Legislative Update: Monday, Feb. 20

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Edie McClafferty

Land access complaints dealt with in bill

By Freddy Monares

Hard-to-access public lands have become a hot topic at the Montana Legislature.

Senate Bill 262 would allow complaints of closed roads to go through county commissioners to determine whether or not certain roads are being closed unlawfully. The bill aims to address the issue of checkerboard lands, which wedge public lands between private lands making them hard to get to.

Sen. Edie McClafferty, D-Butte, is the sponsor of the bill.

“You know, it’s just about public access and we need to make sure that our sportsmen, actually all the citizens of Montana, have the access to our public lands,” McClafferty said.

Rep. Tom Jacobson, D-Great Falls, introduced two bills dealing with the conflict over accessing public lands through private roads. Those died after their first readings.

McClafferty says her bill is different from those two bills because there isn’t a fine associated with it.

The Senate Highways and Transportation Committee will hear testimony on the bill Tuesday.

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.

 

Bill would ban abortion after 24 weeks

By Cole Grant

Monday morning in the Senate Judiciary committee, lawmakers heard testimony on a bill that would make it unlawful to perform an abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Senate Bill 282 mandates that if a serious or life-threatening condition exists after 24 weeks, a healthcare provider would have to either induce labor, or deliver the baby via c-section.

Retired gynecologist Carol Eve M. Moon says babies at this stage are just as viable as ones that are 40 weeks old.

She said they have the “ability to function outside the womb as human beings, entitled to the same rights and privileges as any person in this room, and any citizen of the United States.”

Martha Stahl, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Montana, countered by saying, “This bill is unconstitutional, dangerous for women, and replaces physician’s medical judgement with political ideology.”

The bill mandates that anyone who violates this code would be charged with a felony.

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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