Montana Audubon

Montana Audubon works at the local, state and national policy levels to protect our natural heritage.

Legislative Action Alert: Week of 4/10/17

Members of the Montana Legislature will take some extra days off over Easter weekend, but first will vote on several important bills impacting stream flows, coal leases on state lands, clean energy financing, and wild turkeys. Many of these votes will occur early in the week, so please consider sending a message or making a call on one or more of these important bills!

HB 339: Exempt Wells Bill that Threatens Stream Flows – OPPOSE

This is the third time we’ve included this bill in an action alert this year, and for good reason. Defeating this bill is one of our top priorities for this legislative session because it would lead to depleted stream flows, increased water conflict, and more residential sprawl.

House Bill 339 by Rep. Carl Glimm (R-Kila) would would re-open the ‘exempt well loophole’ widely closed by the Montana Supreme Court last year. The bill would give developers the right to develop wells for new subdivisions and take groundwater before those who are legally entitled to use that water first. It’s bad policy based on bad science and it will deplete streamflows, undermine senior water rights, increase residential sprawl, and spark conflict among water users. This bill would put development before water security and our fisheries. It’s also bad science, imposing arbitrary guidelines for water use in a state with complex hydrology and already over-allocated streams.

The bill passed out of the Senate Natural Resources committee on a 7-5 vote on Friday and will be voted on by the entire Senate early this week. Please contact your state Senator and tell them you oppose HB 339 for the reasons listed above. You can find your state Senator and their personal contact information using this link.

Senate Bill 235: Extension of Coal Leases on State Lands – OPPOSE

If passed, this bill would allow the Montana Land Board to extend coal leases on state lands beyond their traditional 10-year term if the Board finds such leases to be in the “interest of the state”. This bill does not provide any opportunity for open, 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, the bill would benefit coal companies at the expense of taxpayers and the environment.

The bill had a hearing in the House Natural Resources Committee last week and will likely be voted on soon. Please make a call (406) 444-4800 and ask to leave a message for the committee or send a message and ask them to Vote No on SB 235 because it’s a bad deal for taxpayers and the environment.

Senate Bill 330: Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) – SUPPORT

Sponsored by Sen. Chas Vincent (R-Libby), this bill creates a path for property-assessed clean energy financing (PACE), which makes private capital from banks and investors available for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation upgrades to existing buildings. Financing is repaid as an assessment on the property’s regular tax bill over a term of up to 20 years. PACE is an important solution that can help Montanans save money on utility bills, expand local businesses, create jobs, and increase the economic vitality of Main Street Montana.

SB 330 has a hearing Monday, April 10th at 3pm in the House Natural Resources Committee. Please call (406) 444-4800 and ask to leave a message for the committee or send a message and ask them to Vote Yes on SB 330 and support clean energy in Montana.

Senate Bill 111: Prohibit the Feeding of Wild Turkeys – SUPPORT

This bill would prohibit the supplemental feeding of wild turkeys in the same manner that feeding wild bears, mountain lions, and other game animals such as deer and elk is prohibited. This would be a statewide ban. Feeding of wild turkeys can spread disease, increase human-wildlife conflicts, and attracts species like deer and bear that are illegal to feed. We support this bill along with the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the National Wild Turkey Federation.

The bill will be voted on by the entire House early this week! You can find your state Representative here, and tell them to vote yes on SB 111 and support a ban on feeding wild turkeys.

If you have any questions about what’s going on in Helena, please get in touch with Amy ([email protected]) or Dan ([email protected]) or call our office @ (406) 443-3949. We’d love to hear from you.

Important Legislative Websites:

Montana State Legislature website

Find your Legislator

Online message form

Find a Bill

Live at the Legislature

House Committee Assignments

Senate Committee Assignments

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