Montana hunters finally have something to smile about this session!
First, the big win on House Bill 505, which would have given 10 non-resident landowner-sponsored elk tags to landowners with more than 640 acres. Additionally, the bill would have given five bonus points to those with private land access who agreed to hunt cow elk. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Galt and was heavily amended in committee yesterday before it was tabled, thankfully. While the amendments made the bill less terrible (one tag per 640 acres owned, up to five per landowner; and one bonus point as an incentive for cow harvests on private lands instead of five), but the bill would still have privatized elk and doubly favored one group of hunters over another (giving certain hunters the ability to gain two bonus points per year while those without private lands access could only gain one).
Thanks to the combined efforts of Montana sportsmen and women, including the volunteer board leadership of Montana BHA, the Montana Wildlife Federation, Keep it Public, Artemis, Anaconda Sportsmen, Hellgate Hunters & Anglers, Helena Hunters & Anglers, and many, many more, HB 505 was tabled with a 9-9 vote. Though there’s always a chance this bill could be reconsidered in committee or blasted to a Floor vote (the bill sponsor is the Speaker of the House after all), so we must stay vigilant on this bill and, most importantly, let the representatives who voted against HB 505 know that we truly appreciate their opposition to this terrible bill. Take action below to send a quick message of thanks.
Members of the House Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Committee heard from thousands of Montanans asking them to vote no on HB 505, and it’s important that we thank those who did.
Second, SB 306 was also tabled in committee. This bill would have changed the Fish & Wildlife Commission from 5 to 7 (which we're fine with) but then require that 4 of those 7 be 'landowners engaged in agricultural production' (we take big issue with that!). Thankfully, the bill is shelved - for now - but just like HB 505, it could come back.
And finally, the other piece of good news came on the Senate Floor when another close vote (25-25 tie) defeated HB 281, the e-bike bill that would have redefined electrically motorized bicycles as non-motorized. To illustrate our point about HB 505 and SB 306 not being completely dead, there was a motion to reconsider HB 281 today, just 24 hours after the bill was defeated: the good news there though is that it was killed again, 26-24!
This was proof that our voices do matter. Showing up does make a difference. We need to stay engaged and stay vigilant though! A lot of work yet to be done this session.
Please consider joining Montana BHA or renewing your membership to continue to support our efforts.