Montana legislature hits half-way mark |

Montana legislature hits half-way mark

Rep. Lee Randall
for Tri-State Livestock News
Lee Randall

The Montana session has been underway since the beginning of January and last week we crossed the halfway mark. With a new governor and many new faces I am glad to report the session is going very smoothly. Agriculture, the main economic driver of the state, is also faring well so far.

Montana has a business equipment tax, this archaic tax is a perpetual sales tax on business equipment, including combines, tractors, etc. This legislative session we are proposing lowering the tax for everyone and eliminating it for around 14,000 businesses, that bill has passed the house on second reading. We have also passed a bill to lower property taxes, lowering the 95 mills that the state collects, this will lower every farmers’ and ranchers’ property tax bill without effecting local governments.

Another hot button issue is free ranging buffalo. As many in the ag industry can agree on, free ranging buffalo would be very detrimental to current ag practices and very destructive to private property. So a slew of bills have come up to control this effort, one of my personal favorites and one that has passed the house, is a bill that would give county commissioners more authority to stop the movement of free ranging bison into their counties. I feel it’s very import to have the locally elected officials involved and in the process.

A bill that we just heard last week in Ag committee would make it legal to sell raw milk person to person, currently selling raw milk is illegal in Montana. I am supporting this bill as I believe it’s about personal freedom. If you would like to buy and drink raw milk and assume the risk, you should have every right to do so.

Eminent Domain is another issue we have addressed this session, HB 417 which I cosponsored, will give the landowners more chips on the table when it comes to a condemnation proceeding. A bill has also passed in the senate that would repeal the eminent domain law passed last session, that bill could be seen as adding more entities that could condemn land. I think it’s important that it’s repealed.

Overall, I look forward to finishing the session strong and have hopes that our new governor will sign these laws into place and stand up for Montana Agriculture.

Representative Lee Randall

Chairman House Agriculture