Mid-session legislative summary

February 27, 4:15PM

Dear MSSA Friends,

We started the session with a LOT of bills, the most MSSA has ever pushed in one session.  That’s good and bad.  It’s good because, even given attrition, we’re more likely to come out the other end with a number of bills passed, and I’ve always thought it’s better to keep legislators debating and voting on pro-gun stuff, so they have less time and attention to think about anti-gun stuff.  It’s bad because it dilutes our efforts and effectiveness somewhat.  In net, I think it’s a good strategy, even though it means more work for you and for me.

Here are our successes, so far:

MSSA’s flagship bill, SB 122, (Sen. Matt Rosendale, R-Glendive) to encourage the manufacture of ammunition components in Montana, a jobs bill, passed the Senate and has gone to the House.  Because of the tax breaks in the bill, it has been assigned to the House Taxation Committee.  That’s where this bill died last session, so we’ll need an extra push this session when the bill comes up for consideration by the House Tax Committee.

MSSA’s campus carry bill, SB 143, (Sen. Cary Smith, R-Billings) has passed the Senate and been transmitted to the House and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

MSSA’s suppressors-for-hunting bill, SB 295, (Sen. Mark Blasdel, R-Kalispell) has been passed by the Senate and transmitted to the House, and assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

MSSA’s bill to prevent enforcement by Montana officials of any new federal firearms or magazine bans, HB 203, (Rep. Art Wittich, R-Bozeman) passed the House, is in the Senate, has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and has been scheduled for a public hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee for next Thursday, 3/5, at 9AM.

MSSA’s permitless carry bill, HB 298, (Rep. Bill Harris, R-Winnett) passed the House, has been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is set for public hearing next Friday, 3/6, at 9AM.

MSSA’s Safe Travel to Work bill, HB 505, (Rep. Matthew Monforton, R-Bozeman) was seriously amended by the House Judiciary Committee and has passed the House and gone to the Senate.

Still pending.

Some bills are not subject to the usual, mid-session Transmittal deadline, especially appropriation bills and referenda.  MSSA has one of each, and maybe another.

MSSA’s bill to prevent FWP from stealing money the Legislature appropriates for shooting range funding, HB 234, (Rep. Nancy Ballance, R-Hamilton) is still pending before the House Appropriations Committee.

MSSA’s constitutional referendum bill, to remove the this-doesn’t-apply-to-concealed-weapons language from the 1884 RKBA in the Montana Constitution, HB 457, (Rep. Matthew Monforton, R-Bozeman) has been passed by the House Judiciary Committee and is awaiting Second Reading action on the floor of the House.

MSSA still has a bill draft in on a referendum for Sheriffs First, which we may rework and have introduced.  Stay tuned for more about this.

Lost

MSSA’s bill to revitalize the Montana Home Guard, SB 130, (Sen. Roger Webb, R-Billings) was tabled by the Senate State Administration Committee.

MSSA’s Sheriffs First bill, HB 274, (Rep. Nancy Ballance, R-Hamilton) was defeated on the floor of the House.

MSSA’s bill to rein in game wardens, HB 281, (Rep. Dale Mortensen, R-Billings) died on the floor of the House.

MSSA’s bill to clarify that schools are not mandated to expel for a year a student who forgets a hunting rifle in the student’s car in the school parking lot, HB 320, (Rep. Carl Glimm, R-Kila) died on the floor of the House.

MSSA’s bill to correct the idiotic law about "Prohibited Places", HB 371, (Rep. Kerry White, R-Bozeman) died on the floor of the House.

MSSA’s bill to correct a Montana Supreme Court mistake about an existing self defense law, HB 388, (Rep. Randy Pinocci, R-Great Falls) died on the floor of the House.

Bad bills

There have been a number of bad bills, either on the horizon or introduced, that MSSA has opposed.

Universal background checks, to make it illegal to transfer a firearm from one private individual to another without federal government permission and record, was drafted but not introduced.  (Sen. Dick Barrett, D-Missoula)

Roll back all of MSSA’s 2009 self defense bill, was drafted but never introduced.  (Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula)

To outlaw exploding targets on public lands, HB 160, (Rep. Willis Curdy, D-Missoula) was tabled by the House Judiciary Committee.

