Your “Insider’s Guide” to the Legislature, since 1973

Volume 22, Number 1 — December 21, 2017, PDF Version

Welcome to the first issue of MEIC’s Capitol Monitor for the 2017 legislative session.  As usual, you can expect to receive high-quality and up-to-date information on the session from MEIC.

We expect that this session will be one of the most challenging in MEIC’s 43-year history. We hope that by communicating  promptly and frequently with you—our members—you will be able to participate more effectively in our lobbying efforts.

Montana Capitol Building

Montana Capitol Building

And—no kidding—we need your help. Our lobbyists cannot do it alone.  Protecting the environment this session will require everyone’s efforts. So please use the Capitol Monitor and our website (www.meic.org) to become involved. Let’s protect the things that make Montana special.

Legislators need to be told over and over that Montanans want clean air, clean water, clean energy, and the right to participate in government decision-making. If they don’t hear from you, it could be that they will only hear from well-heeled, self-interested lobbyists. It’s your choice.

To become engaged and informed during the 2017 session, sign up for our list!

It’s Going to Be Quite a Session

The post-election news may induce mental paralysis for many people concerned about environmental protection and public health. Many are asking: what do we do now? We know that action on climate change will stop at the federal level as climate liars take the helm of government and try to undo eight years of progress. Despite the fact that some Montana legislators who will be serving in the 2017 legislative session will be buoyed by this anti-science, anti-government, anti-right-to-know extremism at the federal level, MEIC and all environmentalists must face the challenge head on and continue to fight for clean water, clean air, and clean energy. Montanans want us to do just that, and many of Montana’s legislators and Gov. Steve Bullock need our support as they try to work in a bipartisan manner to move Montana forward.

Montana legislators from all across the state have already requested well over 2,000 bills. Most of those will never be introduced, but many are intended to weaken important environmental protections, for example, so that the Smith River mine and new and expanded coal mines can be developed regardless of their impact on water quality and the global climate. Clean energy is a bipartisan issue that lowers electricity bills and brings much needed revenue to communities across the state. MEIC will work on climate change and encouraging the transition away from coal, as well as on many other issues such as land use planning, air quality, oil and gas pollution, protecting constitutional rights, and much more.

MEIC will need the help of all of its members and supporters. We will make it easy for you:

  • sending periodic newsletters updating you on happenings at the Capitol;
  • constantly updating our website so you can know day-to-day what is going on and what you can do;
  • working with other organizations to organize citizen lobby days, not only to teach you how to talk to legislators, but directing you to what most needs doing on that particular day;
  • sending alerts asking for quick action from you, whether it is a telephone call or an e-mail message;
  • letting you know about legislative hearings you can attend and testify at (it can feel good to give legislators a piece of your mind once in a while); and
  • making maximum use of both traditional and social media to publicize our issues and concerns.

In short, there will be many ways to become involved and help protect Montana’s environment. Please plan on participating. MEIC and the environment need you now, more than ever.

A How-to Guide for Engaging During the 2017 Session

MEIC Legislative Bill Tracker

MEIC maintains and regularly updates a Legislative Bill Tracker that includes the important legislative proposals that could impact Montana’s environment. All of the bills on our bill tracker are categorized by issue, offer easy-to-understand descriptions, list MEIC’s position, and include a tool for contacting key legislators.

Capitol Monitor and Blog

MEIC will periodically publish issues of Capitol Monitor, and maintains a sign-up form to receive Capitol Monitor and other alerts by e-mail. MEIC also maintains the MEIC Blog, and has frequent posts about environmental and energy issues affecting Montana, including relevant writings on the 2017 Montana legislative session.

Calendar of Events

MEIC and other environmental organizations will hold “lobby days,” host legislative socials, and schedule membership meetings across the state to provide legislative updates. MEIC regularly updates its online events calendar, where you can learn the details of different events.

Legislative Roadshow!

MEIC is planning a legislative roadshow. Plan on attending a legislative social at a town near you. Join MEIC’s lobbying team for an Insider’s Guide to the Legislature, to find out what to expect and how you can be involved most effectively. Attend a legislative social event in January in Kalispell, Helena, Billings, Bozeman, Great Falls, or Missoula.

