2019 Montana Legislature Update

April 26, 2019

66th Montana Legislature – Final Report

The 66th Montana Legislature adjourned Sine Die on Thursday, April 25, 2019. The session concluded with numerous successful outcomes on bills of importance to Montana grain growers. The following is a recap of legislation we’ve been engaging on this session. 

Bills that survived:

HB 24 allows the maximum allowable energy deduction of $50/acre for all irrigated property for ag property valuation.

HB 50 allows the Montana Department of Agriculture to impose civil penalties for violations of agricultural commodity laws as an option to current criminal penalties. The department will develop a penalty matrix to assess fines according to the severity of the infraction.

HB 59 repeals the Rail Service Competition Council.

HB 102 allows the Department of Ag to impose civil penalties per a matrix for violations of agricultural marketing and transportation laws.

HB 142 adds integrated weed management to the definition of weed management or control and will specify that herbicides are the chemical that can be purchased and used by district weed boards.

HB 151 increases the maximum amount that can be assessed on wheat and barley. Any proposed increase in the current assessment requires action by the Montana Wheat and Barley Committee, public input, and a rule change by the Department of Agriculture.

HB 221 requires the Department of Ag, in cooperation with MSU Extension, to establish an online training and licensing program for farm pesticide applicators.

HB 652 provides funding for local infrastructure in cities, counties and school districts as well as $25 million for the renovation and repurposing of MSU’s Romney Hall and $2 million for four greenhouse laboratories for the Montana Agricultural Experiment Station. 

HB 658 permanently expands Medicaid in Montana without adding a premium tax to Montana State Fund policyholders.

SB 91 prevents a local authority from prohibiting or restricting a vehicle loaded with fertilizer from using a roadway.

SB 137 allows any type of retail evidence as confirmation of fuel purchase for agricultural use.

SB 317 creates a wintertime 10% overweight permit and a durational 10% overweight permit.

SJ 13 requests the Montana Secretary of State send a letter supporting the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement on trade to the U.S. Congress and administrative agencies.  

Bills that died in process:

HB 31 would have imposed a statewide mandatory fire-preparedness assessment fee. This will continue to be a topic of discussion over the interim.

HB 635 would have increased excise taxes on beer by 42-56%.

HB 650 would have increased excise taxes on beer by 10%.

HJ 33 requested an interim study of the market effects of crops such as those that are genetically engineered and agricultural technologies like pesticide use.