2019 Legislature – Bill Positions

 Check this page often to see which bills we’re tracking, when they are scheduled to be heard in committee, and how to take action. To search for a specific bill, hold down CTRL + F on your keyboard and begin typing the bill number, sponsor, or a keyword. 

Follow these steps to contact your legislators:

  1. Call (406) 444-4800 and tell the operator which legislator or committee you would like to leave a message for.
  2. Reference the Bill/Resolution #. Keep your message simple so that it holds form as it gets passed along.
  3. Optional – Ask the operator to repeat the message back to you.
  4. You can also visit https://leg.mt.gov/web-messaging to leave a written message for a legislator or committee.

Support

HB 22 - Level the playing field for renewable energy 

Sponsored by Rep. Laurie Bishop, D-Livingston
TAKE ACTION

This bill would extend the contract length for renewable energy projects to twenty-five years to make them more competitive for inclusion in Montana’s utilities’ energy portfolios—a necessary step in encouraging the transition to clean, renewable energy. HB 22 was heard in the House of Energy, Technology and Federal Relations Committee on February 13.

Contact members of the committee and tell them to vote yes on HB 22.


HB 118 - Get the Lead out of Montana Schools

Sponsored by Rep. Julie Dooling, R-Helena

This bill would create a grant program to pay for removing lead from the drinking water in Montana schools – an invisible but serious health threat to our children and our communities. We expect that the bill will be heard in the House Natural Resources Committee soon.


HB 193 - Tax carbon from large polluters

Sponsored by Rep. Mary Ann Dunwell D-Helena

This bill would levy a $10/ton tax on carbon from sources emitting 25,000 metric tons or more of carbon every year and use the revenue for economic development, fund health initiatives, and bolster the general fund. Taxing carbon would put powerful market pressures on power plants to reduce their carbon emissions and would be an important step forward in beginning to address climate change.

There was a lively hearing on January 31 in the House Taxation Committee. The bill was tabled in committee on February 8.

 


HB 267 - Lay the groundwork for smart meters and the smart grid

Rep. Daniel Zolnikov, R-Billings

This bill establishes the legal security framework necessary to protect consumers’ personal information if they opt to have a “smart meter” installed by a utility. Smart meters are an effective tool that allows consumers to monitor and control their energy usage through their smartphones or computers and allow utilities to track energy usage and make adjustments to conserve energy. Smart meters are an essential part of the eventual creation of the “smart grid” of the future.

HB 267 passed 2nd reading in the House on February 14.

 


HB 271 - Require oil pipelines to avoid heritage and tribal cultural sites

Sponsored by Rep. Bridget Smith, D-Wolf Point
TAKE ACTION

Similar to SB 97, HB 271 would require a more thorough environmental review of proposed pipeline projects but it goes on step further in requiring that pipelines be routed to avoid identified heritage and tribal cultural sites. This bill was heard in the House Natural Resources Committee on January 30.

Take Action! Contact members of the committee and tell them to vote yes on HB 271.


HB 292 - Continue funding the coal board to help coal communities prepare for the energy transition

Rep. Barry Usher, R-Billings

This bill would continue the current contribution to the coal natural resources account, which funds the coal board which distributes the money to coal communities, at 5.8% until 2023 instead of letting it decrease to 2.9% this year. This will allow the coal board to continue to put money away to help coal communities adjust to the decline in the coal industry and the energy transition.

HB 292 passed out of the House and was transmitted to the Senate on February 14.


HB 431 - Creation of a Montana farmer educational loan repayment assistance program

Sponsored by Rep. Zach Brown, D-Bozeman

This bill would enact a student loan forgiveness program for Montana residents who pursue a career in farming or ranching after receiving their degree. HB 431 would revise Growth Through Agriculture laws and use interest income from coal severance tax funds to repay up to 50% of a student’s loans. This bill was heard in the House Agriculture Committee on February 14.

Contact members of the committee and tell them to vote yes on HB 431!


SB 66 - Improve gravel pit reclamation

Sponsored by Sen. Tom Richmond, R-Billings

This bill, requested by the Department of Environmental Quality, would improve the process by which the department reviews and enforces reclamation requirements for gravel pits. It would clarify what gravel pit operators are required to submit to the agency and tighten up the time frames for review of reclamation plans which will save the state money and result in speedier reclamation which is good for landowners who have gravel pits on their property and good for the environment. SB 66 will be heard in the Senate Natural Resources Committee soon.


