Update, April 16

April 16, 12:44 PM

Dear MSSA Friends,

Several items of interest today.

Reports on the Website of the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices show that billionaire ex-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s organization, Everytown for Gun Slander, has spent over $56,000 so far this legislative session in Montana influencing legislators to oppose MSSA bills.  Their level of success demonstrates again Montana’s Copper King history that Montana has the best politicians that money can buy.  When the legislators who were swing votes on failed MSSA bills this session run for reelection, I’m sure their pro-gun constituents will be impressed to learn how easily NYC Bloomberg’s anti-gun money turned these politicians against their constituents to do Bloomberg’s bidding.  Stay tuned for more on this after the session is over.

The Senate Finance and Claims Committee tabled HB 234, MSSA’s bill to prevent the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks from stealing the money the Legislature appropriates for the Shooting Range Development Program.  The Committee was spooked by the threat that if FWP is not allowed to steal the SRDP money then Montana would be ineligible to receive $27 million in federal funding from the Pittman-Robertson Act (11% excise tax on guns and ammo).  This was clearly a case of feds and FWP conspiring to maintain FWP as an 800-pound gorilla that can do anything it wants, notwithstanding legislative direction.

The House passed SB 122, MSSA’s bill to encourage manufacture of ammo components in Montana, on Third Reading.  SB 122 will now go back to the Senate for Senate concurrence with a couple of minor, technical amendments made by the House Taxation Committee.  Senate concurrence is expected.  Then, SB 122 will go to Governor Bullock.  Who knows what Governor Bullock will do with SB 122, but it is clearly a jobs bill, an economic development bill for Montana, and it doesn’t cost Montana a dime.  So, if the Governor doesn’t sign SB 122, he will have to invent some imaginary downside to justify that.

Best wishes,

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

ACTION NOW – Shooting Range Funding

Dear MSSA Friends,

The Senate Finance and Claims Committee will act tomorrow (Wednesday) morning on HB 234, MSSA’s bill to prevent FWP from stealing the money the Legislature appropriates to make matching grants for improvement of shooting ranges in Montana.  WE NEED THIS BILL TO PASS!!

The Committee Chairman, Senator Llew Jones, thought he could work out a side deal that would insure shooting range funding without HB 234, but that deal fell through.

The problem is that in order to protect its turf and prerogative to pirate the money, FWP sought and obtained a letter from the US Fish and Wildlife Service saying that if the Legislature locked up the shooting range money where FWP couldn’t steal it – couldn’t spend it for any other purpose than shooting ranges -, that would be considered a "diversion" of hunter license income under federal law and would make Montana ineligible to receive $27 million in federal money.

I am convinced this is a bluff by the USFWS, made in order to support the absolute turf protection that its buddies in the Montana FWP always insist upon.  I think the Legislature should call this bluff by federal bureaucrats.

Here is more detail, if you want it.  If not, skip to the end of this email and contact members of the Senate Finance and Claims Committee.

Detail:  Federal regulations enacted by the USFWS under the Pittman-Robertson Act (11% excise taxes on guns and ammunition) requires that states eligible for P-R funding must have programs using in-state hunter license fees that are under the "control" and "administration" of the state wildlife agency.  Well, excuse me.  The Shooting Range Development Program is assigned by Montana law to FWP.  It is TOTTALLY under the "control" and "administration" of FWP.  No other agency or entity is involved.  However, the USFWS says that if FWP can’t spend the money for whatever it wants, that violates the "diversion" principle.

I’d love to hear what a federal judge would say about "control" and "administration" of a program that is assigned by state law to FWP, and that has been working since 1990 with never a question or challenge by the USFWS.  This, especially considering that funding shooting range development is one of the allowed uses of P-R money specified in the P-R Act passed by Congress  Frankly, I wouldn’t want to be making the argument before a federal judge for the USFWS and FWP that a program that established by state law as being tasked completely and only to FWP is not under the "control" and "administration" of FWP.

That’s why I think the Legislature should call FWP’s bluff and pass HB 234.  Otherwise, if FWP presents a budget to the Legislature and the Legislature amends the budget request to spend less on administration and more on biology, or less on land purchase and more on education, exactly the same argument could be made that Montana is "diverting" hunter license dollars that are no longer under the "control" and "administration" of FWP, so Montana would then again be ineligible for $27 million in federal money.

Please contact the members of the Senate Finance and Claims Committee and ask them to pass HB 234.  Tell them it’s time for the Legislature to take control of the Montana FWP and end it as a subset of a federal agency.  Tell them that if it’s necessary for Montana to go to federal court to enforce its proper authority under the P-R Act, then that should be done rather than surrendering Montana control over its wildlife agency to federal bureaucrats.

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 immediate help!

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

WE DID IT – SB 122 passes Second Reading

Dear MSSA Friends,

SB 122, to encourage the manufacture of ammo components in Montana, passed Second Reading in the House by a vote of 60-40.  Wahoo!!!

