Governor of Nebraska unhappy with pride flag at U.S. Embassy in Vatican



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WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s official budget proposal for the coming fiscal year increases funding levels for the fight against HIV / AIDS, prompting supporters to applaud the president’s pledge to increase public spending for deal with the national epidemic, although one group criticizes the proposal for seeking to fund international programs flat.

The FY2022 proposal, unveiled last Friday, would provide an additional $ 246 million for national HIV testing, prevention and treatment programs for the Ending the HIV Epidemic initiative, which aims to end the HIV epidemic. HIV by 2030, and would also provide an overall boost of $ 46 million to Ryan White’s HIV / AIDS programs and $ 20 million to HUD’s Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA).

Carl Schmid, executive director of the HIV + Hepatitis Policy Institute, said in a statement that Biden was “demonstrating his commitment to ending HIV in the United States” in the budget request to Congress.

“Although it falls short of what is needed and the community has requested it, if this funding is achieved, it will build on the momentum already created and make further progress to end HIV in the United States. Efforts to end HIV will help eradicate an infectious disease that we have. has been fighting for 40 years and helping to correct racial and health inequalities in our country, ”Schmid said.

The total amount of $ 670 million requested by the White House for the End the HIV Epidemic initiative breaks down as follows:

  • Centers for Disease Control & Prevention: $ 100 million in new money for a total of $ 275 million;
  • Ryan White: $ 85 million in new money for a total of $ 190 million;
  • Community health centers for PrEP: $ 50 million in new money for a total of $ 152 million;
  • National Institutes of Health: $ 10 million in new money for a total of $ 26 million;
  • Indian Health Services: $ 22 million in new money for a total of $ 27 million.

Counterintuitively, each of these numbers is actually lower than what Trump’s White House proposed in the previous administration’s final budget request, with the exception of the proposed increase in funds for health centers. communities for PrEP and stabilization of funds for Indian health services.

The requested increase in funds to end the HIV epidemic was expected. Biden had signaled he would seek additional funding of $ 267 million in the “meager budget” released by the White House in February that preceded the more formal and detailed request to Congress last week.

Biden is calling for increased funds after campaigning to end the domestic HIV epidemic by 2025, an ambitious goal that many HIV / AIDS advocates were skeptical of reaching.

Nick Armstrong, head of advocacy and government affairs at the AIDS Institute and co-chair of the AIDS Budget & Appropriations Coalition, said in a statement the time to scale up efforts against HIV has come as the nation emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

“Public health departments have made Herculean efforts to fight COVID over the past year,” Armstrong said. “But now, it’s time to re-energize the neglected efforts to end the epidemics of HIV, opioids and viral hepatitis. Congress must go beyond what the President has proposed to strengthen our critical public health infrastructure to protect Americans from infectious disease. “

The budget now passes to Congress, which has the power to allocate or not allocate funds according to the president’s request. Congress could either respond, short-fund, or even exceed Biden’s demand in cash as part of this process.

Schmid told The Blade by email that he was optimistic that Congress would get agreement to increase funding to fight HIV / AIDS based on the “strong bipartisan support that the proposal received in the past.

“We still have work to do with Congress due to so many demands on the budget, but I’m pretty confident Congress will back it, they can’t wait to see what the Biden administration does with the program in its budget. and we have the answers now, “Schmid said.” The Biden-Harris administration strongly supports ending HIV. “

While Biden has been praised for increasing funding for national HIV programs, international programs are another matter. The White House has basically flat-funded programs designed to tackle the global HIV epidemic, including the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, or the Global AIDS Fund, tuberculosis and malaria.

Matthew Rose, director of US policy and advocacy at New York-based Health GAP, said in a statement that Biden’s budget proposal “shows a lack of bold leadership motivated to end the HIV pandemic.”

“If the United States had continued to fund PEPFAR in full since 2003 instead of letting funding levels drop to a flat line for more than a decade, the HIV pandemic would be remarkably different today,” Rose said. . “This is not a budget to end AIDS – and it could have been. This is not a budget to end the COVID-19 pandemic – and it could have been. The unacceptable lack of political will in recent years has created a world in which people cannot access the vital services they need. “

Health GAP calls on Congress to approve a budget with at least $ 750 million increase for PEPFAR and $ 2.5 billion in increased funding over the next four years to scale up HIV prevention and treatment and mitigate the damage to the HIV response by the COVID-19 pandemic, the statement said.

Additionally, Health GAP is calling on Biden to nominate “a highly qualified candidate” to serve as the US global AIDS coordinator, the statement said.

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Ikea and Sonos’ next “Symfonisk” could be a photo frame speaker



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In April, a new FCC filing hinted at the development of an intriguing new addition to the IKEA-Sonos Symfonisk line: a hidden speaker that can serve as a work of art. Now, The edge spotted a listing for an unannounced Symfonisk “photo frame with WiFi speaker” on the IKEA website. While the page is no longer available, it showed a product in black or white priced at $ 199 and designed to blend in with your home decor like other products in the line.

Depending on its description, you can hang it on its own, put it on the floor, or lean it against a wall. Although it’s called a “photo frame,” it doesn’t look like you can use it to display physical or digital images. It does, however, have “interchangeable fronts” that fit the frame, so you can probably find one that matches your style. The speaker comes with support for Airplay 2, which lets you play media directly from iPhone, iPad, and Mac. It is also compatible with Spotify Connect, can be bundled with two or more Symfonisk speakers and can be controlled by the Sonos app.

The companies have yet to announce when the WiFi-connected photo frame speaker will be available, but the fact that the list has been released means it could be released soon. If you’re impatient to get one, you might want to clear a space on your wall that would be suitable for something 22 inches high, 16 inches wide, and 2 inches deep.

Ikea / Sonos

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Today’s Mortgage and Refinance Rate: June 2, 2021



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When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.

Mortgage and refinancing rates have generally been mixed since last week. Many have remained relatively stable or have increased slightly. However, rates remain at historically low levels overall.

If you are considering buying a home or refinancing, you may want to consider a fixed rate mortgage rather than an adjustable rate mortgage. These days, ARM rates start higher than fixed rates, and there is a possibility of rate increases in the future.

In general, rates are still at striking lows. Low rates often mean a struggling economy. As the United States continues to grapple with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, rates are likely to remain reasonably low.

Mortgage rates for Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Money.com conventional rates; RedVentures government guaranteed rates.

Find out more and get offers from several lenders »

The ARM 7/1 rate is the only mortgage rate above 4%, so this could be a great opportunity to get a low rate.

The rates for conventional mortgages, which you might think of as “standard mortgages,” are currently low. But you can often get an even better rate with a government guaranteed mortgage through the FHA or the VA, depending on how long you are looking for. Government mortgages are good options if you qualify.

Refinancing rate for Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Money.com conventional rates; RedVentures government guaranteed rates.

Compare the offers of refinancing lenders »

You can get a rate of less than 3% on a 15-year fixed mortgage or a government guaranteed mortgage if you want to refinance.

Ways to get the lowest possible rate

Mortgage rates are at an all-time low, so this might be a good day to set a rate, especially if you know you want to buy soon.

But rates will likely stay low for some time. So you don’t necessarily have to rush to take advantage of low rates if you’re not quite ready yet. You have time to improve your financial profile, which could help you get an even better rate.

To get the best possible rate, consider these steps before you apply:

  • Increase your credit score by making payments on time, paying off debt, or letting your credit age. The higher your score, the better.
  • Save more for a down payment. The minimum down payment you’ll need depends on the type of mortgage you’re looking for. But if you can make more than the minimum down payment, you’ll likely be rewarded with a higher rate.
  • Lower your debt-to-income ratio. Your DTI ratio is the amount you pay for your debts each month divided by your gross monthly income. Most lenders want your ratio to be 36% or less. To improve your ratio, pay off your debts or find ways to increase your income.

You can get a low rate right now if your finances are healthy, but you don’t have to rush to get a mortgage or refinance if you’re not ready.

Mortgage rate trends

Mortgage rates have fluctuated since last week, while government guaranteed loan rates have remained the same. Only ARM 10/1 rates changed by more than five basis points.

Trends in refinancing rates

Since last Wednesday, the refinancing rates for fixed and adjustable mortgages have fluctuated. However, government guaranteed mortgage rates only changed by one basis point each.

How do 15-year fixed mortgages work?

If you get a 15-year fixed mortgage, you’ll pay off your mortgage over 15 years and your interest rate will stay the same all the time.

You will pay higher monthly payments with a term of 15 years than a longer term, because you repay the same loan capital in fewer years.

However, a 15-year term will cost you less than a 30-year term. You’ll get a lower interest rate and pay off your mortgage faster.

How Do 30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgages Work?

With a 30-year fixed mortgage, you’ll pay off your mortgage over three decades and your interest rate will stay locked in for the entire period.

It will cost you less per month with a 30-year fixed mortgage than a 15-year term because I spread my payments over several years.

Your total interest payments will be higher with a 30-year term than a shorter term because the 30-year term will carry a higher interest rate for a longer period.

How do ARMs work?

An adjustable rate mortgage, often referred to as an ARM, will secure your rate for a specified period of time, and then it will change regularly. A 10/1 ARM locks in your rate for a decade. Then your rate will fluctuate once a year.

Although ARM rates are low right now, you may prefer a fixed rate mortgage. 30-year fixed rates are equal to or lower than ARM rates, so you have the option of locking in a low rate with a fixed mortgage. As a result, you won’t have to risk an increase in the ARM rate in the future.

If you are considering getting an ARM, ask your lender what your rates would be if you chose a fixed rate mortgage over an adjustable rate mortgage.

How Do Government Guaranteed Mortgages Work?

In addition to conventional mortgage rates, we have provided rates for FHA and VA mortgages, which are two types of government guaranteed home loans.

Government mortgages are guaranteed by federal agencies. They are less risky for lenders because the agency compensates the lender for default. Because they are less risky, lenders charge lower rates on government guaranteed loans than on conventional loans.

These mortgages generally have more flexible requirements when it comes to credit scores, debt-to-income ratios, or down payments.

Government guaranteed mortgages are great options if you qualify. Here are the three types:

  • FHA Mortgage: This type of loan is not limited to a certain type of person, so it is the most common government mortgage. This is especially useful if your credit score is not high enough to get a conventional mortgage.
  • VA Mortgage: You may be eligible if you are an active military or veteran.
  • USDA Mortgage: You may qualify if you live in a rural area and earn low to moderate income.

Mortgage and refinancing rates by state

Check out the latest rates for your state at the links below.

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
new York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Caroline from the south
South Dakota
Tennessee
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
Washington DC
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

About the authors

Laura Grace Tarpley is a writer at Personal Finance Insider, covering mortgages, refinancing and loans. She is also a Certified Personal Finance Educator (CEPF). During her five years of personal finance coverage, she has written extensively on how to navigate loans.

Ryan Wangman is a review officer at Personal Finance Insider and reports on mortgages, refinancing, bank accounts, bank reviews, and loans. During his past personal finance writing experience, he wrote on credit scores, financial literacy, and homeownership.

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tester, Rosendale makes stops in the area Tuesday | Local



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The City of Helena and the County Governments of Lewis and Clark are expected to receive $ 8 million and $ 13.4 million in projected funding through ARPA.

Additionally, the law is allocating around $ 60 million for new and existing COVID relief programs to help a wider range of small businesses, especially in the hospitality industry.

Tester also announced a new $ 25 billion federal grant program tailored to local restaurants.

Paul Mabie is the co-owner of Oddfellow Farm and Inn, a French farm-to-table restaurant on this property called Maison, and the Smokejumper Cafe inside the Helena Regional Airport.

Mabie said without federal help over the past year, he and her husband’s business would not have survived.

“We put everything on the line to open this project in July 2019, and when COVID hit we thought we were going to lose everything,” Mabie said of Oddfellow Farm and Inn and Maison. “We are here today in full swing, vaccinated and ready to open our businesses to receive the roar of hospitality that Montana is enjoying because of the funding that has come through these programs.”

Mabie said Wage Protection Program loans as well as aid through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act kept his business afloat.

With the money provided by the $ 25 billion Restaurant Revitalization Grant program, Mabie said he was able to hire new employees, replenish inventory and, in the weeks to come, to reopen the Smokejumper Cafe with its long shutters.

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The German economy is expected to grow between 3.4% and 3.7% this year



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Bloomberg

Malaysian assets plummet after government imposes full lockdown

(Bloomberg) – Malaysian stocks fell and the ringgit weakened after the government imposed a two-week nationwide lockdown to curb a relentless spike in Covid-19 infections. The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI index fell by 1.6% Monday, before stabilizing. losses at 0.7% at the close in Kuala Lumpur. The ringgit slipped 0.4% to 4.1480 per dollar, while 10-year bond yields rose three basis points to 3.25%. The government said on Friday that most businesses would be closed from June 1, except for key sectors of the economy and services. “The government is finally biting the bullet,” said Alexander Chia, analyst at RHB Investment Bank Bhd. risk to earnings growth of FY21, although this is essentially a postponement of growth to FY22. Malaysia’s return to a hard lockdown comes on the heels of record daily infections that saw the number of cases surpass 9,000 on Saturday. A resurgence of virus outbreaks in Asia has prompted some countries, including Vietnam and Singapore, to tighten restrictions. A similar lockdown in Malaysia last year cost the country around 63 billion ringgit ($ 15 billion). Vietnam has tightened social distancing measures in Ho Chi Minh City for 15 days starting May 31, while Singapore this month reissued some lockdown conditions it has put in place. The DimsMalaysia lockdown “will slow the country’s recovery, with a good chance that second-quarter GDP growth will contract sequentially,” said Khoon Goh, Asia research manager at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. “We will likely see the ringgit continue to underperform in the region, but its weakness is offset by a weak US dollar.” READ: ‘Covid Zero’ Havens finds reopening more difficult than taming virus Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin must announce a According to his Facebook post, Monday at 9 p.m. local time Monday’s market decline is pale compared to last year, when the KLCI fell 5% per day after announcing a nationwide lockdown. Ivy Ng Lee Fang, analyst at CGS-CIMB Securities, Ivy Ng Lee Fang, analyst at CGS-CIMB Securities, said in a report that the forecast of a “mild” reaction is due to the availability of vaccines and a government plan to increase daily vaccination rates in the second half of 2021. Strong export sales, strong market liquidity and low interest rates have also helped to limit the market decline, she said. declared. GDP Outlook Malaysia’s gross domestic product fell 0.5% in the first quarter from a year earlier, the central bank said earlier in May, adding that it expects growth to stay within. the forecast range of 6% to 7.5% for the whole year. Banks, including Public Bank Bhd. and CIMB Group Holdings Bhd., fell, while Maxis Bhd. and Supermax Corp. were among the biggest drops in the benchmark gauge. , down more than 2%. Top Glove Corp. was the top winner in the key stocks measure, up 1.8%. The benchmark Malaysian equities index is down 6% from a December high as investor concerns over the impact of tighter restrictions on movement weigh on riskier assets. in cyclical sectors, it will take a longer term investment perspective with a focus on securing a favorable entry price, ”said Chia of RHB Investment. “Trading angle will remain a lasting theme in the coming quarters that will continue to focus on small and mid caps with resilient growth attributes.” (Updates with PM release in seventh paragraph) More articles like this are available on bloomberg.com ahead of time with the most trusted source of business news. © 2021 Bloomberg LP

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Supreme Court upholds tribal police in traffic control and search



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WASHINGTON (AP) – The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that tribal police officers can arrest and search non-Indians on tribal lands for possible violations of state or federal law.

Judges unanimously overturned an appeal decision in favor of a non-Indigenous motorist who was charged with drug crimes after a tribal officer searched his van on a public road through the Crow Reservation in Montana.

The Supreme Court previously ruled that the tribal police had little authority over non-Indians, but Judge Stephen Breyer wrote for the court that allowing temporary arrest and detention – so that authorities in l ‘State or federal may be called – improves public safety.


“Denying a tribal police officer the power to search and detain for a reasonable period of time anyone he believes may or has committed a crime would make it difficult for the tribes to protect themselves from continued threats,” wrote Breyer.

The case involved a traffic stop in 2016 in which Constable James Saylor of the Crow Tribe Police Department came across a pickup truck with its headlights on and its engine running, parked on the shoulder of the road American 212.

The driver, Joshua Cooley, had watery, bloodshot eyes, Saylor said. Cooley also had two semi-automatic rifles and a handgun in the van, along with meth.

Saylor called for help from federal and county officers, who ultimately arrested Cooley.

The 9th US Court of Appeals sided with Cooley, saying non-Indians can only be detained if proof of a crime is “apparent” or “obvious.”

The Justice Department appealed under the Trump administration and maintained its position after President Joe Biden took office.

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Today’s Mortgage and Refinance Rate: June 1, 2021



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If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Most mortgage and refinancing rates today are mixed: while some have fallen since last Tuesday, others have risen. Either way, the change isn’t too dramatic – just a few basis points both ways. Overall, rates are at their lowest.

If you are looking to get a mortgage or refinance, you may want to consider a fixed rate mortgage. You will get a lower interest rate with a fixed rate mortgage than with a variable rate mortgage. You’ll also secure your rate for the life of your loan without worrying about a possible future rate increase with an ARM.

In general, rates remain at extremely low levels. Low rates are often an indicator of an economy in turmoil. As the United States continues to weather the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, rates will likely remain relatively low.

Mortgage rates of the day: Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Money.com conventional rates; RedVentures government guaranteed rates.

Find out more and get offers from several lenders »

All mortgage rates except the ARM 7/1 rate are below 4%, so it may be a good day to lock in a low rate.

The rates for conventional mortgages, which you can think of as “normal mortgages”, are already low. But you can often get an even better rate with a government guaranteed mortgage through the FHA or the VA, depending on how long you want. Government mortgages are solid options if you qualify.

Today’s refinancing rate: Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Money.com conventional rates; RedVentures government guaranteed rates.

Compare the offers of refinancing lenders »

Currently, you can get a lower rate with a government guaranteed mortgage than a 30 year fixed or adjustable rate mortgage if you want to refinance.

How to get the lowest possible rate

Rates are at historically low levels in general, so it can be a good day to lock in a rate.

However, rates will likely stay low for the next few months, so you have time to improve your finances to get a better rate. Here are some ways to get the lowest possible rate:

  • Increase your credit score by making payments on time, paying off debt or aging your credit. Asking for and reviewing a copy of your credit report can help you find errors that could lower your score.
  • Save more for a down payment. You may be able to deposit as little as 3% if you are looking for a conventional mortgage, but the lower amount will depend on the type of mortgage you want. The higher your down payment, the higher your down payment.
  • Lower your debt-to-income ratio. Your DTI ratio is the amount you pay for your debts each month divided by your gross monthly income. You can improve your rate by lowering your ratio. To improve your ratio, pay off your debts or find ways to increase your income.

You can get a low rate right now if your finances are healthy, but you don’t have to rush to get a mortgage or refinance if you’re not ready.

Mortgage rate trends

About half of mortgage rates have remained stable or have fallen since last week, and even more, have fallen since last month.

Trends in refinancing rates

Fixed and adjustable mortgage refinancing rates have mostly increased since last week. The FHA and VA rates have remained fairly constant since last Tuesday. Quite a few rates went down from this point last month.

15-year fixed mortgages

If you take out a 15-year fixed mortgage, it will take you 15 years to pay off your mortgage and your interest rate will stay the same all the time.

You will make higher monthly payments with a 15-year term than a 30-year term, because you will repay the same loan capital in fewer years.

On the other hand, your total cost will be lower with a 15-year fixed mortgage than with a longer term. You will pay off the mortgage in less time and benefit from a lower interest rate.

30 year fixed rate mortgages

If you get a 30-year fixed mortgage, you’ll pay off your mortgage over 30 years and have a fixed interest rate at all times.

You will pay less per month with a 30-year term than with a shorter term, because you spread your payments over more time.

You will pay more interest with a 30-year fixed mortgage than a 15-year fixed mortgage because you will have a higher interest rate for an extended period.

Arms

An adjustable rate mortgage, often referred to as an ARM, will secure your rate for a specified period. Then your rate will change regularly. A 10/1 ARM sets your rate for a decade, then your rate will fluctuate every year.

However, you may still want to get a fixed rate mortgage even if ARM rates are at their lowest. You can lock in a low rate for 15 or 30 years without risking a rate hike down the line with an ARM.

If you are considering getting an ARM, ask your lender what your rates would be if you chose a fixed rate mortgage over an adjustable rate mortgage.

Government Guaranteed Mortgages

In addition to conventional mortgage rates, we have provided rates for FHA and VA mortgages, which are two types of government guaranteed home loans.

Government mortgages are guaranteed by federal agencies. They are less risky for lenders because the agency compensates the lender for default. Because they are less risky, lenders charge lower rates on government guaranteed loans than on conventional loans.

These mortgages generally have more flexible requirements when it comes to credit scores, debt-to-income ratios, or down payments.

Government guaranteed mortgages are great options if you qualify. Here are the three types:

  • FHA Mortgage: This type of loan is not limited to a certain type of person, so it is the most common government mortgage. This is especially useful if your credit score is not high enough to get a conventional mortgage.
  • VA Mortgage: You may be eligible if you are an active military or veteran.
  • USDA Mortgage: You may qualify if you live in a rural area and earn low to moderate income.

Mortgage and refinancing rates by state

Check out the latest rates for your state at the links below.

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
new York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Caroline from the south
South Dakota
Tennessee
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
Washington DC
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

About the authors

Laura Grace Tarpley is Editor-in-Chief at Personal Finance Insider, covering mortgages, refinancing and loans. She is also a Certified Personal Finance Educator (CEPF). During her five years of personal finance coverage, she has written extensively on how to navigate loans.

Ryan Wangman is a review officer at Personal Finance Insider and reports on mortgages, refinancing, bank accounts, bank reviews, and loans. During his past personal finance writing experience, he wrote on credit scores, financial literacy, and homeownership.

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The cheapest auto insurance in Montana for 2021



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Driving in Montana is a perfect way to experience the scenic beauty and natural wonders of Big Sky Country. The state is home to more than 800,000 licensed drivers and 73,000 miles of open public roads, ready to be explored. But before you hit the road, make sure you have an auto insurance policy in place to meet legal requirements and protect your finances in the event of an accident.

On average, Montana drivers pay $ 342 per year for minimum coverage and $ 1,737 per year for full coverage. If you are looking for cheap car insurance in Montana, you can find several companies that offer below average premiums. Bankrate research can help you find a policy that meets your coverage needs and budget.

Montana’s cheapest auto insurance

Because auto insurance is mandatory in Montana, you might be looking for the cheapest policy possible. Bankrate’s insurance editorial team used Quadrant Information Services to get up-to-date information on premiums from Montana’s largest insurance companies by market share. We analyzed average premiums to find the cheapest companies, but also took into account coverage offers, available discounts, and third-party ratings.

The following companies might be a good place to start when looking for the cheapest auto insurance in Montana:

Auto insurance company Average annual premium for minimum coverage Average annual premium for full coverage
United States $ 176 $ 931
State farm $ 248 $ 1,121
Farmers $ 350 $ 1,515
Geico $ 366 $ 2,378
Progressive $ 390 $ 1,549

United States

USAA provides auto insurance to eligible military members, veterans, and immediate family members. If you meet the eligibility requirements, you have access to the cheapest minimum and full average premiums according to our research, as well as great customer service. USAA is not eligible for official ranking with JD Power due to its eligibility restrictions, but the carrier received the highest number of points in the Northwest region in the 2020 US Auto Insurance Study .

To complement your coverage, you may want to consider adding accident compensation or roadside assistance coverage. And if budget is your main concern, USAA offers several discounts to help you save. You could get a discount for insuring a new car, parking your vehicle at a military base, storing your vehicle while you’re deployed, or driving low annual miles.

Learn more: USAA Insurance Review

State farm

The largest insurer in the United States, State Farm provides auto insurance through a network of local agents. If you prefer to manage your insurance in person, the company can be a great choice. State Farm sells many lines of insurance, including home and umbrella policies, and also offers banking services.

The company also offers several discounts to lower your insurance costs, including the popular Drive Safe and Save program. You can also save money by insuring multiple cars, purchasing more than one type of insurance from State Farm, preventing accidents, or having safety features on your vehicle. If you’re looking for optional coverages, State Farm offers several, including car rental reimbursement, carpooling coverage, and emergency road service.

Learn More: State Farm Insurance Review

Farmers insurance

If you are looking for a highly customizable auto insurance policy, Farmers might be a good option. From roadside assistance and carpooling coverage to a new car replacement and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) coverage, Farmers has many ways to tailor your policy to your needs. Farmers also offers specialized coverage for classic and vintage cars.

Farmers doesn’t list a lot of discounts on their website, but you can still save money by insuring multiple policies, multiple cars, or avoiding accidents. You can also take advantage of the company’s Signal program, which uses a mobile app to track your driving habits and develop a personalized discount based on the data received.

Learn more: Farmer Insurance Review

Geico

While Geico Montana’s average minimum and full coverage premiums are above the state average, the company may still be a good option if you’re looking for a basic policy with plenty of discount opportunities. Geico also received the highest official ranking from JD Power in the Northwest region, which could also be a good choice if you are looking for great service.

Geico is known to offer a long list of discounts that could lower your premium. You could save money if you are a federal employee, member of the military, or affiliated with certain groups like alumni associations. You can also get a discount if your vehicle has certain safety features, if you insure a good student, or if you purchase multiple policies from Geico.

Find out more: Geico Assurance review

Progressive

Progressive’s average minimum coverage premium is above the Montana average, but the company offers below average full coverage rates. Progressive also gives you the choice of adding a variety of optional coverages to your policy, including loan / lease repayment coverage, custom parts and equipment coverage, ridesharing coverage, and roadside assistance.

In addition to the many coverage options to customize your policy, there are several discounts available that could help you lower your premiums. You can bundle policies to save, get your quote and buy your policy online, sign up for paperless statements, or pay in full. You can also try the Snapshot Safe Driver program for a potential discount tailored to your driving habits.

Learn more: progressive insurance review

Minimum coverage requirements for Montana drivers

Like most states, Montana requires drivers to have at least the minimum levels of insurance required by the state. In Montana, you must have at least the following coverages to legally drive:

  • $ 25,000 civil liability for bodily injury per person
  • Civil liability of $ 50,000 per accident
  • Civil liability for property damage of $ 20,000

These covers are only the minimum requirements. Most insurance professionals advise purchasing higher levels of coverage to provide better financial protection.

Insurers are also required to provide coverage for uninsured / underinsured motorists. These guarantees can be refused in writing:

  • Personal injury coverage of $ 25,000 for uninsured / underinsured motorists per person
  • $ 50,000 coverage for bodily injury of uninsured / underinsured motorists by accident

The minimum coverages required in Montana cover only liability; there is no coverage for damage to your own vehicle. If you purchase Full and Collision Coverage, this is considered “Full Coverage”. If you have a loan or lease, your financial institution likely requires you to purchase comprehensive coverage and may also have requirements regarding your liability limits and deductible levels.

How to get cheap car insurance in Montana

Saving money on car insurance in Montana can be easier than you think, and there are several techniques for stretching your money.

  • Compare multiple quotes: Getting quotes from multiple providers for the same amount of coverage can help you find a company that offers the lowest rate.
  • Take advantage of discounts: Discounts are one of the easiest ways to save on auto insurance. Choosing a company that offers one or more discounts that you can take advantage of could lower your premium.
  • Improve Your Credit Score: Drivers with poor credit tend to pay higher premiums because they are statistically more likely to file claims. Improving your credit score could lower your auto insurance premium.
  • Increase your deductibles: A full coverage policy has two deductibles, one for all perils and one for collisions. Increasing one or both of the deductibles usually lowers your premium. Just be sure to choose a level that you can afford if you are filing a damage claim to your vehicle.

Speaking with an agent or representative of your business can help you identify additional savings opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best auto insurance in Montana?

The best car insurance in Montana is based on personal preference, but several factors must be taken into account in determining the best one. Carriers with good customer service ratings, a solid financial strength score, and competitive rates are often serious competitors. But because everyone has different auto insurance wants, understanding what you’re looking for and comparing multiple quotes is often the best way to find a company that matches your needs.

What is the average cost of auto insurance in the United States?

The average cost of auto insurance in the United States is $ 565 per year for minimum coverage and $ 1,674 per year for full coverage. Montana’s average annual premiums are $ 342 for minimum coverage and $ 1,737 for full coverage. Montana drivers pay less for minimum coverage than the national average, but more for full coverage.

What if I am caught driving without auto insurance in Montana?

Auto insurance is legally required in Montana. Driving without insurance can result in fines, license suspension and potentially jail time. If you cause an accident and don’t have insurance coverage, you will have to pay out of pocket for the damages and injuries you cause, which can lead to financial stress.

Methodology

Bankrate uses Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 rates for all zip codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, DC Rates shown are based on a 40 year old male and female driver with a clean driving record, credit and the following comprehensive coverage limits:

  • $ 100,000 liability for bodily injury per person
  • $ 300,000 in civil liability for bodily injury per accident
  • Civil liability for property damage of $ 50,000 per accident
  • $ 100,000 in bodily injury caused by an uninsured motorist per person
  • $ 300,000 in uninsured bodily injury per accident to a motorist
  • $ 500 collision deductible
  • Global deductible of $ 500

To determine the minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverage that meets the requirements of each state. Our basic profile drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and cover 12,000 miles a year.

These are sample rates and should only be used for comparison purposes.

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Wyoming Unemployment Rate Rises Slightly | State and regional



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CASPER – Wyoming’s unemployment rate edged up from 5.3% to 5.4% in April, according to new figures released by the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services last week.

Despite this, the state’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate remains below the national average, which currently stands at 6.1%.

David Bullard, senior economist in the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services, told the Casper Star-Tribune that there was more than one way to increase the unemployment rate.

“The most obvious way is for people to lose their jobs,” Bullard said. “But in the other direction, people who are not in the workforce are starting to look for work. If they decide to start looking, then they are counted as unemployed.

And that’s what the state saw in March and April, according to Bullard.

In May, Governor Mark Gordon announced that Wyoming would end its participation in federal supplementary unemployment benefits effective June 19, joining several other states, including Montana and Idaho. Bullard believes this will encourage even more people to look for work, or at least push them in that direction.

Unemployment rates in the state from March to April generally fall due to seasonal job gains in construction, retail trade and professional and business services, according to the report.

Park County’s rate fell from 5.9% to 5.1%, Big Horn’s from 6.1% to 5.3%, and Johnson’s from 5.9% to 5.2%.

Natrona County, meanwhile, had the highest unemployment rate in April at 7.4%.

“We have seen significant job losses in the energy sector over the past year,” Bullard said. “Natrona County and the Casper region depend heavily on the energy, oil and gas industry.”

On top of that, Bullard pointed out that low energy prices have sunk businesses that support the energy sector, such as transportation and wholesaling.

Unemployment peaked at 8.5% in Wyoming last May, but in January it fell back to 5.1%. It has since fallen to 5.4%. Still, Bullard believes that several factors have contributed to a rapid recovery within the state.

“From my understanding, [Wyoming] never close like other states, ”Bullard said. “Even though we had restrictions, they weren’t as severe as what we see in many other states.”

Wyoming’s economy is also a bit more diverse than some states, such as Hawaii, which has the highest unemployment rate in the country, according to Bullard.

However, despite Wyoming’s relatively low unemployment figures, the state faces an uncertain future with the decline of fossil fuels that have long supported its economy. Earlier this year, the Wyoming legislature cut state spending by $ 430 million and eliminated 324 state positions.

Still, there are reasons to be optimistic about the future. Due to improved revenue forecasts, the 2022 state budget is planned without cuts.

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News Release: Nevada Legislature Approves Bill To End Debt-Based License Suspensions



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Bill would end widespread license suspensions for traffic debt

Today, the Nevada legislature approved a bill that would end the widespread practice of suspending an individual’s driver’s license when they cannot afford to pay fines and fees for a ticket. minor traffic.

The vast majority of Nevada driver’s license suspensions relate to tickets residents cannot afford. Between July 2017 and June 2019, more than 38,000 Nevadans had their driver’s licenses suspended because they could not afford to pay fines and court costs.

SB219 is sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Nicole Canizzaro and co-sponsored by MP Ceclia Gonzalez, who sponsored a similar bill in the Assembly. Legislation will help thousands of safe drivers regain the freedom to drive automatically reinstating – and free of charge – licenses that have been suspended for legal debt.

“This is a victory for all Nevadans – especially those who have been caught in a cycle of poverty due to traffic debt,” said Member of the Gonzalez Assembly. “I am honored to have co-sponsored such an important piece of legislation that impacts the lives of our constituents.”

Ending debt-based license suspensions enjoys broad bipartisan support. In the past four years alone, 17 U.S. states – including red states like Mississippi, Idaho, Montana, Utah, West Virginia, Texas and Arkansas – They succeeded major reforms to curb debt-based driver’s license suspensions.

President Biden’s Platform includes reform of fines and fees, while Vice President Harris previously co-sponsored the federal government Driving Act for Opportunities. This bipartite federal legislation which was reintroduced this year and past the Senate Judiciary Committee last month would encourage US states to end debt-based driver’s license suspensions by providing them with additional federal funding. If the Driving for Opportunity Act is passed and Governor Sisolak signs SB219, Nevada will be eligible for these funds.

“After a decade of advocacy, we were pleased to work with the sponsors of the bill, legislative leaders and to partner with the Fines Fees Justice Center to support SB219 this legislative session,” said Yvette Williams, President of the Clark County Black Caucus. “We are celebrating the end of debt-based driver’s license suspensions that prevent Nevadans from caring for their families. Nevada’s roads will be safer thanks to the bipartisan leadership and support of the Nevada Legislature. “

Without a license, many Nevadans lose the ability to work, care for their children, and access basic needs. Driving is such a necessity that 75% of people continue to drive after their license is suspended. If caught, they can be arrested and jailed for driving with a suspended license, which is one of the most common criminal charges in Nevada. After their arrest, people face more fines and fees, and are often incarcerated long enough to miss their rent or lose their jobs.

“This is a major step towards ending the criminalization of poverty,” said Nick Shepack of the ACLU of Nevada. “This practice has targeted the most vulnerable among us. Let’s be clear, in much of Nevada the ability to drive cannot be separated from the ability to work. We congratulate elected officials for taking this important step. “

A study found that 42% of people lost their jobs after their driver’s license was suspended. Of those who found a new job, 88% reported a drop in pay. Another study of Phoenix, Arizona, found that the median annual income loss after license suspension was $ 36,800 per person.

“Today’s vote is a win-win for struggling families and Nevada’s economy,” mentionned Leisa moseley, Nevada State Director at the Fines and Fees Justice Center. “This is another important step towards ending our state’s two-tier justice system where the poor – and especially communities of color – are disproportionately punished. With his signing, Governor Sisolak can have a profoundly positive impact on the economy of our state and thousands of lives across Nevada.

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Which state real estate markets are doing the best, the worst during the real estate boom? – RISMedia |



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(TNS) —Prior to the coronavirus recession, Utah’s real estate market was on fire. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which sent residents of northern California and Seattle in search of affordable homes and more space, and an already hot market intensified.

Dave Robison, former president of the Utah Association of REALTORS®, simply summarizes the activity. “This is insane,” says Robison, a real estate broker in Salt Lake City.

Its evaluation is not limited to the sale. Home prices in Utah have skyrocketed as Californians flock to the state. Utah has the fastest pace of job growth in the country, with unemployment at its lowest, extremely low mortgage rates, few defaults, and low local and state taxes.

All of these factors pushed Utah to the top spot in Bankrate’s 2020 Housing Heat Index, a spot it continues to occupy for the first quarter of 2021. Residential real estate has exploded during the recession. coronaviruses, and Utah has become a particularly popular market.

Other states in the region are also booming. South Dakota, Montana and Idaho rank second, third and fifth, respectively, in the Bankrate Index.

At the opposite end of the list is Hawaii, a state that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its tourism industry is slowly recovering from a virtual standstill, and the employment picture in Hawaii remains bleak.

The 5 States with the Hottest Housing Economies

The Housing Heat Index shows how state real estate markets are faring in the coronavirus-fueled housing boom, and how they might fare going forward.

To calculate the ranking, Bankrate analyzed six data points: the annual appreciation of house prices reported by the House Price Index of the Federal Housing Finance Agency; the share of delinquent mortgages reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association; unemployment and employment growth in the US Department of Labor; the cost of living index of the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness; and state-by-state tax charges as reported by the Tax Foundation

These five states had the strongest housing economies in the first quarter of 2021:

1. Utah. Its home values ​​jumped 19% in the 12-month period ending March 31, second best among U.S. states, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Utah posted the second highest job growth in the country from March 2020 to March 2021, according to Bankrate analysis of Department of Labor data. Additionally, Utah had the lowest unemployment rate in the country and its tax burden is among the lowest in the country, according to the Tax Foundation.

2. South Dakota. Home prices have climbed nearly 15% and South Dakota is tied with Utah for the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

3. Montana. Home prices have risen 15% in the past year and Montana has the lowest level of delinquent mortgage payments in the country, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

4. New Hampshire. The geographic oddity in our ranking, New Hampshire has seen home values ​​soar 16%, and the unemployment rate and tax burden are low.