SB 97 - Require better environmental review for oil pipelines

Sponsored by Sen. Frank Smith, D-Poplar

This bill would require a more thorough environmental review of major oil pipelines like the Keystone XL including evaluating impacts on heritage sites. This bill was heard in the Senate Natural Resources Committee on January 30.

This bill has been tabled in the Senate Natural Resources Committee.


SB 188 - Ensure wind and solar are allowed to compete on an even footing in energy procurement

Sen. Sue Malek, D-Missoula
TAKE ACTION

This bill would create a resource procurement advisory committee that would review, evaluate, and make recommendations on utility’s energy procurement decisions to ensure that the process promotes the best interest of rate-payers and give all energy sources–wind and solar included–a fair shake in the process.

SB 188 was heard on February 14 by the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee.

Take Action! Contact members of Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee and tell them to vote yes on SB 188.


SB 189 - Tax carbon from large emitters and incentivize innovation in carbon-free production

Sen. Dick Barrett, D-Missoula
TAKE ACTION

This bill would create a $10/ton tax on carbon from large emitters like power plants and refineries but allow for large emitters to offset their taxes with investments in low- or carbon-free energy production or manufacturing.

SB 189 was heard by the Senate Energy Committee on February 7 and the committee is expected to take action soon.

Take Action! Contact members of the Senate Energy Committee and tell them to vote yes on SB 189.


SB 190 - Reduce carbon emissions 100% by 2050

Sen. Mike Phillips, D-Bozeman

This bill would empower the Board of Environmental Review to create rules requiring Montana’s carbon dioxide emissions to be reduced 25% below 2010 levels by 2022, 50% by 2030, and 100% by 2050.

SB 190 was heard by the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee on February 7 and was tabled in committee on February 12.

 


SB 191 - Allow coal counties to create coal trust funds to prepare for transition

Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip

This bill would allow coal counties to create trust funds to set aside money from their existing budgets from property tax revenues they receive from coal-fired power plants and mines in trust funds to be used as their economies change with the energy transition.

This bill will be heard by the full Senate on February 15.


SB 201 - Protect coal miners’ pensions when coal companies go out of business

Sen. Duane Ankney, R-Colstrip

This bill would require coal mining companies to post surety bonds with the state to cover the cost of their workers’ pensions when they go bankrupt or reorganize–scenarios we’re already seeing play out in the midst of declining coal prices. SB 201 will create some security and stability for workers and their communities as they confront the energy transition.

This bill was heard by the Senate Natural Resources Committee on February 6 and the committee is expected to take action soon. Contact members of the committee and tell them to vote yes on SB 201.


SB 206 - The Montana Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) Act

Sponsored by Sen. Al Olszewski, R-Kalispell
TAKE ACTION

This bill would restore country of origin labeling for beef and pork sold in Montana to give our ranchers and farmers a fair shake and give Montana consumers the information they want. The bill would require that placards be placed in meat counters to inform consumers about where the meat was born, raised, harvested, and processed. The bill was heard in the Senate Agriculture, Livestock, and Irrigation Committee on February 12.

Click here to sign on in support of COOL!

Contact members of the committee and tell them to vote yes on COOL!


SB 245 - The Montana Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy Act

Sponsored by Sen. Mary McNally, D-Billings
TAKE ACTION

This bill would provide business owners and agricultural producers access to 100% upfront financing to make energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements to their properties. C-PACE allows business and property owners to start saving money on their energy bills from day one. This bill is good for Montana businesses, promotes energy independence, and immediately addresses the impacts of climate change. C-PACE financing will be repaid through long-term loans (up to 20 years) through an assessment on the property.

The bill has been introduced and we expect a hearing for the week of February 18, in the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee.

Click here to learn more about C-PACE and see case studies from commercial property owners across the country.


Oppose

HB 144 - Kill tax credits for energy conservation and so much more!

Sponsored by Rep. Alan Redfield, R-Livingston
TAKE ACTION

In the name of raising revenue for state coffers, this bill would end tax credits that Montanan’s use to make energy conservation investments in their homes as well as more than two dozen other tax credits. In addition to energy conservation, HB 144 would ax tax credits for landowners who allow access to land-locked public lands, biodiesel production, investments in historic preservation, for employers who invest in daycare facilities, and for employers who provide disability insurance to employees. HB 144 leaves other tax credits alone, including those involving capital gains and donations to churches and other tax-exempt groups alone. This bill was heard in the House Taxation Committee on Thursday, January 24.

The House Taxation Committee will be taking action soon! Contact committee members and tell them to vote no on HB 144.


