LEGISLATIVE UPDATE 3/15/19

HB 6 – Renewable Resource Grants: This bill has been referred to House Appropriations for consideration.  The committee passed this bill in executive action and is headed to the House floor.

HB 7 – Reclamation and Development Grants:  This bill has been referred to House Appropriations for consideration. The committee passed this bill in executive action and is headed to the House floor.

HB 8 – Renewable Resource Bonds & Loans:  House Appropriations passed this bill as amended.  This bill passed committee executive action as amended and is headed to the House floor.

HB 11 – Treasure State Regional Water Program:  House Appropriations passed this bill as amended.  This bill passed committee executive action as amended and is headed to the House floor.

HB52 – Revise and Make Permanent Funding for Various Economic Programs – sponsored by Representative Jim Keane:  The original bill moves the Conservation District, State Library, and Agriculture funding from the Coal Tax Trust Fund to the Department of Commerce for economic development.  The sponsor offered a grey bill which included the amendment for the drafting error moving the coal tax trust money from CDs.  The Appropriations Committee has not taken executive action on the bill at this time; transmittal will be April 1.

HB 56 – Revise and clarify voluntary clean-up laws – sponsored by Rep. Jim Keane:    The bill was a clarification piece extending the deadlines to allow for sufficient time to complete groundwater projects.  Bill signed by the Speaker of the House and has gone to the Governor for signature.

HB 132 – Clarify Definition of Bison – sponsored by Ken Holmlund:  Revised the definition of wild bison; qualifiers include: the animal has never been owned before, the animal has never been subjected to per capita tax, and the animals have never been in captivity.  The committee passed the bill with the amendments.  It will now head to the Senate floor.

HB 142 – Revise County Weed Laws – sponsored by Rep. Joshua Kassmier:  This bill introduces the concept of integrated weed management.  The bill has passed both houses and is waiting for signature.

HB 229 – Clarify Dinosaur Bones and Fossils are Part of Surface Estate – sponsored by Bradley Hamlett:  This bill clarified that dinosaur fossils are not owned by the entity with the mineral rights; they are owned by the surface right owner.  The bill has passed executive action in Senate Natural Resources and will head to the Senate floor.

HB 328 – Exempting Conservation Districts from Certain Fees – sponsored by Rep. Alan Redfield:  This bill exempts CDs from the DEQ permit fee requirement.  The bill has been transmitted to the Senate for consideration.  A hearing is scheduled for 3/13/19.

HB 383 – Extend Deadline for Appeal of a Stream Permit – sponsored by Rep. Kerry White:  This bill changes the appeal timeframe from 15 to 60 days.  The meeting with the sponsor went very well.  Rep. White agreed to accept a 30-day appeal timeline and the other timelines were aligned accordingly for an amendment.  Senate Natural Resources executive action passed this bill and it is headed to the Senate floor.

HB 402 – Revising Local Government Laws Related to Invasive Species – sponsored by Rep. Greg Hertz:  This bill authorizes invertebrate pest programs; authorizing a tax; and revising ordinances for adoption by counties located within the Columbia River Basin.  This bill was heard on 3/13.  There were only 2 proponents for the bill and questions the impact on current AIS programs.

HJ 17 – Resolution Requesting AIS Funding from Congress – sponsored by Rep. Willis Curdy:  This resolution requests funding from the federal government for the Montana AIS program.  MACD supported this effort.  The resolution has been transmitted to the Senate with a hearing date of 3/28 in Senate Fish and Game.

HJ 28 – Joint Resolution Requesting Denial of American Prairie Reserve Grazing Permit – sponsored by Rep. Dan Bartel:  This resolution recommends to Congress that BLM not be able to approve the 18 grazing leases under consideration for the American Prairie Reserve initiative.  The bill passed the House and will be heard on 3/21/19 in Senate Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation.  The MACD Resolution 09-07 directs the association to oppose such an initiative like APR without appropriate research and study.  MACD will support the resolution either in person or by letter for the record.

SB 47 – Revise Laws Related to River Basin Councils – sponsored by Sen. Jill Cohenour:  The bill establishes the need for river basin councils to provide recommendations for development and implementation for the State Water Plan.  The plan is up for revision in 2035.  The bill also sunsets the Clark Fork and Kootenai river task force.  This bill passed the Senate and was heard by House Natural Resources on 3/13; executive action has not been taken yet.

SB 176 – Establishment of a Hemp Plan and Program – sponsored by Sen. Tom Jacobson:  The bill provides authority for the Department of Agriculture to establish a Hemp plan and program in Montana.  The bill has been transmitted to the House and referred to the House Agriculture committee.  A hearing is scheduled for 3/21.

SB 247 – Revise FWP Authority for Instream Flows – sponsored by Sen. Jill Cohenour:  This bill attempts to replace the current June 30, 2019 sunset date with authority in perpetuity.  Confusion has arisen and tangled this proposal with the Army Core of Engineers current initiative regarding pallid sturgeon.  The two should not be confused.  This bill did pass executive action in Senate Fish and Game.  It is currently on the Senate floor for 3rd reading.

SB 299 – Generally Revise Laws Related to Sage Grouse Conservation – sponsored by Sen. Mike Lang:  This bill proposes changes to the Montana Sage Grouse Oversight Team assessment of credits and considers various sector issues.  This bill passed the Senate and has been transferred to House Natural Resources.  A hearing is scheduled for 3/25/19.

MACD is currently monitoring 51 legislative initiatives.   As movement is made on each, updates will be provided.