Require funnelling Montana mental health records into federal computers for RKBA denial, HB 530 (Rep. Ellie Hill, D-Missoula) was tabled by the House Judiciary Committee.

Make it a crime to handle firearms carelessly, HB 539, (Rep. Willis Curdy, D-Missoula) is scheduled for a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee next Thursday, 3/5.

Other bills of interest

HB 212 (Rep. Kirk Wagoner, R-Montana City) would clarify that trapping is included within the right to harvest wild fish and game animals in the Montana Constitution.  I testified in support of the bill, and that this had been my intent when I crafted the language for this constitutional referendum.  HB 212 was passed by the House and approved by the Senate Fish and Game Committee.

HB 250 (Rep. Kirk Wagoner, R-Montana City) would clarify that it is legal to use suppressors to take unregulated animals in Montana, such as coyotes and Prairie Dogs.  This bill is problematic, for two reasons:  1) it makes no change in current law because under current law suppressors are only prohibited for taking regulated wildlife, and 2) the governor could sign this bill and claim credit for signing a suppressor bill while vetoing MSSA’s suppressors-for-hunting bill, SB 295, which actually does something.  HB 250 has passed the House and been approved by the Senate Fish and Game Committee.

HB 533  (Rep. Kirk Wagoner, R-Montana City) does some of what MSSA’s Permitless Carry bill does, and some of what MSSA’s Prohibited Places bill would have done, but not all of what either covers.  HB 533 has passed the House.

That’s all for now.  Thanks SO MUCH for your essential help to date.  Now, we’ll need to really knuckle down to push the remaining bills through the process.  I’ll keep you informed.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

Editorial – Campus Carry

Friday, 2/27, 10:00AM

Dear MSSA Friends,

I thought you might like this guest editorial I wrote for the Missoulian about campus carry:
http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/campus-carry-is-about-civil-rights-unelected-bureaucrats/article_1fad30a5-6d03-58a7-8320-15b2681732b2.html

Later today I’ll try to get out a summary of where we are with our legislative agenda for the mid-session break that begins today.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

HB 320 stalls AGAIN – RKBA week upcoming

Thursday, 2/26, 8:35PM

Dear MSSA Friends,

Two days ago, MSSA’s schools bill stalled on Third Reading (after having passed Second Reading previously) in the House on a 50-50 vote.  It would have passed then, except one legislator admitted afterwards to having pushed the wrong button on the vote.  Dang!

So, yesterday HB 320 was rescued with a Motion to Reconsider that got a 52-48 vote and put it back on to Third Reading today.

Today on Third Reading, HB 320 stalled yet again on a 50-50 vote.  One Rep. switched sides since the Motion to Reconsider yesterday, and ANOTHER legislators now admits to having pushed the wrong button on today’s vote.

Double dang. Plus.

Tomorrow (Friday) is the last day before "Transmittal," the mid-session date when all regular bills must have moved fro House to Senate, or from Senate to House, or they die for good.

There is a slim chance that there will be yet another Motion to Reconsider AND another Third Reading vote on HB 320 tomorrow.  That is being explored and the skids being greased to the limited extent they may be at this late hour.

Don’t hold your breath, but stay tuned …

Next week, beginning March 2nd, is our official week to celebrate our Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Montana.  Here’s the law currently on the books that establishes that:

         1-1-224.  Observance of right to keep and bear arms. The week beginning the first Monday in March is an official week of observance to commemorate Montana’s valued heritage of the right of each person to keep and bear arms in the defense of his home, person, or property or in aid of civil power. During this week, all Montanans are urged to reflect on their right to keep and bear arms and to celebrate this right in lawful ways.

Here’s a maybe interesting story for you about how that law came to be:  In 1991 I was in the Capitol lobbying (successfully, it turned out) for Montana’s shall-issue CWP law.  Democrats controlled the House and Senate by slim margins.  There was fierce and bitter debate going on about whether or not the Legislature should pass a bill to make Martin Luther King Day a state holiday in Montana.  Democrats wanted it but Republicans, barely in the minority, did not.