HB 203 - Have the State of Montana purchase and run Colstrip

Sponsored by Rep. Rodney Garcia, R-Billings

This bill would allow the state of Montana to issue up to $500 million in bonds to buy and run the Colstrip coal-fired power plant. Investing in coal at a time when coal-fired generation is increasingly uneconomical and uncompetitive compared to natural gas, wind, and solar is irresponsible. It would leave Montanans yoked to the aging, expensive plant and shrinking market for coal-fired energy, but potentially on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in cleanup. This bill was heard in the House Energy, Telecommunications, and Federal Relations Committee on Monday, January 21.

This bill was tabled in committee unanimously on February 6.


HJ 4 - Encourage more coal export

Sponsored by Rep. Joe Read, R-Ronan
TAKE ACTION

This joint resolution would send a message from the legislature to Washington, D.C that Montana wants the federal government to intervene and force Washington state to allow the Millennium coal terminal to be built to increase the export of Montana coal to Asia. The Legislature has more pressing issues than to waste its energy on meaningless gestures encouraging the federal government to meddle in state affairs. The bill passed out of the House and is expected to be heard in the Senate Natural Resources Committee on February 20.

Take Action! Contact members of the committee and tell them to vote no on HJ 4!


LC 973 - Allow bad actor mining companies to pollute Montana

Sponsored by Sen. Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville

This bill, soon to be introduced, would eviscerate Montana’s bad actor law that prevents mining companies who pollute Montana and leave taxpayers responsible for cleanup from obtaining a mining permit in the future. Hecla Mining Company has been denied a permit to mine copper and silver beneath the Cabinet Mountain Wilderness in Northwestern Montana because it’s CEO, Philip Baker Jr., was formerly the CFO of the Pegasus Mining Company which went bankrupt in 1988 and left Montana taxpayers on the hook for $35 million in cleanup costs at the Zortman-Landusky Mine. Rather than complying with the law, Hecla wants to overturn this important protection for Montana taxpayers and the environment which was passed with bi-partisan support.

We expect this bill to be introduced and heard soon. Call your senator and representative and tell them to protect taxpayers and Montana’s environment by maintaining our bad actor law!


SB 28 - Tax giveaway to oil companies!

Sponsored by Sen. Tom Richmond, R-Billings

This bill would keep the state tax rate for any oil produced through “enhanced oil recovery” — pumping carbon dioxide or other gases or chemicals in the ground to increase production in old and low-performing wells—at the low level of 5.8% vs. 9% or 12% if the price goes over $54 a barrel. This is a giveaway to oil companies that will deprive state coffers of much-needed funds.

This bill has passed both the House and Senate and is waiting to be signed by Gov. Bullock.


SB 48 - Oppose unless amended to bring water polluters back into compliance

Sponsored by Sen. Tom Richmond, R-Billings

This bill, proposed by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), is intended to give the department the ability to grant variances from water quality standards to municipal wastewater treatment facilities that are having trouble meeting water quality standards. The aim is to give the DEQ and the treatment facilities time and space to improve and meet the standards. While the intent is noble, writing the law in a way that keeps wastewater treatment facilities and other polluters and the DEQ accountable for protecting our streams and rivers demands precise language and objectives.

We adamantly opposed the first version of this bill but are working with the DEQ to amend the bill to require that:

  • Any permit holder must submit a written plan detailing how they will meet water quality standards before receiving a variance.
  • Rule-making for the variance program is conducted by the Board of Environmental Review and not the DEQ to ensure transparency and the consideration of all stakeholder concerns.
  • There is a defined limit on how many variances a polluter can obtain, including a limit on how many years the permit-holder can operate within a variance, to prevent them from polluting our water indefinitely.
This bill was heard by the Senate Natural Resources Committee on February 13. We expect to see new amendments responding to our position any day and the committee to take action soon.

SB 93 - Impose excessive decommissioning and bonding requirements on large-scale solar

Sponsored by Sen. Tom Richmond, R-Billings

This bill would create decommissioning requirements including bonding for large solar projects, similar to what exists for wind.  In theory, this is a good idea–it would provide the surety to protect taxpayers and landowners from having to clean up solar developments when they reach the end of their lives. As written, however, SB 93 doesn’t take into account that solar companies often already engage in this sort of bonding with landowners on whose land these projects are developed. More importantly, it doesn’t require the same decommissioning requirements for other forms of energy production including natural gas and coal which is desperately needed and in effect puts renewables at a competitive disadvantage compared to other forms of generation.

The bill passed out of committee on February 13. Call your legislator and tell them to vote no on SB 93!