Today in Legislative Lunacy….

by jhwygirl

Where to begin?

Most offensive bill today I believe is HB309 which is effectively seeking to enable a situation where the public would be eliminated from public access to most waterways in the state. You know – that public access below the high water mark?

That is precisely what HB309 does.

Update: The Editor over at Button Valley Bugle hit this story – a subject at which BVB excels.

Last session, Sen. Rick Liable from down Ravalli County way did some high-stepping back-tracking when the public found out about his proposal to eliminate public access on the waterways, which essentially tried to undo the Mitchell Slough decision.

The Mitchell Slough is actually the St. Mary’s Fork of the Bitterroot River. Darned that I’m having issues providing you with a link to the original government land survey map from the late 1800’s.

Just because someone got in there with a bulldozer 75 years ago and built a new headgate and dragged 100 feet of new ditch into a braided portion of the Bitterroot does not a ditch make.

And more than a few judges said did a number of hydrologists.

23.30.202(2)c is the offending clause, exempting certain waterways – even those that are natural streams when there is a water diversion headgate on it.

The Mitchell Slough is the object of affection here for sponsor Rep. Jeffrey Welborn out of Dillon Montana – it has been cited as a stream that would be affected.

This bill is downright offensive – and Sen. Kendall Van Dyk pretty pissed. Media has picked up on this story too – I’ve seen it covered by NBC Montana and the superfantastic Marnee Banks of CBS Montana.

I’m gonna give a little ding here to the Billings Gazette for its headline here – the House did NOT pass the bill – it MAY do so with 3rd reading tomorrow.

(Didn’t I complain about that last session? Let me also say, in the Gazette’s defense, it has been done already this session – but this is at least the seconnd time it’s happened.)


This bill is a great example of the offensive nature that is reeking out of the session this year – this bill had Opponent after Opponent of citizen after citizen saying NO to this bill, yet the committee approved it on a 14-8 vote.

It wasn’t strict party line either – Democrat Frank Smith of Poplar voted Yes to this behemoth while Republican Brian Hoven of Great Falls had the goddess-given sense to vote No.

Take a look at the 55-44 vote and contact those legislators – this site or this site will help.

Focus on those 55 YES votes – those are the people voting against Montana’s interests and sporting and outdoor river heritage.

What is Montana without its streams and waterways.

  1. Ingemar Johansson

    Thanks for the heads up.

    I’ll be buying some headgates before they’re all sold out.

  2. I’ll say it again – elections have consequences, and one persons lunacy is another persons progress.

  3. and the hunters and fishermen and women of this state will be throwing your bums out next election if this passes.

    george ochenski writes about republicans going off the deep end in the legislature

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