I had trouble getting any legislators to talk about our CWP bill because they were so wrapped up in the MLK Day debate and acrimony.  Legislator tempers were hot.  I was frustrated that I couldn’t get any attention over what I thought was a very important issue.

It occurred to me that if we could have a day in Montana to celebrate MLK, we should probably have a week to celebrate the RKBA, and another week to celebrate our heritage and culture of hunting.  So, I sat down in the Capitol hallway and drafted two bills, one for an RKBA week in early March, and one for a hunting heritage week in late September.  I handed these two, handwritten bill drafts off to a sympathetic legislator, a committee had both bills drafted, and both bills flew through the Legislature and were signed into law.  Democrats were willing to throw this bone to Republicans, and Republicans were able to regain, with these two bills, some perceived political ground lost over MLK Day.

So, make plans to celebrate RKBA week however you will all of next week and the following weekend.  Write a letter to the editor.  Burn some powder.  Gather with like-minded friends.  And, don’t forget the MSSA Annual Meeting on Sunday, 3/7, at the Montana Historical Society building in Helena beginning at 10 AM.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

Good news – HB 320, schools

Dear MSSA Friends,Good news.  A Motion to Reconsider yesterday’s failing, 50-50 vote on HB 320 was successful today by 52-48.  It will advance to Third Reading tomorrow, where I hope that vote will hold to move it on to the Senate.

Republicans who voted against HB 320 and who may be persuaded to switch tomorrow and vote for it are:
Christy Clark (R) (406) 466-2483 christy_clark@ymail.com

Rob Cook (R) (406) 868-3426 Rep.Rob.Cook@mt.gov

Geraldine Custer (R) (406) 351-1235 Rep.Geraldine.Custer@mt.gov

Jeffrey Welborn (R) (406) 949-6070 jeffwelborn@hotmail.com

 

Please get messages to these House members.  Remind them that HB 320 gives schools MORE local control about how they handle these situations, and that it relieves schools of the mandate to expel for a full year a kid who simply forgot to remove a hunting firearm from a vehicle before going to school.  Be polite.  Be brief.  Your message should begin with “Please support a Motion to Reconsider HB 320.”  Then add any other short message you wish.

Please get messages to these Representatives about HB 320 via the Message Center, 444-4800, or with the Online Message Form at:
http://leg.mt.gov/css/About-the-Legislature/Lawmaking-Process/contact-legislators.asp#email

Ask these Representatives to please vote FOR HB 320 on Third Reading.

Thanks!

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

 

Urgent – ACTION NEEDED

February 24, 7:30PM

Dear MSSA Friends,

We lost (maybe temporarily) HB 320, to clarify that there is no mandate to expel kids, on a 50-50 vote on Third Reading today.

Tomorrow (Wednesday, 7/25) there will be Motion to Reconsider the failing vote on HB 320.  This vote will happen sometime after 1PM.  We have until then to turn critical votes to rescue this bill.

Republicans who voted against HB 320 and who may be persuaded to switch tomorrow and vote for it are:
Christy Clark
Rob Cook
Geraldine Custer
Doc Moore
Jeffrey Welborn

Please get messages to these House members.  Remind them that HB 320 gives schools MORE local control about how they handle these situations, and that it relieves schools of the mandate to expel for a full year a kid who simply forgot to remove a hunting firearm from a vehicle before going to school.  Be polite.  Be brief.  Your message should begin with "Please support a Motion to Reconsider HB 320."  Then add any other short message you wish.

Please get messages to these Representatives about HB 320 via the Message Center, 444-4800, or with the Online Message Form at:
http://leg.mt.gov/css/About-the-Legislature/Lawmaking-Process/contact-legislators.asp#email

This is our LAST SHOT to rescue this bill.  Make it count.

Thanks loads,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

Report – Schools and suppressors up, game wardens down

Dear MSSA Friends,

It was a busy day for us today on Second Reading in both House and Senate.

SB 295, suppressors for hunting, passed the Senate on Second Reading by a mostly party line vote.  Pat Connell, (R-Hamilton) voted against, and Bradley Hamlett (D-Cascade) and Jonathan Windy Boy (D-Box Elder) both voted for the bill.

