Sender: Gary Marbut-MSSA <>

Subject: Legislative Update February 22nd, 2009
Date: Sun, 22 Feb 2009 11:55:35 -0700

MSSA Bills - 2009 Legislative Session

(Update February 22, 2009)

MSSA page about all legislative issues:

How to track bills, interact with the Legislature and support MSSA bills:

Bills supported

HB 228 - Self Defense - Rep. Krayton Kerns. A bill to cure voids and gray areas in Montana law about when and how a person may possess or use a firearm for self defense without fear of prosecution.
Bill at:
Explanation at:
Attack by law enforcement administrators:
Status: Passed by the House and transmitted to the Senate with Sections 5, 6, and 9 removed from the bill.
Action needed: Collect testimonials of support from current or former law enforcement officers and get those to MSSA or bill Sponsor Rep. Krayton Kerns. These will be needed soon.

HB 2 - Shooting Range Funding - Appropriations Committee (Natural Resources Subcommittee). This is part of the whole state budget, in House Bill 2. We are asking for $1.2 million of hunter license fee money be appropriated to the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks(FWP) budget by the Legislature for the Shooting Range Development Program (SRDP). Last biennium (two-year budget cycle) the Legislature appropriated $1 million. The FWP budget is reviewed by the Natural Resources Joint Subcommittee (NRJS) of the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Finance and Claims Committee. The NRJS will begin its public hearings on HB 2 on 1/19, at 8:30 AM in Room 317C of the Capitol. This public hearing will last for several days. It is unknown at this time just when the FWP budget and the SRDP item will come up.
Status: Pending before House Appropriations Committee
Action needed: Ask members of the NRJS to be sure to put $1.2 million in HB 2 for shooting ranges.

SB 183 - Wolves - Senator Joe Balyeat. A bill to wrest control of wolves out of federal hands and assert Montana primacy in managing wolves to protect hunting opportunities, livestock, and people working and recreating outdoors.
Bill at:
Explanation at:
Status: Approved by the Senate Fish and Game Committee; 5-4, party-line vote; sent to Senate floor for Second Reading.
Action needed: Ask all senators to approve SB 183 on Second Reading

HB 246 - Montana-made Firearms - Rep. Joel Boniek. A bill to challenge federal authority under the power of Congress to regulate commerce among the states, this bill declares that any firearms made and retained in Montana are not subject to any federal regulatory authority.
Bill at:
Status: Passed by House on Second Reading and re-referred to House Appropriations Committee.
Action needed: Ask members of House Appropriations to pass HB 246.

SB 185 - Non-resident College Student Hunting - Senator Joe Balyeat. A bill to allow non-resident, full-time college students in Montana to buy licenses for the same cost as residents, and to allow full-time college students from Montana temporarily living in other states to come home to hunt at the same price as residents.
Bill at:
Status: Passed by Senate and transmitted to House.
Action needed: None now.

HB 479 - Montana Home Guard Revitalization - Rep. Joel Boniek. A bill to flesh out the laws about the Montana Home Guard to allow a volunteer Montana corps to make trained and organized resources available to the Governor and county sheriffs in times of need - something between Neighborhood Watch and the Montana National Guard - more like volunteer fire departments but with a broader mission.
Bill at:
Status: Bill tabled by the House State Administration Committee.
Action needed: Too late - none.

HJ 14 - National Park Gun Regulations - Rep. Wendy Warburton. A Joint Resolution opposing a lawsuit by the Brady Campaign to block new regulations allowing self defense guns in National Parks, and urging the Montana Attorney General to intervene in that lawsuit to protect the rights of Montana citizens.
Resolution at:
Status: Passed by the House Judiciary Committee - on Second Reading 2/23.
Action needed: Ask House members to pass HJ 14.

HB 427 - Rep. Joel Boniek. A bill to repeal 87-3-123, M.C.A., "Use of silencers or mufflers on firearms forbidden. No person may take into a field or forest or have in his possession while out hunting any device or mechanism devised to silence, muffle, or minimize the report of any firearms, whether such device or mechanism be operated from or attached to any firearm." This Prohibition-era law is overbroad, unenforced, and needs to be repealed.
Bill at:
Status: Bill failed on Second Reading in House.
Action needed: CRITICAL - Ask House members to revive and pass HB 427.

SB 80 - Elect Board of Regents - Senator Dan McGee. MSSA has waged a three-year campaign to persuade the Board of Regents and U-system campus managers that they may not contravene the Montana Constitution and strip students, employees and other of their constitutional right to bear arms, but to no avail. The BoR and campus managers have been unwilling to enter into any substantive negotiations on this topic. BoR members are heavily insulated and unaccountable because they are appointed, rather than elected. SB 80 would set a referendum for Montana citizens to vote to change the Constitution to make BoR members elected, instead of appointed. MSSA supports this change. This bill needs support of 2/3 of the Legislature to pass and get the issue on the ballot.
Bill at:
Status: Passed by Senate 20-30 and sent to House needs 100 total votes to pass.
Action needed: Little hope for this bill, unfortunately.

HJ 26 State Sovereignty - A Resolution asserting state sovereignty has been introduced by Rep. Mike More as HJ 26.

This is the Montana version of a similar Resolution that is being introduced in a number of other states, including New Hampshire.

Remember, the Montana Constitution says, at Article II, Section 2, "The people have the exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent state."

Some will say that these are just words on paper and don't really mean anything. I disagree.

These words are a part of the contract by which Montana was engendered as a socio-political entity. The very existence of the construct called the "State of Montana" is dependent upon this contract among Montana people, a contract giving the state defined and limited powers.

One of these limitations is the terms of Article II. Section 2, which limits the authority of the State to contract with the other states. That is, by its very charter, the State is not authorized to lock itself politically into being a mere administrative region of that creature of the several states, the federal government, nor may the state surrender the rights and prerogatives of individuals to the federal government.

HJ 26 addresses these issues and relationships.

Bill at:
Status: Assigned to House Judiciary Committee for public hearing on 2/23.
Action needed: Ask House Judiciary members to pass HJ 26.

Bills opposed

HB 36 sponsored by Rep. Kendall VanDyk (failed in House Judiciary Committee) and SB 92 by Senator Larry Jent (passed by Senate and sent to House). Called "castle doctrine" bills, these two bills are identical, do nothing to improve existing Montana law, and have been introduced so the sponsors can claim to have introduced "pro-gun" legislation. Both bills have had hearings before the Judiciary Committee in their respective chambers, and both are on hold awaiting outcome of HB 228 and other political winds.

HB 490 sponsored by Rep. Kendall VanDyk. Requires the Division of Motor Vehicle Licensing to give Social Security Numbers for all licensed drivers to the Secretary of State, ostensibly to use to verify voter registration lists for summoning jury pools. This expanded use of SSN is an additional invasion of the right to privacy at Article II, Section 10 of the Montana Constitution. Juries can be drawn without providing everyone's Social Security Numbers to yet another array of government officials. The voter identification card is the LAST piece of identification in Montana that is NOT cross-indexed in computers with SSNs.
Status: Passed by the House and sent to the Senate.
Action needed: None right now. We should oppose this when it comes up for a committee hearing in the Senate in March.