Update, bills activity yesterday

Dear MSSA Friends,

The House took several actions yesterday, including failing MSSA’s Campus Carry bill (SB143) by 49-50 on Second Reading, approving MSSA’s suppressors-for-hunting bill (SB 295) on Second Reading by 71-28, and approving MSSA’s Shooting Range Funding bill (HB 234) by 56-43 on Third Reading.

HB 234 has moved to the Senate.  Assuming SB 295 is approved today on Third Reading in the House, it will go to the Governor.

About Campus Carry, it only received 49 Yes votes yesterday because all Democrats voted against it, as did a bunch of Republicans who characterize themselves as "responsible Republicans" or "moderate Republicans" and who commonly vote with Democrats on important bills.  Although these House members ran as Republicans and were elected as Republicans, they are not conservatives.  By casting their votes with Democrats, they give the Democrats effective control of the House, even though Republicans are ostensibly in the majority.  The leader of the "responsible Republicans" opposing Campus Carry was Rep. Jeffrey Welborn (R-Dillon).

There was one other factor in play concerning this vote on Campus Carry.  I’ve had two reports that operatives for billionaire NYC ex-Mayor Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Danger were calling Montanans and asking them to call the "responsible Republicans" in the House to ask them to oppose Campus Carry.  So, it is likely that the "responsible Republicans" in the House who opposed Campus Carry became witting or unwitting tools for billionaire Bloomberg and his captive Everytown effort that is registered as a lobbying group in Montana with a NYC address.

Most of you know that MSSA has been successfully in this game for a long time.  We play the long game.  Governor Bullock vetoed this bill two years ago, and we expected he would veto it again.  Therefore, our chief goal in the House was to get a recorded vote on Campus Carry there, so we can hold Representatives accountable for that vote at the next election.  We got that.  In addition, it would have been nice to get just one more veto on the Governor’s record going into the 2016 elections, but we already have him on record with his veto of Campus Carry from 2013.

Another way to look at this House vote on Campus Carry is that there were a bunch of "responsible Republicans" who are trying to help Governor Bullock get reelected next year, so they voted against SB 143 to protect the Governor from having the additional liability of a second Campus Carry veto on his record in 2016.  It may clarify politics in Helena for you to think of these "responsible Republicans" as having signed onto Governor Bullock’s reelection effort for next year.  That is surely the effect (and maybe the intent) of their votes against SB 143.  In net, we may be pleased that these House members who were elected as Republicans have so clearly announced their intent to side with Bloomberg and Bullock.  When they go home and start talking with constituents about reelection, they’ll swear they’re the greatest champions of the Second Amendment ever seen on Earth.  That is, they’ll lie.  But, we will have the voting records.

Finally, nice job on the Montana Standard opinion poll about the Governor’s veto of HB 298, Permitless Carry.  The poll is now about 7:1 in disagreement with the Governor’s veto.

Best wishes,

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

FLASH – Campus Carry up in House tomorrow, 3/31

Dear MSSA Friends,

The Legislature’s Website shows SB 143, Campus Carry, scheduled for Second Reading in the House tomorrow (Tuesday, 3/31).

Please get messages to Representatives asking them to support SB 143.  See my recent email about SB 143 for talking points.  The first argument is, unelected bureaucrats have no power to suspend the Montana Constitution, even if those bureaucrats work for the University system.  The Legislature needs to clarify this point with SB 143.

Get messages to legislators 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

The House goes into its floor session at 1 PM tomorrow (Tuesday, 3/31), so you have until then to get messages in.

Thanks loads for your help.

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

Good news – HB 234 passes House Second Reading

Dear MSSA Friends,

On Second Reading today, the House voted 57-43 to approve HB 234, MSSA’s range funding bill.

Although there are no guarantees in this political business, I expect this vote will hold for Third Reading tomorrow.  If so, then HB 234 will move on to the Senate, and almost certainly to the Senate Finance and Claims Committee.

One of the arguments FWP made against HB 234, and that was replayed on the House floor today, is FWP’s claim that there are simply not enough applications for range development grants to justify the $700,000 in the bill for the next two years.  They don’t confess that they manufactured the shortage of applications by telling would-be applicants to not bother to submit applications because there’s no money left (after FWP diverted it to other purposes).

The deadline for grant applications for this year (and for any part of the $700K in HB 234) is May 1, just a month from now.

INTERSTED RANGES NEED TO GET GRANT APPLICATIONS IN IMMEDIATELY to meet this May 1 deadline.  Don’t let FWP persuade you to not apply.  We need to use this money or FWP will just argue next session that this program is not needed.

I’ve developed a lot of information about Montana shooting ranges, including how to apply for range development grants, at:
http://progunleaders.org/ranges/

Best wishes,

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

Are you associated with a Montana shooting range?

Dear MSSA Friends,

If you are associated with a Montana shooting range, your range leaders SHOULD be actively supporting HB 234, the shooting range funding bill.

