Congrats! We made it through the 2023 Montana Legislative Session!
Thanks to the tireless efforts from our chapter leaders, staff, and lobbyists in the Capitol - and more importantly thanks to YOU! - we were able to successfully influence dozens of bills this session.
As you read through the recap below, please take note of how big of a role your letters and calls played in putting the worst bills to bed, improving others, and even getting a few good ones signed into law!
There were 1,698 bills introduced in less than 90 days this session! Of those, Montana BHA went on the record and helped influence more than 50 pieces of legislation.
By testifying both in person at the Capitol and remotely, by submitting letters to the editors and opinion pieces to newspapers, by making phone calls to legislators and the hotline in Helena, and by mobilizing 4,127 individual sportsmen and women to send 30,394 customized letters to our representatives and senators, we worked overtime to make sure the voices of Montana’s sporting community were heard.
We co-hosted two in-person events with partners in Helena: the Rally for Public Lands and Elk Camp at the Capitol. Hundreds of Montanans attended both and they left a mark on lawmakers. And now that these citizen legislators have all returned home to their families after several long months in Helena, please be sure to thank those who stepped up and represented you properly.
In total, 804 new bills have been sent to the Governors’ desk (we’re still waiting on a final count on how many of those were signed into law). We can assure you that in the interim we’ll continue to engage with the policies (new, old, and proposed) related to public lands and waters, habitat, access and opportunity, and equitable, fair-chase hunting and fishing in Montana.
The following is an ‘abbreviated’ summary of Montana BHA’s engagement in the 2023 legislative session, including what happened, what we supported/opposed, what was tabled, and what is now law. If you have any questions about these bills or our engagement in them, please reach out to us!
First, the good news. Here are some bills Montana BHA supported that are now law:
- HB 486 – Generally revise county road access laws - sponsored by Rep. Green (R - Hardin). Bill increases the fine for illegally gating a public road from $10/day to $100/day. Montana BHA led the charge on this bill with support from PLWA, MWF and others. First including a fine of $100-$500 per day, the bill was amended to just $100 per day. While less than we'd hoped for, it's still a punishment 10x the previous fine, and certainly a big step in the right direction when it comes to defending public access. We brought attention to the bill with an op-ed and social media posts, and sent numerous action alerts throughout the session that generated 2,705 messages to lawmakers in favor of HB 486. The bill was tabled in the Senate Highways & Transportation committee and a first attempt to blast the bill failed. It looked like HB 486 would meet the same fate of similar bills that died over the past three sessions. But thanks to our relentless efforts inside the Capitol plus leadership from Rep. Green and Sens. Small, O'Brien, Gross, Flowers, and Friedel, the bill was successfully blasted a second time to the Senate floor where it passed and was eventually signed into law by the Governor!
- HB 521 – Revising laws related to conservation licenses on state lands - sponsored by Rep. Loge (R - Saint Regis). Bill requires all user groups recreating on state lands and FWP fishing access sites to pay their fair share for managing those sites by requiring the $8 annual conservation license (which is already required for hunters and anglers). Passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and was signed into law on May 18th; it goes into effect on July 1st, 2023.
- SB 58 – Increase landowner payment cap for block management - requested by FWP and PLPW and sponsored by Sen. Hinebauch (R - Wibaux). Bill increases the potential amount the department can offer landowners to participate in Block Management from $25,000 to $50,000 annually. This was one of the most broadly supported bills of the session, with only five republicans voting against this bill between both chambers, while all other democrats and republicans voting for it. Montana BHA supported this bill during the meetings with PLPW before the session, during discussions with members of the Montana Citizens Elk Management Coalition, and during the legislative process by providing in-person testimony during committee meetings in both the House and Senate. We hope this encourages more participation in Block Management, and - importantly - keeps the current cooperators enrolled in the program. There’s more work to be done on the payment structure of this program, but increasing the cap once again is another big step in the right direction.
- HB 74 – Eliminate requirement to release pheasants from Upland Game Bird Program - requested by FWP and sponsored by Rep. Fitzgerald (R - Fairfield). Not to be confused with the prison pheasant program, this bill recognizes that there is little to no interest from landowners in releasing pen-raised birds on their properties, so it allows FWP to use these monies on habitat instead by removing the pheasant-release requirement. It passed with nearly unanimous bipartisan support and was signed into law.
- HB 593 – Revise FWP laws related to publishing the number of nonresident licenses - sponsored by Rep. Marler (D - Missoula). Bill requires FWP to publish a yearly report of the resident vs. non residents licenses/permits sold. It passed with nearly unanimous bipartisan support and was signed into law.
