You might notice that this week’s email comes from our newest team member, Melissa Nootz. As MEIC’s Campaigns & Advocacy Director, I’ve jumped right in helping with the team’s outreach during the first week of the second half of the session.

Thanks to the MEIC team and our deeply engaged membership for welcoming me onboard with open arms this week during a critical time in the legislative session for all of us that care about protecting our right to a clean and healthful environment.

Having faced the intimate reality of what it means to live in Montana with decades of historic unregulated industrial pollution permeating our communities, I am critically aware of how each bill that passes through the legislature can impact our families for generations.

We are working hard to fight bad policies, and I hope you can join us. Please do one (or all!) of the three things this week, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. 

1. Take action on high priority bills this week:

Here are some deadlines and action items for our highest priorities this week:

Monday (today)

HB 599: Eliminate environmental protections & public notification and involvement in gravel pit permitting
MEIC position: Oppose
Hearing: March 15 at 3 pm
Take action:Send a message to the committee and write a letter to the editor on our website.


SB 260: Undermining state regulation by expanding regulatory takings law
MEIC position: Oppose
Hearing: March 16 at 8:30 am
Take action: Send a message to the committee and write a letter to the editor on our website.


-You can register to testify at this hearing using this link until noon on March 16.

HB 527: Eliminate the ability to form citizen-initiated zoning (CIZ) districts
MEIC position: Oppose
Hearing: March 17 at 3 pm
Take action: Send a message to the committee and write a letter to the editor on our website.

2. Interested in writing a letter to the editor? Reach out!

Letters to the Editor are an incredibly effective way for communities to raise awareness and sound the alarm on issues that will impact their well-being. Plus, the more LTEs a publication receives about an issue, the more likely they are to cover it in a story on its own.

We’ve got a page to get you started on an LTE for HB 273, a bill that would rescind your right to vote on a nuclear facility in Montana. But there are plenty of bills that need your voice.

MEIC is equipped to help you write an LTE on the bills that we’re watching. Please contact me, Melissa ( or Katy ( if you want more information or resources.

3. Join us at an event with PCEC tonight at 5 pm.

Our friends at Park County Environmental Council (PCEC) are hosting a legislative update tonight at 5 pm. Anne Hedges will give an update on MEIC’s priorities for the session, as well as answer any questions. We’d love to see you there, or share with any friends who might be interested in joining.

You can register for the call using this link.

MEIC in the News

A long-time goal for pro-business groups in Montana — requiring government reimbursement for the cost of regulations — is gaining ground in the Legislature, while alarming others who fear it will cripple the state’s budget and its ability to enforce measures that protect the public.

Senate Bill 260 would broadly expand how the state defines private property, while requiring that many regulations and rules that devalue property by 25% or more be compensated by the state or local government enforcing them. It passed the Senate on a party-line, 31-19 vote shortly before a midpoint-of-the-session deadline and faces its first House hearing Tuesday.

The concept of regulatory takings is similar to eminent domain, when the government must pay out the value of property it takes for public use. State and federal courts, however, have held that only applies to instances where the government removes the full value. SB 260 would expand the idea to a broad range of other circumstances, including state regulations on specific types of businesses and actions that devalue “intangible” property like intellectual property, licenses and reputations.

“Why should you have to have your property basically run down to nothing, where you can’t do anything with it before a taking comes along?” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls, in an interview last week. “And that’s basically the law. I mean, it has to be functionally rendered useless in order for you to have a taking.”

Because of the bill’s broad implications for the state’s ability to enact and enforce regulations — from environmental and public safety rules to issuing or setting the terms of licenses — Montana Environmental Information Center policy director Anne Hedges says she’s more worried about SB 260 than any other proposal within range of reaching the governor’s desk this session.

“It sounds simple on its face, but the depth of a proposal like this is going to devastate the state, which is why similar bills have failed in previous sessions,” Hedges said.

SB 260 is the first of the regulatory takings bills to clear either chamber in more than a decade. A 2009 bill with similar language to Fitzpatrick’s won Senate approval before dying on a tie vote in the House. At least four other similar measures have been introduced since.

As with previous iterations, however, Democrats and environmental advocates have expressed alarm that the law would upend the state’s ability to enforce everything from water quality standards and hunting tag limits to insurance, mining and flood plain regulations. Read more: Takings bill advances in Montana Legislature – Sam Wilson, MTPR. March 15, 2021

Montana Legislative Session Carries Echoes Of The Last Time GOP Held Power – Kevin Trevellyan, MTPR. March 10, 2021

Lawmaker proposes bill allowing payment plan for coal mining back taxes – Sam Wilson, Helena Independent Record. March 9, 2021

Comments are closed.