Updated Febrary 8, 2019: MWCC at the 2019 Montana Legislature
In 2017, MWCC’s Board of Directors added “represent” as a tenet to our organization’s 2018-2020 Strategic Plan. This addition was born of the expressed value of our watershed partners to have “a collective voice for watershed groups” on issues concerning local conservation activities. In the past, MWCC’s policy engagement has been minimal. However, our watershed partners have been increasingly concerned about critical state funding programs and infrastructure, like the Montana stream gage network, that local communities rely on to manage natural resources.
In 2019, MWCC will host Watershed Day, January 28th, at the Montana State Capitol and continue its Legislative Bulletin, tracking only a few policy bills and state budgets that contain pertinent conservation initiatives or resources.
As of February 8, 2019, MWCC Bill tracking includes the following:
SB 32 Bill creating a stream gage oversight committee under the Governor’s Drought and Water Supply Committee
- Passed Senate Natural Resources, Finance and Claims, broad stakeholder support has been demonstrated at every level. NEXT UP: 3rd Reading on the Senate Floor
- Amendments anticipated include a reduction in the Fiscal Note and the addition of “at least one of” prior to the list of representatives.
- SB 32 Information Sheet
SB 47 Bill to recognize the Clark Fork and Kootenai River Basins Council as a basin advisory council for the purpose of implementing the State Water Plan
- Passed Senate Natural Resources for the second time 2/6/19. NEXT UP: Senate Floor for 3rd Reading
- Bill has been amended from its original text to refer to “basin advisory councils” instead of “water user councils” and provide direction on the composition of basin advisory councils. MWCC worked directly on these amendments so that they simply reflect the process actually carried out in the 2013-2015 Water Planning process. SB 47 has been an interesting opportunity to raise awareness on the State Water Plan and the opportunities within the plan for locally led water management.
HB 2 State Funding for FWP(2/5/19) and DNRC (1/29/19) Staff and Stream gage infrastructure. Both agencies have requested the restoration of their stream gage budget. MWCC testified in support of both requests.
HB 5 State funding for Future Fisheries Grant Program
HB 32 A funding strategy for aquatic invasive species prevention. MWCC will not be weighing in on this issue.
Two AIS funding proposals will be considered by the Montana legislature. The Governor’s proposal has not been introduced. The Governor’s proposal includes hydro power funding while HB 32 utilizes 6 million (per biennium) from the general fund.
HB 399 The proposal changes the definition from “any natural, perennial flowing stream or river, and it’s immediate banks…” to “a stream or river that has flowed continuously during all seasons during dry as well as wet years, except when the flow is interrupted by diversions….”