LEGISLATIVE UPDATE 05/21/19

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

MAY 21, 2019

HB 2 – Governor’s Budget  The Governor signed the bill.  The conservation district funding remains intact.

HB 6 – Renewable Resource Grants – sponsored by Rep. Jim Keane: The Governor signed the bill.

HB 7 – Reclamation and Development Grants – sponsored by Rep. Jim Keane:  The Governor signed the bill.

HB 8 – Renewable Resource Bonds & Loans – sponsored by Rep. Jim Keane:  The Governor signed the bill.

HB 11 – Treasure State Regional Water Program – sponsored by Rep. Jim Keane:  The Governor signed the bill.

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 Governor signed the bill.

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.  The Governor signed the bill.

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 Governor returned this bill with amendments.  The Governor’s amendments were not adopted. The Governor vetoed this bill.

HB 142 – Revise County Weed Laws – sponsored by Rep. Joshua Kassmier:  This bill introduces the concept of integrated weed management.  The Governor signed this bill.

HB 154 – Generally Revise Laws Related to Disposal and Destruction of Public Records – sponsored by Rep. Katie Sullivan: Any document, plat, paper, written instrument, or book reproduced as provided in 7-4-2221 may be disposed of or destroyed pursuant to the requirements of 2-6-1012 and Title 2, chapter 6, part 12, and the reproductions may be substituted as public records. (2) A reproduction of any record destroyed or disposed of as authorized in this section or a certified copy of the reproduction is admissible as evidence in any court or proceeding and has the same force and effect as though the original record had been produced and proved.  The Governor signed this bill.

HB 229 – Clarify Dinosaur Bones and Fossils are Part of Surface Estate – sponsored by Rep. 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 Governor signed this bill.

HB 260 – Exempt Certain Community Service Act Contracts from the Procurement Act – sponsored by Rep. Joshua Kassmier: Clarifies that agencies, when operating under the Montana Community Service Act, may be exempted from state procurement requirements.  The Governor signed this bill.

HB 286 – Revise Water Right Laws Related to State Water Claims – sponsored by Rep. Alan Redfield:  A water right owner may put water from a well or developed spring with ground water development works located on private land to beneficial use on state trust land for the duration of a state land lease the water right owner holds.  The state may only retain ownership of the water right under certain conditions identified in the bill.  The Governor has not signed this bill or vetoed it as of the time this update was prepared.  If the status remains as is, the bill becomes law.

HB 300 – State Sales Tax Bill – sponsored by Rep. Kerry White: The bill has been tabled by the Taxation Committee. There was an attempt to blast the bill from the table on 4/10/19, but it failed.

HB 328 – Exempting Conservation Districts from Certain Fees – sponsored by Rep. Alan Redfield:  This bill exempts CDs from the DEQ 401 permit fee requirement.  The Governor signed this bill.

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.  The Governor signed this bill.

HB 399 – Revise Definition in Streambed Protection Laws – sponsored by Rep. Kerry White: The bill attempted to open up the stream definition to accommodate ephemeral streams.  The bill was tabled in House Natural Resources Committee.

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 tabled in committee.

HB 411 – Revise Laws Related to AIS Expenditures and Funding – sponsored by Rep. Willis Curdy:  This bill is the replacement for HB 32 amending the funding structure.  A compromise on the bill funding element was reached.  The Governor signed this bill.

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 filed with the Secretary of State.

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 MACD Resolution 09-07 directs the association to oppose such an initiative like APR without appropriate research and study.  The resolution has been filed with the Secretary of State.

HJ 46 – Interim study on the coal trust fund – sponsored by Rep. Dave Fern:  The resolution advises setting up an interim study to explore the Coal Tax Trust Fund mechanisms for funding and improving the revenue for the fund.  MACD testified as an information witness on this resolution as a willing participant so the study committee understood the conservation story and importance of these funds.  The resolution was transmitted to the Senate and referred to Senate Finance and Claims.  The resolution died in standing committee.

SB 32 – Create Stream Gauge Oversight Work Group – sponsored by Sen. Jon Sesso:   This bill creates an oversight committee to gather data regarding stream gauge sights, ownership, and develop a coordinated system for managing those sites.  The responsibility is now with the Governor’s Water Policy and Drought Committee.  The Governor will need to appoint those individuals working on the stream gauge initiative to the Committee.  The Governor signed this bill.

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.  The bill was tabled by House Natural Resources.

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 Governor signed this bill.

SB 247 – Revise FWP Authority for In-stream Flows – sponsored by Sen. Jill Cohenour:  This bill changed the current sunset date to June 30, 2029.  The Governor signed the bill.

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.  The Governor signed this bill.

SB 323 – Allow the Creation and Assessment of a Public Safety District – sponsored by Senator Roger Webb:  Non-profits are generally exempt from paying property taxes.  Property taxes pay for public safety service fees.  This bill establishes the authority to assess a public safety fee on non-profits.  The bill was tabled in committee.

SJ 3 – Interim Study on Optional Septic Drain Fields – sponsored by Sen. Fred Thomas:  The resolution calls for evaluating current state and local regulations for designing and permitting septic systems and examining alternative septic system options.  The resolution has been filed with the Secretary of State.