HB 320, clarifying that schools are not mandated to expel a kid who forgets to take a gun from a vehicle before parking in a school parking lot, passed the House on Second Reading.  All Democrats voted against this bill, and five Republicans voted against it:  Rob Cook, Geraldine Custer, Steve Fitzpatrick, Daniel Salomon, and Jeffrey Welborn.  Do you notice how some of these names keep recurring?

HB 281, our game wardens bill, went seriously down.  I don’t know that any Democrats spoke against HB 281.  They didn’t need to.  A bunch of Republicans spoke against it on the floor and voted against it, too many to name here, plus all Democrats voted against it.  I think this proves mostly how effective the FWP lobby is.  Using your license dollars working behind the scenes, FWP is usually able to kill any bills that threaten or challenge the FWP empire.

MSSA’s Safe Travel to Work bill, HB 505, was amended in the House Judiciary Committee with what I take to have been an unfortunate amendment, even if it may have been well-intended.  The problem with the amendment is that it extends the liability protection for business owners to those who now or in the future have or enforce disarming policies, so the bill now provides no incentive for businesses to quit disarming employees to and from work in order to obtain the liability relief.  With this amendment, I believe that HB 505 has gone from being a help to neutral; from a good bill to a minimal-priority one.  In its current form, HB 505 does not advance the ball down the field at all for employees who wish to be able to protect themselves while in travel to and from work, plus it gives a windfall/reward to the employers that prevent employees’ safe travel.

Important.  HB 457, a constitutional referendum to strike the 1884 this-doesn’t-apply-to-concealed-weapons language from the RKBA in Montana, was passed by the House Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote, and will be on the House floor for Second Reading tomorrow (Tuesday) or Wednesday.  HB 457 must get 100 votes from the House and Senate, total (but it doesn’t need the Governor’s signature).  So, we must attract the support of some Democrats to get to 100 total votes.  In order to attract the support of Democrats, I have explained this as a "dress code" issue – that people may be prevented from exercising a fundamental right if they wear a coat.  How would legislators see it, I ask, if a person were prohibited:  From trial by jury if they wore a hat, from freedom of press if they wore gloves, from freedom of speech if they wore shoes, or from freedom from search and seizure if they wore anything but yoga pants?  If legislators would dislike these comparative dress code restrictions on other constitutional rights, I say, they should support HB 547 to remove the dress code restriction lingering in Montana law since 1884 for the RKBA.  GET MESSAGES TO HOUSE MEMBERS TO SUPPORT THIS BILL!!!  Especially Democrats.

Please get messages to Representatives (not Senators) about HB 457 via the Message Center, 444-4800, or the Online Message Form at:
http://leg.mt.gov/css/About-the-Legislature/Lawmaking-Process/contact-legislators.asp#email

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

About HB 281 – Game Wardens

Dear MSSA Friends,

FWP game wardens are pulling out the stops to try to derail HB 281 tomorrow, conducting a publicity campaign AGAINST HB 281, including (it’s been reported to me) that they’ve been trying to rally opposition on their Facebook page, plus eliminating any comments that disagree with their position.  Here’s my take, which you are welcome to repost elsewhere, including on the game wardens’ Facebook page (for whatever good that will do):

The problem is an institutional one.  FWP presses wardens hard to make "numbers" – that is, numbers of citations written and convictions achieved.  FWP is very proud of and brags about its "numbers."  FWP repeatedly cites its "numbers" to create the perception that its enforcement division is effective.

However, there is a problem with this.  In order to make "numbers", wardens find it much easier (it is) to bust normally lawful hunters for failing to dot some "I" or cross some "T".  I could write a book citing these trivial citations.  Let me give you just one example (although I have scores of them).

An 80-year-old North Dakota man was deer hunting in eastern Montana, on private property with permission, with a proper license, wearing orange – everything legal.  He shot a deer and tagged it in the blowing snow.  A game warden came along and cited the hunter for improper tagging, because when the hunter cut out the proper date on his tag (he did), he also cut out just a bit of an adjacent day.  The game warden confiscated the hunter’s deer.  The hunter had to travel back to Montana from North Dakota for his day in court, whereupon the judge dismissed the citation.  Still, the hunter lost his deer, never to be returned, and he had to make a second trip to Montana to appear in court.  I don’t know if he had to hire a lawyer.

