Archive for February 22nd, 2009

by jhwygirl

We’ve got bad environmental legislation this session. That’s nothing new – it happens every legislative session. Most probably think it comes from Republicans – but the truth is that good and bad comes from both sides of the aisles. There is no line drawn on environmental issues that makes good stuff comes from the Democratic side of the aisle, and the bad stuff come from the Republican.

Supermontana reporter John S. Adams, of the Great Falls Tribune, reported on some of the more egregious environmental legislation that’s passed various legislative processes in the last few days – bills which exempt MEPA review for stimulus projects (SB481); exempt water permitting regulations for coalbed methane (Didn’t Wyoming have a huge mess down there in Pinedale? Weren’t ranchers – who didn’t own subsurface rights – livid, for years, over that very issue?) (HB575); and add exemptions for air quality permits (SB440).

Wow. Sen. Keith Bales is a busy guy!

But let’s be fair here. While Bales (R) is the requestor for HB575, Rep. Bill McChesney (D) is the primary sponsor carrying the bill forward. Politics, Peaks, and Valleys has a scathing piece on this piece of you-know-what.

SB440 passed the Senate Natural Resources committee on Saturday, and now heads to the floor for a vote, likely on Tuesday or Wednesday. Write or call your Senator on this one, folks.

What else made it in the last few days? Sen. Jim Keane’s (D) bill which revises laws related to major facility siting. SB360 would exempt 10 miles or up to 10% of new right-of-way from the major facility siting act. It also defines sensitive areas as “government recognized” only. This bill passed 3rd reading and now heads to the House.

Pissed off yet?

Here’s more: Democratic Sen. Larry Jent is moving SB94, which revised closed basin water permitting bills, essentially exempting water appropriation permits which would be a huge help to all sorts of oil and hard minerals acquisition interests. This bill, also, would undo recent court rulings that were adverse to the state…because – get this – the state doesn’t appeal these rulings that they lose because they know they’re going to lose them and once they do, they’ve gotta comply with the ruling state-wide. Right now, that adverse ruling just affects the one Tongue River permit that the case scrutinized. This bill passed 3rd reading on Saturday, and now heads to the House.

Lovely, right?

Oh, wait: still more – SB387, from J.S. Adams’ piece, passed the Senate floor vote on Saturday, and moves to the House. That was on a 27-23 vote.

HB483, again from the J.S. Adams piece, cleared House Federal Relations, Energy, and Telecommunications committee and heads to a floor vote sometime this week.

SB237, also from the J.S. Adams piece, passed 3rd reading in the House and now heads to the Senate.

What else is there? Well, there’s HB379 which would exempt municipal systems from water appropriation permitting. It sits – for now – tabled in House Natural Resources in a 10-10 vote. If you’ve not written or called on this one yet, let’s put some extra insurance out there to protect our water and Montana’s senior water rights holders and make that call to House Natural Resources, or shoot an email to Shirley Chovanak the secretary – schovanak@mt.gov.

What else? Well, Adams’ piece mentioned 3 bills that cleared House Federal Relations, Energy, and Telecommunications committee – and since the online edition only mentioned 1, I’ve only hit on that one. The accompanying chart, which I’m sure was very informative, though was only available in the pulp edition.

Dare I delve further? Not unless I want to get my blood pressure up, and besides that, I think I’ve had enough for now.

I’ll leave you with these two quotes, from Anne Hedges, of the Montana Environmental Information Center:

These bills violate the constitution, and they violate federal law. Many of these bills are going straight to court.

and this one:

We’ll find out how the governor really feels about environmental protection and citizens’ rights when these bills get to his desk.

by jhwygirl

I suppose, perhaps, we are going to see some serious executive action this week on the backlog of previous hearings? The list of hearings seems awfully short: Only 8 hearings scheduled for both the House and Senate for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Which means I’ll have to be looking into what’s been left hanging.

On Monday, Rep. Mary Caferro finally gets her hearing on HB401 in House Appropriations. HB401 deals with regulations concerning meth-contaminated properties and is geared toward providing protections for renters and homebuyers. I blogged about this just a few days ago – and in case you missed that piece, just go and check this list out, which not only lists meth-contaminated properties around the state, but allows you to see how long (too long) it takes from determination that a property is meth-contaminated to when the property owner gets notified – yet alone how long it takes to get to a point of actual remediation. There is contact information in the previous post.

Sen. David Wanzenried has SB463 before the Senate Public Health, Welfare & Safety committee. This bill would make changes to laws concerning employment of disabled persons – making educational materials available and allowed them to be employed by family members. Joan Linkenbach is the secretary – jlinkenbach@mt.gov. Make sure to mention the bill by number and to note, specifically, that you are submitting public comment for the committee members.

Also on Monday, Sen. Jim Schockley has SB497, which is a messy affair – to say the lease. It would make it a crime to obstructing a protest at a health care facility. What if you are protesting the protest? Who can come withing 8 feet of whom? Talk about making it a mess for police. Maybe Shockley would rather see everyone arrested? Or is it “I was here first?” Better to protect the ability to protest, and to make sure those protesters are a safe distance away from the health care facility – like 100 feet? He’s got 36 feet in there. Lord – what a mess. Say “NO” to this one folks: Contact the Senate Judiciary committee by emailing Pam Schindler and telling her you are submitting public comment, and request that it be given to all the committee members. Her email address is pschindler@mt.gov.

On Tuesday Rep. Betsy Hands is ushering HB569 which would set up a revolving state fund for affordable housing. I said Affordable Housing people – and rather than belabor the point, search 4&20 for that term, over there on the left, and you’ll see how badly this bill is needed. This is in House Appropriations, Samuel Speerschneider the secretary: sspeerschneider@mt.gov.

Remember, if you can’t or aren’t able to send an email, go ahead and call the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800 to leave a message for the entire committee. You can also leave individual messages for individual legislators. Up to 5 at a time. Make sure to have the bill number handy. Your message will be delivered directly to the legislators. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462. The Session Information Desk opens at 7:30 a.m., and closes at 5 p.m.




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