Status update, SB 122; ammo component manufacture

Dear MSSA Friends,

SB 122 is MSSA’s bill to encourage the manufacture of ammunition components (brass, primers and powder) in Montana, carried for MSSA by Senator Matt Rosendale.  The introduced version of SB 122 contained three elements to encourage such manufacture:

1)  Liability protection.  Current Montana law contains defectless product liability for manufactures of finished ammo.  SB 122 extends that protection to component manufacturers.

2)  Economic development programs.  Current Montana law has quite a number of existing economic development programs that do various things to encourage new business in Montana.  SB 122 grants access to ALL existing economic development programs to new manufacturers of ammo components.

3)  Tax relief.  The introduced version offered a LOT of tax breaks to new component manufacturers.

Some have expressed concern that the Senate "gutted" SB 122.  Not true.  Here’s what happened.

The Senate Taxation Committee wrestled with SB 122.  All Democrats on the Committee opposed SB 122 (hey, that’s what they do), led by Senator Sue Malek (D-Missoula) and Senator Dick Barrett (D-Missoula).  Some Senate Republicans have had a problem with this bill in previous years.  What they say is that they want to reduce taxes on business generally, and that they oppose any special tax breaks for certain industries as complicating the job of getting across-the-board tax reduction done.  This is a plausible explanation, but it could also be a smokescreen for an anti-gun vote.

There are seven Republicans on Senate Tax, and five Democrats.  Four of the Republicans on Senate Tax are among those moderates who describe themselves as "responsible Republicans", ones who will vote with Democrats when it suits them to get something they want or to kill a bill they don’t like.  The three staunch Republicans on Senate Tax tried to get Senate Tax to support SB 122 as introduced, but could not corral the votes required for that, especially with all five Democrats already locked up against it.

So, the staunch Republicans on Senate Tax had to compromise with the "responsible Republicans" on amendments that the "responsible Republicans" would tolerate, to get SB 122 out of the Committee.  Otherwise SB 122 would have died right there.

In the amended version that passed the Committee (7-5, party line vote), about 60% of the tax breaks were removed, but the liability protection and access to economic development programs were left intact.

SB 122 passed the Senate in this form, 28-22 on Second Reading and 29-19 on Third Reading.  In this Third Reading vote, Democrats Hamlett, Moe, and Sands voted yes, two Republicans were excused, and Republican Tutvedt voted against.  Otherwise it was a party line vote.  SB 122 went to the House, and was assigned to the House Taxation Committee.

We had considered asking the House Tax Committee to restore the original language and tax breaks.  However, the Senate sponsor persuaded me that such a restored bill would stall in the Senate upon return there for Senate concurrence with House amendments.  Sponsor Rosendale is also the Senate Majority Leader.  I trust him to know what he can get past the Senate, so we did not ask House Tax to restore the missing tax breaks from the original version of SB 122.

If House Tax had restored the tax breaks stricken in Senate Tax, only four Senate Republicans would have had to vote against the restored House version to kill the bill.  There are seven of the "responsible Republicans" in the Senate, plus a couple or three other Republicans who can be quirky.  We can’t count on any Democrat votes on our bills.  The R/D split in the Senate is 29-21.  Given all of that, I couldn’t see going against the advice of the Sponsor to ask House Tax to restore the tax breaks taken out by the Senate Tax Committee.

House Tax made one small, technical amendment to the bill, just to clean up an erroneous date in the bill, but otherwise passed the amended Senate version by 13-7 (hey, we even got some Democrats).

So, the current status of SB 122 is not "gutted", although I’d agree it is weakened.  In its current form, we get 2 1/2 steps forward rather than the 3 steps we wanted.  Still, it’s moving the ball in the right direction.

SB 122 will be on the floor of the full House soon for Second Reading.  I’ll let you know when it’s time to ask House members to support the bill.  Assuming SB 122 passes the House on Second and Third Readings (likely, I think, in its current form), then it will return to the Senate for Senate concurrence with the minor, technical amendment made by the House.  Barring any wildcards being played in the hand, I expect Senate concurrence with the minor House amendment will be nearly automatic, and SB 122 will then go to the Governor for his signature.  This is the one of our bills that I think the Governor will be likely to sign (although I’m not betting any money).

Stay tuned …

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

Update in re Northwestern Energy

Dear MSSA Friends,

Thanks to all of you who have helped with the Northwestern Energy fiasco.  As is said in politics, if you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.

Several of you have asked me for updates and further explanations about this situation.  Well, it’s fluid and evolving, but there are a couple of points worth noting.