- HB 86 – Remove sunset for the Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program - Requested by FWP and sponsored by Rep. Walsh (R - Twin Bridges). Bill ensures the Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program is permanent. It passed with nearly unanimous bipartisan support and was signed into law.
- HB 133 – Allow nonresident college students to purchase FWP licenses online - requested by FWP/EQC and sponsored by Rep. Miner (R - Stockett). Bill removes the requirement that nonresident college students purchase hunting and fishing licenses/permits in person at FWP offices. It passed with nearly unanimous bipartisan support and was signed into law.
- HB 162 – Revise electronic tag law - requested by FWP/EQC and sponsored by Rep. Mitchell (R - Columbia Falls). Bill allows electronic tags to be used for any species for which a carcass tag is issued. Passed unanimously with bipartisan support and was signed into law.
- HB 438 – Revise public access agreement laws - sponsored by Rep. Loge (R - Saint Regis). Bill encourages participation in the Public Access Land Agreements (PALAs) by removing minor administrative hurdles like the $5 application fee. Passed unanimously with bipartisan support and was signed into law.
- HB 596 – Revise elk hunting access agreement licenses - sponsored by Rep. Loge (R - St. Regis). Bill represents yet another improvement to the controversial 454 program and ensures that at least one of the public hunters gets the same license/permit type that is issued to the landowner or the landowner’s designee. Our support depended on an amendment to make these valid on deeded lands or private-land-only that is leased for agricultural purposes. The amendment was made and the bill passed with nearly unanimous bipartisan support and was signed into law.
- HJ 18 – Joint resolution to study remediation of Smurfit-stone mill site - sponsored by Rep. Karlen (D - Missoula). Resolution creates an interim study to look at contamination at the site using the Libby Asbestos Superfund Oversight Committee as a model for state involvement, and to offer recommendations, if any, to ensure full cleanup of the mill site plus associated environmental and economic restoration. Resolution was passed with nearly unanimous bipartisan support and was signed into law.
- SB 76 – Remove requirement to attach paper tags to a game animal carcass - requested by FWP and sponsored by Sen. McClafferty (D - Butte). Bill allows for the use of electronic tags while hunting. Passed both chambers with only one nay vote before being signed into law.
- SB 84 – Revise laws related to hunting and aircraft use - requested by FWP and sponsored by Sen. Brown (R - Trout Creek). Here's a letter-to-the-editor explaining our support. Bill further bans the use of drones for hunting, and passed both chambers with only two nay votes before being signed into law.
- SB 281 – Revise laws related to nonresident hunting and fishing - sponsored by Sen. Flowers (D - Belgrade). Bill limits the number of antlerless deer licenses nonresidents can purchase to one or two per hunter. FWP estimates this will reduce the number of licenses sold by 779, but may not reduce the number of hunters at all. It passed the Senate unanimously and the House 78-22 before being signed into law.
- HB 846 - Resident bonus point system for Smith River - Sponsored by Rep. France (D-Missoula). Bill initially created a resident-only bonus point structure for Smith River permits, which Montana BHA supported as it would boost funding and give a slight advantage to residents looking to float this permitted river accessed exclusively via Montana State Parks. It passed the House but was tabled after a party-line vote in the Senate Fish & Game Committee. Then, however, the bill was voted to be taken off the table and was amended to include bonus point options for both residents ($5 per) and nonresidents ($50 per) and to cap the number of nonresident permit holders to no more than 10% of the available permits; Montana BHA did not take a stance on the bill after it was amended. The bill then passed both chambers with overwhelming bipartisan support before being signed into law on May 22nd.
Next, the worst news. These are bills we opposed that have been signed into law by Gov. Gianforte:
- HB 635 – Revise laws related to nonresident hunting and fishing - sponsored by Rep. Kassmier (R - Fort Benton). Bill awards large non-resident landowners with 15% of the non-resident elk and deer tags. We, along with a large list of Montana sportsmen groups, opposed this bill. Montana BHA members and supporters sent 6,368 letters to decision makers opposing this, illustrating how unpopular this was. Proponents of the bill seem willing to ignore the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation for what they hope to be a reduced number of hunters on public land. We think this bill is misguided, unlikely to have much impact on crowding, and opens the door for other guarantees in the process. The bill narrowly passed the House 56-42 and the Senate 29-21. Governor Gianforte then requested an amendment that would have tripled the number of tags for nonresident landowners owning between 2,500 and 9,999 acres; the legislature denied that amendment and Gov. Gianforte signed the bill into law anyways.
