Thursday, July 10, 2014

Brown bears and other wildlife

Well, it isn't a typical Thursday afternoon.
  A small brown bear was touring my southeast neighborhood just a couple hours ago!
  She came through my backyard as I was eating lunch on my patio (in the area of Bozeman just south of the university campus and Museum of the Rockies), so I immediately called the local Fish Wildlife, and Parks game warden captain to ask that a game warden be dispatched. The response from FWP was outstanding; the first game warden arrived in 8-10 minutes, just as the bear crossed South Third Avenue and walked through the backyards of homes on Westridge Drive. She investigated a duck pond, the trail to Bobcat Stadium (which I walk every game day; I've done stats for home football games for 28 years!). The bear was cornered by the Western Transportation Institute building, and then took a trail back into some bushes. She worked her way through some hedges and backyards and trash cans, and with the help of another FWP truck and two more FWP personnel, a short while later the little brown bear was treed and safely tranquilized. The Game Warden sergeant called to tell me she’ll be relocated to a safer place (for her, and for the public!) soon.
  I am so impressed with the efforts and professionalism and compassion of the people at Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and I'm so glad that this situation was successfully and quickly resolved.

  I've served on the Fish, Wildlife and Parks committee in two of my three terms in the House of Representatives, and I really appreciate the science-based policies of Montana FWP. Conversations at the capitol during a legislative session can get a bit heady, but every once in a while, there's a real-life, on-the-ground experience to remind us why Montana is such a great place to live, and why FWP is a wonderful state agency that helps Montana wildlife and the people who love them.

  And now, the photographic evidence of today's excitement:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Securing your personal information

News from the capitol today is that malware (malicious software, or a "hack") was found on the computer servers at the Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS). 

That's the bad news.

The good news is that it seems that no personal information was taken, and more good news is that the state has systems in place to notify people when there's a possibility of identity theft.

I'm proud to say that those security systems and notification systems are in place from a bill that I passed in 2009!

House Bill 155 was an anti-identity theft bill, a security bill. It requires state agencies to develop policies for the protection of social security numbers and personal information.

The bill extends identity theft mitigation requirements, defines agency director security responsibilities, and defines how notification must be made if there is a security breach.

In Montana law, there is a ‘duty to protect’, and that includes “protecting individual privacy and the privacy of information contained within information technology systems.” (MCA 2-17-505(1))

This bill extends private sector requirements to state government.

To put the requirement of security and notification in perspective, I’ll remind you of a computer security breach at D A Davidson in 2008, when customer information was stolen from a computer database by a hacker. The personal information of tens of thousands of clients was stolen, and the company and its customers worried that the social security numbers and personal information could be used in identity theft.

Now, as bad as it was that a private computer system was accessed and the information stolen, the company realized that there had been a security breach and notified all of its clients so that they could take action to protect themselves if someone did try to use their personal information fraudulently.

House Bill 155 requires state government to develop processes to secure personal information and to notify people if ever that information is compromised or stolen.

The bill includes third parties doing work for a state agency, including colleges, hospitals, universities, boards and commissions, and departments of state agencies.

Just think of how much personal information is held in any of these entities, and it’s easy to realize that it’s imperative to protect that information.

The notification requirement in the event of a security breach says that people must be notified in a timely fashion and that a third party working on behalf of a state entity must notify the state agency and the people affected.

The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously, and was signed into law by Governor Schweitzer. Now, when unfortunate security breaches occur, the State of Montana does everything to secure personal information and to fix the breach, and to prevent it from happening again.

The story from the Associated Press reads,
State to send safety notice
Hackers may have breached health server

By Lisa Baumann
Associated Press

HELENA — Montana officials said Tuesday they are notifying 1.3 million people that their personal information could have been accessed by hackers who broke into a state health department computer server.

The letters are going to people whose information and records were on the server. There’s no evidence so far that any information was stolen, officials said Tuesday.

“There is no information, no indication, that the hackers really accessed any of this information or used it inappropriately,” said Richard Opper, director of the state Department of Public Health and Human Services. “We are erring on the side of displaying an overabundance of caution.”

The state is offering free credit monitoring and identity-fraud insurance for a year to all 1.3 million people. A tollfree help line has fielded about 170 calls since the incident was announced a few weeks ago. None of those callers have reported identity theft or compromised bank accounts as a result of the hacking, Opper said.

Only about 1 million people live in Montana. The notifications are going to residents, people who no longer live in Montana, and the estates of those who have died.

Malware was discovered on the health agency’s server May 22 after information technology employees noted suspicious activity on it earlier in the month, Montana Chief Information Officer Ron Baldwin said. The server contained names, addresses, birthdates, Social Security numbers and medical records related to health assessments, diagnoses, treatment, prescriptions and insurance.