5. Idaho. Idaho home prices were the highest in the country, climbing 23.7% in the year ending March 31. And job growth is the strongest in the country. However, Idaho’s overall rankings were tempered by mid-range readings for cost of living and taxes, and by a ranking behind the pack in mortgage delinquencies.

Buyers are looking for affordability and space

High rankings of states in the mountain time zone illustrate a shift in the housing market: Americans are still drawn to healthy job markets, but even before the coronavirus pandemic they were increasingly unwilling to pay to live in places like San Jose, Seattle, and Boston.

COVID-19 has pushed many – especially those who can work remotely – to move from more expensive areas to more affordable ones.

“We are seeing the ingredients of a renewed affordability migration,” says Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo. “The beneficiaries of this change have largely been the mid-sized subways in the mountainous western states.”

The median price of a single-family home sold in Silicon Valley during the first quarter was $ 1.5 million, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

The typical price in Salt Lake City was $ 435,400 – above the national median, but not dramatically, and just a fraction of the price paid by residents of Northern California.

The price differential prompted many players in high-cost markets to consider relocating. The concept is particularly appealing to workers who can take up their well-paying jobs in areas with lower cost of living.

“People suddenly have the choice of where they live because they are not tied to a desk,” says Alicia Holdaway, agent at Summit Sotheby’s International Realty in Draper, Utah, and former chairman of the board of Salt. Lake City REALTORS®. “We have a net in migration that has been happening for years and has only increased. “

Each boom brings its drawbacks, of course. In some cases, newcomers to the Utah housing market are overflowing with cash and are ready to push up the prices.

“There is always a setback,” Holdaway says. “We have seen housing affordability become a crisis.

The 5 States with the Coolest Housing Savings

As a nationwide real estate boom rages, every state has seen property values ​​rise in the 12 months that ended in March. However, some state economies are struggling with weak job growth and other challenges. The last 5 of our index:

47. Illinois. High unemployment and lukewarm price appreciation put Illinois at the bottom of the pack.

48. New York. Hard hit by the pandemic, New York is facing many headwinds. It ranks near last in terms of job growth, unemployment, tax burden and delinquent loans.

49. Washington, DC The neighborhood ranked near the bottom of home price appreciation. The city also ranked last in cost of living and near the bottom of the unemployment rate in terms of tax burden.

50. Louisiana. It ranks the worst among delinquent loans, with over 9% of homeowners behind on their mortgage payments. Louisiana is also doing poorly when it comes to price appreciation, job growth and the tax burden.

51. Hawaii. This tourism dependent state ranks last for job growth and unemployment and almost last for price appreciation.

“The big picture is a very weak economy,” says Carl Bonham, executive director of the University of Hawaii’s Economic Research Organization.

Methodology

To calculate the home heat index for the first quarter of 2021, Bankrate analyzed six data points:

– Annual appreciation of house prices for the first quarter, as reported by the house price index of the Federal Housing Finance Agency
– Share of mortgage loans in arrears for the first quarter, as reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association
– US Department of Labor March Unemployment Rate
– Annual employment growth from March of the US Department of Labor
– The cost of living index for 2020 from the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness
– State by State tax burdens for the fiscal year 2020-2021 as reported by the Tax Foundation

The index overweight the appreciation of house prices, the measure which most clearly reflects the desirability of a real estate market. And the index is underweighting the cost of living and the tax burden – house prices may skyrocket despite these factors, but a new wave of remote work is making these factors more relevant than they once were. the past.

© 2021 Bankrate.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Live Updates Stimulus Test Four: Will It Happen In June? Monthly child tax credit, tax refund dates



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Securities:

President Biden proposes $ 6 trillion budget to Congress for fiscal year 2022 (what benefits could it offer directly to families?)

– Another 1.8 million “ plus-up ” stimulus checks were sent by the IRS this week, bringing the total number distributed to 167 million

– Announcement of the Cherokee Nation a two-part incentive check for $ 2,000 as part of their Respond Recover and rebuild plan (find out more)

Consumer spending decreases as the stimulus check stimulus wears off

– New budget proposal from Biden does not include a fourth stimulus check (Read more)

Rising global house prices on the backs of recovery strategies

Florida confirm the state end the weekly unemployment increase of $ 300 in June (full story)

Child care and dependents credit 2021… all you need to know

– Payments for Child tax credit 2021 are just around the corner (full story)

– Theirs May 17 tax filing deadline has now passed; however some states have extensions issued (Read more)

– California sends $ 600 / $ 1,200 stimulus checks as part of the Golden State Stimulus program

– You can take your third stimulation test using the IRS Get My Payment online portal

Stay up to date with the latest News about vaccines in the United States and around the world with our live food for the covid-19 vaccine

Take a look at some of our related articles:

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New Mexico Bank & Trust is powered by HTLF



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NMBT News:

“ It’s about community banking at scale of competition at all levels ”

ALBUQUERQUE – New Mexico Bank & Trust (NMBT) has announced that its parent company, Heartland Financial USA, Inc., has renamed HTLF.

The new branding better reflects how the HTLF business is today and what it brings to NMBT, its customers and its communities.

The NMBT logo has been updated with the tagline Powered by HTLF, representing the technology, efficiency and strength that HTLF offers. This allows NMBT to offer the best of both worlds: the power of a larger organization combined with local decision making and a deep understanding of NMBT’s customers and communities.

“HTLF provides us with the resources and tools of a great enterprise while focusing on growing customer relationships and delivering information through extraordinary banking solutions and experiences,” said the president of NMB & T, Greg Leyendecker. “This is community banking at scale with competition at all levels.”

In the coming days and weeks, customers will see the updated logo on NMBT’s website, social channels and digital platforms.

About New Mexico Bank & Trust

New Mexico Bank & Trust, a subsidiary of Heartland Financial USA, Inc., operating under the HTLF brand, is a community bank with more than $ 2.3 billion in assets and operates 24 offices in central, northern and l eastern New Mexico as well as northwest Texas. The bank specializes in business loan and deposit services and offers a wide variety of personal credit and deposit services as well as comprehensive electronic banking programs. New Mexico Bank & Trust is a member of the FDIC and Equal Housing Lender. Visit www.nmb-t.com to learn more.

About Heartland Financial USA, Inc.

Heartland Financial USA, Inc. (NASDAQ: HTLF), operating under the HTLF brand, is a financial services company with approximately $ 18.2 billion in assets. HTLF banks serve communities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Texas and Wisconsin. HTLF is engaged in its core business activity, supported by a strong retail business, and provides a diverse range of financial services including residential mortgages, wealth management, investments and insurance. Additional information is available at htlf.com.

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Childcare shortage linked to economic challenges at Flathead



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A typical workday for Whitney Aschenwald begins with a drive north from Bigfork to Kalispell, where she drops off each of her two young children in separate child care centers.

After spending the day working as a writer, Aschenwald returns to both establishments to pick up each child – one nearly 3 years old, the other nearly 5 months old.

It’s a lot of shuffling, but Aschenwald is grateful that she got the two childcare spots. She feels lucky with the many local families struggling to find adequate child care.

“Now I have two dumps and two pickups from each daycare, each morning and evening,” Aschenwald said. “But I think our family is really lucky compared to a lot.”

Renee Harkins, another working mom of two, shares Aschenwald’s gratitude.

“We were very lucky at the end of the day,” Harkins said. She spent eight months on numerous waiting lists before finding places for her daughters in two different daycare centers.

He came over in the case of his youngest daughter, now 3 months old. Harkins said she finally heard about an infant care opening just a week before the birth of her second child.

“Right now there isn’t a lot available,” said Collette Box, owner and operator of the Discovery Developmental Center on Glenwood Drive in Kalispell. She has worked as an early childhood advocate for 30 years.

Box said the valley’s child care system was inadequate due to a lack of public investment in resources. Facilities are understaffed and underfunded, caregivers are underpaid, and families cannot afford to do much, but wait and hope that their child will find a place in a good facility.

Discovery charges $ 950 per month for one child to attend daycare. Box said it would be impossible to raise the rate higher because most families simply couldn’t afford it.

But that, she says, also means she can’t pay her entry-level employees more than $ 10 an hour, even if their position requires them to have a bachelor’s degree.

This makes childcare an unappealing area for new workers, creating staff shortages and ultimately “damaging the children,” Box said.

COVID-19 the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem. At a time when disrupted workplaces forced many more parents to seek child care, centers have been forced to limit capacity or shut down entirely due to concerns about the virus.

Among the local facilities that recently closed was the early childhood center at Flathead Valley Community College, where Bigfork resident Aschenwald used to take her toddler.

For four months, Aschenwald searched for a replacement while his extended family helped watch his son. Without their help, Aschenwald said she would have had to take time off work to care for him.

“Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to [keep working]”she said of her family’s contributions.” I know a lot of people in the area don’t have that luxury. “

His experience shows the greater effects of the shortage of child care services.

Box noted that the problem often goes unnoticed by people without small children, but its ramifications are felt throughout the community.

AS MUCH Businesses in Montana and across the country say they are struggling to hire workers, Governor Greg Gianforte recently ended federal pandemic unemployment benefits and began offering bonuses of $ 1,200 to unemployed Montanans who are returning to the labor market.

But there haven’t been any major new investments in Montana’s child care system, although there is plenty of research indicating the impact this can have on the state’s economy.

“About 40% of companies said the shortage was having an impact on their ability to recruit or retain skilled workers,” said an investigation report from November 2020 from the Montana Department of Labor and Industry.

“Inadequate child care costs Montana businesses nearly $ 55 million a year,” it says. a September 2020 investigation report from the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana.

With better access to child care services statewide, Montana’s economy would save about $ 232 million per year, according to the UM report.

UM researchers surveyed more than 400 Montana households with children under the age of 6. They found that 12% of respondents quit their jobs the previous year because they could not meet their child care needs. Another 15% had to switch from full-time to part-time work for the same reason.

The UM report noted that inadequate childcare disproportionately affects women and female-dominated career fields, contributing to labor shortages in the childcare sector. .

PARENTS LOVE Aschenwald and Harkins are still waiting for solutions.

Earlier this month, Gianforte vetoed bill 624, who is said to have created a task force to analyze the shortcomings of child care services in Montana.

“Montana has never had more resources available to increase access and invest in child care, ultimately reducing a major barrier to re-entry into the workforce,” Gianforte wrote in its veto note.

He cited federal pandemic relief funding and his recent decision on unemployment benefits as proof of the abundant resources available to stimulate the state’s economy. A stronger global economy, argued Gianforte, would spill over into the child care sector.

The scrapped task force joins many other official efforts to improve childcare services that have been slaughtered at local and state levels.

The Republican-controlled legislature this year nixed bills proposing the creation of a subsidy program for childcare providers and the expansion of eligibility for the childcare scholarship program. of State. He also cut funding for the state health department’s Stars to Quality program. In an email, Box said the old program, which offered incentives to providers, “has improved the quality of programs over the past 10 years.”

Box tries to keep her hopes up for the future of child care in Flathead Valley, but she’s not optimistic about the Gianforte administration’s approach. She said child care deserved to be a funding priority.

“It will take a huge, huge, billion dollar investment in child care to make the system work for families,” she said.

At a recent economic conference in Kalispell, she warned that a continued lack of investment could result in “very sad children and families.”

Journalist Bret Anne Serbin can be reached at 406-758-4459 or [email protected]

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Where are the markets doing best and worst during the housing boom? | House and garden



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Before the coronavirus recession, the Utah housing market was on fire. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which sent residents of northern California and Seattle in search of affordable homes and more space, and an already hot market intensified.

Dave Robison, former president of the Utah Association of Realtors, simply summarizes the activity. “This is insane,” says Robison, a real estate broker in Salt Lake City.

Its evaluation is not limited to the sale. Home prices in Utah have skyrocketed as Californians flock to the state. Utah has the fastest pace of job growth in the country, with lowest unemployment, extremely low mortgage rates, few defaults, and low local and state taxes.

All of these factors pushed Utah to the top spot in Bankrate’s 2020 Housing Heat Index, a spot it continues to hold for the first quarter of 2021. Residential real estate has exploded during the recession of coronavirus, and Utah has become a particularly desirable market.

Other states in the region are also booming. South Dakota, Montana and Idaho rank second, third and fifth, respectively, in the Bankrate Index.

At the opposite end of the list is Hawaii, a state that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its tourism industry is slowly recovering from a virtual standstill, and the employment picture in Hawaii remains bleak.

The 5 States with the Hottest Housing Economies

The Housing Heat Index shows how state property markets are behaving in the coronavirus-fueled housing boom and how they may behave in the future.

These five states had the strongest housing economies in the first quarter of 2021:

1. Utah

Its home values ​​jumped 19% in the 12-month period ending March 31, second best among U.S. states, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Utah posted the second highest job growth in the country from March 2020 to March 2021, according to Bankrate analysis of Department of Labor data. Additionally, Utah had the lowest unemployment rate in the country and its tax burden is among the lowest in the country, according to the Tax Foundation.

2. South Dakota

Home prices have climbed nearly 15% and South Dakota is tied with Utah for the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

3. Montana

Home prices have risen 15% in the past year and Montana has the lowest level of delinquent mortgage payments in the country, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

4. New Hampshire

The geographic oddity in our ranking, New Hampshire has seen home values ​​soar 16%, and the unemployment rate and tax burden are low.

5. Idaho

Idaho home prices were the highest in the country, climbing 23.7% in the year ending March 31. And job growth is the strongest in the country. However, Idaho’s overall rankings were tempered by mid-range readings for cost of living and taxes, and by a ranking behind the pack in mortgage delinquencies.

Buyers are looking for affordable, space

High rankings of states in the mountain time zone illustrate a shift in the housing market: Americans are still drawn to healthy job markets, but even before the coronavirus pandemic they were increasingly unwilling to pay to live in places like San Jose, Seattle, and Boston.

COVID-19 has pushed many – especially those who can work remotely – to move from more expensive areas to more affordable ones.

“We are seeing the ingredients of a renewed affordability migration,” says Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo. “The beneficiaries of this change have largely been the mid-sized subways in the mountainous western states.”

The median price of a single-family home sold in Silicon Valley in the first quarter was $ 1.5 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. The typical price in Salt Lake City was $ 435,400 – above the national median, but not dramatically, and just a fraction of the price paid by residents of Northern California.

The price differential prompted many players in high-cost markets to consider relocating. The concept is particularly appealing to workers who can move their high-paying jobs to areas with lower cost of living.

“People suddenly have the choice of where to live because they’re not tied to a desk,” says Alicia Holdaway, agent at Summit Sotheby’s International Realty in Draper, Utah, and former chair of the Salt Lake City Board of Realtors . “We have a net in migration that has been happening for years and is only increasing.”

Every boom has its drawbacks, of course. In some cases, newcomers to the Utah housing market are full of cash and willing to push up the prices.

“There is always a flip side,” Holdaway says. “We have seen housing affordability become a crisis.”

The 5 States with the Coolest Housing Savings

As the nationwide housing boom rages on, every state has seen property values ​​rise in the 12 months that ended in March. However, some state economies are struggling with weak job growth and other challenges. The last 5 of our index:

47. Illinois

High unemployment and lukewarm price appreciation put Illinois at the bottom of the pack.

48. New York

Hit hard by the pandemic, New York is facing a number of headwinds. It ranks almost last in job growth, unemployment, tax burden and delinquent loans.

49. Washington, DC

The neighborhood ranks near the bottom of home price appreciation. The city also ranked last in cost of living and near the bottom of the unemployment rate in terms of tax burden.

50. Louisiana

It ranks as the worst for delinquent loans, with over 9% of homeowners behind on their mortgage payments. Louisiana is also doing poorly when it comes to price appreciation, job growth and the tax burden.

51. Hawaii

This tourism dependent state ranks last for job growth and unemployment and almost last for price appreciation. “The big picture is a very weak economy,” says Carl Bonham, executive director of the University of Hawaii’s Economic Research Organization.

Methodology

To calculate the Home Heat Index for the first quarter of 2021, Bankrate analyzed six data points:

n Annual appreciation of house prices for the first quarter, as reported by the house price index of the Federal Housing Finance Agency;

n Share of mortgages past due for the first quarter, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association;

n Unemployment rate for the month of March from the US Department of Labor;

n Annual employment growth from March from US Department of Labor;

n The cost of living index for 2020 from the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness;

n State-by-State tax burdens for the 2020-2021 fiscal year as reported by the Fondation pour la Fiscalité.

As an Amazon Associate, I earn Qualifying Purchases.

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Valley still sees strong demand for boats and RVs



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VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) – After being locked up for a year due to COVID-19, Omar and Lisa Vallejo were eager to jump in their campervan and spend some time at Lake Success.

They have been there for a few weeks.

Other family members will join them for Memorial Day weekend.

“Anywhere you park the RV, it’s like home, like parking at home,” Omar said. “We have everything we need.”

The idea of ​​having a house on the road has won over more Americans in 2020.

According to Lending Tree, “Recreational vehicles have become a popular way to limit exposure to COVID-19 while enjoying the outdoors in a comfortable, self-contained cabin.”

Sales have been consistently strong at Magic Touch RV in Tulare over the past year.

Devin Miller says December, a traditionally slow time, was one of their busiest months.

“So you’ve got a lot of millennials buying now, you’ve got a lot of little families trying to go out and do things and enjoy it,” Magic Touch’s Devin Miller said. “Believe it or not, we’ve had a lot of teachers come out – they’re just hitting the road, they’re doing their jobs from their laptops.”

It has been a good year for business at Magic Touch.

But Miller says RV dealers just don’t have the supply to meet the high demand.

“It would be a much better year if we had the inventory,” he said. “So if supply could keep up with demand, I would sing a different tune.”

Lending Tree research shows that interest in buying a boat in California increased nearly 150% last year.

Around the same time last year, Hans’ Boat Works in Visalia sold their entire inventory within 60 days.

Sales are more stable now, but demand remains high.

“We had four boats that were all used, we sold them all four in six days and they were all in the $ 180,000 to $ 200,000 range,” Steiner said. “People are still buying and we are sending them everywhere. We sent boats to Alaska, we sent a boat to Montana this week, Las Vegas this morning.”

More detailed information on the high demand for boats and motorhomes in 2020.

Click here for more information on RVs.

Click here for more information on the boats.

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Mortgage and real estate news this week



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Summer is unofficially starting this weekend, which means you might be looking for a new place to set up your barbecue. As we head into warmer weather, here’s what to know about the mortgage and real estate sectors this week.

1. The housing market is still hot …

There is a home buying frenzy across the country, but some places are more frenetic than others. Bankrate’s quarterly housing heat index shows that Utah, South Dakota, Montana, New Hampshire and Idaho were the top five states for purchases at the start of this year.

Read the story.

2.… and he shows no signs of cooling.

If you’re looking to buy a home, don’t expect it to get much easier anytime soon. Home prices are up 12.6% in 2020 from their 2019 levels, and they continue to rise. The lingering problem of low inventory will not be resolved overnight, so competition will likely remain fierce for some time.

Read the story.

3. The Perfect Time to Refinance Your Mortgage

Experts generally expect mortgage rates to rise this year, but a week of declining interest means now is the time to consider refinancing if you’re still holding out. Rates are unlikely to be much lower than they are now, so start with your paperwork to maximize your savings.

Read the story.

4. What you need to know about the 3% interest threshold

Although rates fell below 3 percent by the end of this week, they were above that benchmark early on. Keep in mind that 3% is still historically low for mortgage interest, but it’s a major psychological threshold for homeowners and buyers, so as rates fluctuate around this mark it’s a good idea to put Get your mortgage finances in order before interest rates come back firmly 3 seconds.

Read the story.

5. Pass the chapel, cross the threshold

Netflix’s new reality show “Marriage or Mortgage” shows how many young couples are choosing to forgo a lavish marriage in favor of a real investment in their future: buying a home.

Read the story.

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The daughters of the American Revolution remember those who passed



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HELENA – Every Memorial Day weekend, the Oro Fino Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution lays 135 American flags in 19 cemeteries.

Rain or shine, the members came to place these American flags on the tombstones of their deceased sisters.

For Jane Hammon, being part of the organization pays homage to her family history and her country. “I was inspired to join the DAR because of the stories my grandmother told me when I was little, we had patriots involved in the American Revolution,” she said.

MTN

To join the DAR, a member must prove that their grandfather served as a patriot during the American War of Independence.

The organization is also proud of its public service and civic leadership. Past members like Helen Mcintire have helped make Helena a better place.

“Helen and Henry were well known in Helena circles due to her active role as a lawyer in the city and her active work in numerous charities, including St. Peter’s Cathedral and St. Peter’s Hospital. -Pierre, ”Hammon said.

Betty Babcock was also a member of the organization and a former First Lady of Montana. Hammon, who knew Babcock personally, says they both shared the value of joining DAR.
“I loved DAR, because you support patriotism, our soldiers and educate our children, and these are the things that make a wonderful society,” Hammon said.

Every Memorial Day weekend, the Oro Fino Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution places 135 American flags in 19 cemeteries.

MTN

On most tombstones, members can add a spinning wheel which is the logo of the organization. The thirteen rays resemble stars and represent the 13 colonies. The spinning wheel also has a deep meaning.

“One of the most important contributions women could make was spinning and making goods and clothing, because the more they earned, the less they were imported from Britain, which meant they were detrimental to the British economy and were contributing to the time war effort, ”Hammon said.

To find out more about the organization, visit their website.

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High school students ‘get their share’ from invasive weeds



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SUN RIVER VALLEY – High school students from Great Falls and Simms spent Thursday in the Sun River Valley shooting spotted knapweed, a invasive species, as part of an annual program with school districts called “Pull Your Share”.

Almost as soon as a group of students set out for a short hike to a patch of spotted knapweed high in the mountains, they were able to celebrate as one of their own spotted some of the grass and l ‘unearthed.

“We have raised about 85 high school students and they are adopting a knapweed site, an invasive species site, which they are going to come year after year to ensure a long term sustainable reduction of knapweed at their site,” explained Dan Wilkins, Great Falls Public Schools Coordinator.

This was the fifth year Wilkins had taken students on a trip to help prevent spotted knapweed from entering the Sun River Game Range.

He explained, “The plant puts a chemical in the soil called catechin. The catechin in the soil is poisonous and it prevents other plants, especially forage plants, from growing in that area. So we could end up with it. a monoculture, this knapweed, let’s say in this play area and the elk could not survive the winter because it does not have sufficient nutritional value for the elk.

After their first celebratory draw, the students placed a sign to mark their site, then walked about 15 minutes to most of the weeds and got busy pulling.

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“Montana is a very popular tourist spot as well as agriculture and I think invasive species like this threaten the agricultural economy as well as the tourism economy here,” said Luke Lee, sophomore student at Simms.

“I really enjoyed coming here. (It’s a) good learning experience, ”said Ezra Leach, a second year friend of Simms.

weed puller.jpg

MTN NEWS

The day also included education on noxious weeds and how to reduce them.

Stephanie Criswell coordinates the Montana Invasive Species Council and says she really enjoys the “Pull Your Share” program.

“What I really love about what Dan has done is that he approaches it from all angles. One thing is a change in behavior. To really tackle invasive species, people have to understand how they are. impact not only our but our economy and our recreation opportunities, “Criswell” He also teaches children about integrated weed management … The last element is that he follows up. “

If you would like to learn more about the “Pull Your Share” program, contact Wilkins at 406-750-4116 or [email protected]

Click here to visit the Montana Invasive Species Council website.

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Colorado Crime Movies and TV Series



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On May 27, Barry Morphew, who was arrested for first degree murder earlier this month – just under a year after his wife, Suzanne Morphew, went missing after taking a bike ride near Maysville – made his last appearance in court. And even though the hearing was just a status conference, it still made headlines as Colorado’s latest crime to become a national obsession.

Coast-to-coast interest in Colorado crimes is not a new phenomenon. Many tragedies over the years have received enormous media attention far beyond state borders, and continue to catch the eye with numerous films, documentaries and television magazine segments.

Here are five examples, along with information on the location of the images, as well as links to Westword blanket:

Chris Watts

In August 2018, Frederick’s Chris Watts killed his pregnant wife, Shanann, before killing Celeste and Bella, their two young daughters. The shocking acts quickly culminated in cable media coverage, and in the years that followed, many documentary filmmakers and filmmakers explored the subject.

The worst of these projects was undoubtedly Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer, a 2020 Lifetime movie that essentially blamed Shanann for her own murder. Much better American Murder: The Family Next Door, which launched on Netflix last September. The documentary is made up almost entirely of videos or images shared online by Shanann or footage from the investigation into her disappearance, including body camera clips that appear to capture every inch of the living space shared by the couple. . Home is practically another character from a movie that spookily transforms the spacious and tastefully appointed suburbs into a backdrop for pure evil.

Here is a trailer for American Murder: The Family Next Door:

Harold henthorn

Henthorn was charged with killing his wife, Dr. Toni Henthorn, by pushing her out of Deer Mountain in Rocky Mountain National Park in 2012. He was later convicted of murder and his appeal was dismissed in 2018.

In the months that followed, Henthorn’s story was the subject of numerous national television programs, including one 48 hours investigation, due to the shocking nature of his alleged crime and the suspicion that he had committed a similar act previously: his first wife, Lynn Henthorn, also died under questionable circumstances.

Click to view the NBC data line episode devoted to Henthorn.

JonBenét Ramsey

Six-year-old JonBen̩t Ramsey was murdered at her Boulder home in December 1996, and nearly a quarter of a century later, the still unsolved crime continues to resonate. Dozens and dozens of movies and TV shows have either tackled the murder directly or romanticized what happened in thinly veiled ways. Take advantage of the 2016 lifetime offer, Who killed JonBen̩t Рplease. And then there was Netflix from 2017 Casting JonBen̩t, a bizarre fantasy in which we see actors audition for re-enactment scenes for a documentary on the case.

Among the strangest of these offers is The case of: JonBenét Ramsey, a CBS effort that assembled a team of so-called experts who determined that Burke Ramsey, the girl’s then school-age brother, had killed her with a blow to the head. The program has spawned several lawsuits, including one filed by Burke that CBS settled in 2019. But the twisted artifact remains available through Amazon and other online vendors; the first part can be viewed on this link.

Ralph candelario

In January 2014, Pam Candelario was found clubbed to death in Walsenburg, and her husband, Ralph Candelario, with whom she owned a local antique store, claimed that she had been murdered by an intruder. But that web of lies quickly crumbled, and Ralph, whose first wife went missing under mysterious circumstances, was later sentenced to life in prison.

Since NBC data line the Candelario investigation was broadcast several times. It can also be viewed on YouTube.

Columbine

Like the death of JonBen̩t Ramsey, the April 20, 1999 attack on Columbine High School, in which two elderly people killed twelve students and a teacher before committing suicide, has been portrayed in film and television in different ways. Рsometimes factually, sometimes fictitious, and sometimes a mixture of the two approaches. And the projects keep coming.

The 2018 doc We are Columbine focuses on four survivors and the impact of the massacre on their lives; it’s available on Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and several other streaming services. Hulu Columbine generation, as of 2019, uses Colorado Crime as a starting point to examine the phenomenon of school shootings in general. Watch the trailer here:

Keep Westword Free … Since we started Westword, he was defined as the free and independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Provide our readers with free access to cutting edge coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with bold reporting, sleek writing, and staff who have won it all, from the Society’s Sigma Delta Chi Award for Feature Writing of Professional Journalists for the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with the existence of besieged local journalism and the decline in advertising revenue having a bigger impact, it is more important than ever for us to rally support for funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our “I Support” membership program, which allows us to continue to cover Denver without any payment walls.

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Summary of the fourth follow-up check: May 30, 2021



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Securities:

President Biden proposes $ 6 trillion budget to Congress for fiscal year 2022 (what benefits could it bring directly to families?)

– Another 1.8 million “plus-up” stimulus checks were sent by the IRS this week, bringing the total number distributed to 167 million

– Announcement of the Cherokee Nation a two-part incentive check for $ 2,000 as part of their Respond Recover and rebuild plan (find out more)

Consumer spending decreases as the stimulus check stimulation wears off

– New budget proposal from Biden does not include a fourth stimulus check (Read more)

Rising real estate prices around the world on the backs of recovery strategies

Florida confirm the state end the weekly unemployment increase of $ 300 in June (full story)

2021 child and dependent care credit… all you need to know

– Payments for the Child tax credit 2021 are just around the corner (full story)

– Theirs May 17 tax filing deadline has now passed; however some states have extensions issued (Read more)

– California sends $ 600 / $ 1,200 stimulus checks as part of the Golden State Stimulus program

– You can take your third stimulation test using the IRS Get My Payment online portal

Stay up to date with the latest Vaccine news in the United States and around the world with our live food for the covid-19 vaccine

Take a look at some of our related articles:

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Housing Heat Index: Which state’s real estate markets are doing best, worst during the housing boom? |



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Before the coronavirus recession, the Utah housing market was on fire. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which sent residents of northern California and Seattle in search of affordable homes and more space, and an already hot market intensified.

Dave Robison, former president of the Utah Association of Realtors, simply summarizes the activity. “This is insane,” says Robison, a real estate broker in Salt Lake City.

Its evaluation is not limited to the sale. Home prices in Utah have skyrocketed as Californians flock to the state. Utah has the fastest pace of employment growth in the country, with lowest unemployment, extremely low mortgage rates, few mortgage defaults, and low local and state taxes.

All of these factors pushed Utah to the top spot in Bankrate’s 2020 Housing Heat Index, a spot it continues to hold for the first quarter of 2021. Residential real estate has exploded during the recession of the United States. coronavirus, and Utah has become a particularly desirable market.

Other states in the region are also booming. South Dakota, Montana and Idaho rank second, third and fifth, respectively, in the Bankrate Index.

At the opposite end of the list is Hawaii, a state that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its tourism industry is slowly recovering from a virtual standstill, and the employment picture in Hawaii remains bleak.

The 5 States with the Hottest Housing Economies

The Housing Heat Index shows how state property markets are behaving in the coronavirus-fueled housing boom and how they may behave in the future. To calculate the ranking, Bankrate analyzed six data points: the annual appreciation of house prices reported by the house price index of the Federal Housing Finance Agency; the share of delinquent mortgages reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association; US Department of Labor unemployment and job growth; the cost of living index of the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness; and State by State tax charges as reported by the Tax Foundation

These five states had the strongest housing economies in the first quarter of 2021:

1. Utah. Its home values ​​jumped 19% in the 12-month period ending March 31, second best among U.S. states, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Utah posted the second highest job growth in the country from March 2020 to March 2021, according to Bankrate analysis of Department of Labor data. Additionally, Utah had the lowest unemployment rate in the country and its tax burden is among the lowest in the country, according to the Tax Foundation.

2. South Dakota. Home prices have climbed nearly 15% and South Dakota is tied with Utah for the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

3. Montana. Home prices have risen 15 percent over the past year, and Montana has the lowest level of past due mortgage payments in the country, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

4. New Hampshire. The geographic quirk of our ranking, New Hampshire has seen home values ​​soar 16%, and the unemployment rate and tax burden are low.

5. Idaho. Idaho home prices were the hottest in the country, climbing 23.7% in the year ending March 31. And job growth is the strongest in the country. However, Idaho’s overall rankings were tempered by mid-range readings for cost of living and taxes, and by a ranking behind the pack in mortgage delinquencies.

Buyers are looking for affordable, space

High rankings of states in the mountain time zone illustrate a shift in the housing market: Americans are still drawn to healthy job markets, but even before the coronavirus pandemic they were increasingly unwilling to pay to live in places like San Jose, Seattle, and Boston.

COVID-19 has pushed many – especially those who can work remotely – to move from more expensive areas to more affordable ones.

“We are seeing the ingredients of a renewed affordability migration,” says Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo. “The beneficiaries of this change have largely been the mid-sized subways in the western mountain states.”

The median price of a single-family home sold in Silicon Valley in the first quarter was $ 1.5 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. The typical price in Salt Lake City was $ 435,400 – above the national median, but not dramatically, and just a fraction of the price paid by residents of Northern California.

The price differential prompted many players in high-cost markets to consider relocating. The concept is particularly appealing to workers who can move their high-paying jobs to areas with lower cost of living.

“People suddenly have the choice of where to live because they’re not tied to a desk,” says Alicia Holdaway, agent at Summit Sotheby’s International Realty in Draper, Utah, and former chair of the Salt Lake City Board of Realtors . “We have had net in migration that has been happening for years, and it is only increasing.”

Every boom has its drawbacks, of course. In some cases, newcomers to the Utah housing market are overflowing with cash and are ready to push up the prices.

“There is always a flip side,” Holdaway says. “We have seen housing affordability become a crisis.”

The 5 States with the Coolest Housing Savings

As the nationwide housing boom rages on, every state has seen property values ​​rise in the 12 months that ended in March. However, some state economies are struggling with weak job growth and other challenges. The last 5 of our index:

47. Illinois. High unemployment and lukewarm price appreciation put Illinois at the bottom of the pack.

48. New York. Hit hard by the pandemic, New York is facing a number of headwinds. It ranks almost last in job growth, unemployment, tax burden and delinquent loans.

49. Washington, DC The district ranked near the bottom in home price appreciation. The city also ranked last in cost of living and near the bottom of the unemployment rate in terms of tax burden.

50. Louisiana. It ranks at the worst for delinquent loans, with over 9% of homeowners behind on their mortgage payments. Louisiana is also doing poorly when it comes to price appreciation, job growth and the tax burden.

51. Hawaii. This tourism dependent state ranks last for job growth and unemployment and almost last for price appreciation. “The big picture is of a very weak economy,” says Carl Bonham, executive director of the University of Hawaii’s Economic Research Organization.

Methodology

To calculate the Home Heat Index for the first quarter of 2021, Bankrate analyzed six data points:

—Annual appreciation of house prices for the first quarter as reported by the house price index of the Federal Housing Finance Agency;

—Sharing of delinquent mortgages for the first quarter, as reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association;

– unemployment rate for March from the US Department of Labor;

– the annual employment growth from March of the US Department of Labor;

– the cost of living index for 2020 of the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness;

—State-by-state tax charges for the 2020-2021 fiscal year as declared by the Tax Foundation.

The index overweight the appreciation of house prices, the measure which most clearly reflects the desirability of a real estate market. And the index underweight the cost of living and the tax burden – house prices may skyrocket despite these factors, but a new wave of remote work is making these factors more relevant than they were in the past. the past.

(Visit Bankrate online at bankrate.com.)

© 2021 Bankrate.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Advanced Payroll Solutions is helping Billings get back to business. | Back to business



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Photo credit by Advanced Payroll Solutions


One way to gauge how eager the Montanans are to reopen the economy and get back into business comes from advanced payroll solutions, better known as APS. APS is a new billing company that provides payroll services, human resources, tax planning, and other benefits for Montana businesses.

Almost as soon as APS opened in February, the phone rang. The callers were in the process of starting a business or are already in business and are looking for ways to deal with paperwork headaches.

“People who come here usually don’t have the time to deal with things related to the presence of employees. This includes payroll, employee management and other types of deposits, ”said Jeannie Schweigert, director of marketing and sales for APS.

Schweigert describes APS as a one-stop shop that manages many essential but behind-the-scenes functions of a business so that the owner can focus on the essential tasks of running their business.

Homeowners often face important questions when trying to grow their business. These include whether it is cheaper to rent or buy equipment, whether it makes more sense to rent or buy the property, or whether it makes financial sense to open a second location. When it comes to operations related to employee activities, it almost always makes sense for business owners to outsource those functions to APS, Schweigert said.

So far, our clients range from one to 15 employees and represent a variety of industries such as contractors, local governments, retail outlets, restaurants and child care centers.

“Entrepreneurs are very important to us because everyone in this business is extremely busy and it’s a labor intensive business that needs a lot of attention,” said Schweigert.

Filing income tax can be one of the most complex tasks of a business owner. APS offers tax planning and contract preparation services for businesses, by staff with many years of expertise in tax and business operations.

Sandra Welch, the company’s chief financial officer, is a retired IRS revenue manager with over 30 years of experience in Washington and Montana. Welch has the title of Registered Agent, which means she can represent the company’s clients before the Internal Revenue Service.

Advanced Employment Solutions also streamlines the payment process for workers’ compensation insurance. A client’s premiums are paid as they accrue, eliminating the need for deposits, early premium payments, and year-end audits.

APS is a co-employer, an agreement in which two companies both have rights and obligations as an employer. The client maintains control of their on-site employees and is the registered employer, while APS takes responsibility for the paperwork and manages personnel-related functions.

APS – Advanced Payroll Solutions – 801 Grand Ave Billings, MT – 406-894-2526 – advanced-payrollsolutions.com

This content was produced in partnership with the advertising department. News and editorial services played no role in its creation or presentation.

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Counties Where Most People Have Debt in Collections – 24/7 Wall St.



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During the Covid-19 pandemic, as the country grappled with health and financial crises, many people across the country saw their debts rise and their ability to pay them drop.

As businesses cut back or shut down, workers not only saw their incomes drop or disappear, but also lost their medical insurance coverage. A Lending Tree survey released in March found that 60% of Americans faced medical debt, with the amount exceeding $ 5,000 for 53% of them. (Click here to see how many people in your state are burdened with medical debt.)

