Legislative Update: Monday, Jan. 23

Loss

Freddy Monares/UM Community News Service

George Edwards, director of the Montana Livestock Loss Board, shows a wolf skull in his Helena office Monday. The wolf was identified as a livestock predator. HB 286 would add mountain lions to the list of predators the board covers for reimbursement in cases of loss.

Reimbursement for mountain lion kills considered

By Freddy Monares

Lawmakers in Helena are considering a bill that would allow producers to be reimbursed for livestock killed by mountain lions.

The Livestock Loss Board currently reimburses producers if they lose stock to grizzly bears and wolves. House Bill 286 would add mountain lions to that list of predators.

George Edwards, executive director for the board, said that in the past the agency has had a $200,000 budget to pay out for those losses. He said that number will have to increase to make room for losses by mountain lions.

“Approximately, there’s a minimum of $61,000 in mountain lion losses. There’s no wiggle room to cover that loss,” Edwards said.

That number includes calves, horses, goats, adult sheep and lambs reported as losses resulting from mountain lion predation in 2016.

Edwards said passage of the bill depends on Senate Bill 73, which would extend funding for the board from 2017 to 2023.

Freddy Monares is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

 

Assaults on health-care workers target in bill

By Grant Cole

House Bill 268 would make it a felony to purposely or knowingly assault a health care provider or emergency responder in Montana.

The penalty would be up to 10 years in prison, up to a $50,000 fine, or both.

Proponents of the bill, many of whom were nurses, shared personal stories in the House Judiciary Committee Monday of being attacked on the job.

Peggy Verploegen, an ER nurse from Havre who testified,  said her perspective on caring for patients changed after she was attacked.

“I can care for them,” she said, “but I don’t care about them nearly as much as I did before, and that’s sad.”

Opponents say protections are already in place. S.K. Rossi with the Montana ACLU said there are better ways to deal with these issues.

“The best thing for deterring crime is interventions on the front end,” Rossi said. “Mental health care, jail diversion programs, things like that.”

The committee did not take immediate action on the bill.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.

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