MARCH 29, 2019

HB 2 – Governor’s Budget –   The budget has passed the House and is now in the hands of Senate Finance and Claims (SFC).  SFC testimony by those present went very well.  Representative Richmond spoke to the importance of conservation districts during his presentation and at the closing.  The bill has passed executive action and is headed to the Senate floor for debate.

HB 6 – Renewable Resource Grants: This bill has been transmitted to Senate Finance and Claims.  A hearing is scheduled for 4/1/19.  MACD will support this bill.

HB 7 – Reclamation and Development Grants:  This bill has been transmitted to Senate Finance and Claims.  A hearing is scheduled for 4/1/19.  MACD will support this bill.

HB 8 – Renewable Resource Bonds & Loans:  This bill is in the 3rd reading process on the House Floor.

HB 11 – Treasure State Regional Water Program:  This bill has been transmitted to Senate Finance and Claims.  A hearing is scheduled for 4/1/19.

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 bill is scheduled for 3rd reading on the House floor.

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 has signed this 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 bill passed and has been sent to enrolling.

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 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 bill passed and is headed for signature by the Speaker.

HB 300 – State Sales Tax Bill – sponsored by Rep. Kerry White: The bill has been tabled by the Taxation Committee.

HB 328 – Exempting Conservation Districts from Certain Fees – sponsored by Rep. Alan Redfield:  This bill exempts CDs from the DEQ permit fee requirement.  This bill passed in committee and is headed to the Senate floor.

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.  This bill passed the Senate and has been forwarded for enrolling.  The bill has been sent to the Governor for signature.

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.

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.  This resolution will be heard by Senate Fish and Game committee on 4/2/19.  MACD will support this resolution.

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.  MACD sent the sponsor and the committee chair letters for the hearing record.  Awaiting Executive Action??

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.  This bill passed the Senate and has been heard by House Natural Resources.  The bill is awaiting executive action by House Natural Resources.

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 is awaiting executive action 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 bill has been transmitted to the House and referred to the House Agriculture committee.  This bill has been sent to the House floor.

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 will be heard by House Natural Resources on 4/1/19.

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. This bill is waiting for Executive Action in House Natural Resources???

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 heard by Senate Local Government on 3/18/19.  MACD has worked with Senator Lang for clarification.  Both he and Senator Webb indicated they will include language in the executive action to clarify the intent or perhaps amend the bill.  The clarification or amendment would exempt MACD & SWCDM from paying the fee as we do not provide goods and services for a fee and most of our dollars are pass through funds.  The bill was tabled in committee.