Dear MSSA Friends,
Another of MSSA’s bills has been introduced.  Rep. Nancy Ballance has introduced HB 234, to prevent the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks from derailing and using for other purposes the funding the Legislature appropriates to develop and improve shooting ranges in Montana.  HB 234 would make it the crime of Official Misconduct for any official who makes the decision to redirect shooting range funding money into some other FWP program or use.

For the past two biannual funding cycles, FWP has taken the majority of the money the Legislature appropriated for shooting ranges and used it for other purposes.  This is typical of FWP’s disrespect for the Legislature, and the Legislature is not happy about this.  Sponsor Rep. Nancy Ballance is also the chair of the House Appropriations Committee, not the best person for FWP to have angry at them for having misused legislative appropriations.

Further, HB 234 contains a statutory appropriation of $500,000 per year for the Shooting Range Development Program, using hunter license fee monies (not tax revenue) to make matching grants to local clubs and entities to establish or improve shooting ranges.  This is important because typically MSSA must ask for a two-year appropriation every legislative session.  A statutory appropriation would be permanent, every year, unless changed by the Legislature, ending the need to ask for a new appropriation every two years.

MSSA asserts that if people are not shooting, they won’t be hunting and buying hunting licenses to support FWP.  Thus, this is a good use of hunter license dollars.  Further, MSSA believes that there should be safe and suitable places for people to shoot in all Montana communities.  HB 234 will help achieve that goal.

The House Appropriations Committee joins with the Senate Finance and Claims Committee, and then is divided into topical subcommittees for public hearings on and consideration of appropriations bills.  HB 234 will probably (not certainly) go to the Natural Resources subcommittee (which considers the FWP budget).  I’ll let you know, as with other bills, when there is a public hearing scheduled on HB 234.

You should put this bill on your Preference List on the Legislature’s Website.  You can find the Bill Text, Current Status, General Descriptions for this Bill here:

Gary Marbut, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Author, Gun Laws of Montana


By mssa