As we begin the second half of the session, we cannot thank you enough for your tremendous support.
But we are not done, yet. There are a couple of bills that we will need your help to defeat this session, and they are doozies.
And be sure to check out our new bill tracker on our website!
1. The Worst Bill of the Session… Even with Stiff Competition
Perhaps the most worrisome bill of the session is SB 260 (Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls).
SB 260 would greatly expand on the provision in the Montana Constitution that already requires a government body to pay a property owner if an action takes away the entire value of that person’s property. SB 260 drastically changes that. SB 260 would require the state to pay whenever a state action diminishes the value of the property by as little as 25% regardless of the need for the regulation to protect public health, safety, and welfare.
A similar bill in 2013 was projected to cost Montana $600 million over six years and it had protections for public health, safety, and welfare! Governments must be able to protect all people, including those who live downwind or downstream from a project, or are concerned about their property values or well-being.
SB 260 defines property so broadly that it includes far more than just land. It also includes stocks, bonds, business brands, credit, intellectual property, perceived financial stability of a company, property fixtures, personal property or appurtenances, water rights, permits, domestic animals, all obligations, labor, business licenses, all types of property associated with business licenses, and a host of other types of property.
SB 260 would prohibit the state from imposing limitations on any of these types of property if it might decrease their value by as little as 25%, or the state could be sued and forced to pay the property owner, regardless of the need to protect other people’s health, property, well-being or the environment. For example, the State of Montana could have to pay if it revoked a doctor’s license for malpractice – a policy that removes the incentive to hold doctors accountable.
Please go to MEIC.org to learn more and to view other examples of why this is such a terrible idea for Montana, or send a message to House Business and Labor using our new action center.
2. Protect Your Right to Vote for Nuclear Energy
In 1978, Montana’s voters approved of Initiative 80 (I-80). I-80 passed after many Montanans dedicated years of their time to knocking on doors and calling people across the state to discuss this measure. Their efforts speak for themselves, with 65% of the voters approving I-80. I-80 does not ban nuclear energy in the state, instead, it allows Montanans to vote for the approval of the siting of any new nuclear facility in the state. I-80 also implements important safeguards that protect Montanans from the potential dangers of nuclear energy. However, Rep. Derek Skees (R-Kalispell) does not believe that you are qualified to make these decisions, or that the state should continue to implement these safety measures.
Rep. Skees has sponsored HB 273, a bill that aims to overturn I-80. During the hearing for the bill, Rep. Skees said, “The majority of the folks who voted for the initiative did not know what they were voting for.” Well, we should prove him wrong. HB 273 will likely head to Senate Energy and Telecommunications next. Please contact Senate Energy, and let them know that you oppose HB 273 and that you are capable of making an informed decision regarding the dangers and benefits of nuclear energy.
3. Tell Daines to Support Haaland’s Nomination
President Joe Biden picked Rep. Deb Haaland (New Mexico) for Secretary of the Interior. Rep. Haaland nomination is historic because she would be the first Indigenous woman to oversee the Department of Interior which includes the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Bureau of Indian Education; something that is long overdue. Unfortunately, Sen. Steve Daines does not share our enthusiasm. Rep. Haaland’s nomination for the Interior Department represents a breath of fresh air during the climate crisis, and an opportunity to undo many of the anti-environmental decisions made by the previous administration.
Sen. Daines has announced that he intends to delay Rep. Haaland’s nomination. Please contact Sen. Daines to let him know that Montanans support Rep. Haaland’s nomination for the U.S. Interior Department. Rep. Haaland is already receiving bipartisan support from Republican Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, and there is no reason that Sen. Daines should be any different.
Please contact Sen. Steve Daines by sending him an email from a form on our site (you can also send a message from his official website) or calling (202) 224-2651.
MEIC in the News
At the same time the House was reviewing a bill sponsored by Rep. Derek Skees, R-Kalispell, to remove restrictions on nuclear development, the Senate was at work on Senate Joint Resolution 3, which directs the state to study advanced nuclear reactors. The resolution appears well-positioned to pass — halfway through the session, SJ 3 has garnered unanimous support in the Senate.
Sponsor Terry Gauthier, R-Helena, becomes audibly excited discussing the measure. He said he sees modern nuclear technology as away for Montana to send electrons to the energy-thirsty markets of the Pacific Northwest by tying into the high-voltage transmission lines leading out of Colstrip.
Gauthier said he became interested in modern — and much smaller — nuclear reactors when a constituent brought them to his attention as a possible replacement for the coal-fired power plant in Colstrip, the productive future of which is saddled with uncertainty. He said he sees the technology as a carbon-free energy source for the future that could help the state meet its power needs while preserving some existing jobs and infrastructure in Colstrip. Read more: Nuclear on the radar: Part II – Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press. March 5, 2021
Nuclear on the radar: Part I – Amanda Eggert, Montana Free Press. March 5, 2021
MT may be dealing with ‘Carbon Collar’ – Gary Matson, Missoulian Opinion. Feb. 28, 2021