduction Act, which reduces co-pays for some, especially those with chronic conditions, shifts that cost to about a fourth of Medicare recipients who exceed the threshold of the new $2000 cap and will be expected to cover 60-80 percent of their prescription costs.

Earlier reports projected slight premium declines across Part D plans next year, but the HealthView report, published in November 2023, contrasts sharply with a July projection by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the federal agency that administers the Medicare program, 

CMS said there would be a 1.8 percent decline in Part D premiums for 2024, because of “reforms” in the Inflation Reduction Act. However, HealthView forecasts major hikes for retirees in states with large senior populations. They projected average increases ranging from $269 in Texas to $510 in New York.

The Inflation Reduction Act lowered the maximum out-of-pocket spending cap for Medicare Part D prescription drugs from $7,050 in 2023, to $2,000 in 2025, reducing co-pays for some, especially those with chronic conditions. However, financial liability will shift to insurers expected to cover 60-80 percent of costs once patients hit the new $2,000 cap.

With roughly a quarter of Medicare recipients exceeding this threshold, HealthView analysis suggests carriers will raise premiums to account for their increased coverage requirements. The higher premiums are a way for insurance companies to cover the expected increase in costs.

So, while the Inflation Reduction Act aims to lower overall healthcare costs for retirees, it may actually increase 2024-2025 Part D premiums for 75 percent of enrollees seeing no co-pay relief.

Epoch Times reports, “Americans pay for prescription drugs over 2.5 times more than other high-income nations. One in five seniors alter medication use due to high prescription costs, a May 2023 national survey found. They either skipped, delayed, took less medication, or took someone else’s medications.”

HealthView analysis shows 2024 increases could outpace the average retiree’s Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) by 70 percent – posing real financial challenges.

The most recent release of NFIB’s monthly Small Business Economic Trends is the 50th anniversary issue, but it is not finding small business owners in a mood for celebration.

“This month marks the 50th anniversary of NFIB’s small business economic survey,” said NFIB Chief Economist Bill Dunkelberg. “The October data shows that small businesses are still recovering, and owners are not optimistic about better business conditions. Small business owners are not growing their inventories as labor and energy costs are not falling, making it a gloomy outlook for the remainder of the year.”

Added Ronda Wiggers, Montana state director for NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business), “I give our state credit for passing policies that have cushioned the blow from what our economy has been throwing at small businesses with such things as lowering the personal income tax rate and boosting the business equipment tax exemption to $1 million from $300,000. Every dollar matters and those two accomplishments are enormous. Now, if Congress can get a move on and pass Senator Daines’s Main Street Tax Certainty Act, we can rapidly turn things around.”

Key findings include:

* Twenty-two percent of owners reported that inflation was their single most important problem in operating their business, down one point from last month.

* Owners expecting better business conditions over the next six months was unchanged from September at a net negative 43% (seasonally adjusted).

* Forty-three percent (seasonally adjusted) of owners reported job openings that were hard to fill, unchanged from September and remains historically very high.

* Seasonally adjusted, a net 24% plan to raise compensation in the next three months, up one point from September.

“Today, in the full maturity of its 50 years,” according to this one-page history of it, “NFIB’s monthly Small Business Economic Trends (SBET) report is the gold standard measurement of America’s small business economy. Used by the Federal Reserve, Congressional leaders, administration officials, and state legislatures across the nation, it’s regarded as the bellwether on the health and welfare of the Main Street enterprises that employ half of all workers, generate more net new jobs than large corporations, and gave most of us the first start in our working life.” The SBET (Optimism Index) is a national snapshot of NFIB-member, small-business owners not broken down by state. The typical NFIB member employs 10 people and reports gross sales of about $500,000 a year.

Get in the spirit. Visit Moss Mansion’s  ‘Classic Christmas’ tree display! There are 13 trees, decorated by local nonprofits and sponsoring businesses! Every visitor gets to vote for their favorite tree, and the winners will win $150 toward their charity of choice. The mansion is open from 11 am – 3 pm. Come anytime during for a self-paced tour. Or take the guided tour which is offered at 1 pm.  No reservations required. For more information go to:  mossmansion.com

The Montana Women’s Run announced donations to women’s and children’s health and fitness programs in the Billings community from funds raised this year.  With this year’s contributions, the Montana Women’s Run has donated over $1,727,500 to local organizations that promote women’s and children’s health and fitness.

This year’s funds are donated to six worthy causes, including the YWCA, $23,000; Billings Clinic Foundation, $26,000; Rocky Mountain College Women’s Cross-Country and Track Scholarship Programs, $5,000; MSU-Billings Women’s Cross-Country and Track Scholarship Programs, $5,000; Billings YMCA, $23,000, Montana Amateur Sports for Yellowstone Elementary School Cross Country Race and Big Sky Fit Kids, $8,000.

The YWCA provides services to women through their Gateway House, domestic violence training, transitional living facility and other programs that are not otherwise available in the Billings community. The YWCA has partnered with the Montana Women’s Run for many years.

Billings Clinic’s Women’s Wellness program provides health screenings, including mammograms, pap smears, and blood panels, for women who are underinsured or without insurance. Since 2001, the year the Montana Women’s Run began donating to the Billings Clinic Women’s Wellness Fund, the fund has helped over 4,000 women by providing payment for preventative screenings, including mammograms, pap smears, office visits and lab panels.

Rocky Mountain College uses the funds to award a scholarship to a female in its cross-country or track programs. Rocky has supported the Montana Women’s Run for decades by providing space for the event’s 8-week Getting Started Clinics and the Kids’ Run. Awarding the scholarship to a female cross-country or track runner recognizes the Montana Women’s Run commitment to health and fitness.

MSU-B also uses the funds for a scholarship for a female cross-country or track runner.  The women on the MSU-B women’s cross-country and track teams have served as positive role models to all young people in our community, competing in and volunteering for the run years after graduation.