HB 234 will be up for debate on the floor of the House during Second Reading tomorrow (Monday), beginning at 1:00 PM.

The leaders of your shooting range club or entity should be contacting every Representative (not Senator, yet) from your area asking them to support HB 234.

HB 234 has three times as much money for range improvement grants as FWP has been willing to allow in the state budget, PLUS HB 234 is structured to prevent FWP from making off with the range money and using it for some other, FWP-preferred purpose.

Please contact your range club leaders and ask them to get messages to ALL Representatives from your area urging their support for HB 234.

Get messages to legislators 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

Thanks!!

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

ACTION – HB 234, Second Reading, Monday

Dear MSSA Friends,

MSSA’s HB 234 is shown on the Legislature’s Website as scheduled for Second Reading debate and vote on the floor of the House on Monday, 3/30.

HB 234 is to fund the Shooting Range Development Program with $700,000 for the next two years, AND to prevent FWP from stealing the money the Legislature appropriates for the SRDP and using it for some other purpose.

For the last two funding cycles, the last four years, FWP has taken most of the money the Legislature appropriated for the SRDP and has applied that money to some other purpose.  I believe that the money taken from the 2011 SRDP appropriation went directly into the pockets of FWP employees.  The money FWP hi-graded from the 2013 SRDP appropriation FWP says it just put back in its bank account by refusing to spend the money.

The SRDP has been a hugely successful program, I think.  I got it started in about 1987, using just a bit of hunter license fee money to make matching grants to local clubs to establish or improve ranges.  Since the SRDP started, nearly $20 million has been invested in building ranges in Montana.  I believe that people in every Montana community should have a safe and suitable places to shoot the firearms that are so common in Montana, and that are essential for hunting.  I’ve told FWP, if people aren’t shooting, they won’t be hunting, and if people aren’t hunting, they won’t buy hunting licenses to support FWP financially.

Notwithstanding that, FWP has always seen the SRDP as the ugly stepchild, using "their" money for a purpose not invented or supported by FWP.

As a part of its hostility to the SRDP, FWP plays a double game.  First, it steals most of the money the Legislature appropriates for the SRDP.  Then it spreads the word to applicants that the money is gone, so there’s no use going to the trouble of crafting and submitting an application for a grant.  THEN FWP tells the Legislature that there are not enough applications submitted to justify the level of SRDP funding MSSA requests.

For the past two budget cycles, 2011 and 2013, MSSA has gotten $625,000 appropriated to the SRDP by the Legislature.  In both budget cycles, FWP has diverted about 2/3 of that funding to other uses.  In this session, FWP put in a budget request for only $224,000 for the SRDP, again telling the Legislature there are not enough grant applications to justify more than that (see the double game above).

HB 234 bumps that appropriation up to $700,000, AND sets up the funding in such a way as to make it very difficult for FWP to divert the funding.

Please contact your Representative (not Senator, yet) and ask him or her to please support HB 234 on the floor of the House on Second Reading, Monday.  Also contact any other Representatives you wish (you’ve learned by now who the softies are).

Get messages to legislators 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

Thanks loads for your help!

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

HB 457 postponed

Dear MSSA Friends,

The House has postponed consideration of HB 457 for today.  It will almost certainly come up on Monday when the House convenes at 1:00 PM.

So, we have more time to get messages to House members to support HB 457.

Please get messages to Representatives asking them to support HB 457.  Since HB 457 is a referendum, if we get enough votes to get it on the ballot, it doesn’t go to the governor for his signature.

Thanks for your help.

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

IMMEDIATE – HB 457 tomorrow

Dear MSSA Friends,

HB 457 has just been scheduled for Second Reading in the House tomorrow, Saturday, 3/28.  Sorry for the short notice.

This bill is for the constitutional referendum to remove from the Montana Constitution that archaic1884 language saying that the right to keep and bear arms does not include carrying concealed weapons.

Please contact your Representative and any others you can asking them to support HB 457.

I characterize this 1884 language as a culturally-obsolete dress code issue.  It is the only dress code still specified in the Montana Constitution.

Montana culture and law have changed since 1884.  The law no longer requires separate schools for children of African descent.  The law no longer requires permission from her husband for a woman to sell property or go into business.  And, the law no longer specifies what clothing we must or may not wear, thus the defeat of the infamous "speedo and yoga pants" bill this session, except for clothing that might conceal a firearm.

The House will go into session tomorrow morning, so there’s not much time to get messages in to legislators.

Get messages to legislators 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

Also, bad news, but not unexpected.  Governor Bullock has vetoed HB 203 (non-enforcement of new federal gun control) and HB 298 (Permitless Carry).

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

Northwestern Energy prevails in defeat of HB 598

Dear MSSA Friends,

The arguments of Northwestern Energy, an out-of-state-corporation, were repeated today on the floor of the House during Second Reading debate over HB 598, leading to a vote of 44-66 and the defeat of HB 598.

