It’s the beginning of Week Five at the Legislature and it’s going to be a big one. The much- anticipated Public Lands Rally begins Monday 1/30 at 12pm. We hope you can join us, and if you can’t make it to the capitol you can stream the event LIVE on Montana Audubon’s Facebook page. Speakers include Governor Steve Bullock, mountaineering legend Conrad Anker, fly fishing guide and TV host Hilary Hutcheson, and K.C. Walsh, CEO of Simms fishing company. You can also sign this petition to let our elected officials know you stand for public lands.
After the rally, we will testify in opposition to a bad energy bill that passed the Senate last week. Senate Bill 32 (sponsored by Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell) removes a provision in Montana’s Renewable Energy Standard which requires utilities to purchase a small portion of their energy from Community Renewable Energy Projects (CREPs). These projects must be majority-owned by Montana individuals or businesses and less than 25 megawatts in size. This CREPs provision is designed to create jobs across the state and spur economic development while also putting clean energy onto the grid. Passage of this bill would mean the loss of otherwise guaranteed clean energy and jobs across Montana.
Please consider making a call to Rep. Daniel Zolnikov (R-Billings), Chair of the House Energy Committee, and tell him to VOTE NO on Senate Bill 32. We are also encouraging two young freshman legislators to be renewable energy supporters; Rep. Adam Hertz (R-Missoula) and Rep. Casey Knudsen (R-Malta). Hearing from voters will be key to gaining their support.
Now more than two decades old, Habitat Montana is one of our state’s greatest conservation success stories. It allows the state to cooperate with private landowners to conserve important habitat that benefits Montana’s wildlife. Funded by the sale of non-resident licenses/tags, the program costs Montana taxpayers virtually nothing while helping to maintain abundant game and non-game species.
In a tight budget year, we worry that some legislators will come after Habitat Montana funds. Please call or email the Appropriations subcommittee members and let them know you support funding for Habitat Montana. You can find their contact information by clicking here.
House Bill 228 (Sage Grouse Funding) had its first hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee last week. This bill establishes a funding cycle for the Sage-grouse Stewardship Account that will move $2 million annually from the General Fund into the account starting in FY 2017 and continuing to FY 2021. The money will provide $500,000 in annual operating funds to the Montana Sage-grouse Oversight Team and be used to produce credits and provide grants through the conservation program.
We expect a vote on the bill will happen soon. You can send a message to the entire committee by clicking here. Be sure to select House Natural Resources Committee, House Bill 228, and VOTE FOR. You can also include a personal message that each committee member will receive.
We’re continuing to work hard for Montana’s wildlife and environment. If you want to be more involved or have any questions about what’s going on in Helena, contact Amy ([email protected]) or Dan ([email protected]) or call our office @ (406) 443-3949. We’d love to hear from you.
And remember, when you take a few minutes to send a message or make a phone call, it can make a real difference in the votes of our elected officials! Go, Fly, Win!