- HB 971 – Revise Environmental Policy Act - sponsored by Rep. Kassmier (R - Fort Benton). Bill prohibits the Montana DEQ from considering climate impacts when looking at approving new mining or oil and gas projects as assessed via the Montana Environmental Policy Act (MEPA). This is the equivalent of sticking our heads in the sand while our trout rivers dry up and our elk woods burn down. We, along with nearly 60 groups and individuals, opposed this bill in committee, urging lawmakers to instead be willing to address the impacts of climate change in a real and proactive way, or at least not prevent the considerations from happening at all. Nonetheless, after the majority party suspended the rules, the bill was introduced and transmitted past the deadline. It passed mostly on party lines and was signed by Gov. Gianforte.
- HB 146 – Create landowner preference to hunt deer and antelope - requested by FWP/EQC and sponsored by Rep. Kassmier (R - Fort Benton). While we acknowledged that this practice is already in rule, we opposed the bill to put it in statute and suggested some amendments to the Senate Fish & Game that would help to earn our support, like making these valid on private lands only rather than district-wide public and private. Our amendments were not accepted. The bill passed with mixed support before being signed into law by Gov. Gianforte.
- SB 280 – Revise bird dog training laws - sponsored by Sen. Lang (R - Malta). Bill creates a $10 license for out of state bird dog trainers ($5 for residents), doing little to actually limit the practice, while actually making it legally permissible. Montana BHA supported other efforts to curb this activity (mentioned below), but opposed this. The bill passed with overwhelming support before being signed into law by Gov. Gianforte.
- SB 557 – Revise MEPA relating to litigation - sponsored by Sen. Noland (R - Big Fork). Challenging agency decisions in court based on MEPA isn’t ideal, but sometimes exercising that legal right is needed; it’s the checks and balances system at work. SB 557 limits that ability to challenge decisions when needed, by requiring a steep pay-to-play system for groups who need to sue as a last resort. This bill appears to be a direct attack/response to the decision to shut down a gold mine near Yellowstone National Park. We do not believe that SB 557 will reduce frivolous lawsuits, but would instead cripple everyday Montanans’ ability to stand up to big government. Unfortunately, the bill passed with mixed support and was signed by Gov. Gianforte.
- SJ 14 – Resolution opposing bison introduction at Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge - sponsored by Sen. Lang (R - Malta). Resolution resists bison introduction on the CMR, though with little authority. The resolution passed on straight party lines and was signed by Gov. Gianforte.
Back to some good news. Here are some bills we opposed that didn’t meet transmittal, were tabled in committees, were voted down, or were vetoed:
- SB 497 – Revise property laws relating to easements - sponsored by Rep. Fitzpatrick (R - Great Falls). Bill originally changed language under the stream access code, it was then amended on the Senate Floor to fall under a different code. But it was always a direct attack on public access, specifically prescriptive easements. Outcry over this bill was swift and great (thank you to all who spoke up! Our members sent in 435 letters in 24 hours). It was voted down on the Senate Floor and indefinitely postponed. See how your Senator voted here.
- SB 357 – Require terms for conservation easements using state funds - sponsored by Sen. Hinebauch (R - Wibaux). Bill would have unnecessarily limited Habitat Montana conservation easements to 40-year terms or less. The bill died in Senate Fish & Game after a long hearing that demonstrated the strong and diverse opposition to this bill. Only one group spoke in support of SB 357, UPOM, while BHA joined numerous conservation organizations, ranchers, hunters, and other citizens in testifying in opposition. Here's more on this from the Montana Free Press.
- HB 462 – Revise distribution of marijuana revenues - sponsored by Rep. Bertoglio (R - Clancy). Bill mirrored Gov. Gianforte’s budget proposal and would have zeroed out the Habitat Montana money from the marijuana tax revenue approved by the voters and by the legislature in 2021. It was tabled in the House Appropriations Committee.
- HB 473 – Provide selenium standard for Lake Koocanusa - sponsored by Rep. Gunderson (R - Libby). Bill would have increased the allowable selenium levels above scientifically recommended standards for aquatic health and would have threatened Montana’s fisheries, only to the benefit of Canadian mining companies upstream. Learn more here. It passed the House on nearly party lines before being tabled in the Senate Natural Resources Committee; a motion to blast it onto the Senate floor was also defeated.
