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HELENA – U.S. Sen. Jon Tester is part of a group of lawmakers signing a brief supporting a gun rights case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court is considering whether the Second Amendment’s right to keep and bear arms applies to state and local laws restricting guns. The case arose from a handgun ban in Chicago.

HELENA — Rep. Denny Rehberg’s offices in Helena, Missoula, Billings and Great Falls will again be donations centers for the Christmas for Our Troops program.

Meanwhile, Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., took part in the American Red Cross’ annual Holiday Mail for Heroes this week, signing cards for service members, veterans and their families worldwide. “It is important for men and women serving our country away from home to know they are appreciated, especially during the holidays,” Tester said in a press release. “Sending a card is a small gesture to remind our troops that we’re always thinking of them.”

HELENA – A bill written by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., passed the Senate on a unanimous vote Thursday, keeping what he described as America’s promises to its veterans, particularly those living in rural America.

The Rural Veterans Health Care Improvement Act, introduced by Tester on March 15, must be combined with a similar bill passed by the House before being sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.

As written, the bill authorizes the Department of Veterans Affairs to work with local mental health centers to provide care to veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars. It also provides financial assistance to families who care for critically injured vets.

For more than 25 years, some 600,000 acres of Montana backcountry have been lost in bureaucratic limbo, legal leftovers from pitched battles between wilderness zealots and timber barons. Described on maps as “wilderness study areas,” these alpine peaks, timbered slopes and foothills grasslands have been off-limits to logging and mining, but have also been a sort of no-man’s land for hunters, anglers and landscape preservationists.

Are “study areas” open to resource development, or are they locked up in wilderness? Every Montana politician for a generation has tried to untangle the land-use stalemate before being cowed by one interest group or another. Now, thanks to a U.S. senator with a flat-top haircut and a butcher’s build, hunters will be able to access these lands, watersheds will be preserved and unemployed loggers and mill workers will go back to work. Jon Tester crafted his landmark “Forest Jobs and Recreation Act” to preserve the majority of land as wilderness, but require sustainable timber harvest on much of the rest.

Local veterans and community leaders gathered Friday to celebrate the opening of a new Veterans Administration outreach clinic at 1775 Spring Creek Road near the Zoo Drive interstate exit. They admired the new building that’s 21/2 times larger than the previous location, with easier access and more parking. They praised the staff, which has increased […]

A farmer from Big Sandy, Senator Jon Tester is not your average politician. Nearly 100 years ago, his grandparents homesteaded on the same land he and his wife Sharla live on today. Born in Havre and educated at the college of Great Falls, he was elected to represent Montanans in the United States Senate. Last […]

Two members of President Barack Obama’s Cabinet got a taste of rural and Native American culture this week. Their visit to Billings, Busby and Lame Deer showed the secretaries things that they wouldn’t see on their urban home turf.

A tepee outside the public school building. Northern Cheyenne dancers swirling in beautifully beaded, fringed dresses. A town 41 miles from the nearest hospital. An elementary school that’s celebrating 100 years of educating children but with no help in sight to upgrade to 2009 facility standards.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan, a New Yorker, visited a Busby couple whose home is one of the first that HUD built on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in 1965. They look forward to the first renovation of their home, a project made possible by a new HUD grant the tribe recently secured. Donovan also saw a senior-citizen housing complex where renovations are under way, thanks new HUD funding.

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester is supporting legislation that would protect customers against predatory practices used by some credit card companies.

“Credit cards are a fact of life in this society, and it’s so very, very easy for people to get in trouble with them,” the Montana Democrat said in an interview with the Kaimin last Friday.

The Senate Banking Committee approved the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act at the end of March. The act prevents credit card companies from imposing interest charges on those who pay their debt on time, adds a week to the amount of time customers have to pay their bills, prohibits companies from charging interest on late and over-limit fees, and requires that companies give customers notice of any interest rate increase 45 days in advance.

It was a little more than two years ago that Jon Tester won the opportunity to represent Montana in the U.S. Senate by a margin of fewer than 3,000 votes. At the time, incumbent Sen. Conrad Burns made a point of reminding Montanans of his influence on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee. At the same time, then-Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid, now the Senate Majority Leader, made a point of promising to seat Tester on that same committee “as soon as possible.”

“As soon as possible” turned out to be this past week, when partway through Tester’s first term he was finally given that promised seat. If his past performance is any indication, Tester will be a fine addition to the Appropriations Committee. However, even as we congratulate Tester and wish him well in his new duties, we have to note that he hasn’t exactly spent the past two years sitting on his hands. In fact, while we might quibble with a few of his decisions, his overall performance on the Veteran’s Affairs, Indian Affairs and Banking committees has been downright impressive…

HELENA (AP) — Montana’s congressional delegation has become the first in the nation to post their schedules on the Internet, earning praise from advocates of open government.

This week, U.S. Sen. Max Baucus started posting an online schedule detailing his meetings the prior day, following similar postings by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester and U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg. Tester was one of the first members of Congress to post his schedule on the Internet when he took office in January. Rehberg has been doing the same since June.