More than six weeks into the 68th Legislative Session, Montana Audubon has been working on a broad array of legislative measures, including negative bills that suggest the removal of teaching scientific theory from K-12 curriculum, those that would tax renewable energy and electric vehicle charging stations, and ones that would stifle local control over climate solutions and clean energy. House Bill 170, which would gut Montana’s energy policy, passed through the house on party lines at about the same time that Senate Bill 147, a positive step to create state energy standards, was tabled in the Senate Energy committee. Fortunately we are able to support a few positive bills that allocate Fish, Wildlife & Parks habitat program funding, recognize soils as an important resource, and increase funding for the migratory game bird program. Under current habitat planning scenarios, projects like Habitat Montana, Future Fisheries, Migratory Game Bird Program, and Upland Game Bird Program would be fully funded for the next two years, supporting a slew of new state land projects.
Nonetheless, misguided bills are on the horizon, so we are taking inspiration from two successful rallies we have supported at the Capitol this year. The January 20th Protect Our Home Climate Advocacy Day was a hit! More than 250 people – including legislators, advocates, Tribal leaders, and the faith community – joined to call upon lawmakers to stop ignoring their role in enacting smart climate change policy. On February 1st, the We the People Rally was the first opportunity to gather in the Capitol and show support for our Montana Constitution. For more than half a century, Montana’s Constitution has faithfully protected our freedoms, rights, and people by securing our right to a clean and healthful environment. This year, more than four dozen amendments are proposed, an attempt to attack our environment, wildlife, and public lands at the ballot box.
Up next, a big push of HB 372 will try to force hunting and trapping into Montana’s constitution as a right. The bill drafters think that trapping is the primary way we should manage Montana’s wild fish and wildlife. But we know that protecting habitat should be the core and focus. We will need your help opposing this bill, and others like HB 473 that reduces water quality standards for Lake Koocanusa, and SB 287 that increases legislative takings.
Building on the grassroots momentum from this session we are pumped to bring people back to the Capitol to celebrate what we love about Montana through our Conservation Lobby Days, February 23rd and March 15th, and the upcoming Rally for Public Lands. Conservation Lobby Days guide you through the steps you need to effectively talk to your legislator about issues that matter most to you. Join one or both of our next Conservation Lobby Days to help protect Montana’s environment.
These really great events are coming up, so mark your calendars!
Finally, you can join us to learn more about our legislative priorities at the February, March, and April meetings of the Last Chance Audubon Society in Helena (2nd Tuesday each month).
We look forward to connecting, and thank you for your civic engagement!