About 3,100 department employees and contractors are also being notified because the server contained their bank account information. About 50 years of birth and death certificate information was also on the server, officials said.
Security has since been updated, officials said.
“This type of unautho­rized access is not unique to Montana,” Baldwin said. “This is sort of the nature of the world we live in today.”
 There are 17,000 unauthorized attempts to enter the state computer system every hour on average, or about six billion attempts per year. With that volume, it’s difficult to ensure the state’s computer security is a step ahead of the hackers’ technology, Opper said.

The state is constantly vigilant and continually adapting monitoring and protection techniques, Baldwin said.

Officials expect cyber-security insurance coverage purchased last year by the state to cover most of the costs associated with the incident.

 “We’re just really grateful that apparently the citizens haven’t been harmed,” Opper said.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

On the Campaign Trail and Busy as a Bee!

It's just two weeks since the Primary Election, but the days are filled!

My campaign for Montana State Senate is going strong. I'm all around the town.I do my best to attend most every event that I can, talking to people and learning what's happening in our fair city and county.
In the last three weeks, I've attended the Downtown Business Association breakfast and annual awards, Prospera's annual luncheon (the economic development effort in our area), a rally to celebrate the passage of Bozeman's Non-Discrimination Ordinance, the Bozeman Business and Professional Women's luncheon, the Montana Democratic Party platform convention in Butte, a panel discussion on Clean Air standards, an effort to gather signatures on a petition to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot in November, the Bozeman Memorial Day parade and commemorative service in Sunset Hills Cemetery, many one-on-one meetings with constituents and campaigners, candidate interviews, and I even squeezed in a hike up Sypes Canyon with the Mountain Belles!

Our community is great for so many reasons, but the main factor is that everyone is engaged and enthusiastic in so many different ways. I become increasingly convinced that all of the effort that we all invest in our community, our work, volunteer efforts, non-profit organizations, causes, schools and kids, neighbors, well--just everything, all of that effort all together is what makes this community vibrant, our state strong, and (if I might be a bit kitschy) our democracy successful.

Here are some photos from my recent activities. Enjoy, and I hope to see  you soon on the campaign trail!

Thanks, everyone, for your support!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

New district maps

  After the national census every ten years, legislative districts are redrawn in an effort to allocate an equal number of people in each district. The Montana House of Representatives with 100 members has districts of almost 10,000 Montanans each; each State Senate district is comprised of two House districts, or 20,000 Montanans, since our State Senate has 50 seats.

 With redistricting done and in effect for these upcoming 2014 elections, the district boundaries for Montana legislative districts have changed.
  Here are the links to GREAT maps of the new legislative districts.
  To view these maps, download/use Google maps.
  There are links on the Redistricting Commission web page to download Google Earth in order to view the maps:

  In the upper left corner is a slide bar that zooms the map in or out.

  You can also access the maps from the Redistricting Commission web page on the Montana Legislative website, here:

  I hope this helps everyone to know their new district, and the candidates running for office!

  Vote Pomnichowski for State Senate!

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Vote the longest name on the ballot!

Primary election ballots are out!
Please vote Pomnichowski for State Senate, District 33!
Be hip...Vote the longest name on the ballot!

vote for JP

Friday, April 04, 2014

Can you help elect me as State Senator?

  Campaigns take a lot of time and effort--and money--from a lot of different people in order to be successful, and I'm so grateful for all your help.
  A friend contacted me last night that one of my links for online contributions didn't work.
  Bad geek am I!
  It's fixed now. You can contribute online, here:
  The saying "Many hands make light work" is true, and it's manifested in a campaign like mine. I really appreciate your help of time and effort, like door-knocking and talking to voters with me, addressing envelopes, helping with fundraising events, or contributing some dollars to my campaign.
  Thank you, one and all!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Endorsed by Montana Sportsmen Alliance!

I'm proud to be endorsed in my campaign for Montana Senate, District 33, by the Montana Sportsmen Alliance! The group was formed two years ago and was quite active in the 2013 Legislative Session. I served on the House Fish, Wildlife, and Parks committee, and was proud to vote for greater hunting and fishing access, common-sense policies for hunting, and greater opportunity for youth hunters.

Thank you, Montana Sportsmen Alliance, for your endorsement, and for your active involvement in the legislation that shapes Montana's outdoor experiences, for everyone.

For more information on MSA, their website is here:

Montana Sportsmen Alliance mission statement: The Montana Sportsmen Alliance (MSA) is comprised of Montana hunting, angling, and conservation minded individuals who are committed to insuring the effective representation of rank and file sportsmen in public policy matters.  We work to continue the core values of public ownership of public wildlife, and public access to public resources.  We work with public officials and agency personnel to promote sound stewardship of natural resources and to preserve Montana’s hunting and fishing heritage.