Montana Audubon

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

Legislative Action Alert: March 13, 2019

We have just returned from transmittal break and the session is back in the swing of things. Over the next week we need your to stop some of the worst bills we’ve have seen all session. These bills would negatively impact wildlife, their habitat, and two of these bills would have a long term impact to your utility costs. Please help us fight these bills by making a phone call or emailing your legislator or the chair of these particular committees. You can also make a big difference by joining us for our second citizen lobby day of the year on March 22nd in Helena, MT. Tell you friends too! Please RSVP by emailing us at: [email protected] or [email protected]

We hope to see you there!

Amy & Wyatt


Wolf “bounty” Bill Persists

House Bill 279 was introduced into the House Fish, Wildlife & Parks Committee on January 31st. This bill would allow licensed trappers to trap wolves and then be reimbursed with private funds for costs incurred during harvest. This bill amounts to a bounty on wolves, commercializes wildlife, and won’t solve elk or wolf management challenges. Wolves are an ecologically important native species with a liberal, well-regulated harvest season. Reimbursing trappers for costs incurred is a slippery slope and has no place in Montana, a state with sound wildlife management policies already in place.

Let the Senate Fish and Game Committee know that you will not stand for the commercialization of Montana’s wildlife. Please call members Committee, and ask them to VOTE NO on HB 279.

Bill: House Bill 279- Reimburse trappers for cost incurred trapping wolves

Status: Referred to Senate Fish and Game

Montana Audubon Position – OPPOSE

Find your Legislator

 

Senate Fish & Game

Sen. Jennifer Fielder (R-Thompson Falls)

Sen. Steve Hinebauch (R-Wibaux)

Sen. Jill Cohenour (D-East Helena)

Sen. Jason Ellsworth (R-Hamilton)

Sen. Pat Flowers (D-Belgrade)

Sen. David Howard (R-Park City)

Sen. Tom Jacobson (D-Great Falls)

Sen. Mike Lang (R-Malta)

Sen. Edie McClafferty (D-Butte)

Sen. Cary Smith (R-Billings)


Politics and Conservation Easements 

HB 265 introduced by Representative Kerry White (R-Bozeman) would insert politics into the decision making process of FWP’s purchase of conservation easements. This bill would add an unnecessary layer of government oversight to conservation easements for fish and wildlife habitat conservation, including the conservation of non-game wildlife and our public hunting access. It would require state Land Board approval for conservation easements under the Montana Fish, Wildlife and& Parks Habitat Montana program if they are larger than 100 acres or valued over $100,000. Electing to put a conservation easement on one’s property is a private property decision, and HB 265 directly conflicts with a 2018 state Supreme Court ruling that found easements were not intended to require Land Board approval. Instead, conservation easement are final, once approved by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission. Please call the House Fish, Wildlife & Parks committee and ask them to vote NO on HB 265.

Bill: House Bill 265- Revise laws related to approval of FWP easements

Status: Hearing in Senate Fish and Game March 14th at 3pm

Montana Audubon Position – OPPOSE

Find your Legislator

 

Senate Fish & Game

Sen. Jennifer Fielder (R-Thompson Falls)

Sen. Steve Hinebauch (R-Wibaux)

Sen. Jill Cohenour (D-East Helena)

Sen. Jason Ellsworth (R-Hamilton)

Sen. Pat Flowers (D-Belgrade)

Sen. David Howard (R-Park City)

Sen. Tom Jacobson (D-Great Falls)

Sen. Mike Lang (R-Malta)

Sen. Edie McClafferty (D-Butte)

Sen. Cary Smith (R-Billings)


Bait and Switch (SB 199 & SB 278)

SB 199, by Sen. Tom Richmond (R-Billings), is a bait-and-switch attempt at a giveaway to a for-profit, monopoly utility. The bill has been misrepresented as having to do with “Qualifying Facilities” (QF’s) or a “symmetry” issue at the Public Service Commission. However, the bill has nothing to do with equal treatment between utilities and independent power producers. SB 199 is purely about removing Public Service Commission (PSC) oversight from utility expenses. It exposes consumers to higher rates for the sake of utility company profits. Among other problems, Page 1, line 16’s “but is not limited to” and Page 1, line 18’s “equipment used to generate electricity” are open ended statements that mean this bill could apply to anything. When asked to clarify those lines during debate on the Senate floor, the sponsor could not. Utility customers are captive customers – they can’t go anywhere else. The whole point of having a PSC is to be a check on a for-profit, monopoly company from abusing its monopoly power. SB 199 ties the hands of the PSC from providing oversight of utility expenses. SB 199 keeps the PSC from doing its job.

SB 278, by Sen. Tom Richmond (R-Billings), would require NorthWestern Energy (NWE) customers to write a blank check to the monopoly utility for the purchase of the aging Colstrip plant. This outrageous bill would require the Public Service Comission to approve all of NWE’s Colstrip related costs for its existing 220 megawatt share of the plant, to pass on any and all costs for the purchase of the transmission system (for whatever amount NWE wants), and to pass on all costs for any future increased ownership in the plant to its customers. Finally, it requires the PSC to approve any costs NWE wants and provide it with a guaranteed profit margin on top of those cost regardless of whether it’s prudent or harms customers. NWE would be allowed to install gold-plated toilets at the plant and its customers would be required to pay for them. Don’t let NWE pick your pocket.

Contact the Governor and your senator today!

Find your Legislator

Additionally, please call Governor Steve Bullock at (406) 444-3111 and ask that he oppose SB 278.

Bill: Senate Bill 199 and 278

Status SB 199: Hearing in House Federal Relations, Technology, and Telecommunications

Status SB 278: Waiting for Committee Executive Action in Senate Finance & Claims

Montana Audubon Position –OPPOSE

 

Find your Legislator

 

You can find more information about SB 278, here:

  1. https://billingsgazette.com/opinion/columnists/guest-opinion-energy-debacle-d-j-vu-in-montana-senate/article_1a51cefd-d86f-5b73-98cd-5a1e27882340.html
  2. https://billingsgazette.com/opinion/editorial/gazette-opinion-time-to-derail-fast-track-nwe-bill/article_f6c66ff4-a83d-5204-8618-7c05272b578f.html?fbclid=IwAR3UNtCElKCExow_MbNud8FfMy1gUlxyNxUTsKH9AVS7m0sH7nGE0ddOgMo
  3. https://mtstandard.com/opinion/editorial/montana-view-colstrip-bill-is-awful-public-policy-gives-northwestern/article_205c6b66-fb26-5e70-81c2-bf191c00d8e1.html
  4. https://missoulian.com/opinion/columnists/colstrip-bailout-bill-an-unmitigated-disaster-for-montanans/article_f9764d83-f63d-5cfb-98c4-d2074fef745a.html

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