The 2017 legislative session is wrapping up, and now we’re working with the Governor’s office to make sure some bad bills don’t become law. You can help by calling Governor Bullock’s office TODAY and requesting a VETO for the following bills: House Bill 339, Senate Bill 248, Senate Bill 235, and Senate Bill 337!
The Governor’s Office can be reached at 406-444-3111 or 855-318-1330 (toll free). If you don’t get through on the first attempt, please keep trying!
Defeating HB 339 has been one of our top priorities for this legislative session because it would lead to greater sprawl, depleted stream flows, increased water conflicts and harm our fisheries. The bill would allow the developers to lock up large quantities of water without review and without the permitting process that all other water users must follow. This puts irreplaceable water resources at risk, and makes this bill deserving of a veto.
Like the previous bill, SB 248 is another attempt to circumvent responsible water management. Montana’s Subdivision and Platting Act allows property owners to divide land without undergoing a subdivision review process, as long as the new lots or parcels are being transferred to a family member. However, in fast-growing counties, it is common practice for these new lots and parcels to be sold to outside parties once they’re created. For example, since October 20, 2014 (the retroactive date when SB 248 would apply), 27% of the new tracts in Gallatin County were put on the market and sold within one year after the exemption was granted. And in Cascade County, the new lots stayed in family hands for an average of just 2.6 months. If SB 248 becomes law, the automatic exempt wells for these parcels would create an added incentive to divide up land through family transfer, making land use planning and water management challenging in many parts of Montana.
If signed into law, SB 235 would allow the Montana Land Board to extend coal leases on state lands beyond their traditional 10-year term if the Board finds it to be in the “interest of the state”. This bill does not provide any opportunity for public process, including public notice or an opportunity for public comment, and does not require an Environmental Impact Statement if the Board votes to extend the lease. The State would also forego the potential revenue from negotiating a new lease. In other words, this is a great bill for coal companies at the expense of taxpayers and the environment, and a great bill for Governor Bullock to veto.
Sponsored by Senator Duane Ankney (R-Colstrip), SB 337 would eliminate the Montana Board of Environmental Review (BER). The BER has oversight authority over the Department of Environmental Quality for rule-making, as well as deciding challenges to DEQ permit decisions and enforcement actions. The BER acts as an independent body that determines whether DEQ has follwed the law and whether rules need to be changed to help DEQ accomplish its mission to protect public health and the environment. Eliminating the BER would be a blow to the public’s right to hold DEQ accountable, and should be vetoed by the Governor.
Please make a call TODAY to help ensure these bad bills don’t become law. You can reach Governor Bullock at 406-444-3111 or 855-318-1330 (toll free).