Rachel Cone, Director of State Governmental Affairs for Montana Farm Bureau Federation talked to KMON about her current activities at the 2023 Montana Legislative Session:

Rachel: We are on week four. It's kind of crazy to believe we're already getting through the session and getting to week four. All are already halfway through it, but its lots of good stuff. Everything is moving, shaking. We are here to support the DNRC budget and there's a lot of good stuff in that. Everything from water to forestry management and some of the conservation districts. Other big events are still water, the theme of water and the two big bills from the comprehensive water review process are taking shape. So just as a reminder, we have House Bill 114 and that one deals with the permanent change process (HB 114, a bill designed to revise timelines for water right permits and change processes). That one did pass out of the House floor and was heard in House appropriations, so we look forward to seeing that one continue its journey. And then there's Senate bill 72 (Revise judicial administration of water rights) and Senate bill 72 has to deal with the water court. There was an action alert that was sent out to our members and we hope everyone is encouraging their legislators to support HB 114 and SB 72. Again, Senate bill 72 deals with kind of what the future of water administration in Montana will look like as we get through final decrees. So we think 72 is really important bill and certainly a big one.


Rachel: Other things outside of water, lots of red tape stuff still, we're seeing a lot of those bills get through both the house and the senate side, so making their way through the process without much hang up. So that's really encouraging. And as always, we really appreciate the work that's being done by the administration and all the different legislators and agencies who are doing the work to get these bills passed. We've heard some bills about grizzly bears and what we can do to make sure that the state is ready to be prepared to manage them if they were ever to be delisted, which of course is something that we would like to see with the different grizzly bear issues in Montana. We think the state is well equipped to handle them and we think it's important that they have the tools necessary to do that. Taxes, you've probably heard quite a bit about the governor's tax bills having to do with increasing the business equipment tax threshold so that it's taking more people off of who's paying the business tax. That was something we supported in past sessions and continue to support as they increase that threshold and get more and more people off that list.

Montana Farm Bureau Federation is hosting an event early next month that Rachel is excited about:

Rachel: Coming up on February 6 and 7th, we'll be hosting the Montana Farm Bureau calling on the capital for all members to come up to Helena to get to meet different agency directors, legislators and everyone around the capitol. We really encourage all members to get up here, get engaged with what's going on, learn about how to testify and how to be involved in all the different ways we'll be going through. So, again, the calling on the Capitol is February 6 and 7th. You can register at mfbf.org, and we hope to see you all here. It'll be a great few days where you all get to learn and see what I get to do every day. And I love to be able to share that with members and see about having them testify or get involved with different pieces of legislation that might impact them and give them a chance to tell their own personal story.

If you have a story idea or something you want to learn more about, give Randy a call at 406-788-3003 or send me an email at randall.bogden@townsquaremedia.com

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