AMK Sportsman

What were MT Legislative wins for wildlife

RobG

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Randy Newberg and Ben Lamb are pictured in this article handing out awards to legislators (both R and D) for their good work with wildlife. The article is pretty vague. Can someone elaborate on the specific actions that earned them an award?
 

Ben Lamb

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HB 140 provides $4.7 million in new funding for FWP. While some amendments were added to it that reduced the total fiscal impact by about $1 million, it's still a significant improvement from what the alternative would have been.

HB 403 united the almost entire sporting community in pushing back against the attempt to eliminate all habitat and access funding in Habitat Montana, Upland Game Bird, Migratory Game Bird and Fishing Access Site programs.

Every Land Transfer bill was defeated and Governor Bullock just put the last one down like a cull (vetoed HB 496 today).

SB 261 is the Sage Grouse Stewardship Act and provides about $12 million in funding for habitat conservation in sage grouse habitat and sets up the Governor's Sage Grouse Oversight Committee & staff positions to enact the Executive Orders necessary to maintain state management of the bird (this will help mule deer quite a bit).

Plus the usual spate of bad bills that were killed.
 

RobG

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HB 140 provides $4.7 million in new funding for FWP. While some amendments were added to it that reduced the total fiscal impact by about $1 million, it's still a significant improvement from what the alternative would have been.

I saw Brenden swinging his cattle prod around on the floor getting this passed; he nearly walloped the lady behind him :D. He said now they will go through funding every four years instead of ten, which he claimed was good because it was hard to predict costs. How did this go over with the department? In Idaho the IDF&G was trying to extend the period between the funding approvals because it was simply used as a political tool to bludgeon the IDF&G every time they met. Not that our guys would ever stoop that low...

The public lands thing seems like a great revenue generator and mobilizing topic for the green groups. Whatever. It smokes out the idiots. What did Chaz Vincent do in this area that was worthy of recognition?

As I mentioned though what really impressed me was the REAL republicans finally standing up against Wittich, the AFP and the rest of the Gallatin goof balls.
 

Ben Lamb

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I saw Brenden swinging his cattle prod around on the floor getting this passed; he nearly walloped the lady behind him :D. He said now they will go through funding every four years instead of ten, which he claimed was good because it was hard to predict costs. How did this go over with the department? In Idaho the IDF&G was trying to extend the period between the funding approvals because it was simply used as a political tool to bludgeon the IDF&G every time they met. Not that our guys would ever stoop that low...

The public lands thing seems like a great revenue generator and mobilizing topic for the green groups. Whatever. It smokes out the idiots. What did Chaz Vincent do in this area that was worthy of recognition?

As I mentioned though what really impressed me was the REAL republicans finally standing up against Wittich, the AFP and the rest of the Gallatin goof balls.

Ultimately, everyone, including the agency accepted the amendments even if we would have preferred they stay off because the alternative was that we would lose the entire billl. It's how the sausage gets made.

Chas was a machine when it came to the CSKT water compact and he was a leader on the transfer of public lands issue. His committee was where most of the action was when it came to transfer bills and he ran a tight ship, and didn't put up with much nonsense from anyone. His leadership on the compact alone would have been enough for me.

The transfer proponents were looking at a multi-state strategy to show congress that there was support for the effort. It very much is a real threat and to dismiss it as just a fundraising ploy ignores the real effort out there. Rob Bishop, etc are already moving to do this in congress. It may not be this session, but they won't quit, especially since the state of Utah is funding the effort along side the oil & gas industry, Koch brothers. Etc. the effort is well funded, organized and dangerous. Just because we were able to defeat the. This cycle doesn't mean they won't be back. This is a cause for these people, not just a money-making scheme (although it os that too). We need to take the long view when it comes to transfer of public lands.
 

RobG

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TU had been working on the water compact for years so Chaz stuck his neck out there. Didn't Chaz do something crazy bad last session?

Interesting results when you google his name.
 

Big Fin

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Considering there were 22 bills to screw the public out of their land and not a single bill passed, that was a pretty good result. All attacks on conservation easements were killed before they even got to committees. Plus, the bills Ben Lamb mentioned.

Seems like the folks doing the hard lifting in Helena deserve a lot of credit. I was hardly there, due to travel. A lot of people were, plus a lot of people sent emails and made phone calls. That is what makes hunters and anglers an effective force in Montana policy.
 

Nameless Range

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TU had been working on the water compact for years so Chaz stuck his neck out there. Didn't Chaz do something crazy bad last session?

Interesting results when you google his name.

Mr. Vincent sponsored SB 414 in 2011- The Wolf Control Act. It was a bad bill and died as it should have. If you Google it, you can read about Toby Bridges heartburn over it's demise.

In 2013 he voted for the No-net-gain in State Lands bill, so his opposition to the transfer is consistent with his beliefs.

In 2011 he requested HB 309 - The Ditch Bill, which would have weakened our stream access laws.

There are more questionable votes on sportsmen related bills, but those are the ones that stick out. Whether or not those are "Crazy bad" depends on your personal metrics. By all rights he seems like a fairly vanilla legislator. I just hope his feelers aren't hurt and he turns against sportsmen due to me writing this.
 

Ben Lamb

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I've gone head to toe with Senator Vincent for 4 sessions. He's a formidable opponent and yes, he's offered up some bad bills as have been mentioned. However, his decorum and his involvement in issues this session were such that he truly was a champion of hunters, anglers and anyone who appreciates public land and sensible conservation legislation.

We don't expect to get legislators 100% of the time, and often there are compelling reasons why people vote the way they do, including pressure from home (Vincent has a very conservative district). That was evident as well this session, but you have to look at the aggregate and not just each individual vote. The end product after 90 days is what matters and while the action inside of those 90 days is fast paced and exciting, you always have to keep an eye towards Sine Die and what has a chance and what doesn't. Like Denzel said in Training Day, "This s#!t is chess, it ain't checkers."

