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.
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Thanks loads for your help!
Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Author, Gun Laws of Montana