But the debt was already increasing before the pandemic struck. In March, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission jointly released a report indicating that U.S. consumer debt hit a record high of $ 14.3 trillion in the first quarter of 2020.

Overdue debts are frequently referred to collection agencies. The Urban Institute considers receivables in collections “to include accounts receivable (eg, credit cards) that were previously over 180 days past due and which have been closed and debited,” as well as student loans. and unpaid automobiles, medical and utility bills, parking tickets, child support payments, and membership fees that have been referred to a credit bureau.

Click here to see the counties where the most people are in debt collection.

To identify the countries where people are most in debt, 24/7 Wall St. looked at data from the “Debt in America 2021” report, based on credit bureau information from 2020, released by the think tank at non-profit on Urban Institute.

Debt collectors can be notoriously aggressive – and new rules from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will allow them, from the end of November, to contact debtors via direct messages or friend requests on social media. (However, they will be prohibited from communicating on social media in a way that can be seen by the public.)

People in some parts of the country have more debt in collections than in others. Sometimes the differences are dramatic. McKenzie County, North Dakota, for example, tops the list with a median amount of $ 4,972 in collections. (Here is the worst counties to live.)

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Is It Time To Refinance Your Mortgage?



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Refinancing your mortgage can lower your monthly mortgage payments, reduce the time you need to pay, or even withdraw money to pay off your credit card debt or student loans through cash refinancing. With rates at historically low levels, around 18 million borrowers could potentially qualify for a new loan, according to real estate data firm Black Knight.

If you are going to invest both time and money in the refinancing process, make sure your mortgage rates are lower than your previous loan and that refinancing makes sense for you and your budget. If you’re already convinced, a good place to start is our list of the best mortgage refinance lenders of 2021.

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Lock in a lower interest rate by refinancing your mortgage.

For borrowers with a strong credit history, refinancing can be a good way to get a lower interest rate. Click on your state for a free quote.

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Yes, now is the time to refinance your mortgage

Based on current mortgage rates, now is the time to refinance your home, although the low rate window is closing.

As the coronavirus pandemic has caused the mortgage insurance industry to hit rates below 3%, these are starting to rise again. Average costs for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage were less than 3% in April 2021, but have now risen to 3.35% as of May 21, 2021. Compared to last year’s rates – which were 3.28% in May – you can easily see that they are starting to return to normal.

This increase was predicted by various groups including Fannie Mae and The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA). The former says that by the end of 2021, rates will rise to 3.4%, while the latter projects an increase to 3.7%. Note that there is still a possibility that rates will drop back below 3% in 2021, but that won’t necessarily be the norm.

With premium stabilization on the horizon, why would be a good time to refinance your mortgage payments? Simple: even with these increases, the average rates are still better than those of previous years. For example, rates during the 2010s averaged around 4% and reached 4.17% in 2014; even 2019 saw an average of 4.4 for 30-year mortgages.

Basically, you can still get above average rates. If you want to know immediately the potential rates of your mortgages, you can use our mortgage calculator.

Reasons for current refinancing rates

The cause of the current price increase is not so mysterious. With very low rates, the best mortgage lenders are inundated with demands. There are many parts to the mortgage pipeline, and if any one is clogged, the whole process can be saved.

“Much of this rate spread is due to capacity constraints,” said Mike Fratantoni, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association. “When lenders see their volume increase, they have to decide: do I hire full-time staff for this, or temporary workers, or go to outsourced providers? And in this environment with a remote workforce, everything takes longer. It’s not just a lender with constraints, it’s the whole system. “

In fact, in the first quarter of 2021, the number of residential refinancings exceeded one million, representing $ 328.5 billion in total volume, according to ATTOM Data Solutions. Almost 56% of the total number of current home loans were issued during the quarter, with high refinancing activity in Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, New York and Houston.

However, as businesses start to open and more citizens get vaccinated, the rates are rising again. Because of this, your window for economical refinancing may start to close.

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Is your credit history strong? Refinance your home and reap the benefits.

Locking in a lower interest rate means fewer payments and more savings. It sounds good? Get a free quote by clicking below.

Refinance Your Mortgage

How to know when to refinance your mortgage

The right call for homeowners refinance depends on your circumstances, including your personal finances, the current loan rate, and how long you plan to stay in the home. Here are some key points you should keep in mind when considering refinancing:

  • Be aware of your budget: If you are using most of your money, including your monthly savings, to pay off your mortgage, you should consider refinancing on better terms. While you don’t need to pay a new down payment, refinancing still has costs associated with it, so be sure to factor those in as well.
  • Check your debt to income ratio (DTI): The lower this number, the more likely lenders are to approve your refinance.
  • Reduce your current credit rate by at least half a point: As a general rule, a differential of half a point or more makes refinancing worth it.
  • Think how long you stay: Analyze if you are going to sell your house soon or when that time will come. You shouldn’t get a 30-year new refinance if you’re moving in a few years.
  • Don’t try to get the lowest price possible: Waiting for rate fluctuations is as difficult as timing the stock market. Don’t wait and see what happens with mortgage rates tomorrow if you can save money or get closer to your financial goals by refinancing today.
  • Find an expert: Find a loan officer or other professional to walk you through the underwriting process. Professional help can improve your chances of getting better loan terms, although you may have to pay extra for their services.

Finally, keep in mind that you may be charged a higher rate than what lenders advertise, depending on your credit score and the equity in your home. Try to go through the mortgage pre-approval process with at least three lenders to find out your true rate and make sure you’re getting the best deal. Freddie Mac found that borrowers save an average of $ 1,500 over the life of the loan by getting one additional quote – and an average of around $ 3,000 if they get five quotes.

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Want to reduce your mortgage payments? Refinancing Can Help!

Refinancing your mortgage has never been easier and with interest rates at an all-time low, now is the perfect opportunity to explore your options. Click below to find out more.

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Mortgage refinancing faqs

Are refinancing rates going down?

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the Federal Reserve has kept mortgage interest rates low. This caused refi rates to drop below 3% in 2020 and throughout the first half of 2021. Unfortunately, as the economy begins to rebound, various organizations have predicted that mortgage rates will rise again, averaging around 3.3 to 3.7% by 2021.

Why would refinancing be a bad idea?

Refinancing is a bad idea if the process dramatically increases your overall loan costs – including closing costs – or hinders your ability to pay your loan. If you have additional funds and want to reduce your total loan amount, you can opt for refinancing for a shorter loan term. You’ll avoid higher interest rates, but your new premium rates will increase, making your monthly payments more expensive. If you can’t afford those extra monthly payments, a shorter loan term would be detrimental to you and your budget. When considering refinancing, consider your loan terms, past financial decisions, and current financial situation. When you’re ready, choose the option that’s right for you.

Is it cheaper to refinance with your current lender?

It is possible to reduce monthly payments and get cheaper rates if you are early with your lender and decide to refinance your current loan. If you’ve been a loyal customer, there’s a chance they’ll offer discounts or special rates for refinancing your loan. Unfortunately, availability and discount percentages vary widely from lender to lender, so there is always a chance you will find better rates for getting a new mortgage from another FHA approved company.

How to get the best refinancing rates?

There are three things you can do to get low interest rates on your original mortgage. First, improve your credit score: a good credit report shows that you can make payments diligently, so lenders see you as less risky to insure. Second, you can renegotiate the term of your loan, as this can dramatically change the premium and the overall upfront costs. For example, if you have a 30-year loan and have paid off it for sixteen years, you can refinance the remaining fourteen over a shorter or longer term with better rates. Third, you can buy rates online which vary widely from company to company.

Having quotes from at least three different providers increases the chances of getting a better rate and gives you leverage to negotiate with them. It is important that you find a comfortable rate on your loan, as this can help you reach a breakeven point.

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Polson companies rally for the future



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With the COVID-19 recovery underway, the Polson business community gathered on May 19 to discuss how it survived the 2020 shutdown and share resources to help businesses stay vibrant in the future.

Jim Thaden, executive director of Mission West Community Development Partners, broke the ice with an optimistic message.

“There are abundant resources available” to help support the economic recovery, Thaden said. Local banks and credit unions are ready to help with trade finance. Mission West helps find grants, loans and other special funds made available, as well as free mentors and technical assistance for entrepreneurs and start-ups.

With a large amount of federal stimulus money coming to Montana, “this is a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Thaden said.

Change is inevitable, but the country’s economy will grow. Managing it is important to continue growing the local economy, he said.

Mission Valley Power General Manager Jean Matt presented information on the local power supply. The utility is federally owned, operated under contract, and it offers Montana’s cheapest electricity at 6.89 cents per kWh, well below the state average of 11.2 cents. Mission Valley Power buys 80% of its electricity from the federal Bonneville Power Administration and 19% from the local SKQ dam (formerly Kerr).

Matt said MVP’s goal is to have all outages across the 1,600 square mile service area be back in service within two hours.

“We are non-profit, funded by taxpayers. We work for you. “

A panel of four local businesses provided insight into how various businesses have “pivoted” to adapt to the rapid changes that have come so suddenly with the COVID pandemic.

Carol Lynn Lapotka of Handmade Montana converted her clothing manufacturing site to make full-time masks while working to increase the online supply of Montana artists that she normally presents at major events throughout the year. year.

Mary Frances Caselli never closed Ms. Wonderful Cafe, but opted for take-out, including casseroles. The Napa Valley Food and Wine Tour was fortunate enough to occur during a short window when California was opened before the surge in COVID cases closed operations again.

“The loyalty of this city got us through,” said Caselli. “It means a lot to the community when you shop locally.”

Bobby Goldberg had set himself the goal of purchasing the building that houses his Second Nature business in downtown Polson. It was closed for a full month effective March 27 of last year and she used that time to build a website and learn all she could about promoting her business and community on the media. social in a “positive and healthy” way.

Godlberg said she also received help from three grants.

“Montana is behind small business, absolutely.”

After the reopening, the summer tourist season has been extremely busy.

“I couldn’t have done it without the heart that is Polson.”

Brooke Duty, director of marketing and sales for S&K Gaming – who oversees the Kwa Taq Nuk Resort, the Gray Wolf Peak casino in Evaro, and the Polson and Big Arm marinas – said the pandemic had completely shut down resorts and casinos, but she was happy to do so. report that the management team worked through federal and state stimulus and clawback funds to continue paying the entire workforce during their shutdown, despite the lack of revenue. To this day, she said, they still have COVID prevention protocols in place.

“We’re back swinging and rolling.”

Several other presentations led to a discussion on the double difficulty of finding employees and housing them at an affordable price. Another identified need was childcare and other family care.

“Housing is a top priority for the town of Polson,” said City Manager Ed Meece, who has experienced the problem firsthand since arriving here eight months ago.

Caselli said part of recruiting a new chef is to network to find him a place to live.

“We don’t have the advantage of being able to just do a study and then leave it to others.”

The city is working with community partners on short and long term options for high quality affordable housing.

Erin Schlock of Polson Job Service said the current national labor shortage is expected in 2015 due to changing demographics and other factors. Several local businesses cannot open with their full hours, attendees said, due to a lack of workers. There is some hope that with the increased unemployment insurance ending in June, some workers could be encouraged to return.

But Schlock said there are other sides to the problem.

“We’re almost at the unemployment rate we were at before covid,” Schlock said, “but there is a labor shortage.” As an example, she mentioned that many women have left the workforce to care for children or other family members. She strategizes with companies to “think outside the box” for recruiting ideas, including hiring events, signing bonuses and, in some cases, employer-provided housing.

A representative of the Chamber of Commerce commended the town of Polson for its immediate work on the housing issue to prevent tent cities and the homelessness that other communities face.

Representatives from the city and Mission West said they intend to have more of this type of open discussion in the future.

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2021 U.S. Bank Mortgage Review



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* The minimum credit score and down payment are for compliant mortgages

Overall rating of the lender

Advantages and disadvantages

US bank mortgage rates

The US bank posts mortgage rates for fixed rate, variable rate, FHA, VA, and jumbo home loans on its website. The rates quoted assume that you have a credit score of at least 740 and that you are purchasing a single family home.

Some lenders will customize your mortgage rates online by asking for your zip code, down payment amount, or credit score. However, the US bank does not allow you to customize the rates – you will need to apply for prequalification to get a general idea of ​​what you would pay.

On the bright side, the US Bank’s online rates are comparable to the national average rates on the Federal Reserve’s website. So, you could get a low rate with this lender.

How US Bank Stacks Up To Other Lenders

We compared US Bank to two other major lenders that offer mortgages in all 50 states: Bank of America and Chase.

American Bank Mortgage vs. Bank of America Mortgage

US Bank offers more types of home loans than Bank of America. It’s the obvious choice if you need a construction loan or a home equity loan. You will also like US Bank if you are in need of a VA loan but your credit score is rather low. Bank of America requires a credit score of 620 for VA loans, while the US Bank only requires a rating of 600.

Bank of America offers homebuyer assistance programs that vary by state. Depending on where you live, you may be eligible for a grant or loan for your down payment and closing costs.

American Bank Mortgage vs. Chase Mortgage

You will want to go with US Bank for construction loans or home equity loans. But Chase has a unique mortgage called Chase DreaMaker.

Chase DreaMaker is a program for low-income borrowers that includes up to $ 3,000 in grants for a down payment or closing costs. Chase recently expanded this program to offer $ 5,500 to people who live in eligible neighborhoods and take an educational course. If you qualify for this mortgage, you may prefer Chase.

How US Bank Mortgages Work

US Bank has branches in 26 US states and offers loans in all 50 states. The lender offers the following types of home loans:

If you are refinancing, you can choose between interest rate and term refinancing or cash flow refinancing. You can refinance your FHA loan with US Bank, but to do easy refinancing – which doesn’t require a credit check or home appraisal – your original FHA loan must be with US Bank.

Is the US bank trustworthy?

The Better Business Bureau gives US Bank an A + for reliability. The BBB measures reliability by examining responses to customer complaints, transparency of business practices, and honesty in advertising.

The US bank has a recent controversy, however. In 2020, the lender paid the US government $ 200 million for FHA loan approval for mortgage insurance even though a) borrowers did not qualify for FHA loans, or b) US Bank No. haven’t checked their credit scores.

This lawsuit was not settled until 2020, but dishonest lending practices took place from 2006 to 2011.

Mortgage and refinancing rates by state

Compare the US bank’s rates to your state’s mortgage rates:

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
new York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Caroline from the south
South Dakota
Tennessee
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
Washington DC
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

About the Author

Laura Grace Tarpley is a writer at Personal Finance Insider, covering mortgages, refinancing and loans. She is also a Certified Personal Finance Educator (CEPF). During her five years of personal finance coverage, she has written extensively on how to navigate loans.

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Cocktails are about to become permanent in Pennsylvania restaurants and bars



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It may not be long before diners can order margaritas and espresso martinis to take out at restaurants and bars in Pennsylvania.

On Tuesday, the state House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow establishments to permanently sell mixed drinks to go. The bill now goes to the State Senate for consideration.

Originally, the law signed by Governor Tom Wolf in May 2020 was intended as a temporary lifeline at the height of the coronavirus pandemic. Now supporters say continuing this will help restaurants bounce back.

“Crazy as it sounds, one of the innovative breakthroughs and bright spots of the year for our industry was the cocktail to go… something so simple that you wonder why licensed establishments couldn’t do that. before, ”said Chuck Moran, executive director of the Pennsylvania Licensed Beverage and Tavern Association.

READ MORE:

  • $ 120 million in pandemic relief for restaurants in Pennsylvania: here’s the breakdown by county
  • With roots in Harrisburg, 8 Myles Mac n ‘Cheese are launched in 240 Target stores

Moran said the bill provided a lifeline for struggling restaurants during the pandemic, especially as they waited for the government to create loans, grants and other assistance.

“Many establishments took advantage of this opportunity, while many customers safely enjoyed professional mixed drinks in the comfort of their homes while supporting their local taverns and licensed restaurants,” he said.

By law, establishments can sell mixed beverages in containers with a secure lid in quantities of at least 4 ounces and no more than 64 ounces before 11 p.m. This does not apply to beer or wine.

The measure applied to restaurants or hotels with liquor licenses that lost more than 25% of average monthly sales during the pandemic and remained in effect until operations exceeded 60% of their capacity.

Pennsylvania isn’t the only state considering making adult beverages permanent. Recently, the governors of Georgia and Montana signed similar laws, and during the pandemic, more than 30 states made take-out cocktails temporarily available.

In Pennsylvania, it is illegal to have open alcohol containers in a vehicle and beverages must be carried in the trunk of a vehicle or other area unoccupied by passengers.

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Glacier Bancorp has gone big and is paying for its latest acquisition. here’s why



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Assets of nearly $ 20 billion Bancorp Glacier (NASDAQ: GBCI) Montana-based recently announced plans to acquire the $ 3.5 billion asset Altabancorp (NASDAQ: ALTA), Utah’s largest community bank. The deal is a little different from acquisitions Glacier has made in the past, which tend to be smaller. Glacier also pays a hefty premium to buy Altabancorp. Let’s take a look at what made Glacier pull the trigger and what that means for the merged company going forward.

Numbers

Glacier expects to pay nearly $ 934 million in an all-stock transaction to acquire Altabancorp, valuing each common share at $ 49.03. This values ​​Altabancorp at almost 290% of the tangible book value (equity less goodwill and intangible assets). Even with today’s high bank valuations, that’s a huge premium, but it’s not entirely surprising given that Altabancorp is a very successful bank in a rapidly growing market.

Yet even with the high premium, Glacier, being a strong performer on its own and currently trading at almost 325% of its tangible book value, is able to make the operation work from a financial standpoint. Once the transaction is completed, the acquisition will immediately increase Glacier’s tangible book value, which is solid given the high premium it plays for Altabancorp and the fact that acquisitions often dilute equity. The deal also increases earnings per share (EPS) by 5.2% in 2022, meaning the combined bank’s profits will be 5.2% higher than Glacier’s projected profits in 2022 alone.

Image source: Getty Images.

This figure could also be low given that BPA estimates are based on Glacier eliminating 17.5% of Altabancorp’s spend. This is low enough for a simple acquisition like this. Although there is minimal branch overlap between the two banks, both use the same basic processing system from Jack Henry and therefore software very similar to food services such as over-the-counter transactions, mortgages and other digital banking services. Not only does this make the integration a lot easier, but it could also reduce technology expenses. On a conference call following the announced acquisition, CEO Randall Chester called the projected 17.5% cost savings “conservative.”

Altabancorp comes with a heavy commercial real estate and construction loan portfolio that will increase the overall return on Glacier’s total loan portfolio, while maintaining Glacier’s excellent low cost deposit franchise. Glacier’s loan portfolio also improves Glacier’s credit quality by slightly lowering the ratio of non-performing assets (those at risk of defaulting) to total assets of the combined bank.

Graph explaining the loan and deposit mixes of Glacier Bancorp and Altabancorp.

Image source: Glacier Bancorp investor presentation.

Growth and technology

An important thing to remember is that banks are not bought, they are sold, which means the seller usually approaches the buyer or lets potential buyers know that they want to sell. And while high bank valuations lead to higher selling prices, they may also prompt more banks that have not historically considered a sell to finally raise their hands. Approaching three times the tangible book value, Altabancorp saw an environment conducive to selling and it appears Glacier was looking forward to it. Chester said he had his eye on Altabancorp for almost a decade, so I’m sure when the opportunity arose the actual selling price probably didn’t matter, especially with Glacier trading at such a high valuation.

The main reason Glacier wants Altabancorp is to strengthen its presence in Utah, the fastest growing market in the geographic footprint of the eight Glacier States, and also the second fastest growing state in the States. United between 2010 and 2021. Utah is a bank’s dream, with the fastest rate of housing unit growth in the United States for the past three years. About 14% of Altabancorp’s loan portfolio is made up of construction and land development loans, many of which are likely made to real estate developers who are building homes. This is a high concentration for a community bank as these loans are considered riskier, but Altabancorp has maintained strong credit quality and the construction and land development portfolio has an attractive average yield of 6.25%.

Utah also has the 5th lowest unemployment rate in the country and a good business environment, not to mention the state just invested more than $ 4 billion in Salt Lake City International Airport, making it the first new American hub airport built in the 21st century. Altabancorp management said in its first quarter earnings call that it expects to increase lending in the high percentage range to single digits in 2021, which is great considering most banks are uncertain. as to loan growth this year. Analysts on the call also felt it was a very conservative estimate by the bank.

The other big advantage of Altabancorp is everything it offers Glacier in terms of technology. Being on the same basic processing system is not a must in acquisitions, but it certainly helps. These core processing systems feed into a bank’s daily loan and deposit transactions, among many other functions, so anytime a bank changes or attempts to update its core systems, it can be a huge disruption.

Not only does Altabancorp use heart processing software powered by Jack Henry, but Chester said that much of the software Altabancorp uses is a generation ahead of Glacier (the banks have operated with core processing technology very old) and already integrated on the same basic platform, which makes the integration much easier. For example, Chester said that Altabancorp’s commercial loan creation system is newer and that Altabancorp also uses a state-of-the-art construction loan platform. Ultimately, Chester said he believes Altabancorp’s technology will accelerate Glacier’s technology roadmap and potentially lower the overall cost.

Is Altabancorp worth the price?

Even though Glacier pays a high premium for Altabancorp, the price really isn’t that bad as it doesn’t dilute Glacier’s tangible book value and also increases EPS. Glacier is also knocking out a big competitor in a footprint it wants to expand into. Also, as I mentioned above, it doesn’t seem like Glacier really cares about the price considering how long they wanted Altabancorp to be and why the addition was worth it. in terms of growth and technology. The deal really looks like it can take the high-performing Glacier Bancorp to new levels faster than it could have achieved on its own.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a premium Motley Fool consulting service. We are motley! Challenging an investment thesis – even one of our own – helps us all to think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.

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Legislature Expands Educational Opportunities – Flathead Beacon



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Education has been one of the sectors most disrupted by COVID-19. The ripple effects of school closings and distance learning have put additional pressure on families and our economy. The legislature has responded by giving more flexibility to students, families and educators to engage in individualized learning.

We started the session by ensuring the stability of the local school boards as they began their annual budgeting process. Bill 15, which provides for an inflationary increase in funding for schools, was enacted in February and is reflected in the education section of the state budget. In general, our state budget reflects strong support for public education from kindergarten to grade 12 and post-secondary. The budget also provided additional support for students with special needs who were even more disrupted by COVID than the general student body.

While we’ve learned that distance education can’t replace face-to-face teaching, the past year has shown us that rigid schedules and seat time requirements don’t necessarily reflect academic progress. We have also found that online learning can complement in-person learning, which is why the broadband investments that lawmakers have made are critical for the future of education, especially in our rural communities. Using federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, the legislature allocated $ 250 million for broadband and telecommunications projects for Montana.

House Bill 246 was a crucial bill in moving our state towards individualized learning. It replaces obsolete seat time and program requirements by allowing districts to offer alternative measures of academic progression. These include workplace learning, custom course design, distance learning, credit flexibility, and other learning methods that reflect the individual educational needs of families and students.

Other bills that complement House Bill 246 include Senate Bill 109, which requires public schools to offer gifted and talented programs, Senate Bill 22 to boost funding technical and career student organizations, House Bill 252 which provides tax credits to employers for careers and technical education, and House Bill 556 to provide alternative means of obtaining a high school diploma.

All of these expanded flexibilities for schools and families will strengthen our public education system. However, families should not be denied access to an education that meets their needs because of financial barriers. The legislature also broadened educational choice opportunities by making non-public education more accessible to low-income families.

House Bill 279 increased the tax credit for donations to scholarship-granting organizations which, in turn, provide tuition scholarships in private schools to low- and middle-income families who, otherwise, might not be able to access a non-public school. House Bill 129 allows families to use education savings accounts for K-12 expenses, as opposed to just college expenses.

Finally, we began to address the teacher shortage in Montana by passing Bill 143, which calls for increased starting salaries for teachers. Teacher compensation varies from district to district and is based on local resources and union negotiations. However, the state has increased some matching funds that districts can request to supplement teachers’ starting salaries. Other laws have also been passed to reinforce the “grow your own” models in Montana educator preparation programs at our colleges.

The next school year, when COVID is released, families, students and educators in Montana will have more opportunities than ever to succeed.

Wylie Galt, R-Martinsdale, is the Speaker of the Montana House of Representatives; Casey Knudsen, R-Malta, is the President Pro Tempore; Sue Vinton, R-Lockwood, is the Majority Leader.

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Housing heat index: which state real estate markets are leading the real estate boom?



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Before the coronavirus recession, the Utah real estate market was on fire. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which sent residents of northern California and Seattle in search of affordable housing and more space, and an already very hot market heated up.

Dave Robison, former president of the Utah Association of Realtors, simply summarizes the activity. “This is insane,” says Robison, a real estate broker in Salt Lake City.

Its valuation is not just the art of selling. Home prices in Utah have skyrocketed as Californians flock to the state. Utah has the fastest pace of employment growth in the country, along with lowest unemployment, ultra-low mortgage rates, few mortgage defaults, and low local and state taxes.

All of these factors pushed Utah to the top spot in Bankrate’s 2020 Housing Heat Index, a spot it continues to occupy for the first quarter of 2021. Residential real estate has exploded during the recession. coronaviruses, and Utah has become a particularly popular market.

Other states in the region are also booming. South Dakota, Montana and Idaho rank second, third and fifth, respectively, in the Bankrate Index.

On the opposite end of the list is Hawaii, a state that has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its tourism industry is slowly recovering from a virtual standstill, and the employment situation in Hawaii remains bleak.

The 5 States with the Hottest Housing Economies

The Housing Heat Index shows how state property markets are faring in the coronavirus-fueled housing boom, and how they might fare going forward. To calculate the ranking, Bankrate analyzed six data points: the annual appreciation of house prices reported by the House Price Index of the Federal Housing Finance Agency; share of delinquent mortgages as reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association; unemployment and employment growth in the US Department of Labor; the cost of living index of the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness; and state-to-state tax burdens, as reported by the Tax Foundation.

These five states had the strongest housing economies in the first quarter of 2021:

  1. Utah. Its home values ​​jumped 19% in the 12-month period that ended March 31, second among U.S. states, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Utah posted the second-strongest job growth in the country from March 2020 to March 2021, according to Bankrate analysis of Department of Labor data. Additionally, Utah had the lowest unemployment rate in the country and its tax burden is among the lowest in the country, according to the Tax Foundation.
  2. South Dakota. Home prices have climbed nearly 15% and South Dakota is tied with Utah for the lowest unemployment rate in the country.
  3. Montana. Home prices have risen 15% in the past year and Montana has the lowest level of delinquent mortgage payments in the country, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
  4. New Hampshire. Geographic oddity in our ranking, New Hampshire has seen home values ​​jump 16 percent, and the unemployment rate and tax burden are low.
  5. Idaho. Idaho home prices were the highest in the country, climbing 23.7% in the year ending March 31. And job growth is the strongest in the country. However, Idaho’s overall ranking was tempered by average readings for cost of living and taxes, and a low ranking for mortgage delinquencies.

Buyers are looking for affordability, space

High rankings for mountain time zone states illustrate a shift in the housing market: Americans are still drawn to healthy job markets, but even before the coronavirus pandemic they were increasingly unwilling to pay for a living in places like San Jose, Seattle, and Boston.

COVID-19 has pushed many – especially those who can work remotely – to move from more expensive areas to more affordable areas.

“We are seeing a new migration to affordability,” says Mark Vitner, senior economist at Wells Fargo. “The beneficiaries of this change have largely been the mid-sized subways in the mountainous western states.”

The median price of a single-family home sold in Silicon Valley in the first quarter was $ 1.5 million, according to the National Association of Realtors. The typical price in Salt Lake City was $ 435,400 – above the national median, but not dramatically, and just a fraction of the price paid by residents of Northern California.

The price differential prompted many players in high-cost markets to consider relocating. The concept is particularly appealing to workers who can take up their well-paying jobs in areas with lower cost of living.

“People suddenly have the choice of where they live because they’re not tied to a desk,” says Alicia Holdaway, agent at Summit Sotheby’s International Realty in Draper, Utah, and former chair of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors City. . “We have a net in migration that has been happening for years, and it has only increased.”

Each boom brings its drawbacks, of course. In some cases, newcomers to the Utah real estate market are full of cash and ready to push up the prices.

“There is always a setback,” Holdaway says. “We have seen housing affordability become a crisis.

The 5 States with the Coolest Housing Savings

As a nationwide real estate boom rages, every state has seen property values ​​rise in the 12 months that ended in March. However, some state economies are struggling with weak job growth and other challenges. The last 5 of our index:

  • 47. Illinois. High unemployment and lukewarm price appreciation put Illinois near the bottom of the pack.
  • 48. New-York. Hard hit by the pandemic, New York is facing many headwinds. It ranks near last in terms of job growth, unemployment, tax burden and delinquent loans.
  • 49. Washington, DC. The district ranked near the bottom of home price appreciation. The city also ranked last in cost of living and near last in unemployment and tax burden.
  • 50. Louisiana. It ranks the worst among delinquent loans, with over 9% of homeowners behind on their mortgage payments. Louisiana is also doing poorly on price appreciation, job growth and the tax burden.
  • 51. Hawaii. This tourism dependent state ranks last for job growth and unemployment and near last for price appreciation. “The big picture is of a very weak economy,” says Carl Bonham, executive director of the University of Hawaii’s Economic Research Organization.

Methodology

To calculate the home heat index for the first quarter of 2021, Bankrate analyzed six data points:

  • the annual appreciation of house prices for the first quarter, as reported by the house price index of the Federal Housing Finance Agency;
  • share of mortgages past due for the first quarter, as reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association;
  • US Department of Labor unemployment rate for March;
  • annual employment growth in March of the US Department of Labor;
  • the cost of living index for 2020 of the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness;
  • state-by-state tax charges for fiscal year 2020-21, as reported by the Tax Foundation.

The index overweight the appreciation in house prices, the measure that most clearly reflects the desirability of a housing market. And the index is underweighting the cost of living and the tax burden – house prices may skyrocket despite these factors, but a new wave of remote work is making these factors more relevant than they once were. the past.

Housing heat index for the first quarter of 2021
state General classification Appreciation ranking Rank of delinquent loans Employment growth rank Unemployed classification Cost of living ranking Tax classification
Utah 1 2 5 2 1 31 8
South Dakota 2 9 2 4 1 24 2
Montana 3 8 1 3 9 29 5
New Hampshire 4 4 11 18 5 43 6
Idaho 5 1 49 1 6 21 20
Tennessee 6 12 20 8 23 5 18
Arizona 7 3 ten 11 36 27 24
Nebraska 8 29 12 5 1 22 28
Washington 9 6 3 31 29 38 16
Indiana ten 17 32 15 12 11 9
North Carolina 11 18 21 9 27 12 ten
Maine 12 7 21 21 21 39 29
Oregon 13 11 4 36 31 40 15
Ohio 14 15 29 25 19 6 39
Kansas 15 25 28 16 7 16 35
Michigan 16 23 15 39 23 4 14
Missouri 17 31 37 17 13 3 12
Georgia 18 21 44 14 18 8 31
Wisconsin 19 38 7 23 9 20 25
Colorado 20 19 14 30 34 36 21
Delaware 21 16 33 22 35 34 13
Arkansas 21 34 35 6 16 2 45
Iowa 23 46 6 19 7 17 40
Kentucky 24 35 25 24 22 7 19
Florida 25 24 41 32 19 25 4
Alabama 26 41 38 7 9 ten 41
Minnesota 27 36 8 34 13 28 46
Rhode Island 28 ten 26 41 40 45 37
Texas 29 30 46 13 39 14 11
Caroline from the south 30 40 31 12 23 18 33
Virginia 31 37 23 27 23 30 26
Oklahoma 32 39 43 20 15 9 30
West Virginia 33 32 36 29 30 13 22
Massachusetts 34 20 18 44 36 47 34
North Dakota 35 48 9 33 16 33 17
California 36 13 13 47 47 50 49
Connecticut 37 5 42 38 47 46 47
New Mexico 38 22 26 45 47 23 23
Wyoming 39 49 16 28 28 32 1
Vermont 40 43 17 46 1 41 43
Mississippi 41 47 50 ten 32 1 32
Maryland 42 27 47 26 32 44 44
Pennsylvania 43 33 34 37 42 26 27
Alaska 44 42 19 43 36 48 3
New Jersey 45 14 48 42 44 42 50
Nevada 46 28 40 50 46 35 7
Illinois 47 44 39 35 41 19 36
new York 48 26 45 49 50 37 48
District of Colombia 49 45 30 48 45 51 46
Louisiana 50 50 51 40 43 15 42
Hawaii 51 51 24 51 51 49 38

Learn more:

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Alternative loans gain traction in the financial services industry



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Loan Market – Opportunities and Strategies – Global Forecast to 2023

Business Research Company Loan Market Report Opportunities and Strategies Global Forecast to 2023

LONDON, GREATER LONDON, UK, May 25, 2021 /EINPresswire.com/ – Alternative lending is gaining ground globally. Alternative loans consist of providing loans to individuals and businesses that do not have access to loans through traditional banking platforms. Alternative loans are increasingly popular as the offer of commercial loans to small businesses is often seen as unprofitable by traditional banks. Alternative lenders rely on advanced technologies such as big data to gain data-driven insights, which can be used to speed up the overall lending process. This allows alternative lenders to make profits on loans, which are generally considered unprofitable by traditional lenders. Examples of alternative lenders include Lending Club and OnDeck.

The major players covered in the global loan market are Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China, Citigroup Inc, JP Morgan.

The loan market consists of the sale of loan services (loans) by entities (organizations, sole proprietorships and partnerships) engaged in providing secured or unsecured loans to borrowing entities. Lending entities include institutions such as finance companies, personal lending institutions, loan companies, and student loan companies. The market covers all types of loans including mortgages, personal loans, working capital loans, auto loans, and business loans.

Learn more about the Global Loans Market report:
https://www.thebusinessresearchcompany.com/report/lending-market

The size of the global loan market is expected to grow from $ 6.04 trillion in 2020 to $ 6.93 trillion in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.8%. The growth is mainly due to companies reorganizing their operations and recovering from the impact of COVID-19, which previously led to restrictive containment measures involving social distancing, remote working and the closure of business activities that have resulted in operational challenges. The market is expected to reach $ 8.81 trillion in 2025 with a CAGR of 6%.

The global loan market is segmented by type into business loans, household loans, government loans and by interest rate in fixed rate and variable rate.

The sub-segments covered are working capital, short-term business loans, long-term business loans, home loans, personal loans, other household loans, short-term government loans and loans. long-term audiences.

The major loan market opportunities segmented by type will arise in the household lending segment, which will generate $ 433.3 billion in global annual sales by 2023. The major loan market opportunities segmented by interest rate will feature in the fixed rate segment, which will gain $ 564.6 billion in annual global sales by 2023. The size of the loan market will gain the most in India, at $ 169.2 billion.

Loan Market – By Type (Household Loans, Business Loans, Government Loans), By Interest Rate (Fixed Rate, Floating Rate) and By Region, Opportunities and Strategies – Global Forecast To 2023 is one of a number of series of new reports from The Business Research Company that provides global loan market overview, forecasts loan market size and growth for the entire market, global loan market segments and geographies, trends loan market, global loan market drivers, restraints, revenues, profiles and market share of major competitors.

Request a sample of the Global Loan Market Report:
https://www.thebusinessresearchcompany.com/sample.aspx?id=2151&type=smp

Here is a list of similar reports from the trade research company:

Global Financial Services Market Report 2021: Impact and Recovery of COVID-19 through 2030
https://www.thebusinessresearchcompany.com/report/financial-services-global-market-report-2020-30-covid-19-impact-and-recovery

Global Mobile Payment Technology Market Report 2021: Growth and Change of COVID-19 to 2030
https://www.thebusinessresearchcompany.com/report/mobile-payment-technologies-global-market-report

Global Digital Payments Market Report 2021: Growth and Change of COVID-19 through 2030
https://www.thebusinessresearchcompany.com/report/digital-payments-global-market-report-2020-30-covid-19-implications-and-growth

Cards and payments market – By product type (cards and payments), by card type (credit, debit, payment and prepaid card), by end user (B2B, B2C, C2B and C2C), by type (bank) And non-bank institutions), and by region, opportunities and strategies – Global forecasts to 2023
https://www.thebusinessresearchcompany.com/report/cards-and-payments-market

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Mortgage rates will likely stay low until the end of summer



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  • Mortgage rates have not changed drastically since last week or last month.
  • Employment and inflation must gradually improve for mortgage rates to rise.
  • According to Marvin Loh, senior global macroeconomic strategist at State Street, rates could start to rise in late summer or fall.
  • See Insider’s Picks for Top Mortgage Lenders »

Some mortgage and refinance rates have gone up since last week, but others have gone down. The trend is similar from the same time last month – rates are fluctuating, but there is no significant upward or downward change.

Mortgage rates can change a bit from week to week or month to month. But Marvin Loh, senior global macroeconomic strategist at State Street, told Insider that rates are expected to stay relatively low until late summer or even fall.

Jobs and inflation must improve for mortgage rates to rise

Mortgage rates tend to be low when an economy is struggling and high when it is booming.

