Thursday, March 16, 2017


Legislative Update Mar. 15, 2017

Bill du jour, another serving of the legislative bills...

Public Trust Resources
SB 264 - Oppose - Revising rulemaking for reporting to Board of Outfitters. This bill passed the Senate already and the House committee unfortunately. This bill chips away at the system of oversight and accounting  of outfitters, which used to be under FWP. It reduces the record reporting of outfitters, which utilizes a public trust resource in a commercial business, which is managed by Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and which the public has an interest in, from being able to collect that data. That information is important to managing our fish & wildlife.

Y'all know I have been working on this FWP Game Warden Citation analysis, I have recently been working on the subsection of data dealing with outfitting. The Board of Outfitters no longer has an MOU with FWP for enforcement of outfitting regulations, which includes their operational plans and records reporting. BoO does not have their own enforcement or investigators, they were using FWP's through the MOU. So basically, they have not been regulated since 2010 when the MOU was not renewed and paid for.

Recently, I had been investigating dismissed and deferred outfitter cases with the court records of a variety of counties, which have over a 43% dismissal rate and came across a case of a guide, that did not have an outfitter of record (illegal), who hired 3 men that did not legally have guides licenses. When a complaint was lodged against the outfitter - there were no records to be found. There were a number of FWP citations issued in this case. Just last week, I saw that a guide was applying for an outfitter license with the Board of Outfitters - this guy I was just investigating with all the citations. We need better records requirements, not less. We need better oversight, not less. This is a public trust resource involved.

Please email the Representatives in opposition to SB 264 (addresses below)

Trespass Bills
SB 170 - Oppose - without amendments. I have some concerns with this bill. It states, "An act providing civil penalties for unauthorized operation of an unmanned aerial vehicle over real property; and providing an applicability date." This bill is modifying Title 70 Property, Chapter 16 Rights and Obligations Incidental to Ownership in Real Property, this section defines what property ownership means.

Here's the thing, Latin law stated, “For whoever owns the soil, it is theirs up to heaven and down to hell.”

Then aircraft was invented. The U.S. Supreme Court determined, "the United States Government has exclusive sovereignty  of airspace of the United States” and that  “citizen[s] of the United  States  [have]  a  public  right  of  transit  through  the  navigable  airspace." "It  is  ancient  doctrine  that  at  common  law ownership of the land extended to the periphery of the universe.  But that doctrine has no place in the modern world.  The air is a public highway, as Congress has declared."

Now, ignore the whole drone thing for a moment and think about this airspace for navigation. Think about airspace for corner crossing, which again, is not illegal in Montana. A person is stepping from one corner of public land, navigating the air space as they step to the adjoining corner of public land.

My concern, reading this bill, is without modification, this could be used as a step towards air ownership again. Using this bill as precedent, another bill could come across the legislature, applying towards stepping across the air space of the 4 corners of checkerboarded landownership - private and public.

I do not advocate using drones to harass private landowners, invasion of privacy or damage their property, but I also want to see respect and acknowledgment given to the public lands and it's owners.

And again, here is another trespass bill, which carries a penalty. Yet, HB 295, fining a landowner for illegally encroaching a public road, didn't make it out of the committee or pass a blast motion effort to get it discussed on the floor! The word 'hypocritical' comes to mind.

SB 170 was scheduled for it's 3rd reading in the Senate, has now been moved from Judiciary to Senate Business, Labor and Economic Affairs. More on this to come, but think about this and send your comments to the Senators, addresses below.

HB 566 - Oppose - Revise private property notice for trespass, still sitting since the hearing was cancelled on 3/7. (reported on 2/28)
HB 231 - Opposed private land amendment. Since the amendment text was added back in, restoring private landowners requirement for posting and orange paint, the bill passed to the Senate, where the bill was amended again. It passed it's 3rd reading and is now back in the House due to the new residential amendment. (reported on 2/28 and 2/31)

Parks Bills
HB 324 - Oppose - GOES BEFORE SENATE 3/16 TOMORROW Revise laws related to state parks' administration. This bill unfortunately passed the House, was referred to the Senate Committee and is being heard tomorrow (reported on it on 2/19). Please send your comments to the Senators, addresses below.
HB 454 - Oppose, still sitting there (reported on it 2/23)

Hunting/Sportsmen related
HB 151 - Oppose - Appropriation for shooting range development program, thankfully tabled in Appropriations committee on 3/14. (Reported 2/13)
HB 315 - Oppose - Revising laws related to nonresident relative hunting and fishing licenses, still sitting in the House since 2/9 (reported on 2/5)
HB 318 - Oppose - Revise nonresident college student big game combination license fee, still sitting in the House since 1/31. (reported on 2/5)

Public Lands
HJ 9 - Oppose - Resolution supporting the release of certain wilderness study areas. This bill unfortunately passed the House, has a hearing in the Senate on 3/20. Please contact the Senators, emails below. (reported 2/19)

Constitutional Amendment
SB 236 - Oppose - Hearing before Senate Fish & Game Tomorrow 3/16 Fielder's Constitutional referendum to safeguard right to hunt, fish, and trap wildlife. As of this evening, the language on this bill has still not been changed/amended. Various suggested text amendments have been proposed, from various sportsmens groups and the Sportsmens Caucus group, but nothing agreed on by all. Which speaks to me, that this bill (or one similar), which affects our Constitution, needs much more work and vetting before going before the legislature in such a rushed manner this year. (reported on 2/15)

SB's 187 and 173 have both passed passed out of the Senate Fish & Game Committee. While some may think these are "silly" bills, most of y'all know my concerns about CWD and how pissed I have been for years that FWP's CWD monitoring project was shut down. We need to start proactively addressing this subject, not wait for CWD to enter Montana and devastate our wildlife and habitat (prions remain in the soil).

Senate addresses below

House of Representatives addresses,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Senate email addresses,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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Thank you,
Kathryn QannaYahu
Bozeman, MT

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