Last week, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte asked a district court judge to dismiss a lawsuit, filed in June, that challenges his veto of a bill that would have directed recreational marijuana tax revenues to conservation. The lawsuit, filed by Wild Montana, the Montana Wildlife Federation, and the Montana Association of Counties, argues that Gianforte intentionally used “procedural trickery” by vetoing the bill, Senate Bill 442, during a brief and confusing window when the state senate had adjourned and had not learned of Gianforte’s veto, and the state house had not yet adjourned. Attorneys for Gianforte argue that Gianforte followed proper procedure, and that this prevents the legislature from having the opportunity to override his veto of SB 442.
In 2020, Montana voters approved Initiative 190, which legalized recreational marijuana and directed that just under half of recreational marijuana tax revenues be dedicated to a variety of conservation programs. The legislature has been trying to redirect those revenues ever since, including multiple proposals in the 2021 and 2023 legislative sessions that were ultimately defeated. But SB 442, introduced during the 2023 session, maintained funding for public land access and habitat conservation programs, and passed through both chambers of the state legislature with overwhelming support. In addition to jeopardizing an important and popular source of funding for conservation, the manner in which SB 442 was vetoed threatens to set a concerning precedent, according to the lawsuit: “If the precedent set by SB 442 is not corrected, a future governor may block widely supported bills from going into effect without regard to the constitutional system of checks and balances.”
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Quote of the day
Those who profit from extracting public resources should be held truly accountable. I hope BLM does so by swiftly adopting this proposal to require bonds that will actually pay for restoring the private and public lands they have used, rather than seeking taxpayer dollars after the fact to clean up this multi-billion dollar industry’s mess.”
—Bob LeResche, WyoFile
Every summer, adorable pikas gather mouthfuls of wildflowers and grasses and build a giant haystack to stock up for winter. They’ll lay the vegetation on rocks in the sun to dry them out and then store them in their dens. 💐
Haystacks are often built in the same place year after year and have been known to become three feet in diameter. We keep a close eye on this indicator species as pika are very sensitive to a warming climate and can help scientists detect subtle environmental changes.
Photo by @cedarbreaksnps