In debate on the bill, one Democrat said that if SB 122 passes, maybe it would keep the Montana Shooting Sports Association out of legislators’ hair for the next two years while MSSA focuses on trying to get ammo component manufacturers going in Montana.  Ha ha.

SB 122 will go to Third Reading tomorrow in the House.  Barring a political cataclysm, I’d expect today’s vote to hold on Third Reading.

Then the bill will need to go back to the Senate for Senate concurrence with two small, technical amendments made by the House Taxation Committee.  I would expect that Senate concurrence to be a mere formality.  After that, SB 122 will go to the Governor.

Stay tuned.  I’ll let you know when it’s time to contact the Governor about SB 122.

Best wishes,

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

ACTION! – Two IMPORTANT bills

Dear MSSA Friends,

MSSA’s flagship bill, SB 122, to encourage the manufacture of ammunition components in Montana, will be up for Second Reading before the full House tomorrow, Tuesday, April 13th.  This bill could have more long term consequence for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms in Montana than any other bill this session.  Please contact your Representative (not Senator) and ask him or her to support SB 122.  contact any other Representatives you wish.

While this is an important RKBA bill, it is also a jobs bill.  It has the potential to create a lot of good-paying jobs in Montana.  Plus, it won’t cost the state one dime of existing tax revenue because there are no such businesses in Montana now.

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

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Also, MSSA’s suppressor bill, the "good" bill, SB 295, has gone to the governor for his signature.  Governor Bullock has already said he wants suppressors legal for hunting.  This is the best bill to accomplish that because it is much cleaner methodology than HB 250 for which he offered amendments.  Please contact the Governor and ask him to sign SB 295.

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Contact the Governor

Online:
http://governor.mt.gov/Home/Contact/shareopinion

By U.S. Mail:
Steve Bullock
Governor of Montana
Helena, Montana 59620

By phone:
406-444-3111
Toll Free: 855-318-1330
FAX: 406-444-5529

Email:  "Steve Bullock" <steve@stevebullock.com>

Twitter: @GovernorBullock

Facebook: www.facebook.com/GovernorBullock
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Finally, if you’re interested in the proposed CSKT water compact, I’ve written about that (off MSSA mission) at:
http://progunleaders.org/Compact/

Thanks loads for your help and support!

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

MSSA, privacy, and HB 444

Dear MSSA Friends,

You probably know and appreciate that MSSA has always been careful to stay on-mission and within our area of interest, the RKBA.

However, MSSA has long considered privacy to be within our area of interest because individual privacy is so critical to the RKBA, especially in this electronic age.  See Lethal Laws at jpfo.org if you don’t understand this.  Heck, MSSA has even been to the Montana Supreme Court in asserting privacy (SSNs required to hunt).

HB 444 is all about electronic privacy. MSSA supports HB 444.  HB 444 passed the House with a strong vote, but is now stuck in the Senate Judiciary Committee on a tie vote.

On Wednesday, April 15th, there will be a "blast motion" on the floor of the Senate to extract HB 444 from the Judiciary Committee and get it moving.  "Statists" (those who favor more power to government) oppose HB 444.  Those who favor individual liberty like HB 444.

I highly recommend you contact your state senator and ask him or her to support the blast motion on HB 444 on Wednesday.

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

Best wishes,

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

HB 234 – Range Funding, Friday

Dear MSSA Friends,

Our bill to assure continuation of funding for the Shooting Range Development Program (SRDP), HB 234, will have a public hearing before the Senate Finance and Claims Committee at 8 AM tomorrow, Friday, April 10th.

You may remember that the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), which by statute administers the SRDP, has diverted most of the money the Legislature appropriated for the program in the past two legislative two-year funding cycles.  HB 234 will not only fund the SRDP for the next two years, it will also prevent FWP from diverting the money appropriated by the Legislature to use for other purposes, such as employee pay raises.

Our goal for the SRDP is to assure that people have safe and suitable places to shoot all across Montana.  We got the SRDP started in 1989, using just a bit of hunter license fee money to make matching grants to local clubs to establish or improve ranges.  Since then, about $20 million (including clubs’ match) has been invested in shooting ranges across Montana.  The SRDP has been a hugely successful program.  However, FWP has always seen the SRDP as the "ugly stepchild" of the Department.  And, FWP has always resented this use of "FWP money."  So, we’ve had to fight every session for funding before the Legislature for the SRDP to overcome FWP objection to that.  We’ve always been successful in getting more money appropriated than FWP wants.  FWP resents this.  FWP has responded for the past four years by simply taking the money the Legislature appropriates for the SRDP and using it for what FWP wants, regardless of legislative intent.  Grrrr!

HB 234 is necessary BOTH to continue funding the SRDP AND to prevent FWP from simply taking the money and using it for other purposes.

Please ask Senate Finance and Claims Committee members to do two things:  1) Approve HB 234 as is, and 2) Amend HB 2 (the state budget bill) to coordinate with 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 loads for your help!

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

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