The 2019 Montana legislative session began January 7 and will run through May 1. We will update this page as legislative developments take shape.
Contact Montana Legislators
You can leave messages for up to 5 individual legislators or 1 legislative committee at the Session Information Desk (406) 444-4800.
The Session Information Desk is open 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 8 a.m. to adjournment on Saturdays.
Contact Governor Steve Bullock
Office of the Governor
PO Box 200801
Helena MT 59620-0801
TOLL FREE: (855) 318-1330
PHONE: (406) 444-3111
FAX: (406) 444-5529
Montana Legislature Bison Bills
BILL: HB 132
TITLE: Clarify definition of bison
BILL TEXT: https://leg.mt.gov/bills/2019/billhtml/HB0132.htm
SPONSOR: Rep. Kenneth L. Holmlund
BILL DESCRIPTION: HB 132 defines wild buffalo or bison as one that "has never been reduced to captivity,” "has never been owned by a person,” and “has never been subject to the per capita fee under 15-24-921,” a fee enacted in 1915 to enforce livestock laws. HB 132 tries to define wild buffalo out of existence: none would exist as wild under state law now or ever.
STATUS: Passed the House 76 YEAS, 24 NAYS, Hearing in Senate Agriculture, Livestock & Irrigation committee (Feb. 21, 2019 at 3 p.m. in Room 317 of the Capitol building).
“In my language, from the beginning of time, in the creation of PAH-SKWAH-MOO-STOO-S, that’s what my people call him PAH-SKWAH-MOO-STOO-S . . . that’s the definition, that’s the original name PAH-SKWAH-MOO-STOO-S.” Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy (testimony at 17:07:20)
BILL: HB 332
TITLE: Require county approval to relocate bison
BILL TEXT: https://leg.mt.gov/bills/2019/billpdf/HB0332.pdf
SPONSOR: Rep. Joshua Kassmier
BILL DESCRIPTION: HB 332 would require the approval of county commissioners (in all affected counties) for any proposal to transplant or relocate wild buffalo or bison. HB 332 would prevent the release, transplant or relocation of wild buffalo or bison unless specific findings were made by a board of county commissioners that it does not threaten the public health, safety, and welfare of citizens, is “consistent with the elements of a growth policy” adopted by the county, and the animals are certified brucellosis-free. HB 332 would permit any one board of county commissioners to usurp state authority over any proposal to relocate wild buffalo in Montana.
STATUS: Hearing in House Agriculture committee (Feb. 14, 2019 at 3 p.m. in Room 137 of the Capitol building)
“I’m here today to state the Fort Peck Tribes opposition to HB 332 because it is another example of discriminatory legislation regarding buffalo and Montana tribes.” - Rick Kirn, tribal council member for the Assiniboine Sioux Tribes of Fort Peck (testimony at 17:34:30).
BILL: HB 478
TITLE: Revise bison transfer laws
BILL TEXT: https://leg.mt.gov/bills/2019/billhtml/HB0478.htm
SPONSOR: Rep. Tyson T. Runningwolf
BILL DESCRIPTION: HB 478 revises laws related to the transfer of bison to tribal entities. HB 478creates an exemption allowing the transfer of bison for quarantine on reservation lands without the state veterinarian’s brucellosis-free certification; removes the Department of Livestock's authority to sell wild bison and credit proceeds to the livestock agency; wild bison killed by the Department of Livestock must be donated to a charity or tribal entity; and waives the requirement for an import permit or health certificate for bison coming to a reservation, unless the livestock agency provides “clear and convincing evidence” that doing so “is a significant danger to the public health."
STATUS: Referred to House Agriculture committee (Feb. 14, 2019)
TITLE: Define wild bison
BILL TEXT: https://leg.mt.gov/bills/2019/lchtml/LC0498.htm
SPONSOR: Rep. Casey Knudsen
STATUS: Draft delivered to requester (Feb. 20, 2019)
SPONSOR: Sen. Mike Lang
SUBJECT: Revise bison laws
STATUS: Draft on hold (Nov. 6, 2018)