by Amy Seamon

We made it! The first month and a half of the 2019 legislative session just flew by! We have been in the halls of the capital every day talking to legislators, and our efforts have been reflected: we have testified on 32 bills (supporting 18 and opposing 14), hosted an MSU class for a small lobby day, worked with legislators to amend a few bills, and contributed to the public lands rally. And what a turnout this year! The capital facility staff estimated it to be over 1,600 public land advocates. And while we have these achievements to share with you, we must keep working hard every day.

This session has been no different than past years, and unfortunately that means we have been playing a lot of defense. There are continued attacks on state water quality, predators – especially wolves, clean energy advances, and climate change action. On top of that, unfortunately, most of the sensible solutions and proactive legislation we have supported has been tabled: reducing styrofoam, single-use plastic straws, and plastic bags, re-siting of pipelines, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Fortunately, attacks on the Greater Sage-Grouse Stewardship Act have not materialized. Here are a few of the worst bills we have been fighting.

HB 265, introduced by Kerry White (R-Bozeman), inserts politics into Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park’s (FWP) process of deciding to purchase conservation easements. 

HB 279, introduced by Bob Brown (R-Thompson Falls), would allow licensed, “ethical” trappers to trap wolves and then be reimbursed with private funds for costs incurred during harvest. 

HB 332, sponsored by Rep. Josh Kassmier (R – Fort Benton), would give county commissioners authority over the transport of wild bison, or wild buffalo within the state. 

Those are just a few. There is much more to come, and we will stay focused on our top priorities:  Protecting our most important resource: water; Fighting against legislation that would negatively impact Habitat Montana; Securing funding for better wildlife and habitat management; Fighting anti-wolf and predator regulations.

We will continue sending “Action Alerts” asking you to contact your Representative or Senator on key bills. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to Amy Seaman or Wyatt Smith  at MT Audubon.