This is not a "campfire story."  I heard this from the sheriff of the county where this incident occurred.  The sheriff subsequently charged the game warden with criminal trespass over this incident, and the warden was convicted by a jury.

Okay, just one more.  We’ve all seen in the recent news about the game warden with a game wardens

ACTION – 2 MSSA bills up tomorrow (Monday)

February 22, 4:23PM

Dear MSSA Friends,

Two of MSSA’s bills are scheduled for Second Reading on the floor of the House tomorrow, Monday, 2/23.  They are:

HB 320, MSSA’s bill to clarify that schools are not mandated to expel from school a kid who forgot to take a hunting rifle out of a vehicle before parking in the school parking lot.  Get messages in to all House members to support HB 320.

HB 281, MSSA’s bill to rein in game wardens and require that they comply with all the laws that deputy sheriffs comply with for arrest, search and seizure.  Get messages in to all House members to support HB 281.

These bills will both probably be decided by narrow votes on the House floor tomorrow.  YOUR MESSAGES ARE CRITICAL!!

Please get messages to Representatives (not Senators) via the Message Center, 444-4800, or the Online Message Form at:
http://leg.mt.gov/css/About-the-Legislature/Lawmaking-Process/contact-legislators.asp#email

Thanks for your ongoing help.

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

MSSA Annual Meeting, 3/7 – money

February 22, 2:50PM

Dear MSSA Friends,

MSSA’s Annual Meeting, per its Bylaws, will be held in Helena on the first Saturday in March, this year March 7th, beginning at 10AM in the "Auditorium" of the Montana Historical Society building, just across the street and to the east of the State Capitol building.  We will take a lunch break from Noon to 1:30 PM, and try to be done by 4PM.  This is MSSA’s only physical meeting during the year.

Money.  MSSA has been spending a lot for our legislative effort.  We need to keep our treasury up to sustain our effort through the end of the legislative session.  If you are not a member of MSSA now, please join.  There is MSSA membership information on the MSSA Website (linked below).

If you are struggling to get by like so many are, don’t worry about this.  We’ll get through it.

However, if you’re doing well, please consider making a donation to MSSA, or becoming a Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum Sponsor, or becoming some form of MSSA Life Member.  Again, see the membership page on our Website.

The product MSSA has to sell is success.  MSSA is recognized nationally as by far the most successful such state-level, pro-gun entity in the US (which also means in the World, since they don’t do this elsewhere).  MSSA has now gotten 64 pro-gun bills through the Legislature and enacted into law, probably more than twice as many as the next best pro-gun entity in the US.  We do great work for you.  We think we deserve your support.  Even though the product we have to sell is intangible, it’s still valuable.

Thanks loads for your support.

Best wishes,

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

Update – 2/21/15

Saturday, February 21, 11:52AM

Dear MSSA Friends,

Today there was no Motion to Reconsider the failing 50-50 vote on HB 371 (Prohibited Places) from yesterday.  I haven’t yet heard why the reconsideration didn’t happen, but I assume that proponents just couldn’t round up the votes necessary to make it happen.  Legislators are under a crushing workload and running out of patience, including with other legislators wanting to bring up issues already voted on.  I suspect it is because of that impatience and workload that the Motion to Reconsider HB 371 didn’t happen.  HB 371 is now dead.

HB 320, MSSA’s bill to clarify that schools are not mandated to expel from school a kid who forgot to take a hunting rifle out of a vehicle before parking in the school parking lot, has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee and will advance to Second Reading before the full House, probably Monday or Tuesday.  Get messages in to House members to support HB 320.

HB 281, MSSA’s bill to rein in game wardens and require that they comply with all the laws that deputy sheriffs comply with for arrest, search and seizure, has been approved by the House Judiciary Committee and will advance to Second Reading before the full House, probably Monday or Tuesday.  Get messages in to House members to support HB 281.

Please contact these Representatives via the Message Center, 444-4800, or the Online Message Form at:
http://leg.mt.gov/css/About-the-Legislature/Lawmaking-Process/contact-legislators.asp#email

Thanks for your ongoing help.

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
http://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com