THE MONTANA SPORTSMEN ALLIANCE
House Bill 566 OPPOSE
House Bill 566 (Redfield, R-Livingston) is a modification of the “Enter and remain unlawfully” section of Montana criminal trespass law. It speaks to marking places “difficult to post” that are adjacent to public land and involved with “checkerboard” land ownership--- Corner-crossing by any other name. As such, this bill would make corner-crossing an act of criminal trespass which would be watershed law in Montana. The penalty is standard misdemeanor verbiage (“…fined not less than $50 or more than $500 or imprisoned in the county jail for not more than 6 months, or both.”) There is currently no specific Montana statutory regulation of corner-crossing, either allowing or prohibiting it so its legality remains vague, awaiting a test court case. Legislation was introduced in the 2013 Legislative session to make it legal but that bill was defeated. Although regularly discussed and argued, no western state to this point has adopted formal a corner-crossing law. It is a regular point of discussion, however, and many believe that should one be passed, it would ultimately find its way up in to the federal courts.
The modification is as follows:
(5) In cases where it is not practicable to provide effective posting of private land as required by subsections (1) through (3), including private land that is unfenced and situated in a checkerboard ownership pattern with public lands, privilege to enter or remain upon land is extended only by the explicit permission of the landowner. Entry to private property as described in this subsection (5) from adjacent public lands without permission of the landowner or the landowner's agent is an absolute liability offense. A violator of this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than $50 or more than $500 or imprisoned in the county jail for not more than 6 months, or both
A hearing has been scheduled for March 8 in House Judiciary. It received its first reading on the 23rd of February and the fiscal note came out February 27th. .. Casey Knudson (R- Malta) is on this committee. He’s the one that slipped in the amendment eliminating the orange paint standards to the criminal trespass law a few weeks ago. That amendment was resoundingly beat back on the floor of the House following a massive email/letter/call campaign by sportsmen and women. Both House and Senate Judiciary committees have shown themselves to be less than public access friendly.
The full text of the bill can be found at:
HYPERLINK "http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2017/billpdf/HB0566.pdf" \o "blocked::http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2017/billpdf/HB0566.pdf" \t "_blank" http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2017/billpdf/HB0566.pdf
HB 566 needs to be defeated. It is a restrictive, poorly written law, and will formally and specifically make corner-crossing a criminal offense. It contributes to further ambiguity by reducing the responsibility to accurately post private land and does little, if anything to encourage public compliance. It is a de facto means of underscoring access restrictions questionably placed on public land, and will have major consequences to sportspeople and the general public.
John Borgreen, Great Falls Joe Perry, Conrad
Jeff Herbert, Helena Sam Milodragovich, Butte
Steve Schindler, Glasgow JW Westman, Park City
Robert Wood, Hamilton Mike Korn, Helena
A hearing has been scheduled for March 8 in House Judiciary. It received its first reading on the 23rd of February and the fiscal note came out February 27th.
Send message to House Judiciary Committee here http://leg.mt.gov/css/Sessions/65th/legwebmessage.asp or Phone 444-4800
And contact individual committee members below