Employment and inflation are two factors that seriously affect mortgage rates. When the number of jobs and inflation increase, so do mortgage rates.

According to the consumer price index for the month of April 2021, inflation has been on the rise since March and since the same period last year. But the United States needs to experience longer and more steady inflation hikes before mortgage rates respond by rising.

The employment figures have improved considerably since the same period last year. Unemployment was 6.1% in April 2021, up from 14.8% in April 2020, just after the coronavirus pandemic hit the United States.

But before the U.S. economy shut down in response to COVID-19, unemployment was 3.5%. Loh explained that the country needs to make more progress before mortgage rates rise.

To take advantage of low rates before they rise, you may want to buy a home or refinance this summer, if possible. Rates could start to climb by the end of the summer.

This week’s mortgage rates

Since last Tuesday, fixed 15-year mortgage rates have held up. Rates on 30-year fixed and VA mortgages have increased, while rates on ARM 7/1, ARM 10/1 and FHA mortgages have declined.

This week’s refinancing rates

Most refinancing rates have declined or remained the same since last week. (VA mortgage rates have risen, however.) Rates have also fluctuated slightly from the same period last month.

Mortgage and refinancing rates by state

Check out the latest rates for your state at the links below.

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
new York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
Caroline from the south
South Dakota
Tennessee
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
Washington DC
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming

About the Author

Laura Grace Tarpley is a writer at Personal Finance Insider, covering mortgages, refinancing and loans. She is also a Certified Personal Finance Educator (CEPF). During her five years of personal finance coverage, she has written extensively on how to navigate loans.

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Glacier buys Altabank – Bank exchange



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Glacier Bancorp to acquire Utah-based community bank Altabancorp, Altabank’s banking holding company.

The agreement adds Altabank’s 25 branch network across Utah and southern Idaho to Glacier’s growing business. It also brings in $ 3.5 billion in total assets, $ 1.8 billion in loans and $ 3.2 billion in deposits.

Glacier, based in Montana, has been particularly active in acquisitions in recent years. The Altabank transaction marks the group’s second acquisition of a Utah-based bank in the past two years, following the acquisition of First Community Bank in 2019.

Glacier has made 24 acquisitions since 2000 and seven in the past five years.

Randy Chesler, President and CEO of Glacier, said: “This is a tremendous opportunity to solidify Glacier’s presence in the growing Utah market by partnering with the state’s largest community bank. We have focused heavily on strengthening our presence in Utah and this opportunity ticks all the boxes. “

Len Williams, President and CEO of Altabank, added: “In our constant quest to be bigger, better and stronger, the opportunity to join the Glacier family of banks was undeniably great for us. Being part of the Glacier family gives us the chance to compete with anyone, anywhere in our market, while maintaining our local autonomy.

Elsewhere, Amerant Mortgage – a joint venture between Amerant Bank and a team of professionals in the residential mortgage industry – will buy the First Mortgage Company, based in Idaho.

The deal was “An integral part” of the company’s business plan, according to Howard Levine, executive vice president and chief revenue officer of Amerant Mortgage. He “Uniquely positions the company with direct access to major federal housing agencies”, he said.

The acquisition, which will see First Mortgage rebranded as Amerant Mortgage, responds to growing demand for residential mortgages amid the booming residential real estate market. This is Amerant’s first expansion outside of Florida.

Meanwhile, Sterling Bancorp invested in New York-based financial technology company Finitive.

Finitive operates a private credit investment platform that gives institutional investors direct access to unlisted debt and credit transactions.

Bea Ordonez, CFO of Sterling Bancorp, said: “Technology and data can remove friction in the private credit market and the credit market in general, providing originators with the capital they need to grow their businesses.”

Jon Barlow, CEO of Finitive, said the company will use the investment to provide “Digitized sourcing, screening and due diligence for investors and easier access to debt financing for borrowers”.


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Here’s where millennials buy homes



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As millennials move into their twenties, they’re looking to settle down.

If you want to know who to thank for the scorching housing market, look no further than your nearest millennial. This group, aged 25 to 40, accounted for 37% of all home sales in 2020.

Do you want to know where they are going? Here, we take a look at the top five cities where millennials are settling, according to data from ICE Mortgage Technology.

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1. Williston, North Dakota

If you are a fan of the Coen brothers Fargo, you get an idea of ​​how much ice there can be in North Dakota. Despite this, millennials have flocked to this town near Montana and the Canadian border for several years. In addition to average salaries of around $ 80,000, Williston offers outdoor activities for millennials, plenty of opportunities for social interaction, a diverse choice of dining establishments, and reasonable housing prices. According to Realtor.com, the median price of a home in Williston is $ 290,000. While it’s impossible to know what long-time residents think about the influx of new blood, home values ​​in the city have risen 324% in the past 20 years.

2. Eagle Pass, Texas

Eagle Pass, Texas, the first American settlement on the Rio Grande, is another place that attracts millennial home buyers. Its recent popularity may be due to the median home price, which is a reasonable $ 168,300. Or maybe it’s because property values ​​have increased 74% over the past two decades. While well-paying jobs don’t seem to be the allure for most millennials moving to Eagle Pass, the cost of living is low enough to allow you to live a middle-class life, whether you work from home or in an office. local. business.

3. Hobbs, New Mexico

Millennials are probably going to love all that Hobbs, New Mexico has to offer. Along with a low cost of living, Hobbs boasts an average commute time of 18 minutes, a low student-teacher ratio, job opportunities, and a low crime rate. Plus, the median price of a home in Hobbs is $ 195,000, which means young couples starting families can afford to put down roots. Since homes in Hobbs have appreciated 168% since 2000, it is also possible for a young family to build up home equity with little effort.

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4. Midland, Texas

Midland, Texas is another hotspot for millennial homebuyers, which has been built primarily on the success of the oil industry. There seem to be several pulls for millennials here, including well-paying jobs, community involvement, unique shops and restaurants, and plenty of cultural activities. Although public schools do not rank highly in Midland, Niche.com ranks several of their private schools relatively high. The median price of a home in this West Texas city is $ 287,000, and residents have enjoyed seeing their homes appreciate by about 240% over the past 20 years.

5. Big Spring, Texas

The third of five Texas cities on this list is Big Spring. Long known as the “Crossroads of West Texas,” Big Spring is nestled between Lubbock to the north, San Angelo to the south, Midland to the west and Abilene to the east. The region has been hit hard by declining oil revenues and suffered from a period of high unemployment. But with the influx of millennials, Big Spring is experiencing a kind of rebirth. Millennials seem to be drawn to Big Spring for its low house prices (median price of $ 164,000), friendly people, small town charm, and slower pace of life. Considering how quickly locals can get to any of the surrounding towns, it’s ideal for families looking for a balance. Also, despite the ups and downs of the oil industry, property values ​​have increased 152% in 20 years. This helps make Big Spring a great place to build home equity.

There are a lot of benefits to millennials putting down roots in one of these cities. When young homebuyers move into an area and take out new mortgages, good things happen. The tax base widens, parks and schools are built, businesses and restaurants are revitalized and cities come to life. Whatever the reason they are moving to a particular region, millennials are good for business.

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Glacier to acquire Altabank – Banking Exchange



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Glacier Bancorp to acquire Utah-based community bank Altabancorp, Altabank’s banking holding company.

The agreement adds Altabank’s 25 branch network across Utah and southern Idaho to Glacier’s growing business. It also brings in $ 3.5 billion in total assets, $ 1.8 billion in loans and $ 3.2 billion in deposits.

Glacier, based in Montana, has been particularly active in acquisitions in recent years. The Altabank transaction marks the group’s second acquisition of a Utah-based bank in the past two years, following the purchase of First Community Bank in 2019.

Glacier has made 24 acquisitions since 2000 and seven in the past five years.

Randy Chesler, President and CEO of Glacier, said: “This is an exceptional opportunity to consolidate Glacier’s presence in the growing Utah market by partnering with the state’s largest community bank. We have focused on strengthening our presence in Utah and this opportunity ticks all the boxes. “

Len Williams, President and CEO of Altabank, added: “In our constant quest to be bigger, better and stronger, the opportunity to join the Glacier family of banks has been undeniably great for us. Being part of the Glacier family gives us the chance to compete with anyone, anywhere in our market, while maintaining our local autonomy.

Elsewhere, Amerant Mortgage – a joint venture between Amerant Bank and a team of professionals in the residential mortgage industry – to acquire Idaho-based First Mortgage Company.

The deal was “An integral part” of the company’s business plan, according to Howard Levine, executive vice president and chief revenue officer of Amerant Mortgage. He “Uniquely positions the company with direct access to major federal housing agencies”, he said.

The acquisition, which will see First Mortgage rebranded as Amerant Mortgage, is in response to growing demand for residential mortgages amid the booming residential real estate market. This is Amerant’s first expansion outside of Florida.

Meanwhile, Sterling Bancorp made a capital investment in New York-based financial technology company Finitive.

Finitive operates a private credit investment platform that gives institutional investors direct access to unlisted debt and credit transactions.

Bea Ordonez, CFO of Sterling Bancorp, said: “Technology and data can remove friction in the private credit market and the loan market in general, providing originators with the capital they need to grow their businesses. “

Jon Barlow, CEO of Finitive, said the company will use the investment to provide “Digitized transaction research, screening and due diligence for investors and easier access to debt financing for borrowers”.


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National delinquency rate fell below 5% in April



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The national delinquency rate fell below 5% in April, although nearly 1.8 million homeowners are at least 90 days late on their mortgage payments, an increase of 1.3 million from before the pandemic.

That’s according to a first look at data from Black Knight’s Mortgage Monitor report, which will be released on June 7. 4.66% in April, against 5.02% in March.

Things were even better in Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Washington and Montana – none had delinquency rates above 3.16%. But Mississippi, Louisiana, Hawaii, Oklahoma and Maryland all fared worse than the national average, with delinquency rates above 6.52% in each state.

States with the lowest delinquency rates:

  • Idaho: 2.47 percent
  • Colorado: 2.97 percent
  • Utah: 2.99 percent
  • Washington: 3.03 percent
  • Montana: 3.16 percent

States with the highest delinquency rates

  • Mississippi: 8.24 percent
  • Louisiana: 7.86 percent
  • Hawaii: 7.29 percent
  • Oklahoma: 6.55%
  • Maryland: 6.52 percent

In total, there were 2.5 million homes whose owners were 30 days or more behind on their payments, 900,000 fewer than a year ago.

Serious defaults – loans 90 days or more past due, but not in foreclosure – fell from 151,000 in April, to 1.768 million. That’s 151,000 fewer serious delinquencies than in March, but an increase of 1.306 million from the same period a year ago, when the pandemic was just beginning.

Not only are delinquency rates falling, but foreclosure starts and active foreclosure inventories hit new records in April, thanks to moratoriums on foreclosures and borrower forbearance plans.

Black Knight counted 153,000 homes in lenders’ foreclosure presale inventory in April, down 9,000 homes from March and 58,000 homes down from a year ago.

Email Matt Carter

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Mortgage delinquencies fall by a further 7% in April; At the current rate of improvement, defaults will return to pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year



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JACKSONVILLE, Florida, May 20, 2021 / PRNewswire / – Black Knight, Inc. (NYSE: BKI) reports the following “first look” at April 2021 month-end mortgage return statistics derived from its loan database representing the majority of the national mortgage market.

Total loan default rate in the United States (loans past due 30 days or more, but not in foreclosure): 4.66% Month-to-month change: -7.11%
Year-to-year variation: -27.68%

Total US Foreclosure Presale Inventory Rate: 0.29%
Month-to-month change: -6.29%
Year-on-year variation: -28.67%

Total foreclosure starts in the United States: 3,700
Month-to-month variation: -26.00%
Year-to-year variation: -50.00%

Monthly Prepayment Rate (SMM): 2.58%
Month-to-month change: -22.79%
Year-to-year variation: 10.77%

90+% foreclosure sales: 0.14%
Month-to-month change: -9.82%
Year-to-year change: 26.99%

Number of properties that are 30 days or more past due, but not foreclosed: 2,500,000
Month-to-month change: -172,000
Year-to-year change: -900,000

Number of properties 90 days or more past due but not foreclosed: 1,768,000
Month-to-month change: -151,000
Year-to-year change: 1,306,000

Number of properties in the foreclosure presale inventory: 153,000
Month-to-month change: -9,000
Year-to-year change: -58,000

Number of properties overdue for 30 days or more or in foreclosure: 2,653,000
Month-to-month change: -181,000
Year-to-year change: -959,000

Top 5 States by percentage of non-current *
Mississippi: 8.24%
Louisiana: 7.86%
Hawaii: 7.29%
Oklahoma: 6.55%
Maryland: 6.52%

The last 5 states by percentage of non-current *
Montana: 3.16%
Washington: 3.03%
Utah: 2.99%
Colorado: 2.97%
Idaho: 2.47%

Top 5 States by Percentage of Offenders Over 90 Days
Mississippi: 5.35%
Louisiana: 5.15%
Nevada: 4.80%
Hawaii: 4.76%
Maryland: 4.56%

Top 5 States by 6-month improvement in the percentage of non-current *
Utah: -33.20%
Maine: -30.92%
Rhode Island: -30.79%
South Dakota: -30.47%
Colorado: -30.03%

Top 5 States by deterioration over 6 months in non-current percentage *
District of Columbia: -18.16%
Oklahoma: -21.30%
Minnesota: -21.66%
Maryland: -22.39%
Nebraska: -23.46%

* Non-current totals combine foreclosures and defaults as a percentage of loans active in that state.
Notes:
1) Totals are extrapolated based on Black Knight Mortgage Database.
2) All whole numbers are rounded to the nearest thousand, with the exception of the beginnings of foreclosure, which are rounded to the nearest hundred.

For a more detailed view of this month’s “first look” data, please visit the Black Knight newsroom.

The company will provide a more in-depth look at this data in its monthly Mortgage Monitor report, which includes data analysis supplemented with detailed tables and charts that reflect trends and one-off observations. The Mortgage Monitor report will be available online at https://www.blackknightinc.com/data-reports/ by June. 7, 2021.

For more information on accessing the Black Knight Loan Level Database, please email [email protected].

About Black Knight
Black Knight, Inc. (NYSE: BKI) is an award-winning software, data and analytics company that drives innovation in the mortgage lending and services and real estate industries, as well as in capital markets and secondary. Businesses leverage our robust, integrated solutions throughout the homeownership lifecycle to help retain existing customers, gain new customers, mitigate risk and operate more efficiently.

Our customers rely on our proven, comprehensive and scalable products and our unwavering commitment to providing superior customer support to achieve their strategic goals and better serve their customers. For more information on Black Knight, please visit www.blackknightinc.com.

SOURCE Black Knight, Inc.

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Colstrip bill reminds many of Montana’s energy deregulation debacle ~ Missoula Current



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With SB379, Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick wants NorthWestern to have more energy at its fingertips, and people across the political spectrum seem to agree the monopoly needs it. (File photo)

(Daily Montanan) It’s no wonder that people talk about the 1997 energy deregulation debacle in Montana in the same breath as Senate Bill 379.

This bill landed later in the session, just like the one more than 20 years ago pushed by then-Sen. Fred Thomas of Stevensville. Like that bill, it comes with a hope that Montana customers can keep flipping on their lights without worrying too much about the cost of electricity.

But deregulation bamboozled Montanans; at least it did the majority of lawmakers. The bill didn’t drive promised competition and lower rates in the Treasure State. Instead, owners parted out Montana Power Co. like an old truck.

Rates climbed. Montana consumers who paid $310 million before deregulation were slated to pay $492 million in 2002, an extra $200 for every person in the state, according to a University of Montana dissertation on deregulation (the fiasco inspired more than one thesis).

Montana reversed course. The state set the stage for the company that bought the lines, NorthWestern Energy, to purchase back dams and reassemble itself as a utility with some of its own generation.

“The pathetic part is we sold it for pennies on the dollar and bought it back for dollars,” said Gary Buchanan, the state’s first director of commerce, who warned against deregulation. “But I thought that (dams purchase) was a good move.”

Power customers in Montana are still paying off that $900 million.

Now, markets are changing, political tensions are fraught, and in this environment, the Montana Legislature is taking up another set of bills that address the energy industry.

With SB379, Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick wants NorthWestern to have more energy at its fingertips, and people across the political spectrum seem to agree the monopoly needs it.

They don’t agree the bill will open the doors its sponsor intends. SB379 would make it easier for the utility to own more of the coal-fired plants in Colstrip even as the market for coal drops and other owners view the exits at the Montana facilities.

Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip (UM Legislative News Service)

Meanwhile, the AFL-CIO labor union wants plant workers in Colstrip to have a lifeline. Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip, said real estate prices have dropped at least 20 percent in the last seven to 12 months, and people need help.

“There’s probably at least three homes where they just threw the keys on the floor and walked away,” Ankney said.

But the legislation heard in a House committee last week may not pave the way for low power bills or secure workers. On the other hand, analysts note it does pave the way for NorthWestern Energy to put more money into the pockets of shareholders.

“I’ve been doing this for 47 years. I’ve seen a lot of greedy proposals,” said David Schlissel, with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis in Ohio. “This is in the top three or four. This is a horrible plan that won’t do anything to protect coal plants.”

***

Sen. Fitzpatrick’s father, John Fitzpatrick, retired from NorthWestern in 2016, but the lawmaker said the two don’t talk shop, and he isn’t carrying water for his dad or the company by sponsoring SB379. (“I really shouldn’t say this, but he really didn’t leave NorthWestern under the best circumstances anyway,” Fitzpatrick said.)

In fact, he said he didn’t know the ins and outs of the bill until he sat down to study them the weekend before the hearing: “This is the absolute truth.”

Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls, said he was inspired to carry the bill after discussions with Ankney and Sen. Jason Small, R-Busby, about how to help Colstrip, where NorthWestern and several other owners run the electricity generation plants. He said Ankney and Small asked him to carry it.

“They thought they were too close to the issue and too emotional about it,” Fitzpatrick said.

Ankney said the bill came partly out of Senate Bill 331 in 2019, which NorthWestern helped create, and he and Small reached out to Fitzpatrick as a young, smart lawmaker to bring in legislation this session that they believe will help Colstrip.

In an opinion piece in the Great Falls Tribune in 2019, former Public Service Commissioner Travis Kavulla contrasted Montana’s earlier bill with one in Wyoming; he said the latter Wyoming legislation was designed by lawmakers who cared about both their coal economy and consumers.

Former PSC Commissioner Travis Kavulla

“Montana’s SB331, sadly, is what you’d expect if you allowed a single company to write the law in order to maximize its profits,” Kavulla wrote. In the 2019 session, the House killed that bill on third reading 60-37 just one day after having approved it 62-38.

The 2021 bill has elicited opposition from other former and current members of the Public Service Commission as well, and both Democrats and Republicans have testified against it — vehemently. 

Former legislator and Commissioner Ken Toole said the money at play in the bill is “chump change” compared to deregulation, but themes resonate.

“The stakes are high, and the idea that this is going to be an economic benefit for Montana consumers is exactly the same. That’s what the proponents of deregulation argued all the way through,” he said. Toole, who wrote an opinion piece about SB379, said there’s no argument to be made for propping up NorthWestern the way the bill does. “It essentially guarantees the utility to get their money and insulates them from future unforeseen risks. And these are a bunch of conservatives?”

Ankney, who has sponsored many other bills to help Colstrip, agreed the issue is an emotional one for him. The retired plant worker himself said he’s seen the population in his community drop from 8,000 to 2,300, the high school fall from a Class A to the low side of a Class B, and employees who earn on average $85,000 at the plant on the ropes.

“It’s not NorthWestern I’m supporting,” Ankney said. “It’s the utility with the expertise to sell that power out of that unit that I support. It’s not that company.”

***

Of course, the bill would shore up NorthWestern Energy, so much so that one energy consultant said it could become an attractive purchase to other players in the energy market. At a House committee hearing last week, NorthWestern lobbyist David Hoffman testified in support of it.

GOP Rep. Derek Skees of Kalispell (Eliza Wiley/Montana Free Press/file photo)

Chairman Rep. Derek Skees, R-Kalispell, asked Hoffman if NorthWestern receives a guaranteed rate of return on power purchase agreements in other states, as the bill in Montana would allow. (Fitzpatrick described the provision in the bill as “novel” in the law.) Hoffman avoided a direct response, and Skees requested he return with an answer.

But energy analysts at the Public Service Commission and outside Montana show the bill to be an exceptional deal for NorthWestern and its shareholders at the expense of ratepayers. NorthWestern would be allowed to buy more of the plant and be guaranteed a recovery even if the plant closes, so workers and the community still could be left adrift.

Last year, NorthWestern Energy tried to buy Puget Sound’s shares of Colstrip for $1. 

“I’ll be honest. Paying $1 for a share of Colstrip is overpaying,” Schlissel said, pointing to outages at the ailing Unit 4 and the increasing costs of coal, among other factors.

But the bill would require the Public Service Commission to credit NorthWestern with having spent $700 million to $800 million and allow it to earn a profit off that “pretend” amount from customers, he said. In doing so, he said it builds on NorthWestern’s purchase into Colstrip Unit 4, where the PSC valued the asset at more than NorthWestern paid because another offer was on the table. (The PSC described the 2008 move as an acquisition adjustment, a legal albeit controversial provision.)

“This deal would build on that, and ratepayers would be paying a lot of money on what NorthWestern never spent,” Schlissel said. He also characterized the strategy. “A Ponzi scheme has nothing on this deal.”

That isn’t the only way NorthWestern would get to pull more money out of ratepayers, though. Cleanup costs are part of the equation too.

The state Department of Environmental Quality estimates the costs of remediation and decommissioning the coal plants in Colstrip at $400 million to $700 million. NorthWestern is responsible for its share, and the Public Service Commission decides the most fair way to split those costs between the utility and ratepayers.

Other owners, such as Puget Sound, are responsible for their share of cleanup. In the deal last year where NorthWestern tried to buy Puget’s portion of the plant for a buck, Puget would have retained its share of the remediation bill.

That’s business as usual.

But the legislation this year lets the utility take on the affiliated remediation costs and recover those costs as a term of acquisition, according to an analysis from the Public Service Commission’s legislative electric team. That means ratepayers would be on the hook, and Puget’s portion alone is some $35 million to $62 million.

“New Section 1 (1)(b)(ii) may be interpreted to allow a utility to fully recover the decommissioning and remediation costs of an acquired Colstrip share that existed before the acquisition was executed,” said an April 9 staff analysis.

Three other owners of Colstrip do business in Washington state, which has a mandate to stop using coal by 2025 . So future ownership changes aren’t hard to contemplate.

Schlissel said the greed and brazenness in the bill are astounding. He has paid attention to energy in Montana having done work for the Montana Environmental Information Center.

“It’s a horrible bailout bill for NorthWestern. It’s going to cost ratepayers in Montana tremendously. It’s going to be very painful economically for them. And it doesn’t even guarantee saving jobs at the plant,” Schlissel said.

***

At the hearing last week, Fitzpatrick compared the $56 to $86 a year, the estimated cost to a ratepayer of buying Puget’s shares, to people’s everyday expenses.

“Your subscription, for example, to a Disney Plus? That would be $7.99,” he said. A Big Mac meal is $5.99. So I think we’re getting a good deal at less than $5 for reliable energy from Colstrip.”

In this case, a purchase doesn’t guarantee a service, but in a phone call, Fitzpatrick said he sees SB379 as the reverse of deregulation. In that case, Montana Power sold off assets and then became subject to price increases on the spot market.

“This is the opposite. We’re giving NorthWestern the ability to obtain generation assets,” he said. “And owning assets reduces the risk from having price spikes in the open market.”

The specter of the fallout of deregulation arose in testimony anyway, as it has in opinion pieces, and so did the idea the ostensible beneficiaries of the bill, Colstrip and its workers, aren’t promised a penny. 

Sen. Brad Molnar, R-Laurel, said the bill points to the need for energy, but the measure itself is empty.

“If the bill before you had one megawatt in it, one job, one day longer service from NorthWestern, I can’t find it,” said Molnar, also a former member of the Public Service Commission.

Several opponents made reference to the economic consequences that followed the 1997 bill and said they feared the same with SB379.

Sue Kirchmyer said political leaders have promised jobs, but she wondered how Montana would look to investors when families were spending their money to bail out NorthWestern. 

“The last time we had a power company determine its own future, Montana Power Company did destroy our economy for years,” Kirchmyer said.

Skees replied after her testimony: “For the record, in ‘97, Montana Power did not destroy Montana’s economy. The Legislature did.”

Former lawmaker Steve Doherty said deregulation created the “duck effect.” 

“We ended up ducking a lot after deregulation,” he said. “But the main thing was that there was a lot going on under the surface that we were not aware of.”

He said he wondered what was going on behind SB379, but regardless, it would be a significant departure from 100 years of ratemaking in Montana. Doherty said he didn’t remember all of his votes when he was in the legislature, and he doubts any legislator does.

“But you will be remembered for certain votes. This is one of them. Be on the right side,” he said.

***

In some ways, the political structure is the same this year as it was a couple of decades ago, with a Republican in the Governor’s Office and a majority GOP Legislature. But the politics are different. People who have been watching players at the Capitol during the years see a shift in values and the perfect environment for such a bill to march through into law.

“They’ll scream about somebody getting food stamps until the cows come home, but they aren’t going to scream about excess profit and price gouging,” Toole said.

He said utility issues are complicated, many legislators don’t understand them, and it doesn’t look like some of them want to: “Particularly now, our legislature is so ideologically driven that it’s like they checked their brains at the door.”

Anne Hedges, Montana Environmental Information Center. (MTN News)

Buchanan, the state’s first director of commerce, said the low rates before deregulation allowed Montana to keep business here and bring in new ones. He supported Gov. Greg Gianforte’s bid for office and appreciates the governor’s focus on entrepreneurship, but Buchanan doesn’t see business as a priority of the GOP in general anymore.

“I think the old, conservative, business-oriented Republican Party is gone. It’s gone. And it’s really unfortunate, because I’ve always regarded the Republican Party as having the ability to keep a pro-business agenda. And this (bill) in my opinion does the opposite,” said Buchanan, founder of investment advisory firm Buchanan Capital in Billings.

At the same time, Anne Hedges, head of the Montana Environmental Information Center, said it isn’t easy for legislators to give a complicated bill a full analysis. She said the session is short, lawmakers don’t have the time or the staff to do a thorough investigation, and they have to rely on others in their caucus.

“It’s just the nature of the beast. So the legislature is always more subject to raw politics than to the data,” Hedges said.

She and others also have said there are ways to help Colstrip, and Hedges testified last week in favor of one of Ankney’s bills (“at the risk of giving him a heart attack,” she said) should it be amended as he proposed. Senate Bill 86 would set up a grant program to help workers with funds from the power companies should the plants close, similar to the way Ankney said TransAlta supported people in Centralia, Washington, with $55 million.

“It ain’t something that we dreamed up to be punitive, but just to help these people out on their mortgages so they don’t have to throw their keys on the middle of the front room and have it on their credit,” Ankney said.

***

A 2020 analysis by Forbes noted coal consumption in the U.S. peaked in 2005, has declined since and sits at roughly 50 percent of its high.

Patrick Barkey, with the University of Montana Bureau of Business and Economic Research, said as coal assets are retired in the region, more and more states will look to meet their energy needs on the market. In doing so, they’ll compete against large buyers such as California.

“What that means is we’re likely to see higher prices,” Barkey said.

Patrick Barkey, UM Bureau of Business and Economic Research

As energy markets tighten, he said, it becomes advantageous to own power generation, such as the plants at Colstrip, and NorthWestern is unusual in how large its deficit is: “It’s sizable.” 

Does the focus on coal adequately account for growth in renewables? “I think it’s a hedge.” 

But Barkey also said demands on the grid could be higher than some analysts predict given talk about addressing climate change and related policy. As one example, he said, the push for electric vehicles creates an instantaneous demand for power. 

“That’s the wild card,” Barkey said of the way policy may shift future need.

In a Q&A on its website, NorthWestern outlines a worst case scenario if capacity falls short in the region. Blackouts during peak times are possible, as is market volatility, NorthWestern said, and substantial price increases already have taken place during cold snaps. In just four days in 2019, for example, costs per megawatt hour went from $65 on Feb. 27 to $154 the following day to nearly $900 on March 1, the company said.

In the short term, the U.S. Energy Information Administration projects the use of coal will increase this year and next, but over the longer term, the market for it will drop as renewables, namely solar, increase. 

The sun still won’t shine all the time, but the EIA predicts a “significant” number of battery storage units will be added in the U.S. this year and help increase flexibility to the power grid.

Market economics are driving the transition in the industry, said Hedges. She pointed to Talen Energy, which owns a portion of Colstrip; Talen announced late last year that it would retire coal and shift to renewables and battery storage. Investors are pushing utilities to address climate change, she said, and the technologies for renewables are plummeting in price.

“So you have a lot of really big developers who used to be involved in coal and gas who are moving to renewables because they see profit,” Hedges said.

Buchanan, though, said NorthWestern isn’t ready for the shift, and he doesn’t think the company should get a handout. Roughly 61 percent of its energy comes from renewable sources, mainly 43 percent hydro, but that isn’t always available at the flip of a switch.

“What shocks me is how unprepared they are in general with Colstrip and for a diversified portfolio of power,” he said. “And how unprepared we are for the future. Now, I think there are ways to keep coal. I think coal will be part of a portfolio for a while. But to put every customer and business in the state at risk? To me, that’s corporate welfare. That’s wrong.”

The legislature has taken up numerous energy bills, but Sen. Mary McNally, D-Billings, who voted against SB379 in the Senate and read a letter from Buchanan to her peers on the floor, said the consumer isn’t a focus.

“That’s the problem to me,” said McNally. “That’s a major problem. I don’t see ratepayer interests being front and center here at all. Certainly not in this bill.”

Senate Bill 379 passed 27-21 in the Senate. Republican Sens. John Esp of Big Timber, Mike Lang of Malta, and Molnar of Laurel joined Democrats to oppose it. The bill is pending in a House committee.

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Eagle Bancorp Montana Earns $5.3 Million, or $0.78 per



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HELENA, Mont., April 27, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Eagle Bancorp Montana, Inc. (NASDAQ: EBMT), (the “Company,” “Eagle”), the holding company of Opportunity Bank of Montana, today reported net income in the first quarter of 2021 increased 34.1% to $5.3 million, or $0.78 per diluted share, compared to $3.9 million, or $0.57 per diluted share, in the first quarter a year ago, reflecting the high level of contributions from gains on sales of mortgage loans. Net income increased 2.0% when compared to $5.2 million, or $0.76 per diluted share, in the fourth quarter of 2020.  

Eagle’s board of directors declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.0975 per share on April 22, 2021. The dividend will be payable June 4, 2021 to shareholders of record May 14, 2021. The current annualized dividend yield is 1.66% based on recent market prices.

“We delivered strong first quarter earnings, reflecting top and bottom-line revenue expansion and robust mortgage loan sales,” said Peter J. Johnson, President and CEO. “Deposit balances hit record levels, with a second round of SBA Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and two additional federal stimulus payments contributing to strong quarterly deposit growth of $60.3 million. In addition to participating in the SBA’s initial PPP that expired in August of 2020, we have been just as active with the new round of PPP funding during the first quarter of this year.   We believe we are well positioned to emerge stronger as we navigate through the pandemic.”

COVID-19 Preparations as of March 31, 2021:

  • Industry Exposure: Eagle’s exposure, as a percentage of total loans, to some of the industries with business revenues dramatically impacted by the pandemic includes hotels and lodging (4.35%), health care and social assistance (3.02%), bars and restaurants (2.98%), casinos (1.18%), and nursing homes (0.51%).
  • Loan Accommodations: The Bank has offered multiple accommodation options to its clients, including 90-day deferrals, interest only payments, and forbearances. As of March 31, 2021, remaining loan modifications for 41 nonresidential borrowers represented $27.8 million in loans or 3.36% of total loans, compared to 40 borrowers, representing $29.0 million or 3.45% of total loans, three months earlier. Approximately 77.89% of loans originally modified, or 274 borrowers, are now performing according to adapted loan agreements. The Montana Board of Investments (“MBOI”) offered 12-months of interest payment assistance to qualified borrowers. The Bank qualified 32 borrowers for the MBOI program representing $27.3 million in loans, which are included in modification totals. There remain approximately 26 forbearances for residential mortgage loans, of which 24 are sold and serviced. Utilization of credit lines were 81.6% at the end of the first quarter, compared to 82.7% at the end of the previous quarter, which aligns with historical usage rates.   
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP): Eagle began taking loan applications from its small business clients immediately after the program was implemented in April 2020, and as of the close of the program, Eagle had helped 764 of its customers receive $45.7 million in SBA PPP loans. Eagle has processed applications for PPP loan forgiveness for customers, with 576 loans, representing over $30.2 million now paid in full. The remaining 188 PPP loans represent $15.2 million.

    On December 27, 2020, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (“CAA”) was signed into law, providing new COVID-19 stimulus relief, and it included $284 billion allocated for another round of PPP lending, extending the program to March 31, 2021. On March 31, 2021, the program was extended to May 31, 2021. The program offers new PPP loans for companies that did not receive a PPP loan in 2020, and also “second draw” loans targeted at hard-hit businesses that have already spent their initial PPP proceeds. During the first quarter of 2021, Eagle supported 446 borrowers receiving $15.2 million in new PPP funding.

  • Provision for Loan Losses:   Eagle recorded a provision for loan losses of $299,000 in the first quarter, compared to $379,000 in the fourth quarter of 2020 and $670,000 in the first quarter a year ago. Loan loss provisioning for the first quarter of 2021 was reflective of decreased portfolio balances due to some large payoffs. The performance of modified loans exceeded expectations and the qualitative factors were not adjusted.
  • Deposit Accommodations: The Bank halted deposit fees associated with early withdrawal requests to assist depositors with funding needs.
  • Liquidity Changes: Through the quarter ended March 31, 2021, the liquidity level has steadily increased, as a result of PPP loan payoffs and deposit growth.

First Quarter 2021 Highlights (at or for the three-month period ended March 31, 2021, except where noted)

  • Net income increased 34.1% to $5.3 million, or $0.78 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2021, compared to $3.9 million, or $0.57 per diluted share, in the first quarter of 2020, and increased 2.0% compared to $5.2 million, or $0.76 per diluted share in the preceding quarter.
  • Annualized return on average assets was 1.65%.
  • Annualized return on average equity was 13.50%.
  • Net interest margin (“NIM”) was 3.97% in the first quarter of 2021, compared to 4.03% in the preceding quarter, and 4.04% in the first quarter a year ago.
  • Revenues (net interest income before the provision for loan losses, plus non-interest income) increased 4.0% to $24.5 million in the first quarter of 2021, compared to $23.6 million in the previous quarter, and increased 30.6% compared to $18.8 million in the first quarter a year ago.
  • Purchase discount on loans from the Western Bank of Wolf Point portfolio was $1.2 million at January 1, 2020, of which $557,000 remained as of March 31, 2021.
  • Remaining purchase discount on loans from acquisitions prior to 2020 totaled $824,000 as of March 31, 2021.
  • The accretion of the loan purchase discount into loan interest income from the Western Bank of Wolf Point, and previous acquisitions was $189,000 in the first quarter of 2021, compared to interest accretion on purchased loans from acquisitions of $170,000 in the preceding quarter.
  • The allowance for loan losses represented 146.7% of nonperforming loans at March 31, 2021, compared to 155.8% a year earlier.
  • Total loans increased modestly to $829.3 million at March 31, 2021, compared to $822.0 million a year earlier.
  • Total deposits increased 23.1% to $1.09 billion at March 31, 2021, from $888.2 million a year ago.
  • Eagle remained well capitalized with a tangible common shareholders’ equity ratio of 10.31% at March 31, 2021.
  • Declared a quarterly cash dividend of $0.0975 per share.

Acquisitions

On January 1, 2020, Eagle completed its acquisition of Western Holding Company of Wolf Point, and its wholly owned subsidiary, Western Bank of Wolf Point, in a transaction valued at approximately $15.0 million. In the transaction, Eagle acquired one retail bank branch and approximately $104 million in assets, $87 million in deposits and $43 million in gross loans.

On January 1, 2019, Eagle completed its acquisition of Big Muddy Bancorp, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, The State Bank of Townsend, located in Townsend, Montana, which added approximately $108 million in assets, $93 million in deposits and $89 million in gross loans.

Balance Sheet Results

Eagle’s total assets increased 13.2% to $1.31 billion at March 31, 2021, compared to $1.16 billion a year ago, and increased 4.3% from $1.26 billion three months earlier.

Strong PPP loan originations and increased commercial construction activity were mostly offset by declines in residential mortgage and commercial real estate balances, causing the loan portfolio to grow approximately 1.0% compared to a year ago.

Eagle originated $271.4 million in new residential mortgages during the quarter and sold $260.5 million in residential mortgages, with an average gross margin on sale of mortgage loans of approximately 5.48%. This production compares to residential mortgage originations of $273.7 million in the preceding quarter with sales of $253.6 million.