- HB 522 – Provide landowner preference bison tags for landowners near YNP - sponsored by Rep. Malone (R - Pray). Bill would have allowed landowners near YNP owning just twenty acres preferential treatment for 15% of the bison tag allocations. The bill was amended on the floor to be applicable on private lands only, and the 15% of the tags be in addition to the biological-approved quota rather than part of it. Montana BHA continued to oppose the bill for these reasons. The bill was tabled in the Senate Fish & Game Committee.
- HB 600 – Revise acreage for landowner preference hunting licenses - sponsored by Rep. Malone (R - Pray). Bill would have decreased the required acreage to receive landowner preference for limited-entry cow elk permits from 640 to 160 acres. The bill passed the House before being tabled in the Senate Fish & Game Committee.
- SB 298 - Revise laws related to hunting by disabled persons - sponsored by Sen. Molnar (R - Laurel). For the 10th session in a row, this bill attempted to legalize the use of crossbows during Montana’s archery season. When surveyed this fall, only 12% of our Montana membership supported this idea, but our opposition wasn’t based specifically on our membership's opposition to crossbows in the archery season; it was because of all the other problematic language folded into the bill. A few problems that caught our eye included the ability for permit holders to pick any district they wanted if a doctor first denied their claim, and a strikethrough for the requirement that permit-to-hunt-from-a-vehicle recipients hunt with a companion. The bill took on a life of its own, having been tabled in three different committees, but voted to be taken off the table twice. In the end, the bill died in the House Fish Wildlife & Parks Committee and then failed to be blasted onto the House Floor.
- HB 669 – Revise laws related to allocation of marijuana tax revenues - sponsored by Rep. Mercer (R - Billings). Bill would have stripped Habitat Montana funding from marijuana tax revenue and instead put all of that money in the general fund. It passed the House before being tabled in the Senate Finance & Claims Committee.
- HB 870 – Revise tax rate for agricultural property owned by certain nonprofits - sponsored by Rep. Ler (R - Savage) - Bill would have unfairly targeted and discriminated against nonprofit landowners using an arbitrary and punitive standard. This taxation scheme would have been based on a particular organizational structure rather than the actual use of the land and its management practices, a head scratcher. The bill passed the House on party lines before it was tabled in the Senate Natural Resources Committee.
- SB 305 – Revise definition of nonresident related to hunting and fishing licenses - sponsored by Sen. McGillvray (R - Billings). Bill attempted to expand the definition of nonresident relatives of a resident who would qualify for the discounted and over-and-above-the-cap licenses. The bill was tabled in the Senate Fish & Game Committee.
- HB 261 – Revise e-bike laws - sponsored by Rep. Gunderson (R - Libby). Bill would have classified e-bikes as non-motorized and allowed them virtually anywhere regular bicycles are allowed. It failed to pass on the House Floor by a vote of 48-49.
- SB 342 – Revise bicycle law - sponsored by Sen. Hertz (R - Polson). Bill also would have changed the definition of a bicycle to essentially allow motorized e-bikes to be used virtually anywhere traditional bicycles are allowed. The bill died on third reading in the House and a motion to reconsider also failed.
- SB 428 – Elect fish and wildlife commissioners - sponsored by Sen. Molnar (R - Laurel). Bill attempted to make the commissioners elected rather than appointed. While imperfect, the current system is less problematic than this would have been. The bill was voted down unanimously in the Senate Fish & Game Committee.
- SB 524 – Revise unrelated business taxable income to include certain legal fees - sponsored by Sen. Hertz (R - Polson). Bill would have required nonprofits to pay taxes on funds used to file lawsuits against the state under MEPA and other environmental protection policies. With all Democrats voting against, the bill still passed the Senate 31-19 before it was tabled in the House Taxation Committee.
And finally, more not-so-good news. There's a long list of bills that we supported that failed to become law:
- HB 243 – Revise hunter education laws - sponsored by Rep. Marler (D - Missoula). Bill would have required an in-person hunters ed for youth and an in-person field day that includes firearm safety for all hunters ed. The bill sailed through House Committee 17-2, House Floor 87-11, and Senate Fish & Game Committee unanimously. It then passed 2nd reading in the Senate before the Senate Finance and Claims Committee removed the money to pay for a staff person for the program. Then it failed 3rd reading in the Senate 27-23 despite all Democrats voting in favor of the bill.
