Checking in the 2013 Montana Legislature

by Wayne Mumford on February 5, 2013

I confess, I enjoy a little political blood sport. I’m skeptical of politicians to begin with so when I see them filleting their own kind, it’s not much cause for alarm. Increasingly I feel that they are not really taking part in the constructive advancement of common sense ideals offered up by the more sane populations of their constituencies and are more interested in going off on self-serving larks fueled by the coffers of even more self-serving special interests. You don’t see many Mr. Smiths in Washington (or anywhere else) these days.

It really came as no surprise that leading up to the 2013 Montana legislative session everybody was promising to play nice while behind the scenes these same “nice” guys were busy sticking forks in their more moderate counterparts, a decidedly more entertaining twist than the expected mud slinging across the aisles with the opposing party.  Of course when they conclude their “moderate” purge one can only wonder what they’ll be left with. At any rate, in the interest of what matters specifically to the world of water, fish and fisherman I thought I take a quick look at some of the bills that are being bandied about in the legislative session thus far.

There is some good being done. Kendall Van Dyk (D) Billings is doing his usual exemplary job promoting bills concerning outdoorsmen (women). So far, the session seems to be free of most of the outer space stuff from a couple years ago. Of course there is LC1452- Jerry O’Neil, (R)-Columbia Falls, a bill that allows criminal defendants to bargain for corporal punishment instead of doing jail time. Has a nice middle eastern flavor to it doesn’t it? Anyway, I went down the bill list real quick and these were the ones that caught my eye.

HB 62- Authorize FWP commission to require barbless hooks in catch-and-release waters. Currently tabled.

SB 229- Revise open-cut mining laws. Hearing set for 2/6. I think this one basically reverses a prior legislative action that prohibits current mines from expanding their operations. Nothing surprising here, they’ve been digging holes here for years. One to keep an eye on.

The next two are drafts. They are languishing in a dark corner waiting for what? The moment we all collectively go completely brain dead and stick our fingers in electrical outlets thereby lobotomizing ourselves right out of the legislative agenda?

LC1046- Generally nullify environmental protection agency directives. Krayton Kerns (R) HD 58. At least Kerns is being forthright about the bills intentions.

LC0838- Revise stream access laws related to codifying the Galt court decision. Fredrick Moore (R) HD 20. You knew it was out there. Someones always wanting to tinker with the Stream Access Law. Surprised? Moore’s next draft might sound familiar if you were around for the last legislative session, remember HB 309- the ditch bill?

LC0839- Provide statutory definition of an irrigation ditch. Can we do this without including everything that might be a historic part of a stream or river, past or present?

Ah yes, the legislative season is here again!

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