2009 Legislative Session: Week 2 (Part I)

by jhwygirl

Legislators (and lobbyists) are going to be busy: There are 183 public hearings this week.

Below are some highlights (for me, at least) on a day-by-day basis:

Monday: Missoula’s Senator Dave Wanzenried has SB4 which proposes to create a permanent water policy subcommittee of the Environmental Quality Council. Water issues are important and complex – and they aren’t going to go away. A permanent committee is needed to address the issues, and to build seniority and a volume of knowledge on the subject. This hearing is in the Senate Natural Resources Committee – and you can submit pubic comment by emailing staffer Sonja Nowakowski and requesting distribution to committee members. Sonja’s email is snowakowski@mt.gov.

Also on Monday, also in the Senate, and also from Missoula, is Senator Ron Erickson’s (Senator Erickson, you need a legislative webpage) SB9, which would authorize funding of transportation project with use of revenue bonds. This one is in the Local Government committee and is important to many large communities around the state. As many of you know, state gas taxes are not disbursed proportionally, so larger communities face a greater burden on road funding. I’d hope that this has bi-partisan support. Leanne Heisel is the staffer for the Local Government committee, and you can email her your public comment at lheisel@mt.gov.

In the House, on Monday, I see HB30, which allows for youth election judges, of the age of 16. What better way to instill good citizen involvement? This one is from Rep. Franke Wilmer, of Bozeman. It’s in the House’s State Administration committee. Sheri Heffelfinger is the staffer, sheffelfinger@mt.gov.

Another one I like is Sidney’s Rep. Walter McNutt who has proposed HB52, which would ensure funding of hydrogeological studies of Montana’s ground water and prioritization of subbasins by the groundwater assessment steering committee. It also adds a member of the development community to the committee. It is in the Appropriations committee, staffed by Jon Moe, jmoe@mt.gov.

Stream access is up on Tuesday in the House’s Fish, Wildlife & Parks committee. HB190, sponsored by Billings Rep. Kendall Van Dyk is the sponsor. We blogged this one here, and the Missoulian covered it here. Doug Sternberg is the staffer, dsternberg.

I’ll have a separate post about HB88, which proposes to eliminate same-day registration. That hearing is on Tuesday, also.

On Wednesday, yet another near-and-dear-to-me hearing on water issues: SB93 and SB94, both proposed by Senator Larry Jent (who also needs a legislative webpage) of Bozeman, deal with water issues. SB93 clarifies groundwater appropriations in closed basins, and (very importantly) requires mitigation for net depletion of surface. The requirement of mitigation for net depletion is key – the current code merely recommends “if necessary.” SB94 revises laws concerning ground water appropriation in closed basins. In addition to further clarifying the hydrogeologic assessment requirements, it eliminates mitigative measures such as removal of vegetation (innovative, huh?). Both of these are in Natural Resources – snowakowski@mt.gov.

In the House, Rep. Jill Cohenour of Helena has 3 bills in the House Natural Resources related to water: SB39, SB40 and SB41. SB39 establishes a water rights enforcement program, associated appropriations and provides for consideration and protection of senior water rights holders in enforcement actions. SB40 generally revises provisions in the water permitting process, but importantly, it allows for objections to be heard in informal hearings. SB41 requires discharge permits to be obtained. All three are in the House Natural Resources Committee – Joe Kolman is the staffer, jkolman@mt.gov

Rep. Pat Ingram, of Thompson Falls has proposed HB18, on behalf of the State Administration and Veterans’ Affairs interim committee. It provides for a pilot program of mail-in ballots for certain counties for certain elections, for 2009 and 2010. It affects 17 counties: Big Horn, Blaine, Carbon, Carter, Gallatin, Jefferson, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Missoula, Phillips, Pondera, Ravalli, Richland, Rosebud, Sanders, Sweet Grass, and Yellowstone. This is in the House State Administration committee, sheffelfinger@mt.gov.

I’ll be looking at Thursday and Friday later this week.

If any ya’all want to adopt-a-bill, any of the 100’s that have been proposed, shoot me an email. It’s over there on the right under Pages.


  1. 1 2009 Legislative Session: Week 2 (Part II) « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] For Monday – Wednesday, check out Part I. […]

  2. 2 Dueling Water Policy Bills Results in Fear and Loathing in Senate Natural Resources Committee « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] I blogged about SB4 last week. […]

  3. 3 Legislative Session Roundup (Report I) « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] systems with revenue bonds has been tabled. This one is in the Senate Local Government committee. I had hoped that this had bi-partisan support, so I’m a bit surprised. Leanne Heisel is the staffer for the Local Government committee, and […]

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