Archive for Fish & Wildlife

Apr
13

VETOed by the Brand

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Today, Governor Brian Schweitzer was true to his word when he said he would take his VETO branding irons to bills that are unconstitutional, frivolous or in direct contradiction to the expressed will of Montana voters.

In a ceremony on the north steps of the Capitol, the Governor was joined by more than 100 onlookers as he took the brands to 7 bills.

The bills the got the brand were:

  • SB114: Which initially would have put sheriffs in charge of federal law enforcement officers, but now had been amended to where it was pointless and would do nothing but clutter our law books
  • HB318: Would put county commissioners in charge of bison management, rather than FWP as it currently is
  • SB109: Would kills jobs in the state and roll back our progress towards renewable energy
  • HB272: Would make it more difficult for the public to acquire land for hunting, fishing and recreating
  • SB159: Would make it harder for homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient
  • HB180: Would eliminate election day voter registration
  • SB306: Would overturn two voter approved laws that restricted cyanide leach open-pit mining and thus would severely damage our rivers, lakes and streams

In addition to these bills, the Governor also held a more traditional veto signing in his office. Here he vetoed the following bills: HB456HB464SB111SB228SB324SB370SB324SB370SB254HB161SB183 and HB542

Today, the Republican majority in the House gave initial approval to SB303, a bill that would restrict the state’s ability to acquire new public land for hunting, fishing and recreation land.

Under this bill, before the state could purchase  new public lands, they would be required to receive approval of the Board of Land Commissioners. In addition, the purchase must not result in any net gain of land in the state’s possession. This means, that the state would be required to get rid of land before it could purchase new land.

This bill would open the door to wealth, out-of-state landowners to come in and purchase pristine Montana land and lock the public out.

In addition, landowners who allow the public to access their land often seek to sell this land very cheap to the state upon their death in order to ensure their land remains accessible to the public. The state would not be allowed to purchase this land, regardless of how cheap it is, without first disposing of other land they own.

The bill faced bipartisan opposition, however it still passed by a vote of 51-49. It will face a final vote in the House when the legislature reconvenes on Monday.

Apparently the majority of the Republican House believes the state already has enough hunting, fishing and camping space.

As usual, Rep. Wagner had a “unique” take on the issue.

Democrats in the House, today killed a Republican proposal that sought to burden sportsmen with funding measures to control the certain animal populations in the state.

The bill would have charged hunters and fishermen an additional fee to go towards managing the populations of these animals. The bill failed on a 22-78 vote.

This bill is part of a series of measures the GOP has pushed that seeks to make it more difficult for Montana sportsmen to use our public lands for hunting, fishing and recreating. The most notable of these proposals is the so-called “Ditch Bill,” (HB 309).

HB 309 would have restricted Montana sportsmen’s access to certain public waterways. It has been largely supported by wealthy out-of-state landowners. During a hearing a few weeks ago, more than 300 sportsmen from all over the state came to the Capitol to oppose the Republican proposal.

Republicans clearly are seeking to undermine the Montana public’s access to our public lands. It would be refreshing if instead of restricting the rights of Montana sportsmen, they worked to improve those rights.

Feb
21

For The Love Of Montana

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Today, Montanans from across the state descended on the Capitol to talk about the importance of a clean environment. Superintendent Denise Juneau joined them to talk about the impacts of these GOP choices.

For nearly 45 days, we’ve watched the GOP attempt to gut longstanding environmental protections in the state. We’ve also witnessed as they have introduced legislation that seeks to kill jobs in the renewable energy section. These decisions would be devastating to our rivers, lakes, streams and economy.

They have:

This is only a few of the proposals they have pursued (or opposed). Rather than focusing on creating jobs and making Montana a better place to live, they followed an agenda that does neither, in fact it would kill jobs and ruin our hunting, fishing and recreating areas.

Rep. Krayton Kerns (R-Laurel) had a hearing on his bill in the House Judiciary committee this morning. The bill seeks to nullify the federal endangered species act. This bill was recently identified by Democratic leadership as one of the “Terrible Ten” frivolous and unconstitutional bills.

This bill is a drastic response to current concerns about the grey wolf population in the state. Rather than taking a responsible approach to dealing with the wolf issue in the state, Rep. Kerns has pursued a path that would cost the state money and put in danger some of our greatest species in the state.

If this bill is signed into law, it would cost the state $460 in lost federal money each year. This bill would also be devastating to our tourism in the state, as these rare species that people come to Montana to see would be wiped out. Because of this, the economic impact of this bill is much greater than the $460 million in lost federal funds.

The House Judiciary committee will likely take executive action on this bill next week.

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