- SB 525 – Generally revise laws related to hunting licenses and permits - sponsored by Sen. Flowers (D - Bozeman). Bill would have directed FWP to set reasonable caps/limits for licenses, tags or permits that are currently unlimited for nonresidents. This would not have impacted moose, sheep, goat, antelope, deer or elk tags/permits for nonresidents since those are already capped or limited. According to FWP, the number of nonresident hunters in Montana have jumped 80% over the last decade. This bill was designed to help prevent that number from climbing much higher. Additionally, the bill would have strengthened prohibitions on selling/transferring licenses or permits, and it also would have required FWP to give residents an opportunity at surplus permits rather than giving those to nonresidents automatically (as is current practice). The bill was voted down on party lines in the Senate Fish & Game Committee.
- HB 826 – Phase out prison prison pheasant program - Sponsored by Rep. Marler (D -Missoula). Bill would have phased out the wasteful pen-raised pheasant program at the state prison by 2027, and called for a study over the interim session to find a suitable replacement. Despite Montana BHA members and supporters sending in 1,211 letters in favor of this, the bill was tabled in the House Fish, Wildlife & Parks Committee.
- HB 885 – Revise public land access agreement laws - Sponsored by Rep. Sullivan (D - Missoula). Bill would have opened up the reward eligibility to more landowners who want to allow public access to inaccessible public land across their private property through the PALA program. Landowners are currently ineligible for PALA incentives if someone else holds the lease on public lands they want to open access to. This reinforces a false premise that because someone leases the public's grass then they also get to control the access to those public lands; they don’t. This bill would have corrected that and would have drastically increased the number of landowners eligible for PALA meaning more money for our landowning neighbors and more public acres being voluntarily opened for hunters. Despite Montana BHA members and supporters sending in 1,964 letters in favor of this, the bill was tabled in the House Natural Resources Committee.
SB 442 – Allow marijuana tax revenue to be used for county road maintenance - Sponsored by Sen. Lang (R - Malta). Bill, initially, would have stripped Habitat Montana funding from marijuana tax revenue and instead put all that money toward county road maintenance. However, thanks to a broad coalition coming together - including Montana BHA, but huge credit goes to Wild Montana, the Montana Wildlife Federation and the bill sponsor on this - the bill was amended in a compromise that funded conservation, mental health services, veterans programs, county road maintenance, state parks and trails, and more.
Despite overwhelming bipartisan support (86% of our state legislators voted in support of this bill!) Gov. Gianforte vetoed the bill in record time, late on the final day of the legislative session. Legal action is expected as lawmakers were not aware of the veto until the Senate adjourned, and were not given a chance to override the veto via mail vote. According to the Montana Constitution, when the Governor vetoes a bill, lawmakers have a chance to override that veto with a 2/3 vote. Simply put, that opportunity was not given.
In 72 hours, Montana BHA collected 1,055 signatures and together with Wild Montana and the Montana Wildlife Federation, among others, delivered a combined petition with more than 2,500 signatures to Secretary of State Jacobsen, demanding that she uphold the constitution and let our legislators vote on this. In response to our petition, Sec. of State Jacobsen stated she cannot poll legislators until Gov. Gianforte delivers a veto notice to her office. Legal action is likely.
- SB 388 – Revise nonresident bird hunting - sponsored by Sen. Flowers (D - Bozeman). Bill would have limited the time nonresident bird hunters could hunt in Montana. First limiting to 14 days, and then amended to allow 28 days, the bill was an attempt to reduce nonresident hunter crowding. FWP’s numbers show that the number of nonresident upland bird hunters has increased 52% over the last five years, while the number of resident upland bird hunters has decreased 4% in that same timeframe. The bill passed the Senate unanimously before being tabled in the House Fish, Wildlife & Parks Committee.
- SB 408 – Revise public access laws related to tax credits and incentives - sponsored by Sen. Molnar (R - Laurel). Similar to HB 885, this bill would have incentivized landowners to open access to landlocked public lands regardless of who holds the grazing lease on those public lands. Read more about this from Montana BHA life member Mike Mershon. The bill was tabled in the Senate Taxation Committee.
- HB 372 – Establish right to hunt in Constitution - sponsored by Rep. Fielder (R - Thompson Falls). Bill would have strengthened the existing right to hunt and fish in Montana’s Constitution. Many argued that this bill was unnecessary - because the Constitution already says "the opportunity to harvest wild fish and wild game animals is a heritage that shall forever be preserved to the individual citizens of the state..." We supported the bill, and requested a few changes to improve it. The bill passed both chambers but failed to get the required ⅔ votes needed to advance a constitutional amendment.
