Bills of interest that passed quietly

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Many bills during the 2019 legislative session grabbed headlines. Here are a few that passed quietly but will be of interest to Montanans.

HB 443-(Rep. Ross Fitzgerald-R) Are you a recreational beekeeper in the area? This bill would require a certificate of registration from the Department of Agriculture for up to $19 annually for a hobbyist beekeeper at their apiary site. The health of our beehives is critical to Montana agriculture and is a way for the department to track these little buzzers and be on the frontline of this transient population.

A person who owns or possesses an apiary in the state shall, before April 1 each year, register the site. A person who fails or refuses to register or reregister is subject to a civil penalty. I know some new beekeepers who were very upset with my Facebook head’s up on this one. It’s past the deadline so will have to happen next year.

HB 327-(Rep. Alan Redfield-R) This bill was labeled as the Real Meat Act. Most of us know what a butchered animal and carcass is. Sen. Al Olszewski carried the bill in the Senate and described what cannot be considered meat — lab grown meats consisting of muscle cells, fat cells, connective tissue, blood, and other components produced via cell culture, rather than from a whole slaughtered animal. This conglomeration may look and taste like meat but certainly isn’t what we enjoy from our ag producers. Many of us took note of the “looks like meat” description by Olszewski and voted for the bill. None of us want to consume parts and pieces without knowing it!

Sports betting bills-HB 725 (Rep. Ryan Lynch-D) and SB 330 (Sen. Mark Blasdel-R) The governor signed HB 725 into law since it will go through the Montana Lottery instead of being run in licensed gaming establishments. They are predicting $3.7 million for the first year’s income to the state, which is hard to believe. I didn’t vote for either bill. How much gambling do we need in Montana? There were more bills this session than I’ve seen in my legislative history.

Veterans half-price in state parks-HB 423-(Rep. Ed Buttrey-R) This will allow veterans to get half-price camping at a state park in Montana. You must be able to provide a DD214 or picture ID indicating that you are a veteran, much like veterans do in other camping situations across the nation including BLM and Corps of Engineer sites.

There was a plethora of resolutions to study during the interim committee meetings. I will try and keep you up to speed on what is happening for the next eighteen months while serving on Legislative Audit and State Administration and Veteran Affairs.

—Sen. Dee Brown, R-Hungry Horse

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