Legislative Update, Wednesday, Feb. 15

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Cary Smith

Should Montana ignore federal gun bans?

By Freddy Monares

Lawmakers in Helena are considering a bill that would supersede federal law for any future ban on firearms and magazines.

Senate Bill 99 would create the “Montana Federal Firearm and Magazine Ban Enforcement Prohibition Act.” The bill would force local law enforcement agencies in Montana to ignore federal bans on firearms.

Sen. Cary Smith, R-Billings, is the sponsor of the bill.

“The jobs that our law enforcement folks are hired to do is not to enforce federal laws, as much as it is to take and protect us and do the will that we give them. We are their employers,” Smith said.

Rachel Carroll Rivas, co-director of the Montana Human Rights Network spoke in opposition to the bill.

“It furthers the effort for nullification of our federal laws, putting at odds our state and federal governments,” Carroll Rivas said.

This was the Senate Judiciary Committe’s first hearing on the bill.

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.

 

‘Right’ to hunt could be enshrined in constitution

By Cole Grant

A bill in the Montana Legislature would ask voters to decide whether the Montana Constitution should establish hunting, fishing and trapping as “a right essential to pursuing life’s basic necessities.”

Senate Bill 236 would also add that fish and wildlife management and conservation efforts would have to be done for scientific reasons, and whenever possible, public hunting would be given priority to help control fish and wildlife populations.

Sen. Jennifer Fielder, R-Thompson Falls, is carrying the bill.

“We’re safeguarding the right to hunt, fish and trap while simultaneously allowing statutes that govern the management of wildlife for sustainability of the resource,” she said.

Sen. Jill Cohenour, D-East Helena, said Montana already protects the heritage of hunting.

“We have the ability to do this already in our state constitution,” she said. “We don’t need to add it as a paramount right that now can never be changed.”

The Senate Fish and Game Committee will hear the bill Thursday afternoon.

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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