Commercial real estate loans decreased 2.2% to $329.8 million at March 31, 2021, compared to $337.2 million a year earlier. Agricultural and farmland loans increased 2.2% to $117.2 million at March 31, 2021, compared to $114.7 million a year earlier. Residential mortgage loans decreased 17.7% to $100.9 million, compared to $122.7 million a year earlier. Commercial loans increased 40.2% to $109.0 million, compared to $77.7 million a year ago, reflecting SBA PPP loans originated during the current quarter.   Commercial construction and development loans increased 19.5% to $66.7 million, home equity loans decreased 7.8% to $53.3 million, residential construction loans decreased 4.9% to $35.6 million, and consumer loans decreased 2.5% to $19.4 million, compared to a year ago.  

Total deposits increased 23.1% to $1.09 billion at March 31, 2021, compared to $888.2 million at March 31, 2020, and increased 5.8% compared to $1.03 billion at December 31, 2020. Federal programs such as the PPP, stimulus checks and increased weekly unemployment benefits have boosted deposit balances. Noninterest-bearing checking accounts represent 30.3%, interest-bearing checking accounts represent 16.0%, savings accounts represent 18.1%, money market accounts comprise 20.5% and time certificates of deposit make up 15.1% of the total deposit portfolio, at March 31, 2021.

Shareholders’ equity increased 16.5% to $155.8 million at March 31, 2021, compared to $133.7 million a year earlier and increased 1.9% compared to $152.9 million three months earlier. Tangible book value increased to $19.60 per share, at March 31, 2021, compared to $16.14 per share a year earlier and $19.16 per share three months earlier.  

Operating Results

“The decrease in the Federal Funds rate over the last year, coupled with lower yields on newly funded PPP loans and increased short-term liquidity, continued to put pressure on our NIM during the first quarter,” said Johnson. Eagle’s NIM was 3.97% in the first quarter of 2021, compared to 4.03% in the preceding quarter, and 4.04% in the first quarter a year ago. The interest accretion on purchased loans totaled $189,000 and resulted in a seven basis-point increase in the NIM during the first quarter, compared to $170,000 and a six basis-point increase in the NIM during the preceding quarter. The investment securities portfolio increased to $180.3 million at March 31, 2021, compared to $162.9 million at December 31, 2020, and $167.9 million at March 31, 2020. Average yields on earning assets for the first quarter decreased to 4.28% from 4.88% a year ago, largely due to adding PPP loans at a lower rate.

First quarter revenues were $24.5 million, a 4.0% increase compared to $23.6 million in the preceding quarter and a 30.6% increase compared to $18.8 million in the first quarter a year ago. The year-over-year increase was primarily a result of gain on sale of mortgages.  

Net interest income, before the provision for loan losses, decreased 3.1% to $11.1 million in the first quarter, compared to $11.5 million in the fourth quarter 2020, and increased 6.3% compared to $10.5 million in the first quarter of 2020.

Noninterest income increased 10.7% to $13.4 million in the first quarter of 2021, compared to $12.1 million in the preceding quarter, and increased 61.3% compared to $8.3 million in the first quarter a year ago. The net gain on sale of mortgage loans totaled $14.3 million in the first quarter of 2021, compared to $12.0 million in the preceding quarter and $5.4 million in the first quarter a year ago. Noninterest income was reduced by a loss of $2.5 million during the first quarter of 2021 in mortgage banking activity. This compares to a net loss of $1.5 million in the preceding quarter and a net gain of $1.6 million in the first quarter of 2020.

Eagle’s first quarter noninterest expenses were $17.2 million, compared to $16.3 million in the preceding quarter and $12.8 million in the first quarter a year ago. The year-over-year increase is largely attributable to an increase in salary, commissions and employee benefits.

For the first quarter of 2021, the income tax provision totaled $1.8 million, for an effective tax rate of 25.0%, compared to $1.7 million in the preceding quarter and $1.3 million in the first quarter of 2020.

Credit Quality

The provision for loan losses was $299,000 in the first quarter of 2021, compared to $379,000 in the preceding quarter and $670,000 in the first quarter a year ago. The allowance for loan losses represented 146.7% of nonperforming loans at March 31, 2021, compared to 136.9% three months earlier and 155.8% a year earlier.

Nonperforming loans were $8.1 million at March 31, 2021, compared to $8.5 million at December 31, 2020, and $5.9 million a year earlier. The year-over-year increase in nonperforming loans was impacted by an increase in farmland and agricultural non-accrual loans. In addition, one larger commercial real estate loan was restructured. These loans are well-collateralized and management does not anticipate a loss.

Eagle had no other real estate owned (“OREO”) and other repossessed assets on its books at March 31, 2021. This compares to $25,000 in OREO at December 31, 2020, and $60,000 in OREO at March 31, 2020.

Net loan recoveries totaled $1,000 in the first quarter, compared to net loan charge-offs of $78,000 in the preceding quarter and charge-offs of $20,000 in the first quarter a year ago. The allowance for loan losses increased to $11.9 million, or 1.43% of total loans, at March 31, 2021, compared to $11.6 million, or 1.38% of total loans, at December 31, 2020, and $9.3 million, or 1.13% of total loans, a year ago.

Capital Management

Eagle Bancorp Montana, Inc. continues to be well capitalized with the ratio of tangible common shareholders’ equity to tangible assets of 10.31% as of March 31, 2021. (Shareholders’ equity, less goodwill and core deposit intangible to tangible assets).

About the Company

Eagle Bancorp Montana, Inc. is a bank holding company headquartered in Helena, Montana, and is the holding company of Opportunity Bank of Montana, a community bank established in 1922 that serves consumers and small businesses in Montana through 23 banking offices. Additional information is available on the Bank’s website at www.opportunitybank.com. The shares of Eagle Bancorp Montana, Inc. are traded on the NASDAQ Global Market under the symbol “EBMT.”

Forward Looking Statements

This release may contain certain “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and may be identified by the use of such words as “believe,” “will”’ “expect,” “anticipate,” “should,” “planned,” “estimated,” and “potential.” These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to statements of our goals, intentions and expectations; statements regarding our business plans, prospects, mergers with Western Bank of Wolf Point and The State Bank of Townsend, growth and operating strategies; statements regarding the current global COVID-19 pandemic, statements regarding the asset quality of our loan and investment portfolios; and estimates of our risks and future costs and benefits. These forward-looking statements are based on current beliefs and expectations of our management and are inherently subject to significant business, economic and competitive uncertainties and contingencies, many of which are beyond our control. In addition, these forward-looking statements are subject to assumptions with respect to future business strategies and decisions that are subject to change. These factors include, but are not limited to, changes in laws or government regulations or policies affecting financial institutions, including changes in regulatory fees and capital requirements; general economic conditions and political events, either nationally or in our market areas, that are worse than expected; the duration and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including but not limited to the efficiency of the vaccine rollout, steps taken by governmental and other authorities to contain, mitigate and combat the pandemic, adverse effects on our employees, customers and third-party service providers, the increase in cyberattacks in the current work-from-home environment, the ultimate extent of the impacts on our business, financial position, results of operations, liquidity and prospects, continued deterioration in general business and economic conditions could adversely affect our revenues and the values of our assets and liabilities, lead to a tightening of credit and increase stock price volatility, and potential impairment charges; competition among depository and other financial institutions; loan demand or residential and commercial real estate values in Montana; the concentration of our business in Montana; our ability to continue to increase and manage our commercial real estate, commercial business and agricultural loans; the costs and effects of legal, compliance and regulatory actions, changes and developments, including the initiation and resolution of legal proceedings (including any securities, bank operations, consumer or employee litigation); inflation and changes in the interest rate environment that reduce our margins or reduce the fair value of financial instruments; adverse changes in the securities markets; other economic, governmental, competitive, regulatory and technological factors that may affect our operations; cyber incidents, or theft or loss of Company or customer data or money; the effect of our recent acquisitions, including the failure to achieve expected revenue growth and/or expense savings, the failure to effectively integrate their operations and the diversion of management time on issues related to the integration. Because of these and other uncertainties, our actual future results may be materially different from the results indicated by these forward-looking statements. All information set forth in this press release is current as of the date of this release and the company undertakes no duty or obligation to update this information.

Use of Non-GAAP Financial Measures

In addition to results presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles utilized in the United States, or GAAP, the Financial Ratios and Other Data contains non-GAAP financial measures. Non-GAAP disclosures include: 1) core efficiency ratio, 2) tangible book value per share, 3) tangible common equity to tangible assets, 4) earnings per diluted share, excluding acquisition costs and 5) return on average assets, excluding acquisition costs. The Company uses these non-GAAP financial measures to provide meaningful supplemental information regarding the Company’s operational performance and to enhance investors’ overall understanding of such financial performance. In particular, the use of tangible book value per share and tangible common equity to tangible assets is prevalent among banking regulators, investors and analysts.

The numerator for the core efficiency ratio is calculated by subtracting acquisition costs and intangible asset amortization from noninterest expense. Tangible assets and tangible common shareholders’ equity are calculated by excluding intangible assets from assets and shareholders’ equity, respectively. For these financial measures, our intangible assets consist of goodwill and core deposit intangible. Tangible book value per share is calculated by dividing tangible common shareholders’ equity by the number of common shares outstanding. We believe that this measure is consistent with the capital treatment by our bank regulatory agencies, which exclude intangible assets from the calculation of risk-based capital ratios and present this measure to facilitate the comparison of the quality and composition of our capital over time and in comparison, to our competitors.

Non-GAAP financial measures have inherent limitations, are not required to be uniformly applied, and are not audited. Further, the non-GAAP financial measure of tangible book value per share should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for book value per share or total shareholders’ equity determined in accordance with GAAP, and may not be comparable to a similarly titled measure reported by other companies. Reconciliation of the GAAP and non-GAAP financial measures are presented below.

Balance Sheet      
(Dollars in thousands, except per share data) (Unaudited)
    March 31, December 31, March, 31
    2021   2020     2020  
         
Assets:      
  Cash and due from banks $ 17,199   $ 14,455   $ 11,544  
  Interest bearing deposits in banks   87,165     47,733     8,229  
  Federal funds sold   6,859     7,614      
    Total cash and cash equivalents   111,223     69,802     19,773  
  Securities available-for-sale   180,276     162,946     167,904  
  FHLB stock   1,977     2,060     5,161  
  FRB stock   2,974     2,974     2,601  
  Mortgage loans held-for-sale, at fair value   60,609     54,615     25,187  
  Loans:      
  Real estate loans:      
  Residential 1-4 family   100,948     110,802     122,650  
  Residential 1-4 family construction   35,558     46,290     37,397  
  Commercial real estate   329,772     316,668     337,219  
  Commercial construction and development   66,718     65,281     55,850  
  Farmland   67,592     65,918     62,551  
  Other loans:      
  Home equity   53,270     56,563     57,752  
  Consumer   19,424     20,168     19,924  
  Commercial   108,956     109,209     77,698  
  Agricultural   49,642     52,242     52,178  
  Unearned loan fees   (2,541 )   (2,038 )   (1,185 )
    Total loans   829,339     841,103     822,034  
  Allowance for loan losses   (11,900 )   (11,600 )   (9,250 )
    Net loans   817,439     829,503     812,784  
  Accrued interest and dividends receivable   5,451     5,765     5,329  
  Mortgage servicing rights, net   11,320     10,105     9,018  
  Premises and equipment, net   61,971     58,762     51,731  
  Cash surrender value of life insurance, net   27,911     27,753     25,898  
  Goodwill   20,798     20,798     20,798  
  Core deposit intangible, net   2,202     2,343     2,832  
  Other assets   7,270     10,208     9,584  
    Total assets $ 1,311,421   $ 1,257,634   $ 1,158,600  
         
Liabilities:      
  Deposit accounts:      
  Noninterest bearing   331,589     318,389     223,723  
  Interest bearing   761,815     714,694     664,502  
    Total deposits   1,093,404     1,033,083     888,225  
  Accrued expenses and other liabilities   20,513     24,752     17,125  
  FHLB advances and other borrowings   11,862     17,070     94,585  
  Other long-term debt, net   29,811     29,791     24,957  
    Total liabilities   1,155,590     1,104,696     1,024,892  
         
Shareholders’ Equity:      
  Preferred stock (par value $0.01 per share; 1,000,000 shares authorized; no shares issued or outstanding)            
  Common stock (par value $0.01; 20,000,000 shares authorized; 7,110,833 shares issued; 6,775,447, 6,775,447 and 6,818,883 shares outstanding at March 31, 2021, December 31, 2020 and March 31, 2020, respectively)   71     71     71  
  Additional paid-in capital   77,744     77,602     77,399  
  Unallocated common stock held by Employee Stock Ownership Plan   (103 )   (145 )   (269 )
  Treasury stock, at cost (335,386, 335,386 and 291,950 shares at March 31, 2021, December 31, 2020 and March 31, 2020, respectively)   (4,423 )   (4,423 )   (3,643 )
  Retained earnings   78,586     73,982     58,670  
  Accumulated other comprehensive income, net of tax   3,956     5,851     1,480  
    Total shareholders’ equity   155,831     152,938     133,708  
    Total liabilities and shareholders’ equity $ 1,311,421   $ 1,257,634   $ 1,158,600  
           
Income Statement (Unaudited)
(Dollars in thousands, except per share data) Three Months Ended
  March 31, December 31, March 31,
    2021   2020   2020
Interest and dividend income:        
  Interest and fees on loans $ 11,029   $ 11,549   $ 11,432  
  Securities available-for-sale   877     889     1,027  
  FRB and FHLB dividends   69     86     94  
  Other interest income   26     27     78  
    Total interest and dividend income   12,001     12,551     12,631  
Interest expense:        
  Interest expense on deposits   402     551     1,339  
  FHLB advances and other borrowings   70     117     463  
  Other long-term debt   390     391     352  
    Total interest expense   862     1,059     2,154  
Net interest income   11,139     11,492     10,477  
Loan loss provision   299     379     670  
    Net interest income after loan loss provision   10,840     11,113     9,807  
           
Noninterest income:        
  Service charges on deposit accounts   273     282     316  
  Net gain on sale of mortgage loans   14,277     11,959     5,411  
  Mortgage banking, net   (2,514 )   (1,504 )   1,602  
  Interchange and ATM fees   425     415     337  
  Appreciation in cash surrender value of life insurance   158     165     160  
  Net loss on sale of available-for-sale securities       (335 )    
  Other noninterest income   774     1,112     478  
    Total noninterest income   13,393     12,094     8,304  
           
Noninterest expense:        
  Salaries and employee benefits   12,086     10,562     7,682  
  Occupancy and equipment expense   1,430     1,342     1,209  
  Data processing   1,297     1,215     1,250  
  Advertising   273     287     249  
  Amortization   144     164     164  
  Loan costs   722     669     247  
  FDIC insurance premiums   81     75     69  
  Postage   95     103     98  
  Professional and examination fees   282     254     285  
  Acquisition costs           128  
  Other noninterest expense   803     1,670     1,467  
    Total noninterest expense   17,213     16,341     12,848  
         
Income before provision for income taxes   7,020     6,866     5,263  
Provision for income taxes   1,755     1,702     1,336  
Net income $ 5,265   $ 5,164   $ 3,927  
         
Basic earnings per share $ 0.78   $ 0.76   $ 0.58  
Diluted earnings per share $ 0.78   $ 0.76   $ 0.57  
         
Basic weighted average shares outstanding   6,775,447     6,768,720     6,818,883  
         
Diluted weighted average shares outstanding   6,788,679     6,815,072     6,830,925  
         
Additional Financial Information  
(Dollars in thousands, except per share data) (Unaudited)
    March 31, December 31, March 31,
      2021     2020     2020  
         
Mortgage Banking Activity (For the quarter):      
  Mortgage servicing (loss) income, net $ (58 ) $ (152 ) $ 228  
  Net (loss) gain on mortgage banking derivatives   (1,283 )   (1,755 )   1,247  
  Net (loss) gain on fair value of loans held-for-sale   (1,173 )   403     127  
    Mortgage banking, net $ (2,514 ) $ (1,504 ) $ 1,602  
         
Mortgage Banking Activity (Year-to-date):      
  Mortgage servicing (loss) income, net $ (58 ) $ (308 ) $ 228  
  Net (loss) gain on mortgage banking derivatives   (1,283 )   4,608     1,247  
  Net (loss) gain on fair value of loans held-for-sale   (1,173 )   1,360     127  
    Mortgage banking, net $ (2,514 ) $ 5,660   $ 1,602  
         
Performance Ratios (For the quarter):      
  Return on average assets   1.65 %   1.63 %   1.36 %
  Return on average equity   13.50 %   13.68 %   11.87 %
  Net interest margin   3.97 %   4.03 %   4.04 %
  Core efficiency ratio*   69.58 %   68.59 %   66.85 %
         
Performance Ratios (Year-to-date):      
  Return on average assets   1.65 %   1.74 %   1.36 %
  Return on average equity   13.50 %   15.02 %   11.86 %
  Net interest margin   3.97 %   3.94 %   4.04 %
  Core efficiency ratio*   69.58 %   64.89 %   66.87 %
         
Asset Quality Ratios and Data: As of or for the Three Months Ended
    March 31, December 31, March 31,
      2021     2020     2020  
         
  Nonaccrual loans $ 5,657   $ 6,257   $ 4,653  
  Loans 90 days past due and still accruing   611     392     943  
  Restructured loans, net   1,843     1,824     340  
    Total nonperforming loans   8,111     8,473     5,936  
  Other real estate owned and other repossessed assets       25     60  
    Total nonperforming assets $ 8,111   $ 8,498   $ 5,996  
         
  Nonperforming loans / portfolio loans   0.98 %   1.01 %   0.72 %
  Nonperforming assets / assets   0.62 %   0.68 %   0.52 %
  Allowance for loan losses / portfolio loans   1.43 %   1.38 %   1.13 %
  Allowance / nonperforming loans   146.71 %   136.91 %   155.83 %
  Gross loan charge-offs for the quarter $ 18   $ 98   $ 36  
  Gross loan recoveries for the quarter $ 19   $ 20   $ 16  
  Net loan (recoveries) charge-offs for the quarter $ (1 ) $ 78   $ 20  
         
         
    March 31, December 31, March 31,
      2021     2020     2020  
Capital Data (At quarter end):      
  Tangible book value per share** $ 19.60   $ 19.16   $ 16.14  
  Shares outstanding   6,775,447     6,775,447     6,818,883  
  Tangible common equity to tangible assets***   10.31 %   10.51 %   9.70 %
         
Other Information:      
  Average total assets for the quarter $ 1,276,965   $ 1,268,402   $ 1,153,735  
  Average total assets year-to-date $ 1,276,965   $ 1,219,890   $ 1,153,735  
  Average earning assets for the quarter $ 1,138,032   $ 1,131,621   $ 1,039,034  
  Average earning assets year-to-date $ 1,138,032   $ 1,092,551   $ 1,039,034  
  Average loans for the quarter **** $ 890,042   $ 888,331   $ 840,427  
  Average loans year-to-date **** $ 890,042   $ 874,669   $ 840,427  
  Average equity for the quarter $ 155,971   $ 151,002   $ 132,352  
  Average equity year-to-date $ 155,971   $ 141,160   $ 132,352  
  Average deposits for the quarter $ 1,054,782   $ 1,024,871   $ 892,789  
  Average deposits year-to-date $ 1,054,782   $ 954,500   $ 892,789  
         
* The core efficiency ratio is a non-GAAP ratio that is calculated by dividing non-interest expense, exclusive of acquisition costs and intangible asset amortization, by the sum of net interest income and non-interest income.
** The tangible book value per share is a non-GAAP ratio that is calculated by dividing shareholders’ equity, less goodwill and core deposit intangible, by common shares outstanding.
*** The tangible common equity to tangible assets is a non-GAAP ratio that is calculated by dividing shareholders’ equity, less goodwill and core deposit intangible, by total assets, less goodwill and core deposit intangible.
**** Includes loans held for sale

Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures

Core Efficiency Ratio   (Unaudited)  
(Dollars in thousands) Three Months Ended
      March 31, December 31, March 31,
        2021     2020   2020
Calculation of Core Efficiency Ratio:        
  Noninterest expense $ 17,213   $ 16,341   $ 12,848    
  Acquisition costs           (128 )  
  Intangible asset amortization   (144 )   (164 )   (164 )  
    Core efficiency ratio numerator   17,069     16,177     12,556    
             
  Net interest income   11,139     11,492     10,477    
  Noninterest income   13,393     12,094     8,304    
    Core efficiency ratio denominator   24,532     23,586     18,781    
             
  Core efficiency ratio (non-GAAP)   69.58 %   68.59 %   66.85 %  
             
Tangible Book Value and Tangible Assets (Unaudited)
(Dollars in thousands, except per share data) March 31, December 31, March 31,
        2021     2020     2020  
Tangible Book Value:      
  Shareholders’ equity $ 155,831   $ 152,938   $ 133,708  
  Goodwill and core deposit intangible, net   (23,000 )   (23,141 )   (23,630 )
    Tangible common shareholders’ equity $ 132,831   $ 129,797   $ 110,078  
           
  Common shares outstanding at end of period   6,775,447     6,775,447     6,818,883  
           
  Common shareholders’ equity (book value) per share (GAAP) $ 23.00   $ 22.57   $ 19.61  
           
  Tangible common shareholders’ equity (tangible book value)      
    per share (non-GAAP) $ 19.60   $ 19.16   $ 16.14  
           
Tangible Assets:      
  Total assets $ 1,311,421   $ 1,257,634   $ 1,158,600  
  Goodwill and core deposit intangible, net   (23,000 )   (23,141 )   (23,630 )
    Tangible assets (non-GAAP) $ 1,288,421   $ 1,234,493   $ 1,134,970  
           
  Tangible common shareholders’ equity to tangible assets      
    (non-GAAP)   10.31 %   10.51 %   9.70 %
           
Earnings Per Diluted Share, Excluding Acquisition Costs (Unaudited)
(Dollars in thousands, except per share data) Three Months Ended
  March 31, December 31, March 31,
  2021 2020 2020
       
Net interest income after loan loss provision $ 10,840 $ 11,113 $ 9,807  
Noninterest income   13,393   12,094   8,304  
       
Noninterest expense   17,213   16,341   12,848  
  Acquisition costs       (128 )
Noninterest expense, excluding acquisition costs   17,213   16,341   12,720  
       
Income before provision for income taxes   7,020   6,866   5,391  
Provision for income taxes, excluding acquisition costs      
  related taxes   1,755   1,702   1,368  
Net income, excluding acquisition costs $ 5,265 $ 5,164 $ 4,023  
       
Diluted earnings per share (GAAP) $ 0.78 $ 0.76 $ 0.57  
Diluted earnings per share, excluding acquisition      
  costs (non-GAAP) $ 0.78 $ 0.76 $ 0.59  
       
Return on Average Assets, Excluding Acquisition Costs (Unaudited)
(Dollars in thousands) March 31, December 31, March 31,
      2021     2020     2020  
For the quarter:      
  Net income, excluding acquisition costs (non-GAAP)* $ 5,265   $ 5,164   $ 4,023  
  Average total assets quarter-to-date $ 1,276,965   $ 1,268,402   $ 1,153,735  
  Return on average assets, excluding acquisition costs (non-GAAP)   1.65 %   1.63 %   1.39 %
         
Year-to-date:      
  Net income, excluding acquisition costs (non-GAAP)* $ 5,265   $ 21,323   $ 4,023  
  Average total assets year-to-date $ 1,276,965   $ 1,219,890   $ 1,153,735  
  Return on average assets, excluding acquisition costs (non-GAAP)   1.65 %   1.75 %   1.39 %
         
* See Earnings Per Diluted Share, Excluding Acquisition Costs table for GAAP to non-GAAP reconciliation.

Contacts:  Peter J. Johnson, President and CEO
(406) 457-4006
Laura F. Clark, EVP and CFO
(406) 457-4007   

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Legislature expanded education for all Montana families



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Education has been one of the sectors most disrupted by COVID-19. The ripple effects of school closings and distance learning have put additional pressure on families and our economy. The legislature has responded by giving more flexibility to students, families and educators to engage in individualized learning.

We started the session by ensuring the stability of the local school boards as they began their annual budgeting process. Bill 15, which provides for an inflationary increase in funding for schools, was enacted in February and is reflected in the education section of the state budget. In general, our state budget reflects strong support for public education from kindergarten to grade 12 and post-secondary. The budget also provided additional support for students with special needs who were even more disrupted by COVID than the general student body.

While we’ve learned that distance education can’t replace face-to-face education, the past year has shown us that rigid curriculum and seat time requirements don’t necessarily reflect academic progress. We have also seen that online learning can complement in-person learning, which is why the broadband investments that lawmakers have made are critical for the future of education, especially in our rural communities. Using federal funds from ARPA, the legislature allocated $ 250 million for broadband and telecommunications projects for Montana.

House Bill 246 was a crucial bill in moving our state towards individualized learning. It replaces obsolete seat time and program requirements by allowing districts to offer alternative measures of academic progression. These include workplace learning, custom course design, distance learning, credit flexibility and other learning methods that reflect the individual educational needs of families and students.

Other bills that complement House Bill 246 include Senate Bill 109 which requires public schools to offer gifted and talented programs, Senate Bill 22 to strengthen funding for technical and career student organizations, House Bill 252 which provides tax credits for employers for careers and technical education, and House Bill 556 to allow other means of ” get a high school diploma.

All of these expanded flexibilities for schools and families will strengthen our public education system. However, families should not be denied access to an education that meets their needs because of financial barriers. The legislature also broadened educational choices by making non-public education more accessible to low-income families.

House Bill 279 increased the tax credit for donations to scholarship-granting organizations which, in turn, provide tuition scholarships in private schools to low- and middle-income families who otherwise , could not access a non-public school. House Bill 129 allows families to use education savings accounts for K-12 expenses, as opposed to just college expenses.

Finally, we began to address the teacher shortage in Montana by passing Bill 143 which calls for increased starting salaries for teachers. Teacher compensation varies from district to district and is based on local resources and union negotiations. However, the state has increased some matching funds that districts can request to supplement teachers’ starting salaries. Other laws have also been passed to reinforce the “grow your own” models in Montana teacher preparation programs at our colleges.

The next school year, when COVID is released, families, students and educators in Montana will have more opportunities than ever to succeed.

Wylie Galt (R-Martinsdale) is the Speaker of the Montana House of Representatives; Casey Knudsen (R-Malta) is the President Pro Tempore; Sue Vinton (R-Lockwood) is the Majority Leader.

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New law changes nitrogen and phosphorus standards for water quality



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In 2015, Montana became a national leader when adopted numerical nutrient standards to protect water quality. Environmental groups celebrated the move, saying that implementing clear, consistent, and science-based limits for nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus would help the state protect the cold, clean water that is the cornerstone of Montana’s $ 7.1 billion outdoor recreation economy.

It was also a movement that the United States Environmental Protection Agency had been working towards for nearly two decades. The EPA has long said that numerical nutrient standards are important tools for regulators to prevent rivers, streams, lakes and gulfs from experiencing the type of nutrient load that leads to harmful algal blooms. , fish mortality, oxygen-starved “dead” zones and health problems linked to impaired drinking water and increased exposure to toxic microbes. A growing number of states have followed the EPA’s lead and made the switch to digital standards.

But now with the legislature passed Senate Bill 358Montana goes the other way by removing numerical nutrient standards and replacing them with more subjective narrative standards.

We were the first to adopt numerical nutritional criteria, so we set a precedent, ”said Guy Alsentzer, executive director of Upper Missouri Waterkeeper. “The EPA praised us by saying, ‘Look at you, you are a visionary.’ Well we’re # 1 in recidivism right now. It is a 100% reflex reaction that makes us the laughing stock of the scientific community.

Alsentzer said that narrative standards that rely, for example, on the observable presence of algal blooms are more reactive than proactive – and bad news for the ecological integrity of waterways and the organizations and agencies that will be responsible for cleaning up. degraded waterways.

“It’s much better economically to keep something clean than to pay to fix it when it’s polluted,” he said.

Nutrient pollution is prevalent in Montana. 35% of Montana’s river miles and 22% of its lake acres are considered to be altered by nutrient pollution.

SENATE BILL 358

Senator John Esp, R-Big Timber, said he sponsored the SB 358 because the numerical standards that the Montana Department of Environmental Quality arrived at through regulation are too strict for municipalities and water districts to and sewers are respected. He said that as a result, many of these groups have requested deviations to give them more time to meet the criteria.

“No one can meet the digital standards in place without a gap,” Esp told the House Natural Resources Committee. “We cannot achieve it now, or in the foreseeable future, with the technology we have today.”

Alsentzer disagrees. He said the technology might require an investment, but it exists. It is not so much a question of technical capacity as of will, he said.

“The regulated industry has made a political calculation that they think they can get away with saying, ‘We don’t want to do this and we don’t have to. We are going to pass state laws to do whatever we want and protect our wallets, ”he said.

Despite far more opposition than public support – the Legislature had 18 comments in favor of SB 358 and 215 in opposition – the legislature passed the bill and Governor Greg Gianoforte passed it. recently enacted.

Now, the Department of Environmental Quality has until March 1 to work with the nutrient working group, which includes representatives from industry and environmental groups, to develop alternative standards. It remains to be seen exactly what the outcome will be, but the DEQ has told Montana Free Press that it will use existing peer-reviewed science to “drive the development of this narrative standard.”

DEQ also said the adaptive management required by SB 358 allows the agency to develop different standards for different waterways. This approach has its champions, but language from a nutrient working group meeting before the passage of SB 358 is remarkable.

“The narrative standard prohibits substances in water that ‘create conditions that produce undesirable aquatic life’,” the DEQ document reads. “Translating the narrative standard into enforceable license limits on a case-by-case basis takes time, depends on controversial judgment, and can lead to inconsistent or different license limits … Numerical criteria will solve this problem.”

AND AFTER?

Galen Steffens, head of DEQ’s water quality office, said the agency is committed to keeping the nutrient working group’s rule-making process open and transparent. She said the group will include representatives from environmental and conservation organizations as well as industry groups such as mining companies. EPA will also participate.

The role of the APE is important. For nearly 50 years, the EPA has been responsible for enforcing the federal law on sanitation of water. In some states, including Montana, the EPA has delegated regulatory authority to state agencies. Other states do not have a DEQ equivalent to oversee water quality, so the EPA takes a more direct role in licensing, regulating, and enforcing environmental protections. In these states, the agency serves as a “federal safety net” for the regulation of clean water.

The EPA is also approving new state laws that could impact water quality. This means that if the narrative standards developed by the Montana task force do not pass the federal test, the EPA can send DEQ back to the drawing board to revamp its efforts.

Myla Kelly, supervisor of DEQ’s water quality standards section, said she hoped that didn’t happen.

“We’re going to work with the EPA throughout this process to get it out of the way. This is not where we need to be, ”she said.

It is also possible that the EPA will challenge the mandate of SB 358 even before arriving at the nutrient working group.

Upper Missouri Waterkeeper sent a letter to Tina Laidlaw, the EPA’s digital nutritional criteria coordinator for a region of six states, including Montana, on April 23 – before Gianforte signed the measure – asking her to urge the governor to veto SB 358. In the letter, the group claims that SB 358 throws a wide web of categorical exemptions for nutrient discharges and is itself in violation of the Clean Water Act .

Laidlaw has not indicated whether the agency will actively oppose SB 358 or work alongside the Nutrient Working Group to develop narrative standards it can endorse.

“The EPA is in the process of reviewing the legislation and is not yet in a position to provide comments,” she wrote in an email to the MTFP.

Amanda Eggert writes for the Montana Free Press, a Helena-based nonprofit news organization.

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On Senate Floor, Portman Calls on Biden Administration to Address Nationwide Worker Shortage Due to Expanded Unemployment Benefits



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May 18, 2021

|

Press Releases

WASHINGTON, DC – Today on the Senate floor, Senator Portman once again called on the Biden administration to address the current shortage of workers by dismantling the disincentives to work put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. He discussed how the federal $300 per week unemployment supplement, passed by Democrats in the last spending bill, is undermining employers’ efforts to hire new workers for the more than eight million job openings around the country. Many Americans are not returning to work because their expanded unemployment insurance is more than their previous income, leading to a large number of unfilled jobs.

While Portman supported bipartisan proposals to expand UI when the pandemic forced widespread business closures and resulted in millions of Americans losing their jobs through no fault of their own, he argued that the widespread vaccinations have allowed our economy to reopen and that now the focus should be on filling the record number of jobs that are available.

A transcript of his remarks is below and a video can be found here:

 

“Mr. President, I’m here on the floor this afternoon to talk about the economy, how to get it on the right track, and particularly how to deal with the jobs crisis that we face right now. It’s a different kind of crisis than we normally talk about. There are a lot of jobs open and the workers that are needed are not coming forward. 

“Washington needs to change direction to get the economy on the right track. Current law provides that at least until Labor Day, that’s in September of this year, that there will be a federal supplemental payment of $300 per week added to the state unemployment benefit. So if somebody is on unemployment insurance, they will get their normal state benefit, which in Ohio is about half of whatever your income was. But on top of that, now there’s a $300 federal supplement that was put in place during COVID-19, but it continues until at least September. By doing so, adding that $300, it nearly doubles the unemployment insurance benefit on average. It also results in about 42 percent of those people who are on unemployment insurance making more on UI than they were making at work.

“It has the effect of, in most states, more than doubling the amount of unemployment insurance, and it also doubles the minimum wage. So you can imagine why this is a disincentive for some people to go back to work if they can make more not working. On top of that, Democrats here in Congress during the COVID-19 legislation added another benefit to people who are on unemployment insurance compared to people who are working. And that is to say that your first $10,000 of unemployment insurance is tax-free.

“So if you’re a truck driver making $35, $45,000 a year, you don’t get that tax benefit. But if you’re on unemployment insurance, you do get that benefit. Again, another disincentive to go back to work. People are logical, and if the government’s going to pay you more not to work than to work, it creates a problem. And you can see that problem. 

“We have a record number of job openings right now. 8.1 million jobs are open in America today. And the economic recovery we all are looking forward to is being hampered by what? A lack of workers. And if you go down your Main Street, wherever you live, you’ll see the ‘help wanted’ signs up. If you go by your restaurants, you will see instead of the marquee saying, ‘come and come and check out our great apple pie or our hamburgers,’ they say ‘we’re paying signing bonuses. $500. $250.’ 

“I went by a Frisch’s Big Boy on the way to the airport on Monday and that’s what I saw. McDonald’s offering a $500 bonus. Manufacturers I know in the state of Ohio I represent offering much more in terms of signing bonuses. I talked to a woman last week who is a friend of mine who runs a manufacturing company, a great little company, got about 200, 250 employees. She is looking for 60 people right now. She is offering a $1,000 signing bonus plus other incentives, benefits to be able to come to work. And she can’t get people to show up to apply for work. So this is a real problem in terms of our interest in getting this economic recovery going. 

“It’s time to stop this extraordinary federal unemployment supplement. By keeping in place the $300 per week on top of this UI benefit and not taxing that benefit, President Biden and my colleagues on the other side of the aisle are putting us in a tough position, and I think on the verge of a real jobs crisis, because some of these jobs will end up going away, some permanently, if we don’t do something about it.

“I believe that the federal unemployment insurance was necessary – the federal supplement — when we were at the heat of the COVID-19 crisis, let’s say a year ago now. People were losing their jobs through no fault of their own. Their businesses were shutting down, in part because the government was putting in place social distancing guidelines or otherwise saying that businesses had to temporarily close and a lot of people lost their jobs. In my view, Congress rightly put in place expanded unemployment benefits to help those families get by when the economy was largely shut down.

“But we are in an entirely different place now, entirely different place. Again, 8.1 million jobs are open right now. It’s an historic high. We’ve never had this many jobs open in America. Thanks to the hard work of a lot of our researchers and scientists the vaccines got out there at record pace. We now have had vaccinations at levels that we’d all hoped for earlier. And as a result, with more than half of Americans already having had one vaccination, in my state of Ohio it’s even better than that, restrictions are easing. Businesses are opening up, fully open again in my home state of Ohio. There is no longer a mask mandate here in the United States Senate as an example. Things are opening up. With that reopening, again, has come all these job openings that can’t be filled. 

“The economic recovery you would expect right now is not happening because people are not getting back to work. We just had the jobs numbers from last month. The country added 266,000 jobs in April. This was alarming because it was only one quarter of what the economists predicted. Only 25 percent of what people predicted. It’s an early warning sign that should not be ignored. These disappointing monthly job reports typically tell bad news on two fronts. One is that there hasn’t been as many new jobs added as you would want, and that’s certainly true. But second, it says there’s not enough available jobs out there. There aren’t enough open jobs out there.

“That’s not the problem now. Adequate number of jobs is not the problem. The jobs are available. But if the president and Congress don’t change course, that could become a problem. If steps aren’t taken to dismantle some of the disincentives to work, some of these record numbers of available jobs we talked about are going to go away. Let me give you an example. There’s a restaurant called Geordie’s in Columbus, Ohio. They have closed down. Geordie’s has closed down. They can’t find workers. That’s the reason.