Northwestern has published a statement on its Website, a really bogus statement about its opposition to HB 598.  Northwestern’s statement is a lame excuse in attempt to justify its opposition to HB 598 and its corporate misbehavior by claiming that the bill would have consequences it clearly will not.  Northwestern says it "feels" that HB 598 would prevent it from controlling firearms in its workplaces and among its employees.

This is a totally bogus excuse, easily demonstrated.  HB 598 says clearly, on Page 2, at Line 5, that the bill applies only to "the state or one of its political subdivisions" (local governments), not to private entities.

Northwestern makes the lame excuse in its posted statement that it opposes HB 598 to insure its property rights and employee control.

Even if that were correct, which it definitely is NOT, Northwestern’s lobbyist spoke in opposition to HB 598 for six minutes in just the first of five times he came to the committee microphone to oppose HB 598.  An examination of the transcript of that six-minute testimony discloses that the lobbyist’s presentation included 927 words.  Of those, two short sentences totalling 28 words, or 3% of his testimony, was about Northwestern’s alleged property rights problem.  The other 97% of the lobbyist’s presentation was a rant about seniors, schools, future elections, and a mish-mash of other hypothetical scare stories that have absolutely no relation whatsoever to Northwestern’s alleged concern about its property rights or to its company mission area.

Sorry Northwestern, your posted statement just doesn’t pass the smell test.  It reeks of attempted coverup of a deliberate anti-RKBA effort by Northwestern.  That statement is such a transparent attempt to excuse unjustifiable corporate behavior as to be laughable.  The people of Montana and the Legislature are not stupid enough fall for such a Clintonesque attempt at misdirection.  Heck, next Northwestern may even claim that its dog ate its homework, or that hostile alien thought waves from outer space caused it to misunderstand HB 598, not exactly the quality of corporate responsibility one normally expects from the leaders of a major corporation in Montana.

One final thought about Northwestern’s posted statement attempting to justify its anti-RKBA stance on HB 598.  Northwestern attempts to further excuse its misbehavior by saying it was joined in its opposition to HB 598 by lobbyists for other business interests in Montana.  It is my firm belief (admittedly without actual evidence) that Northwestern went out of its way to actually RECRUIT these other people as opponents to HB 598.  Saying its anti-RKBA position is excusable because/if it recruited others to do the same is a really sleazy position for Northwestern to take.

Stay tuned MSSA Friends and keep up the pressure.  Again, you may send your comments to:

Pat.Corcoran@northwestern.com
Pam.Bonrud@northwestern.com
Bobbi.Schroeppel@northwestern.com
PSC_complaint@mt.gov

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

Northwestern Energy lobbying mission statement

Folks,

FYI, from Northwestern’s Online mission statement in re lobbying:
http://www.northwesternenergy.com/docs/default-source/documents/corporategovernance/politicalcontributionspolicy.pdf

E.  Lobbying Activities

1.  It is important for us to interact with legislators, regulators, and other public policymaking bodies in order to further the interests of the company.

3.  Our government and regulatory affairs staff actively lobbies public officials on issues that impact our company and our ability to do business. (Emphasis added)

WTF does opposing the RKBA have to do with Northwestern’s company or mission?

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

Some more good news

Dear MSSA Friends,

Thanks for your help with Northwestern Energy.  We need to hammer home the message, "Leave the right to keep and bear arms alone – mind your own business."

Good news.

Both HB 203 (no local enforcement of new federal gun or magazine bans) and HB 298 (permitless carry) have cleared the Senate and are on their way to the Governor’s desk.  Tomorrow I’ll provide you with information about contacting the Governor in support of these two bills.

SB 122 (ammo component manufacture) has been approved by the House Tax Committee with a 13-7 vote.  This bill will now move on to the House floor for Second Reading, and then Third Reading.  SB 122 got a minor, technical amendment in House Tax, so it will need to go back to the Senate for concurrence with this House amendment.  That shouldn’t be a problem.  Then it, too, will go to the Governor.  More about this when it’s assigned for Second Reading in the House.

That’s all for now.

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

ACTION – Northwestern Energy

Dear MSSA Friends,

I highly recommend that you send an email much like the one I’m sending (below) to the following email addresses:

Pat.Corcoran@northwestern.com
Pam.Bonrud@northwestern.com
Bobbi.Schroeppel@northwestern.com
PSC_complaint@mt.gov

Please, do not use profanity or call names.  Do be firm and as strong as you want.  Here’s my message to Northwestern:

===========
Dear Northwestern Energy,

I have been a customer of the Montana Power Company and then Northwestern Energy for 40 years.  I fiercely resent Northwestern’s opposition to HB 598, a gun rights bill before the Montana Legislature.

