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WORLAND — An $867 billion farm bill passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 369-47 on Wednesday (the bill passed the Senate on Tuesday by a vote of 87-13) effectively legalized industrial hemp production in the United States, pending President Donald Trump’s signature, although a lack of budget for research in Wyoming may keep the crop from growing in the Cowboy State.

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When an accidentally damaged fiber optic cable cut out Internet, landline and cell service — including 911 service — in the Bitterroot Valley last week, it exposed a longstanding and widespread problem in Montana. Because of vast distances and a sparse population density, the state’s telecommunications infrastructure often lacks redundancy and there is often no back-up when an errant excavator hits a crucial line.