News From the Front, March 27

nftf 3-27
Total number of Introduced Bills – 1158; Total number of Introduced and Unintroduced Bills – 2463


Another interesting week

There were lots of activities this week. On Monday 23rd March two Aquatic Invasive Species bills (HB 525 and HB 553) were heard in front of the Senate Natural Resources Committee. The Committee had lots of questions and they have not acted yet. MACD continues to support these bills.

On Tuesday 24th March the House Agriculture Committee heard testimony supporting the naming of a state soil (SB 176). You should be able to go to this site and click on the speaker icon for the actual hearing date and listen to a number of inspiring testimonies about soil. See$BSIV.ActionQuery?P_BILL_NO1=176&P_BLTP_BILL_TYP_CD=SB&Z_ACTION=Find&P_SESS=20151 

The bill passed Committee immediately after the hearing on a unanimous vote. This is unusual to act so quickly. MACD supports this bill and suspects that it will fly through the House floor when it is debated in the near future. We also predict that the Governor will sign this bill.

Another one of our Supervisors, this time from Daniels County Conservation District, has been asked to serve Montana by taking on additional responsibilities. Richard Kerstein, who lives in Scobey and is the Chairman of the District, has been nominated to be on the Fish and Wildlife Commission. SR 30 will be heard in front of the Senate Fish and Game Committee. If Senate Resolution No. 30 passes (we predict that it will pass), Richard will be the first Supervisor on the Fish and Wildlife Commission in many years, maybe ever (Conservation District Historians pls let us know). His appointment would also address a long standing MACD Resolution that asked that a Supervisor be on the Commission. Richard joins three other Supervisors recently appointed to a statewide responsibility. They all happen to be named Steve and the three serve on the Montana Invasive Species Advisory Council:

Steve Hertel, Moore. Qualification: Private Land Owner. Hertel is a farmer and rancher and currently serves on the Fergus County Conservation District and volunteers for the Moore Rural Fire District as a firefighter and an AEMT.

Steve Tyrrel, Billings. Qualification: Private Industry. Tyrrel is the Founder, Vice President and CEO of Integrated Ag Services, Inc.

Steve Wanderaas, Vida. Qualification: Montana Conservation District Representative. Wanderaas is on the McCone County Conservation District and has worked in farming and agriculture his entire life.

Congratulations to these four Supervisors. EDITORIAL: There is a reason that Montana is looking to Conservation Districts for counsel and wisdom. Nearly eight decades on the land has given our people an understanding of nature and natural resources that benefits the entire state. MACD continues to push Districts into the forefront and we think you will see more of this kind of recruitment in the near future in other programs.


Action this week:

HB 5 (RRGL and RDG Funds) was tabled in the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, 25th March on a 13-7 vote. That means that the bill is not totally dead and may be brought forward in the future should it be needed to move projects forward.

HB 6 (RRGL Funds) was passed by the House Appropriations Committee after it was amended on Thursday 26th March. It will move to the House floor for debate.

HB 7 (RDG Funds) was passed by the House Appropriations Committee after it was amended on Wednesday, 25th March. It will move to the House floor for debate.

HB 40 , the Board of Adjustments bill, passed the Senate easily and is on the way to the Governor’s Office for his consideration. We predict that the Governor will sign this bill.

HB 2  is the general spending bill for state government. It was debated on the floor of the House, passed 59-40, and sent to Senate Finance and Claims for their consideration. Most of the financial support Districts receive from DNRC is in this bill. MACD will continue to vigorously support this bill. This bill will be heard on 30th March and MACD will testify in support of the Districts. Executive Action (a vote on the bill) is scheduled for 1st or 2nd of April. This bill always ends up in Conference Committee where last minute changes are made. It ain’t over ’til it’s over…

HB 194 , a bison bill, was sent to the Governor for his consideration. As there was bipartisan support for this bill as it moved through the Legislature, we predict that the Governor will sign this bill.

SJ 2 , a resolution to study state assumption of federal dredge and fill permitting,  passed 18-0 in the House Natural Resources Committee. This resolution will have clear sailing and Districts will have to participate in this study. MACD will keep Districts involved and work with DNRC to send a discussion paper to the Districts about assumption.

Other bills that MACD is monitoring have not changed since the last NFTF and this writing.

Enjoy the weekend.


Recent editions of News From the Front

  • News From the Front April 7 - Dear Readers: Time is a precious commodity. Time is of the essence. Time is relative. The legislature has stated that their goal is to end by Good Friday. This means there was a lot of movement and work on bills in the past week and this pace will continue into next week. Given the shortened […]
  • News From the Front, March 24 - Dear Readers: One of the Conservation District Administrators called NFTF “calm,” a word that I had not thought of as pertinent to any legislative process, even the first day. The Session is swirling with much uncalmness, a word that I may have just invented because it has that squiggly red line under it as I […]
  • News From the Front, March 17 - Never trust a dog to watch your food. Saint Patrick The week according to Jeff… Dear Readers: Happy St. Patrick’s Day! The green grass will be here at some point in the future, but today is a fun celebration of all things green and of all things Irish.  I thought about commenting on this week’s […]