“The owner was quoted as saying something like, ‘COVID-19 didn’t take me down’. He got the PPP loan, he kept going, he struggled through, he was staying open. He said, ‘My own government has taken me down,’ because you can’t compete with unemployment insurance at that level. We have lots of other businesses in Ohio. Here’s some; Your Pizza Shop, Muddy’s, Donato’s, all in Wooster, Ohio who told me they are closing down one day a week or more because they’re understaffed 

“Facing no alternative, other businesses are figuring out ways to permanently move forward with fewer employees. This concerns me. In some cases, they tell me they are just downsizing their business. So if you can’t find those 60 employees and you’re the manufacturer right now, what do you do? You’re restricting your business. You’re not opening new markets and you’re closing down maybe even some existing customers because you can’t serve them. And so these jobs are going. Others are figuring out ways to do it with fewer people. And again some might say that’s a good thing, using technology and using automation to displace workers, I don’t think it’s a good thing. I’d rather have more people working. And that’s what they want to do, too. But they can’t afford it. So they are going to more automation, they tell me, going to anything they can do to do with fewer workers. 

“This is a problem, and again, Washington is creating this problem. Why would we do that again? Again, I understood it and supported it when we had the COVID-19 crisis and people were losing their jobs through no fault of their own. But the opposite is happening now. We’ve got to change gears. We’re at a crossroads. We can continue to have this economy stagnate, continue to hurt working families, or we can get people back to work and create robust and sustained economic growth. I would take the $300 a week, by the way, and shift it to a six week temporary bonus of $100 a week to go to work. A work bonus. You could do that immediately. Even while keeping the $300 in place for a short period of time, because right away you could help people to get back to work, it would happen.

“And by the way, some states have decided on their own just to get rid of the $300 because they know it’s not working for the small businesses, it’s not working for the economy, it’s not working for individuals who are not getting back to their career track, who are losing training and losing the ability to keep up with what’s going on at work because they are, again, given this disincentive to go back. And it’s working. There was a hotel, I’m told, in the first state that decided to do this, which was Montana, did it about two weeks ago, a hotel where they were offering every week to hire more employees. They’re looking for more employees. They were getting one person a week to show up. Last week, 60 people. Sixty people, because they are not offering the $300 anymore, they are giving the money back. 

“The Biden administration, as you know, would like to spend a lot more money on a lot of different things. The totals, about $6 trillion when you add it all up to prime the pump, more stimulus, get the country back to work, as they say. What’s happened is a lot of this stimulus money, particularly in the $1.9 trillion COVID package, has overheated the economy. And you can see it in the higher inflation numbers, which is what a lot of people predicted, including Democratic economist and former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers. And a lot of us on the Republican side were concerned about this. Well, it’s happening and we are seeing more and more proposals for more and more stimulus. Inflation is not what we need. And by the way, that spending of $6 trillion is about six times what the government spent during the New Deal in the 1930s. And that’s inflation-adjusted. So, I mean, this is a lot of money. 

“Instead, what we ought to do is help get people back to work, encourage them, and let this economy grow on its own, which it’s going to do. During the COVID-19 discussion, the Congressional Budget Office, a nonpartisan group here in Washington and in Congress, told us that the economy is going to recover to its pre-COVID level by mid-year if we do nothing, no more stimulus.

“And yet people insisted on more and more stimulus and we can see what’s happening. Part of that stimulus, part of that spending was this $300 until Labor Day. $300 per week in expanded unemployment benefits from the federal government, on top of the fact that you don’t get taxed on your first $10,000. And again, that $300 is on top of whatever the state benefit is. 

“Are there other factors that are leading to this labor problem that we have now in our country? I think there are. I think there are. One is that we have a situation now where some people just can’t afford childcare. So they’re not only getting more money on unemployment perhaps than they are getting at work. If they go to work, they’ve got to pay for child care. And child care is too expensive. And I’d like to work on that. One of the reasons we’re hearing is that schools are not open, so they’ve got to use child care because their kids are not in school with only 54 percent of K-8 schools actually being open today – that’s the latest number we have — that’s a real problem. Again, that’s when we can solve, and CDC is playing a role in that by saying, ‘Get kids back to school, they can do so safely.’ There certainly should not be any reason for this now, given the fact that so many people have been vaccinated and thank goodness the infection levels are going down so much. So I know that that’s an issue. Child care is an issue. 

“The other issue I think that we have to know is that some people are concerned about still getting infected at work and what the virus might lead to in terms of an unsafe workplace. But I will tell you, that concern is a lot less now that so many people have been vaccinated and the CDC, again, has responded to that and said, ‘You can have a safe workplace, you can have a safe school.’ It’s not hard to do. So let’s get back to work. And particularly let’s deal with this unemployment insurance issue, because that is the main reason that people are not returning to work I’m told by the employers out there. With more than 40 percent of workers making more with unemployment insurance and that supplement than they would in their jobs, businesses just can’t compete. 

“Think how tragic this is. A small business owner works tirelessly to keep the lights on through COVID-19 — again, maybe uses a PPP or otherwise stays in business — and finally, after more than a year, we reach this point where the virus is in retreat, we are doing all the things we should be doing to make our workplaces safe. And now they might have to close because they just can’t find people to work. The same story is being told all over the country, certainly all over my state, and again, this is why 21 states now as of this afternoon, including my home state of Ohio, have decided to give the $300 back.

“But we shouldn’t here in Washington continue to provide that $300 to everybody else. Governors in these states understand that encouraging workers to return to the job market is essential to the economy, but it’s also good for that workforce to get back to work, get back to what happens when you go to work, which is you have that sense of fulfillment. That dignity and self-respect that comes with work and you are keeping up with whatever the technological changes at work and getting back on your career track. 

“Guidance from the Biden administration CDC says we can move forward with getting back to normal. It’s time for President Biden to follow that advice and to end the disincentive to work that is holding back the economic recovery. These are simple steps that we can take. Again, I would do a $100 bonus to go back to work for six weeks. But the most important thing is to end the $300 and to let people, once again, have the opportunity to pursue their American dream. Which is not unemployment — It’s getting a job. And with 8.1 million jobs being offered – an historic number, the most ever – it’s time to make that change. I urge my colleagues and I urge the administration to change course.”

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Is Utah’s housing market the hottest in the West?



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They went through the pain 10 times.

Ten times, Matthew and Bethany Clewett found a house they could envision themselves making their home, where they would raise their now almost 1-year-old daughter, Nellie. Ten houses they liked enough to put in an offer.

But each time, one by one, their offers were passed over. One after another, the young couple started to lose hope, getting increasingly frustrated with each rejection. Even though their “bulldog” of a real estate agent was persistent and aggressive, each time they lost, and it became increasingly heart-wrenching.

Matthew and Bethany Clewett move a chair at their new home in Kaysville on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. They were finally able to buy a home after 10 offers on other homes failed.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

And they weren’t picky. They were willing to buy anywhere along the Wasatch Front — an area of between 80 miles and 120 miles in length, depending on which northern and southernmost communities one claims. They were open to buying in Stansbury Park in the west, to Saratoga Springs farther south, to Syracuse up north.

They were offering above asking prices — $20,000 to $30,000 over. They were competitive bidders, but in some cases not competitive enough. Matthew Clewett — who himself is a housing wonk as the public policy director for the Salt Lake Board of Realtors — said their real estate agent told them one house they lost out on went for $60,000 to $70,000 over asking price. That’s not even the highest some Salt Lake real estate agents have seen in other cases, with some bids up to $100,000 over asking price, though that’s not too common.

“It was absolutely insane,” Matthew Clewett said.

Again and again, it wasn’t enough.

“There were plenty of times where we were really frustrated with the process, being denied and having been told, ‘Hey, you had a great offer but we found a better one,’” Matthew Clewett, 26, said, “I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”

“And then it’s just like the thought of, ‘Well, should we just give up?’” said his wife, Bethany Clewett, 27. “Should we just live in my parent’s basement forever?”

The Clewetts’ struggle to buy a home is what thousands of Utahns have already faced in 2021 — a year that’s already shaping up to be one like no other for real estate in Utah, on the heels of an already record-shattering year for Wasatch Front home sales in 2020.

“It’s absolutely unheard of,” Dave Robison, president of the Utah Association of Realtors, said about Utah’s record-breaking housing trends. “I mean, it’s insane. It’s crazy. It’s unprecedented.”

The data

Consider these figures from the Salt Lake Board of Realtors:

  • Wasatch Front homes were on the market a median of five days — a slim five days — in the first quarter of 2021, a huge drop from 28 days in the first quarter of 2020. Buyers are now having to make one of the biggest decisions of their lives in a matter of hours — without the luxury of waiting a few days before deciding to submit an offer.
  • The year 2020 shattered records for home sales in Salt Lake County, Utah’s most populous county. In the year of the pandemic, a whopping 19,194 Salt Lake County homes sold, breaking the previous all-time record of 18,907 homes in 2005, before the market crashed and sent the U.S. spiraling into the Great Recession.
  • Wasatch Front home prices are skyrocketing by double-digit percentages. In Salt Lake County, the median single-family home price climbed to $468,000 in the first quarter of 2021, up $68,000 or 17% from a year earlier when the median price was $400,000. In Utah County, that price is up to $450,000, up an even bigger 20% from the first quarter of 2020. In Davis County, that price is $430,000, up 21%. In Tooele County, it’s up to $360,000, up 18%. And in Weber County, it’s up to $340,000, up 23%.
  • Meanwhile, inventory is struggling to keep up with demand. Across Utah’s five-county Wasatch Front, there were 7,703 overall home sales of all housing types in the first quarter of 2021, down from 7,978 sales in the first quarter of 2020. In Salt Lake County, single-family home sales were down 1% year over year. Tooele County sales were down 4%. Utah County saw a bigger fall in sales, down 7%. In Davis County, an even bigger drop of 16%. Weber County, Davis County’s northern neighbor, saw the biggest decline at 18%.
  • With demand at an all-time high, buyers are getting increasingly aggressive. Some Salt Lake real estate agents have seen home offers up to $100,000 over asking price. Bidding wars are now the norm.

Now zoom out.

National rankings

The housing market is red hot just about everywhere in the U.S., still boiling over in wake of the strange year that will forever be marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Beehive State in particular — a state that, even before the pandemic, not only ranks high in population growth, economic health and low unemployment rates, but is also seen as an attractive place to live due to its outdoor recreation opportunities, proximity to world class skiing and hiking, and a thriving tech sector at Silicon Slopes — ranks high in numerous lists analyzing the U.S. housing market.

Utah, with its Salt Lake metro area, is a contender for having one of the hottest housing markets in the West. Its big competitor is Idaho, which has also seen major housing price increases as more and more people, spurred by the pandemic, moved from big cities — from San Francisco on the West Coast, to New York in the East — in search of homes with more space at much lower price points.

To Robison, Utah’s long track record of strong population growth and economic health, even before the pandemic, puts the Beehive State at the top of the list in the western U.S. for its housing market, excluding outlier markets like California.

“I think we’re No. 1 in the West,” he said, pointing to Utah’s top-of-the-nation population growth and low unemployment rates as “big indicators” that also influence Utah’s appeal to homebuyers.

Consider:

  • Salt Lake City metro ranks third-highest in nation for housing price increases, with a spike of 15.9% over the past year and 6.5% over the last quarter, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. That’s behind the Tacoma-Lakewood metro area in Washington, with housing prices that spiked by 16.3%. Boise, Idaho, ranked No. 1 in the nation, with a 23.4% rise in housing prices.

  • Now consider more than just housing prices, but also economic conditions. Utah topped Bankrate.com’s Housing Heat Index published in March 2021, topping five states the site reported as the having the strongest housing markets in the fourth quarter of 2020. In that ranking, Utah beat out Montana, Nebraska, Idaho and Indiana.

To arrive at that ranking, Bankrate.com’s analysis used six metrics from the fourth quarter of 2020 — annual home price appreciation reported by the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Home Price Index; share of mortgages past due as reported by the Mortgage Bankers Association; unemployment and job growth from the U.S. Labor Department; the cost of living index from the Center for Regional Economic Competitiveness; and state-by-state tax burdens as reported by the Tax Foundation.

Utah’s home values jumped 15.4% in 2020, third-best among the U.S. states, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Utah also had the second-strongest job growth in the nation from December 2019 to December 2020, according to a Bankrate analysis of Labor Department data. Plus, Utah’s tax burden is among the lowest in the nation, according to the Tax Foundation.

The high rankings of states like Utah, Montana and Idaho, Bankrate.com reported, demonstrates a housing market “shift” happening in the West.

“The prominent rankings of states in the Mountain time zone illustrate a shift in the housing market: Americans are still drawn to healthy labor markets, but even before the coronavirus pandemic, they were growing, less willing to pay up to live in places like San Jose, Seattle and Boston,” Bankrate.com wrote. “COVID-19 has pushed many — especially those who can work remotely — to leave the priciest areas for more affordable regions.”

  • Meanwhile, Utah’s population continues to boom, mostly thanks to its higher-than-the-national-average birth rate, but also because more people are moving in. Utah ranked as the fastest-growing state in the nation according to the 2020 census released in April, which showed the Beehive State grew 18.4% over the past decade, beating out Idaho, Texas, North Dakota and Nevada in the top five in terms of percentage growth.

Even though the U.S. population growth remains sluggish, Utah and Idaho are two Western states that have bucked that trend. Births were the biggest growth driver in Utah, while a majority of the growth seen in its northern neighbor of Idaho, about 60%, was driven by people moving into the state between 2010 to 2019, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. One in 5 of those came from California, many of them retirees seeking lower housing prices and a home among Idaho’s pristine wilderness areas.

But that’s not to say out-of-state movers aren’t coming to Utah, too. Net migration accounted for 35% of Utah’s growth, totaling 177,242 people between 2010 and 2020, Mallory Bateman, a senior research analyst and state data center coordinator at the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, told the Deseret News in April.

One metro area in Utah in particular saw a big jump in migration from out of state amid the pandemic, putting Utah on the national map on another list.

An ‘explosion’ in the West

The story of the West’s housing market is one of growth — while other areas of the nation begin to stagnate or “drain,” as James Wood, the Ivory-Boyer senior fellow at the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, put it.

“If you look at population change, and the same with employment growth, the country is really draining from the center to the southeast,” Wood said. But if you look to the West — Utah, Colorado, Idaho, Arizona, Oregon and Washington — “that’s where the growth is.”

Now factor in Utah’s continually high population and economic rankings for at least the past decade, Wood said it’s no wonder the state is seeing a booming housing market, which was only accelerated by the pandemic.

“When you’re leading the country with that kind of growth, there’s no way you’re going to avoid pressure on the housing market,” Wood said. “And that’s what we’ve seen.”

Though out-of-state movers don’t statistically make up the biggest chunk of growth in Utah, it’s still happening. Anecdotally, real estate agents report a big uptick in interest from out-of-state buyers, especially in the past year, who view Salt Lake’s rising housing prices still a steal compared to what their dollar would buy them on the West or East coasts.

“I’ll tell you this,” Robison said. He noted the website UtahRealEstate.com had about 500,000 people based in California browsing the site last year. “We don’t have that many homes for sale, but we had half a million looking from California. Half a million.”

Missy Coman, an Idaho real estate agent of 12 years, described what she’s witnessed in her state — and what’s gone on in other metro areas like Salt Lake City — as “just an explosion.”

“Inventory is low and demand is high,” she said simply, describing how homes in the Boise area are often selling 10% to 20% over asking price.

Affordability is one of the big factors that’s fed Idaho’s housing market and why it’s such a close contender to Utah. But now, since Boise ranked No. 1 in the nation for spiking housing prices, with a 23.4% increase in the last year, that’s changing.

“I think we’re now on par as far as affordability for everyone,” Coman said. “Whereas before we were more affordable, but the way the market has gone we are now more on par.”

Like Salt Lake City metro area, the Boise metro area has similar draws. To Coman, the biggest draw is the great outdoors, its climate, and plenty of land. But Idaho is also similar to Utah in culture and lifestyle.

“What has made both Salt Lake City and Boise so attractive is they are wholesome cities,” Coman said, pointing to their generally low crime rates and welcoming communities.

But the housing frenzy has resulted in all kinds of new pressures, from the homebuilder to the buyer. And while it’s certainly a seller’s market, sellers still have to navigate a sea of buyers whose financing may fall through because in their desperation they’ve stretched to an offer they can’t feasibly manage.

“It’s hard on everybody,” Coman said. “It really is.”

Robert Zavala roofs a home under construction in Sandy on Wednesday, May 5, 2021.

Robert Zavala roofs a home under construction in Sandy on Wednesday, May 5, 2021.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The buyer’s battleground

The Clewetts eventually did find their dream home.

Bethany Clewett found it first on UtahRealEstate.com. It was a cute, updated three bedroom, 2 3⁄4 bath, nearly 2,300-square-foot home in a charming Kaysville cul-de-sac. It already had a lush lawn, landscaping and a new deck in the backyard. The kitchen was remodeled, with white cabinets and a large window above the farmhouse sink. The walls had fresh coats of gray paint.

And their daughter’s upstairs bedroom window would have a beautiful view of the mountains.

It was perfect. But it wasn’t the first time they’d walked into a home, thought, “This is it,” only to end up losing it.

“There was one in Bountiful that I loved,” Bethany Clewett said.

“Yeah, and that one probably went for $90,000 over asking,” Matthew Clewett said, laughing.

When they lost the Bountiful home, they said no tears were shed, but they were certainly frustrated and angry.

“But I also think we knew something better would come along,” Bethany Clewett said.

“We had faith that we would keep finding good properties,” Matthew Clewett said. “And we did.”

But it didn’t come without willingness on their end to widen their price range.

Originally, the Clewetts wanted to find a home priced in the high $300,000 range. “But as we were searching, we realized it wasn’t going to work out for our situation,” Matthew Clewett said.

“There were very few and far between,” Bethany Clewett said.

So the Clewetts made an aggressive offer on the Kaysville home. They offered $30,000 over asking price, putting their bid in the mid-$400,000 range.

“Which is, you know, it’s a stretch,” Matthew Clewett said. “But in this market you’ve kind of got to stretch a little bit.”

Their offer included an “escalation clause,” he said, where they included a provision in their offer to beat any other offer by $500 up to a certain amount.

When they submitted their offer, Bethany Clewett said she was “more optimistic,” while her husband didn’t want to get his hopes up. “He was like, ‘We’re not going to get it,’” she said, laughing. Matthew Clewett laughed, too, explaining he prefers to brace himself for the worst.

But they got the house. Even though they were thrilled, the young couple still held their breath for the next step: the inspection. It passed with flying colors.

“We took a sigh of relief,” Matthew Clewett said.

Next came the mortgage process. They got a mortgage rate at 2.99% — and they were able to move in.

“We decided to stick with it. We were very persistent. And I think you have to be very persistent in this market,” Matthew Clewett said. “You’re going to be let down a time or two. You’re going to find a house that you think is perfect for you, and you’re not going to get it, unfortunately. But you’re going to eventually find something.”

Matt Ulrich, president of the Salt Lake Board of Realtors, said Utah’s housing market has shaped up to be “one of the toughest, most difficult markets we’ve ever been in.”

It’s now the norm for home sellers to field at least a dozen offers on homes, Ulrich said. Wasatch Front real estate agents have even seen some offers $100,000 over asking price, though that’s not too common. However, he said winning offers are now pretty much always over asking price, and buyers are having to get increasingly “more aggressive and more creative” as far as waiving contingencies.

“It’s the most challenging market that I’ve witnessed, and I’ve seen it across the board,” Ulrich said. “It may be hot, but it’s not easy.”

The dark side of a hot housing market

Utah’s red hot housing market is a great indicator that shows “we’ve been doing things right,” Robison said. “It’s validation that we’re doing awesome and we’ve created an awesome lifestyle in Utah.”

It’s the state’s low unemployment, diverse workforce — boasting not only a growing tech sector, but also lots of other types of jobs, especially manufacturing — proximity to hiking, biking and skiing, Salt Lake City’s cultural diversity alongside plenty of quiet suburban neighborhoods, that makes Utah an attractive place to live, Robison said.

“They want to feel like they’re in a good community that’s safe. Low crime. They want to feel like they’re in an area with good education, job availability, affordable housing.”

But that’s the clincher: affordability.

Electrician Rex Smith wires a home under construction in Sandy on Wednesday, May 5, 2021.

Electrician Rex Smith wires a home under construction in Sandy on Wednesday, May 5, 2021.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

There’s an obvious downside to it all. As Utah’s market booms, its affordability declines. More people will be priced out, now realizing they’re unable to afford the same type of home that might have been in their price range just three to five years ago.

A striking 80% of Utahns said in a recent Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics poll they’re concerned about Utah’s current housing market, with 47% who said they’re “very concerned” while 33% said they are “somewhat concerned.” Of those, a whopping 70% said they were concerned about affordability.

“The dark side is more competition,” said Nadia Evangelou, senior economist and director of forecasting and research with the National Association of Realtors.

The good news, Evangelou said, construction is up in the Salt Lake metro area. She said building permits rose 9% compared to a year earlier, so the Salt Lake Valley continues to be an area with “great opportunities for homebuilders.” She noted that over the past 20 years, the Salt Lake City metro area issued an average of 4,800 single-family home permits in a 12-month time frame, but that’s since increased. In the latest 12-month period ending in March, she said that number ticked up to 5,600. So more inventory is coming, and that may help with pricing, she said.

But, for Utahns, especially for those who have lived here their whole lives, it’s obvious the state’s changing, and won’t be the same for future generations.

“It definitely is concerning,” Robison said, “and that’s one reason why it’s important we figure out ways now to (address affordability). And if we’re doubling our population in the next 40 years, the worst thing we can do is have sprawl.”

Robison said Utah leaders must plan for affordable housing, “which, contrary to what we grew up with, means we’re going to have a little more density and we’re have to do it properly.”

No end in sight

Real estate agents and market experts don’t see any end in sight for Utah’s and the nation’s housing boom — and they repeatedly say there’s no “bubble” similar to the 2007 market crash that led to the Great Recession.

Leading up to the crash, Robison noted that the U.S. had overbuilt housing and there was a subprime mortgage crisis, depicted in such films as “Margin Call” and “The Big Short.”

“Today, we don’t have a bubble because we have a lack of housing, and in order to have a bubble we would have to have oversupply. Instead, we have more demand than supply,” Robison said. “It’s unprecedented. We haven’t experienced it before, and so it’s just really mind-boggling.”

So long as demand continues to outpace inventory, it’s likely the housing market will continue on its same trajectory.

“I don’t see it changing just because there is so much demand,” Ulrich said.

Meanwhile, builders — who are facing spikes in lumber and construction labor costs — aren’t keeping up with demand either, Ulrich said. “I’ve heard they’ve stopped taking offers because it’s costing builders more to build than they anticipate, and they’re not sure with COVID and materials being backed up (about) the cost of supplies.”

Ulrich said the “only thing” that may slow it down a little bit is if interest rates rise — which Evangelou predicted will happen by the end of 2021, but not by a lot. She said she expects maybe a 3.2% interest rate for mortgages by the end of the year.

But that rate increase likely won’t stop people from buying, Evangelou said.

To her, the key to relieving the pressure on the market, is building inventory.

“We need to build even more,” she said, “and avoid pricing out homebuyers.”

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What’s Up with Diabetes Portrayals in Movies and TV?



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You may have seen diabetes weaved in to the storyline of a favorite TV show or new movie every so often. The condition is frequently used as a quick punchline or one-liner, or some kind of a foil that trips up the characters.

These portrayals matter because movies and media have the power to shape the public’s view regarding people with diabetes (PWDs). Movies and media can shape how people react in certain emergencies, kids’ experiences at school and adults’ experiences in workplaces, and how people make healthcare policy decisions.

Popular shows like “The Blacklist,” “Law and Order: SVU” and “Person of Interest” have all briefly incorporated insulin pumps and device-hacking into their storylines — but they didn’t always handle it well.

“Nobody likes seeing any part of diabetes portrayed incorrectly, but certainly, I think it’s a lot better in today’s media than it was years ago. We’ve made huge strides and we’re a lot more ‘right’ than we have been,” says D-Dad Tom Karlya, who has two adult children with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and has long advocated for factual representation of diabetes in the media.

Historically, movies and TV often got it wrong when delving into diabetes.

A few examples that stand out in TV series include:

  • A “Big Bang Theory” episode tied diabetes to a group of individuals with overweight ordering dessert, including one PWD with an insulin pump.
  • In a “Walking Dead” episode a single character recovered immediately from passing out after receiving an insulin injection.
  • In the short-lived “Do No Harm” series, a neurosurgeon with T1D had to be cleared for surgery by checking his blood sugar with a futuristic hospital-version fingerstick meter the size of a tabletop.
  • In a “Hannah Montana” spot, a character was teased for not being able to eat candy because of his T1D. Disney eventually revised that and later pulled the episode.

More examples where advocates called out errors and misinformation in TV shows include multiple mentions on medical dramas “New Amsterdam” and “Nurses” on NBC, as well as an insulin affordability storyline written into a different “New Amsterdam” episode, and “The Resident” on FOX.

Some also took notice of the mention of an “artificial pancreas” in the April 28, 2021, episode of ABC’s new sitcom “Home Economics,” where the grandfather character spoke with his young grandchildren in one scene, but there was absolutely no context for the mention of diabetes technology.

On the big screen, errors seem to take on a whole new dimension.

“Hansel & Gretel”

One striking example of getting it glaringly wrong was the 2013 movie “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters,” in which the director used a “spin on diabetes” in the fanciful script.

Star actor Jeremy Renner played Hansel, who lives with “the sugar sickness,” an uncanny resemblance to T1D that Hansel contracts after the evil witch force-fed him candy as a child. Thanks to all that candy, Hansel grows up needing regular daily injections at the beep of his timepiece. Without those injections, as we see at one point in the movie, he will go into immediate convulsions — apparently the result of high blood sugar?

Of course, the big takeaway from this movie is that candy consumption leads to T1D, which is clearly not the case. Some in the community found that portrayal to be a form of bullying, and a whole advocacy campaign of letter-writing to the director ensued.

“Panic Room”

Another movie often cited for inaccuracies and misinformation is the “Panic Room” from 2002, starring Jodie Foster and Kristen Stewart.

The story centers on a divorced mom and her teen daughter, who hide in their brownstone’s secret room after burglars break into the home to steal a hidden fortune. The daughter Sarah has T1D, and at one point experiences an urgent low blood sugar while trapped in the panic room.

In the movie, the teen gets “a shot” for the low blood sugar, which PWDs may recognize as rescue glucagon. But of course, most people with no knowledge of this condition could easily assume it was insulin. Unfortunately, several film reviewers incorrectly referred to this lifesaving shot as an “insulin injection.” This obviously imparts the dangerous misperception that a person having a low blood glucose level needs more insulin instead of sugar.

Of course, the teenager recovers immediately after the injection rather than the several minutes it typically takes after using emergency glucagon. At one point, the writers even made Sarah turn blue — which doesn’t happen with hypos. And at another point in the film, the teen gets anxious, and the mom cautions her to not get worked up, as it can lead to diabetes problems.

“There’s no law saying we have to be right in every movie scene,” the film’s technical medical advisor Donna Cline says. “Frankly, we deliver what the public wants.”

Cline claims she researched the appearance and behavior associated with low blood glucose and other aspects of diabetes. She even consulted textbooks and sought help from experts in diabetes care, finding in one manual on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) that stated “great emotional stress” could lead to hypos. That’s what led to the mom’s scripted comment about her daughter getting worked up.

Even more interesting is the producer of “Panic Room” has a daughter with T1D, and still, the script was far from technically accurate in many spots. Although, one could argue that it got the urgency of diabetes emergencies across.

“Steel Magnolias” movie(s)

There’s also the classic example of the 1989 film “Steel Magnolias,” which upset more than one generation of PWDs even though it was based on a play that was based on a true story.

The Shelby character played by Julia Roberts lives with T1D and, despite her mother and doctor’s concerns, she gets pregnant, which puts a strain on her kidneys and body. A signature scene for our D-Community is where she has severe low blood sugar while getting her hair styled for her wedding, and her mom says the classic line “Drink your juice, Shelby!” as Roberts’ character resists and sobs in her hypoglycemia confusion.

That scene scarred many women with diabetes, who felt they’d be unable to have children safely. While that’s certainly not the case, it was a common prevailing medical opinion at the time of this original movie.

The juice scene was quite dramatic, and many felt it didn’t accurately represent what PWDs experience. Yet many others it was spot-on and embodied their experiences having low blood sugar. So, accuracy is sometimes in the eye of the beholder.

In the 2012 remake with a new cast, the storyline doesn’t shift much from the original but has updates with cell phones and modern diabetes tech making appearances. There is some dialogue that attempts to clarify the risk of pregnancy complications with diabetes.

Thankfully, there are also examples where diabetes is handled on-screen in ways that have positive impacts. It’s important to point out what these shows did right.

“Body of Proof”

The ABC show “Body of Proof” featured a storyline in which the lead character’s daughter was diagnosed with T1D and used a Medtronic Minimed insulin pump. The actress was Mary Mouser, who actually lives with T1D herself (and went on to roles like Daniel LaRusso’s daughter in the Cobra Kai series picked up by Netflix).

At the end of that episode, a 10-second message aired to inform viewers that every day 80 kids and adults are diagnosed with T1D and inviting them to contact JDRF for more information. The organization says the community expressed widespread support for the episode’s accurate portrayal of the medical details, as well as the feelings and fears many families face during times of diagnosis.

The JDRF told DiabetesMine that while it doesn’t always proactively reach out to media regarding portrays of diabetes, the organization is always willing to work with TV producers and filmmakers who contact them to learn about T1D. That’s what happened with the “Body of Proof” show.

Medtronic confirmed that they were a part of that show, as well, providing information and lending the crew a Medtronic pump for Mouser’s character to wear.

“We thought they did a nice job of capturing on screen some of the emotions that many families with diabetes experience. And they allowed us to send a member of our clinical team over to the studio so that she could help them ensure that the pump was depicted realistically,” former Medtronic spokeswoman Karrie Hawbaker tells DiabetesMine.

“New Amsterdam” on NBC

A 2019 “New Amsterdam” episode tackled insulin affordability in a storyline focused on drug pricing and pharma culpability. Then another episode in March 2021 had the main character’s mom struggling with the learning curve after a new diagnosis — learning how to give insulin injections and calculate dosages for food.

Impressively, the show’s main character Max played by Ryan Eggold talked her through the initial diagnosis moments, explaining the basics on how to inject insulin with a syringe and even carb-counting for dosing.

Yet, the needle used to demonstrate was HUGE… a point that many in the patient community griped about as being incorrect.

Stepping back from what many of us know to be true about modern syringe sizes, it’s important to recognize that many newly diagnosed adults perceive the insulin syringes to be large and scary.

One of the likely reasons for these “New Amsterdam” scenes mentioning diabetes is Carolyn Gershenson, a D-Mom in New York who happens to be a set nurse for movie and TV show productions. She’s a diabetes care and education specialist (DCES) whose son was diagnosed with T1D back in the late 90s, and she’s had a hand in reviewing scripts to ensure they are medically accurate as it relates to diabetes.

Her adult son is also involved behind the scenes on hit shows like “Blue Bloods” and “Mr. Robot,” so no doubt their dual personal experience with T1D can make a difference when it matters most.

Working with real patients and medical experts makes all the difference when it comes to accurately portraying any health condition on screen.

“The Baby-Sitter’s Club” on Netflix

In 2020, Netflix produced a remake of this TV series adapted from a classic children’s book series from the 1980s. In the third streaming episode, the main teen character Stacey McGill is hiding her diabetes from friends as much as possible, until word comes out about her recent diagnosis with T1D.

The producers did a decent job, showing the teenager subtly avoiding candy and higher carb foods in the presence of friends, so she wouldn’t’ have to dose insulin with her pump. And then, the story has social media revealing that the girl left a previous school because of a seizure just before her T1D diagnosis, which triggers concern from the other girls parents. In fact, in one scene, the parents discuss their hesitancy about Stacey’s diabetes and her being around their kids.

Even though the pre-T1D seizure and the parents’ meeting may seem a bit off, the producers focused on showing Stacy’s feelings and how she handled her condition around others. In that sense, they did a great job. The episode felt true to life for many kids and teens living with diabetes.

Chris Sparling

In 2020, the fictional apocalyptic movie “Greenland” featured a main character with T1D.

The screenwriter Chris Sparling is well-known in the diabetes community as the husband of longtime T1D advocate and author Kerri Sparling.

The movie is about meteors crashing into Earth and potentially wiping out human existence, and people must scramble to avoid that apocalypse, in part by journeying to Greenland, where bunkers await them.

Sparling made the main character’s teenage son have T1D, which added another emergency scenario on top of the larger plot.

He says he tried to stay true to T1D on the page as a writer, but the final production was beyond his full control as he didn’t serve as a director or producer.

He says he feels a strong responsibility even though it’s not always as easy as some may think to “get it right” completely when it comes to representing diabetes on-screen.

“There are blatant failures, and things that are blatantly offensive. But leaving those things aside… the maxim of filmmaking is show, not tell,” Sparling says during a Children with Diabetes video interview. “You don’t want people to just be talking about something, you want to show it happening, to dramatize it. Diabetes is a slightly difficult disease to dramatize.”

He points out that there’s always a risk of over-sensationalization that becomes inaccurate.

“You have an obligation,” Sparling says, so he always asks himself, “How do I show it in a way that gives it the weight it deserves, but also adds clarity to the audience?”

Tom Karlya, the parent of two T1Ds who’s been involved in diabetes advocacy within media and film, reminds us that every little mention of diabetes in those mediums matters. That’s because dangerous misinformation can carry over into real-life scenarios. And negative stigma can turn people off from donating to critical diabetes research, for example.

Tom Karlya

“Sometimes I wonder if the artistic license to make things suspenseful supersedes how much something needs to be 100 percent factual,” he says.

“And are we as a community OK with some of it being wrong, for artistic license, as long as it’s not completely wrong or over-dramatized?”

That’s a question that our diabetes community revisits frequently, as new instances arise.

He points to the controversial Dexcom commercial during Super Bowl 2021, where actor and singer Nick Jonas (a T1D himself) did a 30-second spot about the continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system. While some criticized the commercial — the millions of dollars spent in the context of how unaffordable this technology can be for some people, as well as how it stigmatizes fingersticks — Karlya looks to the awareness it brought to T1D and CGM use in general.

“Sometimes I feel like we’re never happy, no matter what we get,” he says.

Karlya believes it’s important for advocates to contact media, writers, movie producers when they get diabetes right, just as much as when they get something wrong.

“I love how we’re seeing them bringing in people with personal experience to oversee the writing or be involved on medical review to make sure the portrayal accurate,” Karlya says

“Sometimes you have to whittle away at the wrongness… to get it correct,” he says.

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Ford v. Montana: The U.S. Supreme Court’s Latest Foray into Personal Jurisdiction and What It Could Mean for Banks



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The recent Supreme Court decision in Ford Motor Co. v. Eighth Judicial District Court of Montana et al. goes against the recent trend of the Court to reverse lower court approaches to personal jurisdiction. The Court found that Ford’s contacts with the forum states were sufficient to support the specific personal jurisdiction of the courts of those states over product liability claims brought by residents of those states resulting from automobile accidents in those states. States. Although Ford did not sell the specific vehicles involved in the accidents to buyers in forum states, it was sufficient, according to the court, for Ford’s forum contacts to “relate” to the plaintiffs’ claims regarding the particular facts. of the case.

The Court said that the phrase “relate to” places “real limits” on the exercise of a specific personal jurisdiction – but, according to the Court, the standard of personal jurisdiction does not require a causal link but for or near between the plaintiff’s claims and the defendant’s forum contacts. The contours of these “real limits” are likely to be hotly debated in future cases, and plaintiffs across the country may seek to apply. Ford enginethe wording “related to” outside the context of product liability to support jurisdiction over non-resident businesses whose services are offered or advertised in the forum, including foreign banks providing banking services in the United States .

Background

Ford Motor Company, which is incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in Michigan, challenged two state court decisions ruling that Ford was subject to personal jurisdiction in Montana and Minnesota because the plaintiffs, each having brought an action in their home state, were injured in their respective state. States while driving a Ford vehicle. For specific or case-related jurisdiction to exist, due process requires that the plaintiff’s claims “arise out of or relate to the defendant’s contacts” with the forum. Ford argued that this standard imposes a requirement of causation and that the requirement was not met because Ford did nothing in the states that were causally related to the complainants’ claims: it did not designed or manufactured the vehicles in the forum states, and Ford did not sell the specific vehicles involved in the crashes to buyers in those states.

The court rejected Ford’s attempt to limit specific jurisdiction only to cases where there is a strict causal connection between the defendant’s activities in the state and the plaintiffs’ claims. Instead, the Court ruled that the exercise of a specific jurisdiction may also be appropriate if the prosecution “concerns” the defendant’s behavior in the forum, while noting that the phrase places “real limits” on the exercise of a specific competence. The Court then focused on the facts of the case, detailing Ford’s contacts in the State – advertising, sale, resale and servicing of the particular model of vehicle at issue in the cases – and determined that those contacts were “Close enough” to support the exercise of a specific personal skill in the circumstances.

