Mid-March at the Montana Legislature
Transmittal break is over for the 2019 legislative session, so each bill that had not passed from one chamber to the other or did not include revenue language has been “killed”. However, this hasn’t stopped the remaining bills we are working on from moving forward. There is now a feeling of urgency among our elected officials to complete their work. Appropriations have been moving very quickly: we have been watching this process to make sure Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and important habitat programs like Habitat Montana don’t face significant budget changes. However, many are thinking about the two Medicare bills are going to be hitting the floor this weekend and this is the time of year where legislators make compromises and tough funding decisions.
Wildlife issues are still at the top of our docket. We have been focusing attention this month on SB 299 — revisions to the Greater Sage-Grouse Stewardship Act. We are working to include provisions to ensure conservation for the iconic sagebrush species, and to ensure the strength and collaborative nature of the Montana Sage-grouse conservation efforts put forth since the Governor’s Sage-grouse advisory council in 2013. Many of the bad provisions within SB 299 have been amended out of the bill, but there is still work to do. Beyond birds, we are working to defeat HB 332, a bill that gives County Commissioners authority over bison, and HB 552, a bad trapping bill that invites conflict between road and trail users. And while we have we still have a lot of lobbying and negotiating to do for these bills, we can celebrate that we successfully killed a bill that would have allowed the night hunting of wolves during its 2nd reading on the floor. Finally, we continue to monitor an influx of anti-predator bills as they are scheduled in their respective committees.
We hope that you can come help us lobby against many of these bills during our next citizen lobby day happening at the state capital. It is a valuable time to be there!. The training will be held on Friday, March 22 from 9:30 to 11:30 am, at the Lewis & Clark Library (120 S Last Chance Gulch St, Helena). Coffee and breakfast pastries will available. Then we’ll head to the capital to meet with legislators over lunch in the Old Supreme Court Room from noon until 1:00 pm. Please join us and make your voices heard!