Northwestern has no business toying in the gun rights arena.  Northwestern has no proper purpose spending the money I pay for utility service to pay a lobbyist to work against my fundamental, constitutional rights in the Legislature.

You may be assured that I will voice this complaint to the Public Service Commission.

Sincerely yours,

===========

Thanks!!

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

News Release, NWE attacks the RKBA

NEWS RELEASE
(for immediate release – March 13, 2015)

Northwestern Energy Turns Against the Right to Keep and Bear Arms

Northwestern Energy, a company usually concerned only with efficient delivery of electricity and natural gas in Montana, took the bold step today to also become an active opponent of the right to keep and bear arms in Montana.

In a dramatic departure from usual corporate practice, Northwestern took a strong stance against House Bill 598, the Gun Owners Access to Justice Act, in a public hearing before the Montana House Judiciary Committee today.  Since the purpose HB 598 is to create a referendum on this issue for a vote by Montana citizens, Northwestern is also against allowing Montana people to vote on this important issue.

During the hearing on HB 598, the lobbyist representing Northwestern actually took the committee microphone five different times to reiterate Northwestern’s total opposition to the bill.

Also speaking in opposition to HB 598 was a representative of Moms Demand Action, a national group founded and funded by billionaire and anti-gun former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.  This concurrence and Northwestern’s dramatic departure from its former policy of lobbying only about energy bills raises the question of whether billionaire Bloomberg may have financial ties to Northwestern.

Gary Marbut is President of the Montana Shooting Sports Association, the primary political advocate for gun owners in Montana.  Marbut supported HB 598 before the committee and commented on the unusual opposition by Northwestern, “It’s a mystery to me why Northwestern would choose to burn so much political capital with the Legislature, with Montana ratepayers, and with investors, by launching so actively and visibly against the interests of Montana gun owners.  I’d guess that 90% of Northwestern’s Montana customers are gun owners.  How does it serve Northwestern’s corporate interests to poke a stick at this bear?”

The  Gun Owners Access to Justice Act clarifies that a high level of judicial scrutiny be applied to any government actions that impair the fundamental right to keep and bear arms, a level of scrutiny that is already applied to other fundamental rights.  It would also allow court costs and attorney fees for any person who successfully sued a governmental entity because the person’s rights had been violated by that government entity.

In D.C. v. Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court confirmed that the right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right.  Under the Montana Constitution, fundamental rights are considered to be those which the people have reserved to themselves from government interference in Article II, the Declaration of Rights.  The right to keep and bear arms is in the Declaration of Rights at Section 12.

If approved by the House Judiciary Committee, HB 598 will move to the floor of the House for Second and Third Readings, and then on to the Senate for the same consideration.  If approved by both House and Senate, HB 598 will go on the next General Election ballot for a vote of the people, and will not require the Governor’s signature.  HB 598 is sponsored by Rep. Matthew Monforton (R-Bozeman).

– 30 –

Information:  Gary Marbut, 549-1252
                 Robert C. Rowe, CEO, Northwestern Energy, 443-0715
                 Northwestern Energy, Butte, (888) 467-2669

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

Several updates – good news

Dear MSSA Friends,

HB 203 (no local enforcement of new federal gun bans) passed the Senate on Second Reading today.

HB 298 (Permitless Carry) passed the Senate on Second Reading today.

SB 143 (Campus Carry) was approved today by the House Judiciary Committee (I am told – it’s not on the Website yet).

HB 539, a bill MSSA opposed to create a crime of careless gun handling, was tabled by the House Judiciary Committee today.

Be sure to continue to press House Taxation Committee members to approve SB 122 (encourage manufacture of ammo components).

On Friday, the House Judiciary Committee will conduct its public hearing on HB 598, for a referendum to go on the ballot to help secure the RKBA in Montana, the "Gun Owners Access to Justice Act".  Be sure to get messages to HJC members urging support of HB 598.

A hacker with online handle "Virus Noir", from Moroccan Hackers group ‘ Moroccan Agent Secret’, hacked into and defaced the MSSA Website, mtssa.org, last night.  Our Website is temporarily unavailable while we install backup files.  This is why I have always refused to have either the MSSA email list or the MSSA membership list ANYWHERE Online.  Our lists are highly secured and were NOT compromised with this hacking.  It’s only an inconvenience while we reinstall files.  This hacker is reputed to have defaced almost 3,000 Websites around the World, a minority of those in the US.  There doesn’t seem to be any pattern, but somebody doing this just because they can.  In Montana, in addition to mtssa.org, the Websites of a real estate agency and an author of books about dogs were also defaced by the same hacker last night.

That’s enough for now.

Best wishes.