Analysis

The Court’s ruling may lead plaintiffs to seek to assert jurisdiction more aggressively over non-resident financial institutions by seizing certain terms. Ford engine. For example, plaintiffs can point out the court’s statement “that when a company like Ford serves a market for a product in a state and that product causes damage in the state to one of its residents, the courts of the state can hear the resulting lawsuit ”(emphasis added). It is not clear what it means to “serve a market” for a financial product – will the “product” be defined narrowly as, for example, “mortgages“, “interest rate swaps” or ” cross-border correspondent accounts ”or more broadly as“ bank ”? In Ford engine, the court noted that the specific models of vehicles involved in the crashes (and not just Ford cars in general) were advertised, sold and serviced in Montana and Minnesota. This analysis indicates that in order to maintain competence, the product in question must be defined narrowly. Of course, this issue will undoubtedly be addressed by lower courts in the months and years to come as they grapple with Ford engine.

Other types of complainants might seek to interpret Ford engine widely too. The Supreme Court’s decision limiting general jurisdiction in Daimler AG v Bauman, some courts have dismissed investor claims against corporate trustees that are not presented in the original forum of the trustee or that do not relate to its activities in the forum. An investor can argue on the basis Ford engine that if the bank “serves the market” for trustee services in the state, by soliciting local issuing clients, it makes itself susceptible to prosecution of claims involving foreign issuers. More broadly, complainants may also seek to use Ford engine to open the door to the jurisdictional discovery of the activities of a bank in the forum. Indeed, these types of facts, relating to the general activities of the defendant in the forum, evoke pre-Daimler dispute over general jurisdiction, when claims regarding (and discovery) of advertising, physical locations and sales volumes in the Forum State were common.

That said, the best read from Ford engineThe conclusion is that it is based on the particular facts of the business. The majority examined closely the depth and nature of Ford’s contact – regarding the very model of vehicle that caused the complainants ‘injuries – to determine that these contacts “relate” sufficiently closely to the complainants’ requests to warrant a particular jurisdiction. . As Judge Alito pointed out in his agreement, those same contacts could easily have causal relation to injuries: “It is reasonable to infer that the vehicles in question here would never have been on the roads of Minnesota and Montana if they were a totally unknown make that had never been advertised in those states, no. ‘was not sold in those states, would not be familiar to mechanics in those states, and could not have been easily repaired with parts available in those states. “

Taking into account the specific facts Ford engine and the Court’s close attention to these facts, financial institutions have powerful arguments that Ford Engine does not disrupt the Second Circuit’s approach to specific jurisdiction: “Where the defendant has had only limited contact with the state, it may be appropriate to say that he will not be subject to prosecution in that state only if the plaintiff’s injury was caused immediately by such contact. However, where the defendant’s contacts with the jurisdiction which relate to the cause of action are more substantial, it is not unreasonable to say that the defendant is subject to personal jurisdiction even if the acts committed in the state are not. are not the immediate cause of the plaintiff’s prejudice. . ” SPV Osus Ltd. against UBS AG, 882 F.3d 333, 344 (2d Cir. 2018).

One last point. Ford engine leaves Daimler unchanged. But as we observed when this case was decided, a possible reaction to DaimlerThe contraction of general jurisdiction as a vehicle for obtaining jurisdiction over defendants could be an expansion of specific jurisdiction. Whether Ford engine represents such an expansion is sure to be frequently argued in lower courts in the months and years to come.

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Amazon Extends Ban on Police Using Its Facial Recognition Tools: Live Updates



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Credit…Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Amazon said Tuesday that it would indefinitely prohibit police departments from using its facial recognition tool, extending a moratorium the company announced last year during nationwide protests over racism and biased policing.

The tool has faced scrutiny from lawmakers and some employees inside Amazon who said they were worried that it led to unfair treatment of African-Americans. Amazon has repeatedly defended the accuracy of its algorithms.

When Amazon announced the pause in June, it did not cite a specific reason for the change. The company said it hoped a year was enough time for Congress to create legislation regulating the ethical use of facial recognition technology. Congress has not banned the technology, or issued any significant regulations on it, but some cities have.

The primary suppliers of facial recognition tools to police departments have not been tech giants like Amazon, but smaller outfits that are not household names.

Still, privacy advocates cheered Amazon’s latest move.

“This is a huge win for privacy and is the direct result of years of work by activists and advocates who have shed light on the dangerous use of this flawed technology,” the American Civil Liberties Union said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The Google campus in Mountain View, Calif. The company focused on its technological vision in a developer conference.
Credit…Christie Hemm Klok for The New York Times

Google held its I/O developer conference on Tuesday. And, as usual, it was a dizzying two-hour procession of new features, products and services across the company’s vast array of businesses, from its smartphone software to its artificial intelligence systems.

But each demonstration laid bare the gap between how Google wants to present itself — a tech pioneer pushing the boundaries of what’s possible — and how politicians and regulators see the company — a deep-pocketed monopoly choking off the competition. There was no talk of the antitrust trials facing the company or the congressional hearings that have become a routine part of the calendar of Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Google’s parent company Alphabet.

Google barely discussed any of the ways it makes money. There was almost no mention of advertising, the main driver of Google’s revenue last year, or even up-and-coming financial engines like Google’s cloud computing business.

Instead, Google focused on its technological vision. Mr. Pichai revealed the company’s next so-called moonshot. Google aims to power the entire company using carbon-free energy by 2030. It will require using artificially intelligent software systems to allocate energy wisely as well as investments to tap into geothermal energy in addition to wind and solar.

“We aim to operate on carbon-free energy 24/7,” Mr. Pichai said. “This means running every data center, every office on clean electricity every hour of every day. It’s a moonshot.”

As for products and software, there were new privacy controls for its Android smartphone software as well as new design elements that select a personal color palette based on a person’s photos. There were also improvements in how computers understand human communication.

In one odd demonstration of a computer’s ability to carry on a natural-sounding conversation, Google demonstrated how the language model could be used to take on the character of Pluto (the “dwarf planet,” not the Disney character) to answer questions.

Like most big tech conferences, there was an awkward celebrity cameo with the actor Michael Peña trying to find humor in quantum computers. There were inspirational examples of how Google technology was bringing information to people outside Silicon Valley with a video of an Indonesian high school student using Google’s camera vision technology to help her with her math homework.

It was hard to pinpoint a common theme of the show-and-tell event. Mr. Pichai tried to fit everything under a big tent of “building a more helpful Google for everyone,” and Google explained that there was so much to share, because the company had to call off the event last year because of the pandemic.

Traditionally, the conference has been held in an outdoor amphitheater near the company’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, but this year’s presentation was held virtually from an outdoor stage at Google’s offices, with a handful of in-person attendees sitting in lounge chairs.

Some Republicans have said expanded unemployment benefits are making it hard for businesses to hire.
Credit…Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Texas, Indiana and Oklahoma this week joined the growing number of states that are withdrawing from federal pandemic-related unemployment benefits.

Supported by Republican governors and lawmakers as well as national and state chambers of commerce, the decision will eliminate the temporary $300-a-week supplement that unemployment recipients have been getting and will end benefits for freelancers, part-timers and those who have been unemployed for more than six months.

In Wisconsin, where the governor is a Democrat, Republicans in the Assembly and Senate have introduced legislation to end participation.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming also plan to end federal unemployment benefits, beginning in June or early July.

“The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities throughout the state,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a news release. “According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job openings in Texas is almost identical to the number of Texans who are receiving unemployment benefits.”

The moves will affect more than 3.4 million people in the 21 states, according to a calculation by Oxford Economics, a forecasting and analysis firm. Of those workers, 2.5 million currently on unemployment would lose benefits altogether, it said.

Although business owners and managers have complained that unemployment benefits are discouraging people from answering help-wanted ads, the evidence is mixed. Vaccination rates are picking up but less than half of adults are fully vaccinated. In surveys, people have cited continuing fear of infection. A lack of child care has also prevented many parents from returning to work full time.

Arizona, Montana and Oklahoma are offering newly hired workers an incentive bonus.

Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut, a Democrat, said this week that his state would offer $1,000 bonuses to 10,000 workers who have experienced long-term unemployment and obtain new jobs. His state is not dropping the federal benefits.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lawyer for former President Donald J. Trump, disputing the results of the election won by Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Fox News Media, the Rupert Murdoch-controlled cable group, filed a motion on Tuesday to dismiss a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought against it in March by Dominion Voting Systems, an election technology company that accused Fox News of propagating lies that ruined its reputation after the 2020 presidential election.

The Dominion lawsuit and a similar defamation claim brought in February by another election company, Smartmatic, have been widely viewed as test cases in a growing legal effort to battle disinformation in the news media. And it is another byproduct of former President Donald J. Trump’s baseless attempts to undermine President Biden’s clear victory.

In a 61-page response filed in Delaware Superior Court, the Fox legal team argues that Dominion’s suit threatened the First Amendment powers of a news organization to chronicle and assess newsworthy claims in a high-stakes political contest.

“A free press must be able to report both sides of a story involving claims striking at the core of our democracy,” Fox says in the motion, “especially when those claims prompt numerous lawsuits, government investigations and election recounts.” The motion adds: “The American people deserved to know why President Trump refused to concede despite his apparent loss.”

Dominion’s lawsuit against Fox News presented the circumstances in a different light.

Dominion is among the largest manufacturers of voting machine equipment and its technology was used by more than two dozen states last year. Its lawsuit described the Fox News and Fox Business cable networks as active participants in spreading a false claim, pushed by Mr. Trump’s allies, that the company had covertly modified vote counts to manipulate results in favor of Mr. Biden. Lawyers for Mr. Trump shared those claims during televised interviews on Fox programs.

“Lies have consequences,” Dominion’s lawyers wrote in their initial complaint. “Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process.” The lawsuit cites instances where Fox hosts, including Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo, uncritically repeated false claims about Dominion made by Mr. Trump’s lawyers Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell.

A representative for Dominion, whose founder and employees received threatening messages after the negative coverage, did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday night.

Fox News Media has retained two prominent lawyers to lead its defense: Charles Babcock, who has a background in media law, and Scott Keller, a former chief counsel to Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas. Fox has also filed to dismiss the Smartmatic suit; that defense is being led by Paul D. Clement, a former solicitor general under President George W. Bush.

“There are two sides to every story,” Mr. Babcock and Mr. Keller wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “The press must remain free to cover both sides, or there will be a free press no more.”

The Fox motion on Tuesday argues that its networks “had a free-speech right to interview the president’s lawyers and surrogates even if their claims eventually turned out to be unsubstantiated.” It argues that the security of Dominion’s technology had been debated in prior legal claims and media coverage, and that the lawsuit did not meet the high legal standard of “actual malice,” a reckless disregard for the truth, on the part of Fox News and its hosts.

Media organizations, in general, enjoy strong protections under the First Amendment. Defamation suits are a novel tactic in the battle over disinformation, but proponents say the strategy has shown some early results. The conservative news outlet Newsmax apologized last month after a Dominion employee, in a separate legal case, accused the network of spreading baseless rumors about his role in the election. Fox Business canceled “Lou Dobbs Tonight” a day after Smartmatic sued Fox in February and named Mr. Dobbs as a co-defendant.

Jonah E. Bromwich contributed reporting.

Jennifer Piepszak, left, and Marianne Lake were named heads of JPMorgan’s consumer and community bank.
Credit…JPMorgan; Reuters

JPMorgan Chase named two female executives as joint heads of its largest division, potentially paving the way for the nation’s largest bank to be led by a woman.

Marianne Lake, chief executive of the consumer lending division, and Jennifer Piepszak, chief financial officer, both age 51, were named heads of JPMorgan’s consumer and community bank, the sprawling division that handles auto loans, mortgages and private wealth management for bank customers. Their promotions are effective immediately.

In a message to employees on Tuesday, Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan’s longtime chief executive, praised both Ms. Lake and Ms. Piepszak, who will now run a division that takes in more than $50 billion per year in revenue and competes neck and neck with the bank’s corporate and investment bank for dominance.

“We are fortunate to have two such superb executives who are both examples of our extremely talented and deep management bench,” Mr. Dimon wrote. “They have proven track records of working successfully across the firm.”

The two executives step into a role previously held by Gordon Smith, the firm’s co-president and chief operating officer, who said he would retire at the end of the year. His retirement also paves the way for Daniel Pinto, the other co-president and chief operating officer, as well as the head of its corporate and investment bank, to become the sole No. 2. Jeremy Barnum, currently global head of research for the corporate and investment bank, will succeed Ms. Piepszak as chief financial officer.

Tuesday’s announcement brings renewed attention to what has been a hotly debated question within financial circles for years: who would replace Mr. Dimon, the charismatic C.E.O. who led JPMorgan through the financial crisis and is the longest-tenured bank leader on Wall Street. Mr. Dimon, 65, took on his role in late 2005 and has since quadrupled the bank’s stock price. He has said that leading JPMorgan is his calling, adding on more than one occasion that he planned to stay at the helm for at least another five years. But over the past decade, as a number of executives once viewed as potential successors have exited, concerns about who might replace Mr. Dimon have mounted.

The market’s reaction to the announcements was modest, suggesting that investors didn’t expect imminent changes at the top of the bank.

“Obviously, with each year that goes by, how could he not be a year closer,” Glenn Schorr, a banking analyst who covers JPMorgan for Evercore ISI, said of Mr. Dimon’s retirement. At the same time, he added, the elevation of Ms. Lake and Ms. Piepszak doesn’t necessarily mean that the chief executive’s departure is any closer. “I’ve seen this so many times,” Mr. Schorr said. “It doesn’t mean that at all.”

“The board has said it would like Jamie to remain in his role for a significant number of years,” Joseph Evangelisti, a JPMorgan spokesman, said in a statement.

If Ms. Lake or Ms. Piepszak were eventually named to succeed Mr. Dimon, neither would be the first woman to run a Wall Street bank. That distinction belongs to Jane Fraser, who took the top role at Citigroup earlier this year.

  • A sell-off near the close of trading on Tuesday caused the S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite to end the day lower.

  • The S&P 500 fell 0.9 percent, and the Nasdaq composite lost 0.6 percent. The Nasdaq had been in positive territory for most of the day.

  • Shares of Apple, which has the biggest weight in the S&P 500, lost 1.1 percent, mostly in the last 10 minutes of trading. The next six largest companies in the index — including Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet, Google’s parent company — all had similar dips.

  • Energy prices fell, with West Texas Intermediate crude oil, the U.S. benchmark, down 1.2 percent, to $65.49 a barrel. The S&P’s energy sector fell 2.6 percent, led by Chevron, with a 3 percent drop.

  • AT&T, which fell 2.6 percent Monday after it announced it was spinning off its WarnerMedia division and becoming more of a strictly telecommunications company, was the worst-performing stock in the S&P 500, with a decline of 5.8 percent.

  • In Asia, the Nikkei in Japan gained 2.1 percent the same day the government reported that the economy had contracted in the first quarter, after two consecutive quarters of growth.

  • In Taiwan, the stock market jumped more than 5 percent after the government recently imposed restrictions to control a coronavirus outbreak. Reuters reported that Taipei’s top official in Washington was in talks with President Biden about securing doses of vaccine from the United States.

Brooks Brothers, the oldest apparel brand in continuous operation in the United States, has struggled to adapt to the casualization of workplace dress codes and the digital era.
Credit…Karsten Moran for The New York Times

The fallout from one of the most prominent retail bankruptcies of the pandemic continues.

The billionaire Italian former owners of Brooks Brothers have been sued in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York by TAL Apparel and Castle Apparel Limited, manufacturing companies based in Hong Kong and the retailer’s former minority shareholders, claiming more than $100 million in damages.

The lawsuit, which was filed Monday, claims that Claudio Del Vecchio, the former chief executive of Brooks Brothers, and his son, Matteo Del Vecchio, who was the company’s chief administrative officer, “put their own financial interests ahead of those of the company” by refusing to pursue acquisition bids solicited in 2019 “that would have yielded hundreds of millions of dollars for Brooks Brothers’ shareholders.” Instead, they held on to the brand and then were forced into bankruptcy proceedings last year.

TAL, a longtime Brooks Brothers supplier that claims to make one out of every six shirts sold in the United States, became an investor in 2016. It claims that the reason for what the lawsuit termed “bad faith” was a clause in the shareholder agreement that made the Del Vecchios responsible for paying back the balance of TAL’s $100 million investment if the company was sold for less than its $652 million valuation at the time of investment. The suit claims that the Del Vecchios wanted to avoid that eventuality at all costs and opted to “roll the dice” with a Chapter 11 declaration.

Brooks Brothers, which was founded in 1818 and is known for its suits and preppy clothes, is the oldest apparel brand in continuous operation in the United States. It was bought for $225 million in 2001 by the elder Del Vecchio, whose father, Leonardo, is one of the richest men in Europe. Despite Brooks Brothers’ storied past (it has dressed all but five U.S. presidents), it struggled to adapt to the casualization of workplace dress codes and the digital era. In 2019, Claudio Del Vecchio hired the investment bank PJ Solomon to explore the possibilities of a sale or further investment, and a restructuring plan was put together.

In 2020 he told The New York Times that none of the sale and investment discussions “matched the needs we saw.” The TAL lawsuit, which also names the Del Vecchio family’s holding company, Delfin, as a defendant, claims that none of the discussions were shared with the board or the shareholders. Like many global apparel suppliers, TAL, which owns 11 factories and employs over 26,000 people, according to the lawsuit, was hard-hit by the volatility caused by the onset of the pandemic. At one point, the slump in demand from retailers saw garment production fall to just 30 percent of group capacity, prompting the permanent closure of several factories and a shift toward manufacturing personal protective equipment.

In August 2020, after the forced store closures of lockdown wreaked havoc on their balance sheet, Brooks Brothers was sold for $325 million to SPARC group, a joint venture between Simon Property Group, the biggest mall operator in the United States, and Authentic Brands Group, a licensing firm. TAL is also an unsecured creditor in the bankruptcy litigation.

Paul Lockwood of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, a lawyer for Claudio Del Vecchio, said, “The allegations in the complaint are false and we expect the court to dismiss the case.” Katie Jakola of Kirkland & Ellis, the law firm representing TAL, said they were looking forward to their day in court.

Some observers doubt it will come to that, however.

“This seems like two rich parties airing grievances,” said William Susman, managing director at Threadstone Advisors. “Brooks Brothers’ owners have taken their pain already. TAL is a large, sophisticated company. Hard to feel they were swindled. Sounds like a settlement is in everyone’s future.”

Elizabeth Paton contributed reporting.

A Walmart in Mililani, Hawaii. The retailer reported that its operating profit grew about 27 percent to $5.5 billion in the first quarter.
Credit…Marie Eriel Hobro for The New York Times

Walmart reported a strong first quarter on Tuesday, as its e-commerce business continued to drive sales and customers were helped by stimulus checks.

The retail giant said its sales in the United States in the first quarter increased 6 percent to $93.2 billion, while operating profit grew about 27 percent to $5.5 billion.

“Our optimism is higher than it was at the beginning of the year,” Walmart’s chief executive, Doug McMillon, said in a statement. “In the U.S., customers clearly want to get out and shop.”

Walmart is among a group of larger retailers that have experienced blockbuster sales during the pandemic, particularly for online groceries. The company’s e-commerce sales increased 37 percent in the first quarter.

The question now is whether Walmart can continue its pace of growth as shopping habits start to normalize.

Mr. McMillon said although the second half of the year “has more uncertainty than a typical year, we anticipate continued pent-up demand throughout 2021.”

Sales in the company’s international division declined 8.3 percent in the first quarter, as Walmart divested from some of its subsidiaries in places like Japan and Argentina. The company’s total revenue increased 2.7 percent to $138.3 billion.

Walmart raised its financial guidance for the rest of the year, projecting “high single digit” growth in operating income in its United States operation, with sales up in the single digits.

John Stankey, the chief executive of AT&T.
Credit…Mike Segar/Reuters

AT&T is painting a rosy picture for the future of its media business, which it will spin off and merge with Discovery. That new streaming giant is a formidable stand-alone competitor to Netflix and Disney. The move leaves AT&T to focus on its telecom business, which looks less bright after being overshadowed by its expensive — and ultimately futile — deal-making binge in media and entertainment under its previous chief, Randall L. Stephenson.

The DealBook newsletter explains how AT&T got here, in three key deals:

  • A $39 billion bid to buy T-Mobile. After regulatory pushback, in 2011 AT&T walked away from an effort to become the country’s largest wireless company. T-Mobile paired up instead with Sprint, and the two went on to buy huge amounts of spectrum in the high-stakes battle for 5G, leaving AT&T behind as it lobbies regulators to step in. The failed deal hit AT&T with a $3 billion dollar breakup fee, at the time the largest ever.

  • The $67 billion acquisition of DirectTV. In 2015, AT&T bet on cable TV as a way to amass customers whom it could eventually convert to streaming. But DirectTV bled subscribers as customers cut the cord, and AT&T unloaded a stake in the company last year to TPG that valued DirectTV at about a third of its acquisition price. The deal also cost AT&T about $50 million in advisory fees, according to Refinitiv.

  • The $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner. In 2018, Mr. Stephenson called the deal a “perfect match,” but the combined group struggled to invest in its telecom business while also spending enough to compete with the entertainment specialists at Netflix and Disney. Three years later, AT&T is now spinning off the company so it can (re)focus on its quest for 5G market share. AT&T paid $94 million in advisory fees to put the two companies together and an estimated $61 million to split them apart.

After all of that deal-making, AT&T is sitting on more than $170 billion in debt. As part of the deal with Discovery, AT&T will get $43 billion to help reduce its debt load. (The spun-off media business will begin its independent life with $58 billion in debt.)

AT&T also said it would reduce its dividend payout ratio — effectively cutting the amount it pays in half, according to Morgan Stanley. “You can call it a cut, or you can call it a re-sizing of the business,” said John Stankey, AT&T’s chief executive, in an interview. “It’s still a very, very generous dividend.”

AT&T’s shares closed down 2.7 percent on Monday. They lost another 5.8 percent on Tuesday, bringing the total decline in market capitalization since the deal was announced to nearly $20 billion. “Based on our conversations with investors today, sentiment seems mostly negative,” analysts at Barclays wrote in a research note on the day of the deal, citing overly optimistic cost savings targets and cash flow forecasts, among other things.

Market watchers expect the deal to kick off more consolidation among content providers as they race for scale to compete against another giant. Candidates include what John Malone, a Discovery board member (and not the chairman as was previously reported here), calls the “free radicals” — like Lionsgate, ViacomCBS and AMC, as well as NBCUniversal and Fox. Meanwhile, Amazon is in talks to buy another independent studio, MGM.

In a sign of the pressure that players face to spend big to bulk up, shares in Comcast, the telecom company that owns NBCUniversal, fell 5.5 percent on Monday.

Early morning commuters at Grand Central Terminal in New York. Working more than 55 hours a week in a paid job resulted in 745,000 deaths in 2016, according to a new study.
Credit…Timothy A. Clary/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Long working hours are leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths per year, according to a new study by the World Health Organization and the International Labor Organization.

Working more than 55 hours a week in a paid job resulted in 745,000 deaths in 2016, the study estimated, up from 590,000 in 2000. About 398,000 of the deaths in 2016 were because of stroke and 347,000 because of heart disease. Both physiological stress responses and changes in behavior (such as an unhealthy diet, poor sleep and reduced physical activity) are “conceivable” reasons that long hours have a negative impact on health, the authors suggest. Other takeaways from the study:

  • Working more than 55 hours per week is dangerous. It is associated with an estimated 35 percent higher risk of stroke and 17 percent higher risk of heart disease compared with working 35 to 40 hours per week.

  • About 9 percent of the global population works long hours. In 2016, an estimated 488 million people worked more than 55 hours per week. Though the study did not examine data after 2016, “past experience has shown that working hours increased after previous economic recessions; such increases may also be associated with the Covid-19 pandemic,” the authors wrote.

  • Long hours are more dangerous than other occupational hazards. In all three years that the study examined (2000, 2010 and 2016), working long hours led to more disease than any other occupational risk factor, including exposure to carcinogens and the non-use of seatbelts at work. And the health toll of overwork worsened over time: From 2000 to 2016, the number of deaths from heart disease because of working long hours increased 42 percent, and from stroke 19 percent.

Dr. Maria Neira, a director at the W.H.O., put the conclusion bluntly: “It’s time that we all, governments, employers and employees, wake up to the fact that long working hours can lead to premature death.”

A worker prepared to shut down an oil well in Alberta, Canada, in 2020. To reach global climate goals, oil production must be reduced by 75 percent by 2050, the International Energy Agency said. 
Credit…Alec Jacobson for The New York Times

Investment in new oil and natural gas projects must stop from today, and sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles must halt from 2035. These are some of the milestones that the International Energy Agency said Tuesday must be achieved for the global energy industry to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

These conclusions seem surprisingly stark for the agency, a multilateral group whose main mandate is helping ensure energy security and stability. But it has increasingly embraced a role in combating climate change under its executive director, Fatih Birol.

In a news conference, Mr. Birol said he wanted to address the gap between the ambitious commitments on climate change that government and chief executives have been making and the reality that global emissions are continuing to rise strongly.

Just a year ago, the agency was deeply concerned about the disruptive implications of the collapse of the oil market from the effects of the pandemic. At the time, Mr. Birol referred to April 2020 as “Black April.”

Now Mr. Birol’s analysts are outlining in a report what looks like decades of disruption for the global energy industry. Oil production, for instance, will need to fall from nearly 100 million barrels a day to around 24 million a day by 2050, the report says.

The agency acknowledges that the disruption for the global energy sector, which produces three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions, could threaten five million jobs. “The contraction of oil and natural gas production will have far-reaching implications for all the countries and companies that produce these fuels,” the Paris-based group said in a news release.

Oil-producing countries may see different affects. This report, for instance, is likely to lead to further calls from environmental groups for the British government, which heads the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), to end new oil and gas drilling to set a global example. A halt would threaten jobs in Britain’s declining but still large oil and gas industry.

On the other hand, members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries are likely to see their share of a much-reduced market rise from about a third to more than 50 percent, the agency said, as nations with less efficient, higher-cost oil industries cut back.

At the same time, Mr. Birol said, there would be major economic benefits from the trillions of dollars in investment in wind, solar and other sources of renewable energy. Doing so could create 30 million jobs,and add 0.4 percent year to world economic growth, he said.

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Janet Yellen Urges Business Leaders to Adopt Biden’s Tax Plan

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen urged business leaders to support the Biden administration’s proposals for making investments that would raise taxes on corporations to benefit the U.S. economy.

Alongside the jobs plan, we are proposing to fundamentally reform the corporate tax system — that will help offset the cost of the proposed public investments. With corporate taxes at a historical low of 1 percent of G.D.P., we believe the corporate sector can contribute to this effort by bearing its fair share. We propose simply to return the corporate tax toward historical norms. At the same time, we want to eliminate incentives that reward corporations for moving their operations overseas and shifting profits to low-tax countries. As part of this effort, we’re working with our international partners on a global minimum corporate tax to stop the race to the bottom. We’re confident that the investments and tax proposals in the jobs plan taken as a package will enhance the net profitability of our corporations and improve their global competitiveness. And we hope business leaders will see it this way, and support the jobs plan.

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Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen urged business leaders to support the Biden administration’s proposals for making investments that would raise taxes on corporations to benefit the U.S. economy.CreditCredit…Erin Scott for The New York Times

Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen called on American business leaders on Tuesday to support the Biden administration’s proposals for making robust infrastructure investments that would be paid for by raising taxes on corporations, arguing that the plan would ultimately strengthen U.S. firms.

The comments, made at an event sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, came as the Biden administration is pressing ahead with negotiations with lawmakers over the scope of an infrastructure and jobs package. The White House has been exchanging proposals with Republicans in Congress and is under pressure from Democrats not to scale back its ambitions.

“We are confident that the investments and tax proposals in the jobs plan, taken as a package, will enhance the net profitability of our corporations and improve their global competitiveness,” Ms. Yellen said. “We hope that business leaders will see it this way and support the jobs plan.”

Business leaders have been supportive of government investment in infrastructure but are wary of paying for it with higher taxes. The Biden administration wants to raise the corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent. It has been working on an agreement with other countries to raise their corporate tax rates, believing that a global minimum tax will help countries raise revenue and allow the United States to raise its rate without making its companies less competitive.

“With corporate taxes at a historical low of 1 percent of G.D.P., we believe the corporate sector can contribute to this effort by bearing its fair share: We propose simply to return the corporate tax toward historical norms,” Ms. Yellen said. “At the same time, we want to eliminate incentives that reward corporations for moving their operations overseas and shifting profits to low-tax countries.”

Ms. Yellen’s pitch was met with wariness from the nation’s largest business lobbying group. The Chamber has been arguing against the corporate tax increase and making the case that raising the rate would be bad for small businesses.

Immediately after Ms. Yellen’s remarks, Suzanne Clark, chief executive of the Chamber of Commerce, offered a rebuttal.

“It’s always an honor to hear from the Treasury secretary, including and maybe even especially when we disagree, as we do on taxes,” Ms. Clark said. “The data and the evidence are clear: The proposed tax increases would greatly disadvantage U.S. businesses and harm American workers. And now is certainly not the time to erect new barriers to economic recovery.”

Foxconn, which hopes to play a bigger role in the auto industry, in 2020 introduced tools and technology aimed at helping automakers develop electric vehicles.
Credit…Yimou Lee/Reuters

Foxconn, the Taiwanese electronics heavyweight best known for making Apple’s iPhones, has found a big new partner for its auto-industry ambitions: the European-American car giant Stellantis.

The two companies on Tuesday announced a joint venture for building in-car digital systems and software, which automakers believe will be an increasingly important selling point for consumers in the coming decades.

“This is core to the future of Stellantis,” the automaker’s chief executive, Carlos Tavares, said during a conference call with reporters. The new partnership, he said, “is about putting software at the core of the company.”

Stellantis was created in January from the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and PSA, the French maker of Peugeot, Citroën and Opel cars. The tie-up was motivated in part to put the companies in a stronger position to develop electric cars as fossil fuel-burning vehicles become history.

The 50-50 venture with Foxconn, which is called Mobile Drive, will supply so-called digital cockpits not only to Stellantis brands like Jeep and Maserati, but to other automakers as well, the two companies said on Tuesday. Mobile Drive will make digital systems for gas-powered cars in addition to electric ones.

Foxconn is moving rapidly to claim a bigger role in the car business, betting that its expertise in gadgets will give it a leg up as auto making fuses with electronics.

In October, the company released a kit of technology and tools aimed at helping automakers develop electric vehicles. Last week, it finalized an agreement with the California-based automaker Fisker to develop a new electric car that the companies aim to begin manufacturing in the United States in 2023.

During Tuesday’s call, Stellantis and Foxconn executives declined to say whether the two companies would also explore contract car manufacturing as part of their cooperation.

A Eurostar passenger train at the Gare du Nord station in Paris. The company has started to restore rail service between Britain and France.
Credit…Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Eurostar, the high-speed train service between London and cities on the continent that has been financially crippled by the pandemic, said on Tuesday it had received a refinancing package of 250 million pounds, or $355 million, from a group of banks and its shareholders.

The package includes £150 million in loans guaranteed by its shareholders, including SNCF, the French national rail service, which owns 55 percent. The financing notably did not include the British government, which in 2015 sold its stake in the rail company and last month declined to back a bailout package.

“Everyone at Eurostar is encouraged by this strong show of support from our shareholders and banks,” said Jacques Damas, chief executive of Eurostar International. The company said the backing would help it meet its financial obligations “in the short to mid term.”

The Eurostar once ran at least 17 trains a day linking Britain and France. The pandemic and lockdowns forced it down to one train a day between London and Paris, and one a day between London and Brussels and Amsterdam. But next week, it is scheduled to expand to two daily trains between Paris and London, and then three a day beginning the end of June.

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Today in the On Tech newsletter, Shira Ovide talks to Jack Nicas about The New York Times investigation into the compromises that Apple makes to stay in the good graces of the Chinese government.



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When to refinance your mortgage – for the second time



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Carlos Barros was elated when he refinanced his mortgage in May 2020, freezing a rate of 3.125% and reducing his monthly payments by about $ 220. Unfortunately, the feeling did not last long.

“Just a week or so after I closed my refinance – thinking I had a lethal interest rate – I spoke to two of my closest friends and they both got better rates than me,” explains Barros, web developer and personal finance writer. based in Chandler, Arizona.

Immediately after closing its first refinance, Barros connected with a new loan officer, surveyed the market, and refinanced again and less than a year later. This time, lowering his rate to just 2.875% and his payments an additional $ 70.

In a year filled with near-constant mortgage rate cuts, Barros’ story is not unique. According to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac, more than 10% of refinancings were repeated in 2020, which means the borrower refinanced at least twice in a 12-month period.

It was the second-highest repeat rate on record, surpassed only in 2003, when sharp rate cuts led to a similar cascade of refinancing. The prices were much higher back then, but the mechanics were the same. In 2020, rates started at 3.62%. By the end of the year, they had fallen below 2.7%.

On a mortgage of $ 250,000, that would be the difference between a payment of $ 1,362 and a payment of $ 1,216. Since bigger mortgages mean bigger savings, repeat refinancing was especially common in higher-cost housing markets

“What we saw last year was a sharp and rapid drop in interest rates due to the pandemic,” said Pat Stone, CEO of Williston Financial Group. “People refinanced, and then the rates went down again, so it was worth refinancing again. “

Your lender is calling you

However, most consumers ignore the daily movements in mortgage rates, and the savings that flow from them. So, part of this repeat refinancing trend? It falls on the shoulders of mortgage lenders.

“It’s quite common for a borrower to be contacted by the loan officer or mortgage broker who worked on their last loan and told that rates have come down and their monthly savings are already over. calculated, ”says Tom Piercy, Managing Director of Incenter Mortgage Advisors. .

This type of proactive communication is exactly what encouraged marketing coordinator Krystle Harvey to refinance her loan last February.

“I received a solicitation from my current mortgage lender, Rocket Mortgage,” says Harvey, who is located in Sarasota, Florida. “It seemed like a good opportunity to lower my interest rate. “

The offer did not require any evaluation, and it was able to lower its interest rate by almost a percentage point to 3.99%. Much like Barros, however, Harvey refinanced again later in the year when rates fell further. She went around and reported her quotes to Rocket, who agreed to match the lower rate.

Now she has a 2.5% rate and a shorter term loan. The second refi alone will save him over $ 68,000 in long-term interest.

When to refinance your mortgage – again

Despite the extra time and work it takes, refinancing quickly enough after the last one can actually have major benefits.

“Interestingly, the sooner you can take advantage of a lower rate, the better,” says Shashank Shekhar, founder of Arcus Lending. “The way a mortgage amortization schedule works, in the first few months, borrowers pay a lot more for interest than principal. “

As you advance through your loan term, more of each payment goes toward your principal balance. Since refinancing would mean starting the clock over again – and most of your payments would go back to interest – it would take a bigger rate cut to make the move worth it.

But the status of your loan isn’t the only thing to consider when considering a second refinance. Your long-term plans as a homeowner should also play a role.

Generally speaking, refinancing is best for homeowners who plan to stay put for a few years. Since refinances come with closing costs, it’s important that borrowers stay in their homes long enough to recoup these expenses. This is called breaking even – or the point at which refinancing saves the homeowner more than the cost of refinancing to run. This is especially important for refinancing, when you will have to cover closing costs multiple times.

“Generally – and this is a personal rule for me – I like to see my clients recoup their costs in two years or less,” says Noel Bennett, a senior loan originator with Premier Mortgage Group in Boulder, Colorado. “There is nothing magic about that number, but if someone refinances and it takes four years to recoup their costs, it tells me that it might be wise to stay focused on the loan. current and monitor rates. lower.”

According to ClosingCorp, the closing costs for refinancing are on average around $ 3,400. In many cases, these costs can be built into the loan balance – often referred to as a “no closing cost” loan. Although these refinances do not entail any initial cost for the borrower, they do have drawbacks. To know? They increase your monthly payments and your long-term interest costs.

“A lot of borrowers think refi doesn’t cost them anything, which isn’t true,” said Bill Dallas, president of Finance of America Mortgage. “No-cost refinancing is a mirage. “

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Beware of prepayment penalties

In some cases, there may also be waiting periods and prepayment penalties to think about. Some lenders require that you wait at least six months before refinancing a loan, otherwise you may owe fees.

This was the case for Emma Alda, who refinanced her loan last February and then again in July. Although she had to pay a $ 95 prepayment charge on her second refi, she believes the charge will be more than worth it in the end.

“I’m dizzy,” says Alda, a marketing executive based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Who will save over $ 130,000 due to the lower rate. “That’s enough to buy another house altogether!”

If you are planning to refinance a second time like Alda has done, make sure you are qualified. If your credit score has dropped since your last refinance, it could hurt your chances of getting a lower rate – or even getting approved.

As Stephen Rosen, Sales Manager at Better Mortgage Lender, explains, “If you have more debt, less income, or a lower credit rating now than when you last refinanced, you might have a hard time getting approved. . “

What are your goals?

Ultimately, the decision to refinance – or refinance again – is a personal one.

“Whether you refinance two, three or ten times, it always depends on your goals,” says Sean Cahan, president of Cornerstone First Mortgage.

These goals might be to free up cash, cover sudden expenses, lower your long-term interest charges, or pay off your mortgage faster. If you can meet these goals and recoup the costs associated with refinancing, refinancing will generally be a smart decision.

