By John Brenden--Montana State Senator
The Brenden Report 

Getting Back In The Game In Helena


Hello again from the capital. Now that the Super Bowl is over (much to the dismay of the Seahawk fans), we can get back to business here in Helena.

My SB 88 passed the Senate 48-0, and that is the bill that gives the conservation districts the same and equal bidding rights that the cities, towns and counties were granted last session in my SB 77. It will go to the House, and I would think it will pass there as well.

We are very fortunate to have in the Senate this year retired District Judge Swandal. His SB90 to revise penalties and eliminate jail time for certain misdemeanor offenses (white collar crime) is a great way for these first-time offenders not to be thrown in prison or jail that is already crowded and costly. Also, it does not put them behind bars with real bad offenders, but allows them to do community service and/or pay a fine. If these first-time offenders behave and have no more offenses, they can become a part of productive society.

Sen. Fielder's SB 37 passed 48-0 and that is the bill to revise laws for exempt water wells and stock water ponds. These folks were told by the state of Montana they did not have to file for these water rights, AND then later the state did not recognize these water rights! Judge Loble was the water judge at that time. Many of the folks in my Senate district brought this to my attention. We have been working on this problem, and I would hope that Sen. Fielder's bill will help rectify this oversight.

I am on the Finance Committee in the Senate. There are five subcommittees under finance. These are balanced by an equal number from the Senate and the House. The Chair of these subcommittees is always from the House, as this is where the appropriations start.

I am the vice chairman of the Natural Resources & Transportation Subcommittee. Our committee helps to set the budgets for Dept. of Agriculture, Dept. of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Dept. of Natural Resources (DNRC), Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), Montana Dept. of Transportation (MDOT) and Dept. of Livestock (DOL). We are working on their budgets now.

The DOL is in such a financial mess, and they have broken the law by transferring funds from one account to another! Heads should roll, and these are producers' dollars! There is not much sympathy for the DOL in the legislature.

All for now, and have a great week.


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