In addition to legislative work, a group of Farm Bureau leaders spent three days in Helena working on their advocacy and leadership skills. ACE is Montana Farm Bureau’s premiere leadership and advocacy program open to a small group of individuals who want to improve their ability to lead and influence, not only as a Farm Bureau member but within their local communities and our industry as a whole. The timing was great for them to hear from experts on rural economic development in Montana and changing political trends and demographics; two topics that are extremely crucial to helping Montana Farm Bureau shape positive policy decisions for agriculture.
Sponsored by Sen. Jeffrey Welborn (R) SD 36, Dillon
Currently in Montana there are nearly 663,000 thousand acres that sit in limbo awaiting a decision on whether or not they meet the federal requirements for a wilderness designation. Under the Montana Wilderness Study Act, acres recommended for a wilderness designation should be reviewed within five years by the Secretary of Agriculture. The five-year review period expired in 1982 and these Wilderness Study Areas (WSA) still sit without a final decision.
During the 2017 legislation session HJ 9, a resolution carried by Rep. Kerry White asked Montana’s congressional delegation to pursue the release of those WSAs. HJ 9 passed the legislature and as a result, Sen. Steve Daines introduced S. 2206, Protect Public Use of Public Lands Act. The legislation hit a road block during the 2018 Congress and SJ 20 is a response to that.
To continue encouraging both statewide and federal conversations about the recommendation and designation of WSAs, SJ 20 asks the State to take on an interim study of WSAs in Montana. This committee would study the history and policy behind WSAs, provide a forum for stakeholders to offer input and ideas and ultimately formulate recommendations for our Congressional Delegation. MFBF supported SJ 20.
Under current law, taxpayers are allowed a credit against any imposed income taxes in an amount equal to 2% of the taxpayer’s net capital gains. HB 707 would limit the credit’s availability to taxpayers with an adjusted gross income of less than $1 million. We opposed the bill as it would negatively affect Montana’s farmers and ranchers who likely have capital gains, but limited net income. While their gross income may hit $1 million or more, their net income rarely reflects that. HB 707 could prevent these individuals from being able to use their capital gains income at the end of the year.
HB 707 was heard in the House Taxation Committee on March 25, and was tabled on March 26. We’re thankful so many legislators recognized the issues and concerns this piece of legislation raised.