- HB 383 – Establish the Montana hunters and anglers community fund - sponsored by Rep. France (D - Missoula). Bill sought to create a voluntary fund where sportsmen and women could contribute to help small rural towns who open their doors to us through the hunting and fishing seasons. The bill passed the House but was tabled in the Senate Fish & Game Committee.
- HB 547 – Provide penalties for selling data/images from trail cams on public land - sponsored by Rep. Cohenour (D - East Helena). Bill would have made it illegal to sell images, video, or location data of wildlife located on public land that is obtained by a trail cam for use in a way that harms, harasses, or kills fish or wildlife. The bill passed the House but was voted down on party lines in the Senate Fish & Game Committee.
- HB 548 – Revise penalties for criminal trespass while collecting antlers/sheds/horns - sponsored by Rep. Cohenour (D - East Helena). Bill would have created fair and meaningful penalties (second offense) for trespassers looking for sheds. It passed the House but was voted down on a party line vote in the Senate Fish & Game Committee.
- HB 621 – Revise land access laws for hunting and fishing - sponsored by Rep. Cohenour (D - East Helena). In an effort to both improve hunter behavior and penalize those who block public access, this bill would have put more teeth into ‘failure to obtain permission to hunt’ citations as well as ‘hunter harassment.’ It was voted down on party lines in the House Fish, Wildlife & Parks Committee.
- HB 677 – Generally revise bird hunting season laws related to bird dog training - sponsored by Rep. France (D - Missoula). Bill would have created a season for commercial bird dog training on public lands. It was tabled in the House Fish, Wildlife & Parks Committee.
- HB 757 – Consideration of wildlife friendly fencing on public land - co-sponsored by Rep. France (D-Missoula) & Rep. Gunderson (R - Libby). Bill would have required FWP and DNRC to simply consider wildlife friendly fencing when replacing or installing fencing. Inexplicably, the bill was tabled in the House Fish, Wildlife & Parks Committee.
- HB 773 – Generally revise fish and wildlife laws - sponsored by Rep. Karlen (D - Missoula). Bill would have addressed nonresident hunter crowding in an impactful way by capping the number of nonresidents who could take advantage of the over-and-above-the-cap discounted nonresident youth licenses. It was voted down on party lines and then tabled in the House Fish, Wildlife & Parks Committee.
- HJ 8 – Joint resolution regarding Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks - sponsored by Rep. France (D - Missoula). Resolution would have urged the federal government to establish wildlife conservation fees to be collected at national parks in Wyoming and Montana, to the benefit of state wildlife management. The bill was voted down on party lines and then tabled in the House Energy, Technology & Federal Relations Committee.
- SB 418 – Incentives for trust land lessees to provide public access - sponsored by Sen. Molnar (R - Laurel). This bill would have maximized revenue for DNRC and would have created an incentive for lease holders to allow public access to leased public lands. It was tabled in the Senate State Administration Committee.
- SJ 36 – Interim study of outdoor recreation economy - sponsored by Sen. Boldman (D - Missoula). Resolution would have directed an interim study to help better measure and communicate the real and growing value of outdoor recreation in Montana. Montana BHA supported this effort that might have led to more informed discussions related to future developments and land management. The resolution passed the Senate, but unfortunately failed to be heard in the House before sine die.
- SJ 32 – Interim study on hunter pressure and overcrowding - sponsored by Sen. McClafferty (D - Butte). Resolution would have directed an interim study to take a closer look at hunter crowding from both a biological and social perspective. As one of the hottest topics of the session, Montana BHA fully supported this study. The resolution flew through the Senate with broad, bipartisan support, but unfortunately we ran out of time in the session and the bill failed to be heard in the House before sine die.
This all represents a mountain of work by BHA staff, our lobbyists, our chapter leaders, and our members, not to mention our partners. We can’t thank all of you enough!
While we didn’t win ‘em all, our influence was certainly felt this session, and we look forward to building on our successes and continuing to strengthen relationships with lawmakers. And like we said above, in less than two years, we'll be back in Helena to do it all over again. In the meantime, we’ll continue to engage in interim sessions, with FWP, the Private Lands Public Wildlife committee, with resource management planning, the upcoming elk management plan revision, and much, much more.
Please join us, consider purchasing a Montana 'Backcountry' license plate to support our efforts, or test your luck with a drift boat raffle ticket.
From all of us at Montana BHA, thank you.