It’s starting to feel like crunch time, and we appreciate you hanging in there with us to help protect the things we care about.

As bills start to move out of committees and get amended, we wanted to let you know that it’s okay to comment multiple ways on a bill. You already sent an email to the committee? Give them a call (406-444-4800). Already called the committee? Call your local representatives (same number). These are the big, bad bills of the session, and our representatives need to know that you oppose them.

1. Register to testify against SB 379, the #BillionDollarBailout before noon TODAY!

We need YOU to register to testify against SB 379, the NorthWestern Energy bill that will cost consumers more than $1.8 billion.

Click here to register for public testimony before noon today (Monday)!

Your outrage over skyrocketing electric bills will help kill this bill. The more people who can testify in opposition to this bill, the better. The Senate Energy Committee needs to know that higher electricity bills will hurt real Montanans like you.

If you’ve never testified at a hearing, here are some tips. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team — we’re here to help.

Share this bill with your friends and family on social media, forward this email, spread the word. This. Will. Affect. Everyone.

If you want to learn more about this outrageous bill, go to MEIC’s website here and see MEIC’s latest fact sheet, read newspaper articles and editorials and watch recent TV coverage. This bill is one for the record books.

2. That terrible takings bill just got WORSE and it’s up for a vote TODAY.

Remember SB 260, the bill that could bankrupt Montana? Well, it got worse and the full House is scheduled to vote on it TODAY (Monday) at 1 pm!

Thanks to some amendments from the House Business & Labor Committee on Friday morning, this bill would not only affect State regulations, but Local Government regulations as well. That means that if your city or county enacted a regulation that caused a 25%+ loss of business (such as a mask mandate during a global pandemic, zoning, subdivision limitations, floodplain restrictions, etc.), the property owner or business could sue the city or county and force it to pay for for that reduced value or it would have to eliminate the regulation.

The long and short is that this bill could lead to a total lack of regulation, which is dangerous for provisions that protect your health, safety, and the environment.

If you’ve already commented on this bill, it’s time to do so again. It passed out of committee and is headed to the House floor for a vote this week.

Send a message on our website, call your reps at 406-444-4800, call the Governor at 406-444-3111, and tell your local government officials to oppose this bill!!!

3. Register to Testify Against HB 481, an Anti-Protest Bill

You know how trespassing and vandalism are already illegal? Well, HB 481 adds huge, additional penalties when those actions are taken against “critical infrastructure.” Essentially, this bill targets protesters against the Keystone XL Pipeline by adding fines of up to $150,000 and 30 years in prison to activities that are already illegal.

In addition, organizations that promote these protests could also be subject to punishment if they are found to be a “co-conspirator” in the protest.

There’s a hearing on April 1 at 8 am in Senate Judiciary.

These are dark times but together we can bring a little sunshine into the ongoing shenanigans in the Capitol!

MEIC in the News

Senate Bill 379 could create a ‘glide path out of Colstrip’ for the utility — and put utility customers on the hook for $267 million in stranded costs.

A bill that seeks to keep coal-fired energy generation in play by significantly revising the Public Service Commission’s role in regulating utilities has raised red flags for both the PSC and environmental groups. 

As written, Senate Bill 379 would allow current and future owners of coal-fired power assets to fully recover costs for any undepreciated value and remediation expenses from energy consumers. It would also allow the utility to recover market value for new ownership of a coal power asset, even if it was purchased for less than market value, a scenario that brings to mind a now-defunct proposal for NorthWestern to purchase 25% ownership of Unit 4 for from Washington-based Puget Sound Energy for $1. Additionally, SB 379 would direct the PSC to allow the continued operation of coal-fired power plants “until the commission issues an order finding that the closure of the units is in the public interest.”

Read more: A ‘wish list for NorthWestern’ – Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press. March 25, 2021

Check out some other news stories from the past week:

Withholding energy assistance – Johnathan Hettinger, Montana Free Press. March 26, 2021

Bill to boost Colstrip and coal-fired power blasted by critics – Mike Dennison, KXLH. March 25, 2021

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