Dear MSSA Friends,

Let me give you a wrap-up of last week in the Legislature.

The public hearing was held on HB 226, MSSA’s bill to exempt nonprofit shooting ranges from property tax.  The Montana Department of Revenue opposed HB 226 because it allows a nonprofit entity to get court costs and fees from DoR in a lawsuit challenging a DoR denial of the proposed tax exemption.

The House Taxation Committee approved HB 226 after amending it to exclude a residence at a shooting range.  Committee members were concerned that the measure could be abused by somebody with a mansion setting up a target, calling that a shooting range, and demanding a property tax exemption.  This amendment degrades HB 226 just a bit, only about 5% I think, so it’s still a good bill.  For ranges that have a caretaker residence on property, that residence is often a mobile home, which is assessed and taxed as personal property rather than real estate.

HB 226 will now go to the floor of the House for Second Reading, debate, and a vote.  I’ll get another email out when it’s scheduled for Second Reading and ask you to message House members.

HB 325 and HB 357 had their public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Friday.  HB 325 would roll back local government authority to regulate firearms under Montana’s “preemption law” at 45-8-351, in order to curb abuse of that statute by Missoula and other communities, and to prevent a patchwork of local gun control laws across Montana.  HB 357 is the identical, companion measure that is a referendum to go to a vote of the people should Governor Bullock veto HB 325.

The usual suspects opposed HB 325, including the Montana League of Cities and Towns, the Montana Association of Counties, the Montana School Boards Association, and ex NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s captive Mom’s Demand Action and Mayors for Gun Control.

The House Judiciary Committee has not taken action on HB 325 and HB 357 yet (as of Monday morning), but I predict the Committee will approve the bills.  Keep messages going to Committing members asking for support of HB 325 and HB 357.

HB 322 is sponsored by Rep. John Fuller and is scheduled for a public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on This coming Thursday, 2/7.  HB 322 would remove the requirement that a CWP applicant provide a Social Security Number as a part of the application.  Law enforcement have told me that for completing background checks they prefer to use full name and date of birth, and that SSNs are not particularly useful, especially since there is so much fraud in use of SSNs by illegal aliens and others.  Plus, we are advised by all knowledgeable advisers, government and private, to NOT use SSNs for identification to reduce exposure to identity theft.  Please get messages to members of the House Judiciary Committee asking them to support HB 322.

HB 145 and HB 155 have passed the House, gone to the Senate, and have been assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.  No public hearings scheduled yet.

SB 95, a gun control bill, remains tabled in the Senate Judiciary Committee and probably will remain so, although we’ll continue to watch it.

Thanks loads for your help.

Best wishes,

--   Gary Marbut, president  Montana Shooting Sports Association  Author, Gun Laws of Montana

By mssa