“If other monthly expenses have piled up beyond your mortgage payment and you need more space in your budget, refinancing can give you a bit of a break,” says Rosen. “The best rule of thumb is if the numbers make sense, grab the opportunity, whether it’s your first, second, or third refi. “

More money :

6 ways refinancing your mortgage could cost you money

The pros and cons of switching lenders when refinancing your mortgage

Want to refinance your mortgage? Do these 7 things now

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Attorney General Carr and 18 state attorneys general call on Biden to support energy infrastructure



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From the Attorney General’s Office:

Attorney General Chris Carr and 18 other state attorneys general call on President Joe Biden to support additional energy infrastructure – including the Keystone XL pipeline – following the closure of the colonial pipeline which caused price spikes, shortages fuel and Carter-style lines at gas stations in the southern and eastern parts of the country. In a letter to President Biden, the coalition details the damage caused by its alleged cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline and urged him to put Americans’ national security and environment first.

“Georgians are now seeing firsthand that pipelines are the most critical mode of transportation for fuel,” said Attorney General Chris Carr. “We will continue to push for President Biden’s unilateral and unconstitutional cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline in Federal Court because his politically symbolic decision destabilized our energy security and eliminated quality jobs and investment opportunities.”

The colonial pipeline situation showed the panic and widespread disruption that can occur when a single pipeline system goes offline. In the aftermath of the cyberattack, the Biden administration relaxed environmental and safety rules to secure[e] critical energy supply chains… alleviating shortages… [and] avoid[] potential disruptions to the energy supply of affected communities. “

“Most Americans, especially those do not located along the coasts – I now wish I had been so diligent and responsive before deciding that Keystone XL could be sacrificed on the altar of signaling left virtue, ”the letter reads.

In addition to meeting our own energy needs, an energy infrastructure is necessary to maintain our country’s leadership as a net energy exporter – a position that enhances our national security, increases global stability and creates well-paying jobs. for American workers.

“Americans depend on a safe and secure energy supply, which is why we must build and maintain a robust energy infrastructure that resists accidents and sabotage. A temporary halt to full-capacity pipeline operations should not put half the country on the brink of collapse. We need safer, cleaner sources of energy, ”Carr and the other attorneys general wrote to Biden. “But your administration’s current approach trades these factual findings for the fashionable concerns of your coastal elites.”

President Biden claimed to unilaterally cancel the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office, even though the Obama State Department has repeatedly concluded that Keystone XL is a net positive for the economy, the environment and energy security. And just a few days ago, President Biden’s own Energy Secretary recognized that pipelines are “the best way to go” when it comes to transporting fossil fuels.

“To be clear, we believe your Keystone XL decision was unconstitutional and illegal, and many, the undersigned states are now lobbying these claims in Federal Court. But beyond the fundamental anarchy of your decision, the current situation shows how bad a political decision it was, ”the letter said. “Your impulse to bow to an extreme climate program unrelated to scientific fact or reality – demonstrated by the cancellation of Keystone XL and other similar actions – is robbing Americans of the safe and clean energy supply they have. need now. It is undermining our energy independence by eliminating a large and secure source of oil at a time of growing global unrest. It damages our reputation with geopolitical allies, such as Canada, by reneging on our commitments. It destroys sophisticated, well-paying jobs. And it’s holding back sustainable economic growth in pipeline communities and across the country. “

In addition to Carr, the attorneys general of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana , North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming also signed on the letter.

Carr is also part of a coalition of 21 states currently suing the Biden administration over its unconstitutional revocation of the Keystone cross-border license.


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First material shipped from East Helena Slag Pile



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EAST HELENA – The material atop the East Helena slag heap has been in the same spot for over 20 years. Now some of that slag is packaged for a trip across the ocean.

The teams are currently working on the former ASARCO foundry site, bringing together the first of many expeditions. Over five years, they will send around 2 million tonnes of slag to South Korea, where it will be reprocessed.

MTN

“I think this will be a great result for the environment and for the economy and community of East Helena,” said Cindy Brooks, managing director of the Montana Environmental Trust Group, which oversees ongoing cleanup efforts on the foundry site.

METG has entered into an agreement with New York-based Metallica Commodities Corp. to remove the top layer of slag. The company will then transfer it to Korea Zinc Company, which will extract the zinc and other metals from the material and then use what is left to make cement.

East Helena Foundry 1927

MTN

The slag, which usually looks like large black rocks, is a byproduct of lead production at the East Helena smelter, which operated from 1888 to 2001. Workers currently load some of the material into hundreds of heavy bags. – each carrying a Thousand Pounds. The bags are then stacked in covered wagons.

Earlier this year, Montana Rail Link built new rail liner over the slag heap. The slag will be transported by rail to Washington State, then by boat to Korea.

This process is only followed for certain initial test shipments. Next month, a crusher is expected to be installed on the slag heap. Once the slag has been crushed, it can be loaded directly into the railcars, greatly speeding up the assembly of shipments.

Foundry East Helena 1984

MTN

When the project reaches its peak, 30,000 tonnes of slag will be shipped each month from East Helena. The 2 million tonnes of material that will be removed is only a small part of the 16 million tonnes of slag, but it could halve the height of the pile.

Metallica only takes “non-smoked” slag, which still contains zinc. A zinc plant operated on the foundry site from 1927 to 1982, and most of the material in the pile was already processed there, so companies weren’t as likely to move it.

East Helena Foundry 2001

MTN

Brooks said unburned material is believed to be responsible for nearly three-quarters of selenium contamination in East Helena’s groundwater. Reducing the size of the pile will also make it easier and cheaper to style it – the last major step in the foundry site clean-up project. Finally, Metallica is paying around $ 1 a tonne for the slag – money that will go into an account to support ongoing cleanup and monitoring efforts.

“These are just good results,” said Betsy Burns, EPA project manager for the site. “I don’t know how a project gets better, actually.”

East Helena Foundry 2009

MTN

However, the job brings mixed feelings for people like Manley Stallings. He worked for ASARCO for approximately 36 years, 30 of which were at the East Helena Foundry. He was working as a production manager when the foundry closed.

East Helena Foundry 2012

MTN

Stallings says the slag heap is now part of the East Helena community.

“The people who have lived here feel comforted when they have left and come back to see him: ‘Well, here we are, home again! “, He said.

East Helena Foundry 2019

MTN

He said it was a good thing that the slag was used, but that he was sad to see one of the last visible callbacks from the foundry getting smaller.

“You kind of feel bad because you’ve lived and worked here and it’s been your home for over 30 years,” he said. “A lot of those people who worked here were second, third generation family members – and seeing their family history disappear and not continue as it has for so many generations.

East Helena Foundry 2020

MTN

Burns said they had always been interested in moving some of the slag as part of the smelter site cleanup, but that was only after the growing need for raw materials over the past year that it eventually became economically viable.

Slag shipments are expected to continue until 2025.

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Arntzen sees Bitterroot College as a new way to connect lifelong learning



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HAMILTON – State Superintendent of Education Elsie Arntzen says it will be exciting to see Montana’s first new community college in over half a century create new opportunities for public and home school students .

Arntzen made the observation during last week’s swearing-in for the trustees of the new Bitterroot Valley Community College, saying it was a chance to make the connection between K-12 learning and the lifelong learning.

“And that’s what the administrators and the community are going to do,” Arntzen told MTN News. “They’re going to make sure they visit our K-12 partners. And it’s the public school, but it’s also the home and private school. To make sure that this opportunity is there for the continuity of learning. ”

It’s been 53 years since Montana launched a new community college. And Arntzen hopes BVCC will not only promote the economic development of Ravalli County and the surrounding region, but also provide new options for students from Kindergarten to Grade 12. She says it’s especially good for high school students, who will no longer be exposed to a one-day-related career, but a continuous path to their future.

“But if we let our kids, our young kids from their schooling, know to really focus on this college, this year of training, they’re not saying high school is easier, but they know the doors are coming. open to the next step ”. Arntzen noted. “What could certainly be a community college, where that local flavor, that local control, those local Montana values ​​that are so dear to us, are at the heart.

Arntzen says the establishment of Bitterroot Valley Community College not only “rejuvenates” the economy emerging from the pandemic with “workforce development,” but also “rejuvenates people in the hope that they can. learn better, improve their lives and make Montana proud ”.

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Gallatin Valley businesses scramble to fill vacancies



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BOZEMAN – Rental signs are everywhere in Bozeman right now, as well as throughout County Gallatin and beyond.

So what does this mean for the future of the Gallatin Valley economy?

“I’ve never heard of anything like this before. We are extremely busy. Nobody wants to work, ”said Adam Paccione, owner of Red Tractor Pizza in Bozeman.

He says he and his employees are tired because they are understaffed and resumes are failing.

“A lot of us don’t have days off right now, and we all work, you know, 10 to 12 hours a day extra,” Paccione said.

Vincent Smith with Montana State University Regulatory and Applied Economic Analysis Initiative says this is a problem happening across the country.

“We have extended unemployment benefits for people who lost their jobs during the pandemic, and we have increased the amount of those benefits,” Smith said.

“This has tended to make it more difficult for industries where workers typically earn relatively modest wages to attract these workers to work.”

And now you see fast food restaurants in Bozeman offering higher starting salaries, like $ 17 an hour.

But Smith says some of our local businesses just can’t rock those higher wages.

One of the fundamental laws of economics must therefore take its course.

“What is likely to happen is that with the prices of the products sold by the small firms in the service sector that are particularly struggling, the prices they charge consumers will likely have to increase,” Smith said.

But he adds that the tight job market in County Gallatin runs deeper.

He says the unemployment rate in the valley is around 3%, roughly the same as it was in January 2020 before the pandemic.

“Bringing people to Bozeman who have relatively low incomes or the ability to earn relatively low incomes right now is very difficult because of the housing costs,” Smith said.

Smith predicts here in Gallatin County, as long as housing costs continue to skyrocket, this demand for service workers could persist.

As for Paccione at Red Tractor Pizza, he’s optimistic people will eventually return to work – and in the meantime he’s grateful for his hard-working team.

“I have a good team. There aren’t many of us right now, but we are all working very hard, ”said Paccione.

“These guys have my back, they have the restaurant back. We will therefore continue to make pizzas!

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Growth Summit tackles tough housing and workforce issues



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Flathead Valley is growing, as are the challenges facing its residents, leaders and business owners.

At the Growth Summit 2021, a new event hosted by the Kalispell Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, local experts discussed issues facing housing, transportation, child care and other critical components of the Kalispell economy. Flathead. They offered potential solutions, emphasizing again and again the interconnected nature of recent development.

The evidence for the growth trend is everywhere.

Kalispell City Manager Doug Russell said the city is awaiting the completion of 420 construction units already approved this year, in addition to a still countless number of units still awaiting approval.

In Whitefish, the number of short-term rentals recorded within city limits has increased from four in 2016 to 210 today, according to City Manager Dana Smith.

And even Columbia Falls, long known as “the entry-level, blue-collar place in Flathead where people found an affordable place to live,” as planner Eric Mulcahy describes it, recently overtook Kalispell in terms of median house value.

The spillover effects of these changes are considerable and, in many sectors, problematic.

Housing stood out as a unifying issue addressed by almost all of the speakers during the half-day conference.

It became so acute that some of the Growth Summit panelists moved away from the colloquial term “affordable housing” and instead emphasized the need for “accessible housing”. The subtle difference is a nod to the fact that even homes considered “affordable” under current market conditions are not realistically achievable for many workers and families in the area.

As Joe Kola, market president of First Interstate Bank pointed out, a worker earning $ 15 an hour could afford rent of $ 650, according to the Housing Accessibility Index guidelines which suggest spending 25 % of his annual housing salary.

Nikki Lintz, a representative for Entrust Property Solutions, said the cheapest efficiency unit at Highline Apartments in Columbia Falls – heralded as the beacon of affordability in the valley – starts at $ 700 per month.

Even there, Lintz said potential tenants must wait for an opening on the waiting list. In the rest of the valley, vacancy is only 1%.

And even higher-level buyers can’t find any housing inventory. “We can bring in people at any of those salaries – $ 100,000, for example,” said Jerry Meerkatz, president and CEO of Montana West Economic Development. “[They are] certainly able to buy in the valley and they say, “I can’t find anything”. “

As a result, the panelists explained, workers are unable to relocate to the area or stay here, leaving opportunities in tourism, hospitality, childcare and other important industries.

THERE IS downstream effects on services and infrastructure, such as public transport, where there are not enough drivers, or parking lots and roads, which lack manpower to build improved structures.

It’s a cyclical web of problems, but local experts see solutions.

“We need to attract better paying jobs here,” Kola suggested.

One way to do this could be redevelopment and infill, like the kind Bill Goldberg is striving to undertake in the KM building in downtown Kalispell. The new owner of the historic building wants to install a new restaurant, several bars and accommodation in the former mercantile.

“My real goal is to get residential units downtown,” said Goldberg, who was primarily drawn to Kalispell for the possibility of growing vertically in the city.

Others believe that these local issues could be better addressed by redirecting funding sources to areas that need it most.

“There really needs to be a shift in support for public investment of public money in early childhood systems,” said Colette Box of the Discovery Developmental Center in Kalispell. “It will take a huge, huge, billion dollar investment in child care to make the system work for families.

Nic McKinley, CEO of tech company Verafi in Whitefish, had a similar perspective to Box’s, except that he focused on the private sector rather than public funding.

In his keynote address, McKinley urged the local business community to “start siphoning money from the rest of the country into our state and then circulating it locally.”

“Most of the issues we talk about when we talk about pay, child care, housing… most of these issues can be solved by throwing money at them,” he said.

Journalist Bret Serbin can be reached at 758-4459 or [email protected]

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Massachusetts high school athletes no longer need to wear masks outdoors



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Axios

Coronavirus dashboard: catch up

Health: Several states report zero COVID deaths for first time in months – CDC says schools should still require masks and physical distancing Policy: Texas governor bans mask warrants for public schools and local governments – New York to lift mask mandate for those vaccinated – CDC director says politics did not play a role in abrupt change in mask policy Vaccines: Sanofi vaccine, GSK COVID shows strong immune response in phase 2 trials – Immunization-reluctant Americans cite inaccurate side effects – 600,000 children between 12 and 15 have received Pfizer dose since FDA clearance. CDC – Delta to require all new employees to be vaccinated – Target, CVS and other stores lighten mask requirements after World CDC guidelines: World’s largest vaccine maker plans to resume exports by end of 2021 – Biden administration to ship 20 million authorized doses of vaccine overseas to the United States. on top of the latest market trends and economic information with Axios Markets. Cases: World: Total number of confirmed cases as of 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday: 163,939,883 – Total number of deaths: 3,395,193 – Total vaccine doses administered: 1506,536,729 – MapU.S .: Total number of confirmed cases at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday : 32995817 – Total deaths: 587,188 – Total number of tests: 453,354,386 – Card What should I do? Axios asked experts: When you can be with other people after contracting the coronavirus Travel, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagious Masks, loan of books and self-isolation Exercise, laundry, what counts as soap Know about the Social DistancingHow to Minimize Your RiskOther Resources: What If You Get ItThe Right Mask To WearDownload our app and follow the Coronavirus channel for the latest news.Editor’s Note: Johns Hopkins University has stopped reporting COVID recoveries -19 in the United States on its dashboard on December 15, citing an article from the Coronavirus Tracking Project which explained that national data is incomplete because several states do not keep records of recovered patients. It stopped reporting global recoveries and began reporting doses administered in May. Learn more about Axios: Sign up to learn about the latest market trends with Axios Markets. Subscribe for free

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AltabancorpTM announces the acquisition by Glacier Bancorp, Inc.



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AMERICAN FORK, UTAH – (BUSINESS WIRE) – AltabancorpTM (Nasdaq: ALTA) (the “Company” or “Alta”) today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement with Glacier Bancorp, Inc. (“Glacier” or the “Company”) (Nasdaq: GBCI) to acquire Alta, the holding bank for AltabankTM, a community bank based in American Fork, Utah. The acquisition marks the 24th anniversary of Glaciere announced its acquisition since 2000 and its 7e announced a transaction within the past five years. This is also Glacier’s second acquisition of a Utah-based bank in the past two years, completing the acquisition of Layton, Utah-based First Community Bank in 2019. Altabank provides personal banking services and to businesses throughout Utah and southern Idaho with 25 branches from Preston, Idaho to St. George, Utah. As of March 31, 2021, Alta had total assets of $ 3.5 billion, total loans of $ 1.8 billion, and total deposits of $ 3.2 billion.

The boards of directors of Glacier and Alta have unanimously approved the transaction, which is subject to regulatory approval, Alta shareholder approval and other customary closing conditions. Glacier has secured voting agreements from Alta’s directors, senior officers and major shareholders, including members of the Gunther family. The definitive agreement provides that upon closing of the transaction, Alta shareholders will receive 0.7971 Glacier shares for each Alta share. Based on the closing price of $ 61.51 for Glacier shares on May 17, 2021, the transaction would result in a total value of $ 933.5 million. Upon closing of the transaction, which is expected to take place in the fourth quarter of 2021, Altabank will become Glacier’s 17e banking division, and will operate under its current name.

“We are delighted and proud to welcome Altabank to the Glacier family of banks, ”said Randy Chesler, President and CEO of Glacier. “This is an exceptional opportunity to solidify Glacier’s presence in the growing Utah market by partnering with the state’s largest community bank. We have focused heavily on strengthening our presence in Utah and this opportunity ticks all the boxes. “Chesler also noted that”This acquisition is part of our history of adding high quality community banks to our proven banking model. Altabank has served customers in Utah for over 100 years and has developed a leadership position and a lasting legacy in the markets it serves. ”

The transaction will immediately increase the tangible book value per share of Glacier and immediately increase the earnings per share of Glacier, excluding one-time expenses related to the transaction.

Len Williams, President and CEO of Alta, said: “Altabank has been a market leader in Utah for decades. In our constant quest to be bigger, better and stronger, the opportunity to join the Glacier family of banks was undeniably great for us. Being part of the Glacier family gives us the chance to compete with anyone, anywhere in our market, while maintaining our local autonomy.

Glacier management will review additional information regarding the transaction during a conference call beginning at 9:00 a.m. MT on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. The call is accessible by dialing (877) 561-2748 and Conference ID is 3354557. A The slide presentation accompanying the management comments can be viewed from Form 8-K filed by Glacier on May 18, 2021 with the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) or at the address https://www.glacierbancorp.com/news-market-information/ presentations-annual-reports.

Glacier was advised in the transaction by DA Davidson & Co. as financial advisor and Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP as legal advisor. Altabancorp was advised by Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, A Stifel company as financial advisor and Jones Day as legal advisor.

About AltabancorpTM

AltabancorpTM (Nasdaq: ALTA) is Altabank’s banking holding companyTM, a full-service bank, providing loan, deposit and cash management services to businesses and individuals through 25 branches from Preston, Idaho to St. George, Utah. AltabankTM is Utah’s largest community bank with total assets of $ 3.5 billion. Our clients have direct access to bankers and decision makers, who work with clients to understand their specific needs and provide personalized financial solutions. AltabankTM Serving communities in Utah and southern Idaho for over 100 years. More information on AltabankTM is available at www.altabank.com. More information on AltabancorpTM is available at www.altabancorp.com.

Important information and where you can find it

In connection with the proposed transaction, Glacier will file with the SEC a registration statement on Form S-4 to register the shares of the capital stock of Glacier to be issued in connection with the proposed transaction. The registration statement will include a proxy circular from Alta and a prospectus from Glacier, which will be sent to Alta shareholders to seek their approval of the proposed transaction.

This press release does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy securities or a solicitation of a vote or approval. GLACIER AND ALTA INVESTORS AND SHAREHOLDERS AND THEIR RESPECTIVE AFFILIATES ARE INVITED TO READ, WHEN AVAILABLE, THE STATEMENT OF REGISTRATION ON FORM S-4, THE STATEMENT OF PROXY / PROSPECTUS TO BE INCLUDED IN THE DECLARATION. RECORDING ON FORM S-4 AND ANY OTHER RELEVANT DOCUMENTS FILED OR TO BE SECURED AS PART OF THE PROPOSED TRANSACTION, AS WELL AS ANY AMENDMENTS OR SUPPLEMENT TO THESE DOCUMENTS, BECAUSE THEY WILL CONTAIN IMPORTANT INFORMATION ABOUT GLACIER, ALTA AND THE PROPOSED TRANSACTION. Investors will be able to obtain a copy of the registration statement, including the proxy circular / prospectus, as well as other relevant documents filed with the SEC containing information about Glacier and Alta, free of charge, on the SEC website (http: // www.sec.gov). Copies of the registration statement, including the proxy circular / prospectus, and the SEC filings that will be incorporated by reference into the proxy circular / prospectus may also be obtained, free of charge, by making a request to Glacier Bancorp, 49 Commons Loop, Kalispell, Montana 59901; Phone (406) 751-7706, or Altabancorp, 1 East Main Street, American Fork, Utah 84003; Telephone (801) 642-3998.

Participants in the proxy solicitation in connection with the proposed transaction

Glacier, Alta and certain of their respective directors, officers and employees may be deemed to have participated in the solicitation of proxies in respect of the proposed transaction under the rules of the SEC. Information regarding the directors and senior officers of Glacier is available in its final proxy statement, which was filed with the SEC on March 16, 2021, and in some of its current reports on Form 8-K. Information regarding Alta’s directors and senior officers is available in an amendment to its annual report on Form 10-K / A, which was filed with the SEC on April 29, 2021, and in some of its current reports on form 8-K. Further information regarding the participants in the proxy solicitation in connection with the proposed transaction and a description of their direct and indirect interests, by title or otherwise, will be contained in the proxy circular / prospectus and other documents. relevant to file with SECOND. Free copies of these documents, when available, can be obtained as described in the previous paragraph.

Forward-looking statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements may be identified by words such as “estimate”, “expect”, “will” and similar references to future periods. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding the expected closing of the transaction and the potential benefits of the business combination transaction involving Glacier and Alta, including future financial and operating results, plans , the goals, expectations and intentions of the merged company. , and other statements which are not historical facts relating to either company or the proposed combination of companies. These forward-looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond our control, which may cause actual results or events to differ materially from those projected, including, but not limited to: risks that the merger transaction does not close when scheduled or not at all because regulatory, shareholder or other approvals or conditions required to close are delayed or not received or met on time or not at all; the risks that the benefits of the transaction may not fully materialize or take longer to materialize than expected, including due to changes in general economic and market conditions, interest rates and exchange rates, monetary policy, laws and regulations and their administration, and the degree of competition in the geographic and commercial areas in which Glacier and Alta operate; uncertainties regarding the ability of Glacier Bank and Altabank to integrate their businesses quickly and efficiently; changes in business and operational strategies that may occur between signing and closing; uncertainties regarding the reaction to the transaction of the companies’ respective customers, employees and counterparties; and the risks associated with the diversion of management time on merger-related matters. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date they are made and reflect management’s current estimates, projections, expectations and beliefs. Alta assumes no obligation to publicly revise or update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances occurring after the date of this report. For more information, see the risk factors described in Alta’s annual report on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, and other documents filed with the SEC.

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How some states are trying to get people back to work: offering new hires bonuses of up to $ 1,200



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Connecticut, Oklahoma and Montana are suspending an offer to persuade unemployed workers receiving enhanced unemployment benefits during the pandemic to return to work pronto: cash bonuses for people returning to full-time employment.

Connecticut mentionned On Monday, it would award $ 1,000 to 10,000 unemployed workers who find full-time work and hold that job for at least eight weeks. Oklahoma, meanwhile, mentionned On Monday, it would offer bonuses of $ 1,200 to the first 20,000 currently unemployed workers who find full-time jobs and hold them for at least six weeks. Montana announced earlier this month a similar initiative that will offer a bonus of $ 1,200 to people who return to work for at least four weeks.

The efforts are part of a larger labor market debate as the U.S. economy continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic. Restaurants and other businesses that are now reopening say they have trouble finding workers to fulfill their open roles, while some conservative lawmakers have emphasized the disappointing job figures as proof that the extra $ 300 a week unemployment aid to help people get through the pandemic recession is keeping workers on the sidelines.

This prompted at least 19 Republican-led states to reduce additional unemployment assistance months before it expires in September, a move they say will help business owners who complain about not being able to find staff for vacant positions. Among those states are Oklahoma and Montana, which have added retention bonuses to mitigate the impact of the reduction in unemployment assistance, which ends June 26 for Oklahomans and June 27 for Montanans. .

“The biggest challenge facing Oklahoma businesses today is not reopening, it’s finding employees,” Gov. Kevin Stitt said in a statement on the new program.

Many economists and labor experts say the issue is more complicated than the added benefit of $ 300 in weekly unemployment assistance. About 4 million people said they were not in the workforce due to concerns about obtaining or spreading COVID-19, according to a census survey from April 14 to April 26.

Offering a bonus could help some workers transitioning from unemployment to working life, as there is often a gap between the end of unemployment benefits and a worker’s first paycheck, noted Andrew Stettner, an insurance expert. unemployment at the Century Foundation, liberal tendency. . But offering a bonus to people who already have a job does not help those who remain unemployed, he noted.

“I think it’s at best a supplement to unemployment benefits to help people make the transition to work,” Stettner said. “But as an alternative to unemployment, it’s a pretty cruel joke for people.”

Some workers may just bide their time until they find a job they want to do. And many families continued to be hampered by the lack of daycare and distance education, which made it more difficult for some parents – especially mothers – to return to full-time work.

“We have very generous UI right now and that means people have the ability to wait for the right job to come,” Leo Feler, senior economist at UCLA Anderson School of Management, told CBS Evening News . “Women have this greater responsibility when it comes to childcare and home schooling, which prevents them from going out and finding a job.”

Changes in the labor force

The workforce is also not what it was before the emergence of the novel coronavirus, according to a Bank of America report. It estimates that around 1.2 million people over the age of 65 have retired during the pandemic, while 140,000 other workers have died from COVID-19. Another 700,000 people have left the workforce due to a skills mismatch – meaning they lack the education or skills that employers now want in their new hires, the economist Joseph Song.

Song estimates that around 1 million people are not in the labor market due to the extra unemployment assistance, possibly low-wage workers who receive more unemployment than they did at the old job. The bottom line, he said, is that many of those workers will likely return to work when unemployment benefits expire in September.

The question now is whether the allure of a one-time bonus will convince people who have concerns about COVID-19, or who have childcare issues, to return to work. Connecticut said its bonus was aimed at helping longest unemployed people find jobs by helping cover the costs of finding and starting a new job. The state has not ended the additional weekly unemployment benefits of $ 300 paid by the federal government.

“This pandemic has disproportionately hit women, people of color and working poor, and it happened almost overnight,” Connecticut Labor Commissioner Kurt Westby said in a statement. .

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John Kass: Employers beg workers: “It’s the economy, stupid” | Notice



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Have you ever wondered what happens to flat earthers?

Not all of them spend their days eating pudding from plastic spoons and revisiting old sitcoms – or as fabulists hanging at the end of the bar, bragging about their heroic exploits until it closes.

Some become president of the United States.

Or they find power in President Joe Biden’s administration and join him in enlightening the country on this dismal April jobs report as businesses struggle to come out of these government shutdowns in the event of a pandemic.

With so many Americans now vaccinated, economists predicted that about 1 million more Americans would find jobs, but only 266,000 jobs were added to the economy. According to Biden, this has nothing to do with the generous federal unemployment benefits that are expected to last until September, in addition to state unemployment benefits.

According to Team Biden, this has nothing to do with the federal government (i.e. taxpayers) paying workers to sit on their couches, watch Netflix, and collect unemployment checks, even though small business owners across the country are on their knees begging workers to come back now that many are vaccinated and the pandemic is drawing to a close.

“I know there has been a lot of talk since Friday’s report that people are being paid to stay home rather than go to work,” Biden said after the April jobs report was released. been made public. “Well, we don’t see much evidence of that.”

To see evidence, you have to open your eyes. Just like if you want a job, you have to take one.

The National Federation of Independent Business says a record 44% of all small business owners have vacancies they can’t fill. And according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in some states, workers can perceive unemployment for up to 46 weeks.

The United States Chamber of Commerce wants to end these additional government payments because they make people stay home.

And on top of the trillions already spent, Biden wants to spend trillions more. Will it lead to a workless utopia or inflationary disaster in the long run?

I don’t blame the workers. People make decisions based on what is offered to them. If the government pays them not to work, many will not work. Not all of them want to become entrepreneurs or work overtime and be promoted. Some just get by. And the government is currently facilitating this task.

Jason Webb, owner of GD Ritzy’s, a restaurant in Huntington, West Virginia, was forced to put up a sign: “MISSING – JOB SEEKERS.” IF FOUND, BRING INSIDE. “

“I feel like I’m competing with the improved unemployment benefits and the stimulus,” Webb told the Herald-Dispatch. “It’s hard to find workers when they can earn so much without working.”

The other morning I stopped by for breakfast with some Chicago business owners, including restaurant guys, who said the same thing.

“I don’t think Joe Biden ever had a job,” said my friend Jimmy Banakis. “Has he ever had a job or run a business?”

Before Biden spent his life as a politician, he was briefly a public defender, gaining little fame for successfully defending an accused cow thief. But he really liked to talk about being a lifeguard. During his presidential campaign, he told stories in the United States of which he was the hero, all about his leg hair turning blond in the sun and his epic showdown with the iconic “Corn Pop”.

He’s good at stories. But the one on how generous unemployment benefits don’t stop people from working didn’t have legs, hairy or otherwise. Biden’s managers got it, so they reshaped the message.

“In order to receive any kind of unemployment benefit, claimants must be available and actively looking for work, and workers are not allowed to refuse suitable work and continue to receive benefits,” said Jen Psaki, her Press officer.

OK, Jen, but it’s just talking. Fraud in the unemployment system increased sharply during the pandemic. Biden and the Democrats want to make it last even longer.

For example, in the locked blue state of Illinois, with Democrats in full control and small businesses collapsing or leaking, the Illinois Department of Job Security is an absolute disaster. And, like Biden, Democratic Governor JB Pritzker doesn’t seem to want to open his eyes to see his wonders.

Biden’s labor secretary Marty Walsh says there is no simple answer to the April jobs report. He mentioned two barriers that prevent people from working: closed schools and the lack of childcare options.

When the people of Biden speak this way, do reporters ever mention to Walsh and others that the country’s powerful teacher unions – which contribute powerfully to Democratic candidates – have been pushing for schools to be closed and that have the Democrats welcomed them?

Most don’t talk about it. They just let it sit there.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is pushing to end the distribution of federal unemployment benefits to get his state back to work. Florida joins other Republican-leaning states such as Alabama, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, South Carolina, and Arkansas.

But not in Democratic-led states where politics revolve around taxpayer-funded government benefits and programs.

Understandably, the Democratic Party and its media maids would much prefer Americans to think of something else, like the Republican Party’s feud with the left-wing iconic new hero, the American Republican Liz Cheney, the anti-Trump Republican of Wyoming.

Years ago, a moderate pro-business Democrat (remember that now extinct species?) Made a startling statement: There was something that mattered more to Americans than politicians who talked about politics:

It’s the economy, stupid.

John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of The Argus Observer.

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Texas, Indiana and Oklahoma join states cutting unemployment benefits amid pandemic.



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Texas, Indiana and Oklahoma this week joined the growing number of states withdrawing from federal unemployment benefits linked to the pandemic.

Backed by Republican governors and lawmakers as well as national and state chambers of commerce, the decision will eliminate the temporary supplement of $ 300 per week that unemployment beneficiaries received and end benefits for freelancers, time workers. partial and those who have been unemployed. for more than six months.

In Wisconsin, where the governor is a Democrat, Republicans in the Assembly and Senate have introduced legislation to end turnout.

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Caroline from the south, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming also plan to end federal unemployment benefits, starting in June or early July.

“The Texas economy is booming and employers are hiring in communities across the state,” Governor Greg Abbott said in a press release. “According to the Texas Workforce Commission, the number of job postings in Texas is almost the same as the number of Texans receiving unemployment benefits.”

The measures will affect more than 3.4 million people in the 21 states, according to a calculation by Oxford Economics, a forecasting and analysis company. Of those workers, 2.5 million currently unemployed would lose their benefits altogether, he said.

Although business owners and executives have complained that unemployment benefits discourage people from responding to sought-after ads, the evidence is mixed. Vaccination rates are increasing but less than half of adults are fully vaccinated. In surveys, people have mentioned the persistent fear of infection. The lack of child care has also prevented many parents from returning to work full time.

Arizona, Montana and Oklahoma offer new hire workers an incentive bonus.

Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut, a Democrat, said this week that his state offer bonuses of $ 1,000 to 10,000 workers who have experienced long-term unemployment and are getting new jobs. His state is not abandoning federal benefits.

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Despite protests from senators, Planned Parenthood affiliates still received PPP loans in 2021



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“We have not received the requested information or a formal response from you.” wrote the senators. Senator Paul’s office did not confirm to CNA on Monday May 17 whether the SBA responded to the May 10 letter.

A spokesperson for the US Small Business Administration did not immediately respond to CNA’s request for comment on Monday.

When the CARES Act was passed in Congress in March 2020, the acting president of Planned Parenthood Action appeared to criticize the legislation for “targeting” Planned Parenthood affiliates.

PPP loans were only intended for businesses and nonprofits with 500 or fewer employees, but the organization warned that the SBA would have “great discretion” to count all Planned Parenthood affiliates as part of it. of a large organization – thus excluding subsidiaries from loans.

However, it was reported in May 2020 that Planned Parenthood affiliates had received $ 80 million in PPP loans. Last year, the SBA called for the return of funds distributed to at least one Planned Parenthood affiliate, explaining that it was affiliated with the national organization.

Senators noted last week that since their initial April 15 letter to the SBA, “at least two” additional Planned Parenthood affiliates have been approved for P3 loans.

Data released by the SBA shows that two Planned Parenthood subsidiaries in Pennsylvania and New York were approved for P3 loans on April 21 and 27.

Planned Parenthood Keystone, in Warminster, Pa., Was approved for a PPP loan in the amount of $ 853,975 on April 21. On April 27, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, Inc. in New York City was approved for a $ 10 million P3 loan. – the maximum loan amount under the program.

“This is unacceptable,” the Republican senators wrote. “As members of the US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, we expect transparency and cooperation with your agency’s inquiries.”

Earlier in 2021, a group of 25 Republican senators sent a letter to the SBA administrator on March 25, requesting an investigation into why Planned Parenthood affiliates continued to receive P3 loans.

Other affiliates who received PPP loans in 2021 include Planned Parenthood of the Columbia Willamette, Inc. in Portland, Ore., Which was approved for a $ 2 million loan on February 25. Planned Parenthood of Maryland in Baltimore and Intermountain Planned Parenthood in Billings, MT, were each approved for P3 loans on March 15; their loan amounts were over $ 1.6 million and over $ 1.2 million, respectively.

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19-state GAs urge Biden to reinstate Keystone after pipeline hack



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A coalition of 19 states has urged President Joe Biden to restore the Keystone XL pipeline and reverse its energy policy due to recent gas shortages.

Gas shortages along the East Coast caused by a cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline prove the need for reliable gas pipelines in the United States, wrote the 19-state coalition of attorneys general led by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen. in one letter in Biden on Monday.

The United States needs better energy infrastructure if a gas pipeline closure results in such extreme spikes in prices and lines to gas stations, state attorneys general have said.

“A temporary halt to full-capacity pipeline operations shouldn’t put half the country on the brink,” the coalition of states wrote to Biden. “We need safer and cleaner sources of energy. And that includes the Keystone XL pipeline. “

Biden revoked the federal Keystone XL pipeline license hours after it was sworn in on Jan.20. The White House explained that the United States would focus on developing a “clean energy economy” instead of installing gas pipelines.

But, the letter noted that the Biden administration had taken several emergency measures last week to secure the supply chain and alleviate gas shortages in response to the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack.

For example, the administration allowed tankers to carry overweight loads of gasoline on the highway in 10 states and waived environmental regulations preventing sufficient gas from being transported in certain areas, according to a White House. . declaration.

If Biden was willing to take action to save the colonial pipeline, he shouldn’t nix the Keystone pipeline either, the attorneys general argued.

“Most Americans, especially those not located along the coasts, now wish you had been so diligent and responsive before deciding that Keystone XL could be sacrificed on the altar of left-wing virtue signaling. They wrote to Biden.

“Maybe one day, later, we’ll get the utopian energy profile you desire,” the letter reads. “But until then, Americans want practical and effective leadership – not visionary deprivation.”

The administration of former President Barack Obama, of which Biden was a member, had also repeatedly determined that the Keystone pipeline was a net positive for the economy, the environment and energy security, Knudsen and other prosecutors said. generals.

The colonial pipeline resumption of operations Wednesday after the cyberattack, which was led by a foreign hacking group, causing its operations to stop for several days.

The nationwide average price of gasoline is $ 3.05 per gallon as of Monday, according to AAA. The average price in 2020 over the same period was $ 1.87 per gallon.

In March, Knudsen and 20 other state attorneys general sued the Biden administration for the revocation of the Keystone pipeline, alleging it was unconstitutional. States have deposited