News From the Front 12/20/2016

The week according to Jeff

Dear Readers:

Thanks to Kate’s creativity, we have a new News From the Front format for the2017 Session that we hope you’ll like. News From the Front will be divided into a number of different headings to make it easier to go to the section that you’re interested in. It’ll be sent to your email boxes on Friday afternoons during theSession, starting on the first Friday in January.

​Let us know if you like the new approach.

Thanks, Jeff Tiberi

A photo posted by Max Kiewat (@maxkiewat) on


This section will be a short summary of the activities and actions over the last five days. I’ll include commentary here. I might as well start now.


I studied Latin for three years at the seminary. It still sticks in my brain at times and pops out unexpectedly. These three words, meaning “We are one people,” are an appropriate quote for starting out a gathering of 150 people from all walks of life and all parts of our state and all political backgrounds. Perhaps it’s idealistic, but all 150 people like Montana, have good intentions, want to do good things, and are optimistic that good things will happen. Gens una sumus is a Latin term most often used to refer to chess, and letting anyone play as long as they can follow the rules. It seems to fit the Session – follow the rules and you can play. It certainly applies to lobbyists, and our ability to be effective for Conservation Districts.  Gens una sumus also seems to fit what will happen in the Capitol. Many actions by Legislators are, de facto, “chess moves” that have to be thought out far in advance, calculating the consequences, assuming that the other player will make certain moves at certain times. It was said that Bobby Fischer, the great world chess champion, knew 14,000 chess moves. Because there are 150 people involved, plus an Executive Branch and a Judicial Branch, plus people back home always calling in, plus lobbyists, I would venture to say that the best we can hope for is guessing maybe 3 to 4 moves ahead. Even then it doesn’t always work out as speculated.

We are entering into the Session knowing that dollars will be very tight, perhaps the tightest since I started working for you. This will be the main event for all of state government. We will need your help when the budget is heard in front of our committee.

Progress is being made on the bill draft front, including several resolutions that you approved. Current draft-in-progress bills include two from the DNRC to clean up Conservation District legislation (these were mentioned at the Area Meetings) and a floodplain bill. Action is underway to get the Coal Bed Methane funding resolution into a draft bill. Fish, Wildlife and Parks is seeking additional funds to work with Conservation Districts, but we don’t have all the details about their ideas.

Two large political issues recently in the news include the Conservation Forest Initiative from Lake Conservation District, and the pending appointment of Congressman Ryan Zinke as the next Secretary of the Interior. The Montana Conservationist has information about the Initiative, as well as the Lake Conservation District website. If you have time I hope that you’ll read up on it.

Mr. Zinke will be confirmed and will oversee the Bureau of Land Management, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the US Geological Service, as well as several other agencies. His confirmation by theSenate will place Montana in the limelight, as I suspect he’ll draw people fromour state to work in those agencies. I predict that the consideration of placing bison in the CMR Refuge will end. I suspect that the Bison EIS being prepared by Montana FWP will be more closely examined by the Executive, especially with the replacement election for Mr. Zinke coming up. I suspect that the focus on conserving sage grouse will continue, as it places control into local hands. I could go further out on this limb, but it might break off.

Organizing the Meet and Greet event is moving along (I hope you sent your invitations out.), as well as two Rotunda events that you need to be aware of. The Rotunda is reserved for Conservation Districts on 24th January. Elena sent out a message to all the Districts ref this event. On 17th February, the Rotunda is reserved to celebrate Range in Montana, and coordinated by Stacey Barta. You should be hearing more about that in the days ahead.

That’s all for now.  Contact me with comments and questions. 406.465.8813
NOTE: Some of the above topics could have been placed in the different sections below, but I wanted to explain each section first. Next time.

Movers & Shakers

HB ?

Title of the Bill
Status: In Committee | MACD Position: For

This section will list and sometimes explain the bills we are following, current status, and MACD position on the bill.​This section will list and sometimes explain the bills we are following, current status, and MACD position on the bill.

What to watch next week

HB ?

Title of the Bill
Status: In Committee | MACD Position: For

This section will list bills that will be heard the following week. It’ll also list an audio link if you’re interested in details.

We’ve got our eyes on it

HB ?

Title of the Bill
Status: In Committee | MACD Position: Watching

We’ll include bills that we are watching to see if they pass or die. Some of these bills may not impact Conservation Districts directly, but may impact DNRC or NRCS or other partners and how they interact with us.

Lend us a hand

​If we need help, we’ll include our requests here. For now, here’s something you can do:

  • Invite your legislators to our Meet & Greet with the Conservation Community, at the Montana Club on January 24. More details here.

Thanks to all of you who are following along. We appreciate your support in this endeavor, and for everything that you do for Montana​.​


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