A planners guide to the 68th Montana Legislative SessionAndrew Hagemeier
This 68th Session of the Montana Legislature promises to be consequential for land use planning statutes and planners. The Montana Association of Planners will be active in the hopes to shape the anticipated policy outcomes. To kick off the session, we are providing a quick overview for members on how you can stay informed and participate.
We hope that all MAP members will work to stay informed about what is happening in Helena. The legislative decisions made in the next four months may have major implications on how we all do our job on a daily basis. We hope to make it as easy as possible for you to stay informed on major legislation.
The first resource we provide is through our email legislative updates. These will typically come out on Friday’s but may happen any day of the week. They will provide you a quick rundown of the bills at the top of the MAP Legislative Committee’s priority list. The emails are sent to all active MAP Members. If you’d like to share the emails with non-members, or you are missing an email, they are also included to our Latest News page as a blog post.
The next resource to stay informed that MAP provides is a legislative tracker. The tracker includes the bills that MAP has taken a position on or is watching, and will include information on the bill and our position. You will be able to follow the bills progress, and find information on hearing times and room numbers.
Just because you’re a planner, doesn’t mean you waived your first amendment rights. Your voice matters. Be involved. MAP tries to make it easy for you. Here is how.
Join the MAP Planner Advocacy Network. This is a sperate space for MAP members who wish to be more involved in the legislature. The level of involvement is of course up to you. We ask the Advocacy Network for information, help with bills, and input on MAP positions. There will also be times where we ask the Advocacy Network to share MAP’s message in their local communities or in Helena. At the last session, a bill was proposed to nullify all zoning decision made during the Covid Emergency. The information supplied to MAP through the Advocacy Network demonstrated that zone changes approved during the Covid emergency entitled around 10,000 units of housing across the state. We shared this information, which was the key to that bill being killed.
The last thing you can do is testify on bills. The technical understanding planners have on proposed legislation continues to impress the committees. The times where planners have showed up in force, testifying on the effects of proposed legislation, has really made a difference on those bills advancing or failing. If there is a piece of legislation that you are particularly interested in and want to testify but don’t know how, please let us know.