No idea if the veto list exists yet. There are still a number of bills that are on the Gov's desk waiting action.

SB 284, SB 334, HB 496 & SB 245 were vetoed yesterday. I believe that was the majority of the bills that were in play for wildlife/public lands that were waiting action.
 

Ben Long

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Congratulations to everyone who worked so hard in Helena this session. I was not optimistic when the session started and think the sportsmen's community did itself proud.
 

RobG

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Considering there were 22 bills to screw the public out of their land and not a single bill passed, that was a pretty good result. All attacks on conservation easements were killed before they even got to committees. Plus, the bills Ben Lamb mentioned.

Seems like the folks doing the hard lifting in Helena deserve a lot of credit. I was hardly there, due to travel. A lot of people were, plus a lot of people sent emails and made phone calls. That is what makes hunters and anglers an effective force in Montana policy.

I understand all that and agree but I was looking for the specific things that made these people deserving of awards. Yes we survived (in large part because of a veto and/or absorbing unfriendly amendments) but toot the specific Rs horn for them if they did something worthwhile - I would like to know more.

JLS, I said Chaz stuck his neck out. That seems complementary. He sponsored a bill a) endorsed by conservationist, b) hated by the far right in his party, c) probably not liked by his Libby voters because of a and b. Good for him. However, I wanted a memory check because he hasn't seemed to be a person you could count on in the past. Bummer that the only thing that comes up when you google his name is a porn star...

A while back Fin had a thread all doom and gloom about the "tea baggers" (his words not mine) and I expressed some hope because folks like Garner and Wellborn were having success standing up against the AFP and Wittich. This session gave me more hope seeing more people standing up successfully against these folks on issues outside of wildlife.

I was only marginally involved this session and I doubt if I'll have time in the next decade to do much of anything other than being interested in the subject. I'm grateful for folks like Ben (who I've hunted and fished with many times) that can be friends to both sides and bring us news from the front.
 

RobG

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By the way, I have always wondered about the wisdom of a group labeled as a Green Decoy (not to mention the "extremist environmentalist" Ben Lamb) giving out awards to republicans who will have to face the KIP (Koch Industries Party). But that is another story and I'll admit to not understanding political strategy.
 

Ben Lamb

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By the way, I have always wondered about the wisdom of a group labeled as a Green Decoy (not to mention the "extremist environmentalist" Ben Lamb) giving out awards to republicans who will have to face the KIP (Koch Industries Party). But that is another story and I'll admit to not understanding political strategy.

Rob,

The awards were presented by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Montana Wild Sheep Foundation, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Montana Bowhunters Association & Montana Wildlife Federation. That's a fairly big group of sportsmen across the political spectrum. Who cares what Berman & CO think of them. All of those groups do great things for hunters, anglers and wildlife.

As for me being an extremist enviro, I could care less what some DC PR firm thinks of me, the proof of my track record shows that I consistently stand up for wildlife and hunters & anglers, if that makes me a political pariah in the anti-public land crowd, I'll wear it with pride.

The legislators who received the awards didn't seem to care either. There isn't much of a political strategy other than thanking those people who did good things, and encouraging them to work closer with us in future sessions.

Those legislators were:

Ed Lieser D-Whitefish) for his defense of Public Lands in the House Nat Resources Committee & his work on wildlife & access issues in Hose FWP

Tom Jacobson (D-Great Falls) for his work on Access issues and wildlife on House FWP

Jeff Welborn (R-Dillon) for his sponsorship of HB 140 and it's successful navigation through the process as well as his leadership on conservation issues in House FWP & on the Floor.

Rob Cook (R-Conrad) for his leadership within his caucus for Transfer of public lands and wildlife issues on House FWP. Rob's position as a leader in the Responsible Republican caucus meant he could help swing the votes of enough R's to kill bad bills. He was generally on right side of issues and was as honest a broker as you can find in politics.

Chas Vincent (R-Libby) For his work on the Compact and defense of public lands. His leadership on the Senate Natural Resources committee was instrumental in stopping the transfer movement. His championship of the Compact was met with death threats and hostility towards himself and loved ones, and some pretty uncomfortable conversations back home with constituents.

Pat Connell (R- Hamilton) for his work on sage grouse and defense of public lands. Pat was one of two republicans who vocally opposed adding transfer of public lands to the GOP platform, and his support of common sense legislation was never waivering.

Mike Phillips (D-Bozeman) for his work on the public lands issue, Bison conservation, and being a leader in Senate Fish & Game which was a very contentious committee.

Brad Hamlett (D-Cascade) for his sponsorship of the Montana Sage Grouse Stewardship Act which will help ensure we maintain state management of wildlife.
 

RobG

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As for me being an extremist enviro, I could care less what some DC PR firm thinks of me, the proof of my track record shows that I consistently stand up for wildlife and hunters & anglers, if that makes me a political pariah in the anti-public land crowd, I'll wear it with pride.
Of course you don't care what they call you, but I am willing to bet the award will come up if the Koch Brothers try to oust any of those people in the primary, just like Tawney and your name came up in the Tester/Rehberg race. I just brought it up to highlight the dilemma faced by those groups who are criticized of never supporting republicans. Now those groups have a laundry list of Rs they supported to show next time they are accused, but at the same time they may have given more ammo to the bad guys whose ultimate goal is to eliminate these normal republicans in the primary. It is an interesting question, nothing more.

Your comments about Chaz convince me even more that he stuck his neck way out. I already respected Welborn and recently Cook, but didn't know about Connell so I appreciate the exposure. If these guys need help in the primaries let me know. During the main election may the best person win.
 

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