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

ACTION – HB 203 and HB 298

Dear MSSA Friends,

I’m just back from Helena and the public hearings in the House for campus carry (SB 143) and ammo components manufacture (SB 122).  Those hearings went reasonably well.  Look up the video for those on the Legislature’s Website if you’re interested, SB 122 in House Taxation Committee today, and SB 143 in House Judiciary Committee today.

Two bills will be on the Senate floor for Second Reading tomorrow, Wednesday, 3/11, at 1 PM.  CONTACT YOUR SENATORS AND ASK FOR SUPPORT.  These two bills are:

HB 203, to prevent state and local government employees (police) from enforcing any new federal gun or magazine bans, and

HB 298, permitless carry, to allow concealed carry inside cities by lawful gun owners without permits.

Please contact your senators and ask them to support HB 203 and HB 298.

Get messages about these bills 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
https://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

Campus carry and ammo components up tomorrow – ACTION NEEDED

Dear MSSA Friends,

Two important MSSA bills will have public hearings tomorrow (Tuesday) morning.  It’s time for action.

SB 122 is MSSA’s flagship bill this session, to encourage the manufacture of ammo components (brass, primers and powder) in Montana.  It is up for its public hearing before the House Taxation Committee tomorrow morning.  NOTE:  This bill died in this committee last session on a tie vote.  We REALLY need to work this committee on this bill.  There are two reasons for the H Tax Committee members to vote for this bill.  First, it’s a jobs bill.  If it works to spur manufacture in Montana, it will create good-paying jobs here.  Second, and more important to MSSA, this may be what saves the RKBA from annihilation in Montana.  There is only one plant in the US that makes smokeless power for civilian consumption.  All the rest of the powder we consume is imported (about a million pounds per year).  If that one plant in Florida had a fire, and something (think UN regulations) interrupted imports, our ammo supply would end, our firearms would become just awkward clubs, and our Second Amendment rights would be down the drain.  This bill is ESSENTIAL for the long term survival of the RKBA.

I will ask the House Tax Committee to restore some of the tax break incentives taken out by the Senate.  Because there are no manufacturers of brass, primers or powder in Montana now, these tax breaks will not cost Montana one dime of lost revenue, but will provide jobs, and will provide tax income for the state in the future.  Please ask Committee members to help with MSSA’s plan to fix SB 122, and to pass it.  SB 122 is a jobs bill, and is essential to insuring the long term viability of our RKBA.

SB 143, MSSA’s Campus Carry bill will be up for public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee Tuesday morning.  The chief argument for SB 143 is that the Montana Constitution gives the U-system NO POWER TO SUSPEND THE CONSTITUTION, or to suspend those rights that we the people have reserved to ourselves from government interference in the Montana Constitution.  The second argument is that purported "gun free zones" have been demonstrated to be very dangerous places, because they are magnets of disarmed victim zones for madmen and criminals.  The third argument is that NONE of the doom predicted for campus carry by opponents has materialized in the several other states that allow campus carry.  Drunk students, irresponsible students, youth, accidents – NONE of this is happening with CWP-holders on campus in other states.
http://missoulian.com/news/opinion/columnists/campus-carry-is-about-civil-rights-unelected-bureaucrats/article_1fad30a5-6d03-58a7-8320-15b2681732b2.html

The House Judiciary Committee is a strong committee for us, so SB 143 should do well there.  Message members of both committees about these bills if you can, but especially the House Tax Committee about SB 122.  Remember, MSSA’s ammo components bill died in this committee last session.

YOUR SUPPORT IS CRITICAL!

Please get messages about these bills 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
https://www.mtssa.org
Author, Gun Laws of Montana
http://www.MTPublish.com

New and important bill introduced

Dear MSSA Friends,

Representative Matthew Monforton, a gun-friendly attorney from Bozeman, has introduced HB 598.  This bill is for a statutory referendum, which will require only 50%+1 of each House and Senate to go on the ballot for a vote of the people.  HB 598 will accomplish two things:  1) require that any infringements on the fundamental right to keep and bear arms must pass the highest level of judicial scrutiny to survive, and 2) will award court costs and attorney fees to anyone who’s rights are infringed and who sues and wins the lawsuit.

This is really big!  This bill is not on the MSSA Legislative Agenda for the 2015 session, but MSSA is adopting it.  It’s a super idea that could have very positive consequences for the RKBA in Montana.

HB 598 has been scheduled for a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee next Friday, 3/13.  It’s not yet time to send messages to committee members asking for support.  Soon – maybe Wednesday or Thursday.

There are two more bills on the MSSA legislative agenda that are yet to be introduced.  I’ll let you know.  Stay tuned …

Best wishes,

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