Also involved in opposition to HB 598 is Mom’s Demand Action, an entity fostered by billionaire ex New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, also credited with a major win for gun control recently in the State of Washington and gun control efforts working now in Nevada and Oregon.

Whether Northwestern and Bloomberg are coordinating anti-gun efforts in Montana is unknown, but they are clearly pushing Montana in the same direction with shared opposition to HB 598.

HB 598 sought to set a high judicial barrier to infringement of the right to keep and bear arms by the state, and to allow the people of Montana to vote on that concept.  Therefore, the opposition by Northwestern and Bloomberg is not only contrary to the interests of Montana gun owners, it is also to prevent the people of Montana from even having a vote on this important issue.

Many concerned Montana gun owners are asking what possible interest Northwestern Energy could have in opposing the right to keep and bear arms in Montana, a right the people have reserved to themselves from government interference in the Montana Constitution.

Northwestern’s claim is that HB 598 would affect its private property rights, a claim repeated in debate on the floor of the House today.  However, a plain reading of HB 598 demonstrates that it would apply to a claim "only against the state" (HB 598 says, Page 2, Line 5).  Since HB 598 clearly does not apply to a non-governmental entity, Northwestern’s opposition to HB 598 must have some other, hidden motive.  Northwestern’s congruency with Bloomberg’s history and anti-gun efforts offers a logical explanation for Northwestern’s deviance from its usual corporate mission as a utility company.

Northwestern even admits that a strong majority of its Montana customers are gun owners.  One great mystery then is why a publicly-traded utility company would elect to squander so much good will over public opposition to a bill that actually has no effect on the company or its mission.  Good will is touted to be important to Northwestern.  In fact, Northwestern carries "Goodwill" as an actual asset on its corporate balance sheet valued at $355 million.  It is stunning to think that a publicly-traded company would expose such a valuable "asset" to potentially catastrophic erosion in the highly-charged political arena of gun rights, especially when the company has no real dog in the fight.

It is only speculation that perhaps anti-gun Bloomberg has influenced Northwestern’s institutional investors to encourage Northwestern to take this considerable risk.  That explanation doesn’t make a lot of sense, since institutional investors traditionally abhor public controversy and turmoil related to the companies they invest in.  Or, perhaps Northwestern has an officer or officers with personal anti-gun bias who chose to  engage in this risky behavior on behalf of the company, but without regard for the impact on the company image.  Only Northwestern can clarify its ulterior motive.

Meanwhile, all we know for sure is that HB 598 was defeated today, and Northwestern Energy has been the lead opponent to the bill.

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

FLASH – HB 598, Second Reading House, tomorrow (Friday)

Dear MSSA Friends,

HB 598 just got scheduled for House Second Reading for tomorrow (Friday).  The House floor session begins at 1:00 PM.

So, you have until 1 PM tomorrow to get messages to your and any other House members asking them to please support HB 598.

HB 598 would require that if your RKBA is infringed by a governmental entity and you file a corrective lawsuit, the courts must require the infringement to pass the highest level of judicial scrutiny, AND, if you prevail, your court costs and attorney fees are paid.

HB 598 is the bill that Northwestern Energy so inappropriately testified against.  They may still be working against it behind the scenes.

Here are my talking points for HB 598.  Use whatever you like:

1)  Let the people vote.  HB 598 is a referendum, so it would only put the question before the people of Montana for a vote at next year’s general election.  Let the voters decide.  Anyone against HB 598 is against voters’ freedom of choice.

2)  In D.C. v. Heller, the US Supreme Court determined that the RKBA is a fundamental right.  Fundamental rights are already determined as needing the highest level of judicial scrutiny for infringement, so HB 598 is no great departure from the status quo.  It just makes sure the courts have gotten the message (and awards attorney fees and court costs for successful litigants).

3.  Our RKBA is precious and cherished in Montana.  It deserves this policy to be declared in law.

4.  For Republicans, the special importance of the RKBA is in the Republican platform.  Ahem, the Democrats don’t have a platform plank about the RKBA – unfortunately, they tend to be selective about what constitutional rights they like and support.

5.  The only real opposition to HB 598 was from Northwestern Energy and the few other abetters they rounded up.  Should we allow an out-of-state corporation to determine our civil rights in Montana?

GET THE MESSAGES IN!!

Especially to these four critical Representatives:

Roy Hollandsworth
Tom Richmond
Dan Salomon
Jeff Welborn

Get messages to legislators 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

Thanks!!!

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

Update, SB 143 not tomorrow

Dear MSSA Friends,

Where the Legislature’s Website showed SB 143 (Campus Carry) as being scheduled for Second Reading for tomorrow (Wednesday) a few hours ago, the Website no longer shows that.

Apparently, the Powers-That-Be have withdrawn SB 143 from tomorrow’s schedule.

If you are sending messages, carry on.  SB 143 will come up soon.  If you were planning to go to the Capitol to watch the debate, check the Legislature’s Website again tomorrow just to be sure the schedule doesn’t change again.

Best wishes,

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