Attend a Citizen Lobby Day!

Please join us for a conservation lobby day during the 2017 legislative session. You’ll receive an exclusive training from policy experts in the conservation community on lobbying and a briefing on our priority issues. We’ll focus on critical legislation affecting clean energy, the Smith River, clean air, climate change, and land use.

At our lobby day members and supporters will join friends and members from other conservation groups for a training starting in the morning in Helena. Then we will head up to the Capitol for lunch with legislators, and one-on-one appointments and hearings in the afternoon. Lobby days are currently scheduled for January 26th, February 23rd, and March 17th.

2017 Montana Legislators

There are 150 Montana Legislators (50 Senators and 100 Representatives). MEIC maintains a profile of each Montana Legislator, including their contact information, legislative service, committee assignments, and previous MEIC voting records. You can also sort through the legislators by party affiliation, senate or house, and committee membership by using the selections on the right side-bar.

Leadership of the 65th Legislature

Officers of the Senate

President: Scott Sales, R-Bozeman

President Pro Tempore: Bob Keenan, R-Bigfork

Majority Leader: Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville

Majority Whips: Mark Blasdel, R-Kalispell, Ed Buttrey, R-Great Falls, Cary Smith, R-Billings

Minority Leader: Jon Sesso, D-Butte

Minority Whips: Tom Facey, D-Missoula, JP Pomnichowski, D-Bozeman

Officers of the House of Representatives

Speaker: Austin Knudsen, R-Culbertson

Speaker Pro Tempore: Greg Hertz, R-Polson

Majority Leader: Ron Ehli, R-Hamilton

Majority Whips: Seth Berglee, R-Joliet, Alan Doane, R-Bloomfield, Theresa Manzella, R-Hamilton, Brad Tschida, R-Missoula

Minority Leader: Jenny Eck, D-Helena

Minority Caucus Chair: Tom Woods, D-Bozeman

Minority Whips: Nate McConnell, D-Missoula, Shane Morigeau, D-Missoula, Casey Schreiner, D-Great Falls


2017 Senate Committees

Senate Natural Resources

Energy and Telecommunications

Senate Local Government

Senate Judiciary

Senate Fish and Game


2017 House Committees

House Natural Resources

House Federal Relations, Energy, and Telecommunications

House Local Government 

House Judiciary

House Fish, Wildlife, and Parks

How to Contact Your Legislators

  • By computer: MEIC will regularly offer ways to contact legislators via our 2017 legislative session page, online bill tracker, and legislator profiles;
  • By telephone:  To leave a message for your legislator or for session information, call (406) 444-4800 between 7:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. until adjournment on Saturday. You may need to be patient; the line has been understaffed in previous years.
  • By mail:

Montana Senate, P.O. Box 200500, Helena, MT 59620

Montana House of Representatives, P.O. Box 200400, Helena, MT 59620

MEIC’s Team at the Capitol

MEIC Lobbyists, Left to right: Brian Fadie; Jim Jensen; Anne Hedges; and Derf Johnson

Leading MEIC’s lobbying staff at the Capitol is Anne Hedges, MEIC’s Deputy Director. Anne joined MEIC in May 1993, and has lobbied every session since. She handles a wide range of issues that are important to MEIC members including energy, land-use planning, environmental policy, and air quality.

Jim Jensen has been MEIC’s Executive Director since 1985. He attended Westminster College in Salt Lake City and holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Montana (1980). Jim will focus primarily on clean water and mining issues at the legislature.

Derf Johnson, MEIC’s Water Program Direcotr, will be lobbying primarily on oil and gas development, hardrock mining, clean water, and energy issues. He is beginning his sixth year at MEIC. He is a graduate of the UM School of Law.

Brian Fadie, MEIC’s Clean Energy Program Director, will be lobbying primarily on renewable energy and energy efficiency issues. Brian recently started with MEIC, having graduated from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment in 2016.

Nadine NadowNadine Nadow, MEIC’s Legislative Assistant, will be assisting MEIC’s lobbying team during the 2017 Montana Legislature. Nadine is finishing her last year as a student at Vermont Law School. Her studies are focused in land use law and water law. She enjoys spending time with her dog running trails, skiing, and playing ultimate frisbee.