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I am a little late with the update this week. I’ll tell you what, the Legislative Committee is having to firing on all cylinders to keep up. Hats off to our committee members! Let us start with looking back with some updates, and then look at the week ahead.

HB 134 – Single Family Zoning Preemption – Oppose

This bill was tabled, which means it is likely dead. This will be our last report on it unless the status changes.

HB 259 – Prohibit Inclusionary Zoning – Oppose

This bill passed committee on a vote of 9 to 8. We will see what happens on the House floor. Perhaps there is a chance it will not pass?

SB 161 – Allow subdivisions to qualify for an expedited review – Watch

The Local Government Committee made some amendments to the bill yesterday, giving the local governing body the ability to determine what body holds the public hearing, and making the expedited review process optional in counties. MAP members have been very involved with this bill, but we as an organization have not taken a position yet.

Bills with hearings next week

HB 292 – Revise subdivision title insurance procedure – Support

This bill makes a nice quick fix to align terminology in law, with that used in the title industry. It makes plenty of sense.

Hearing 2/16/2021 Local Government. 3pm Rm 472

SB 174 – Revise laws related to local subdivision review – Oppose

This bill would change how conditions can be applied. It uses some vague language that could result in a lot of bickering over conditions and may actually result in more subdivisions being denied rather than conditionally approved. It brings HOA’s into the MSPA, and we object to the mixing of private authority and public process. It changes how we evaluate the 608 Criteria and eliminates Water User Facilities as a criterion. As someone who has processed subdivisions in Eastern Montana, Water User Facilities are a big deal. Finally, it makes things retroactive. People would essentially be able to challenge any condition ever applied under the MSPA and it doesn’t provide a process for how that could work. This bill is bad.

Hearing 2/15/2021. Local Government. 3pm Rm 405

HB 302: Require county approval to relocate bison – TBD

The Bison Bill! It will give the County Commissioners the ability to make growth policies regulatory to prohibit bison introduction in their county. We opposed it in the past. We keep telling Sharon that this bill will ban NDSU fans, and we should support it (that is a joke).

Hearing 2/16/2021. Agriculture. 3pm Rm 137

SB 211: Revise 608 criteria regarding agriculture – TBD

A slightly different version of a bill that was vetoed by Governor Bullock back in I think 2011? It changes the 608 Criteria so impacts to agricultural soils cannot be considered as an impact to agriculture. This is 100% about the way Missoula County defines agriculture.

Hearing 2/17/2021. Local Government. 3pm Rm 405

Wait! There is more!

Bills on the Horizon

LC2794: Prohibit new zoning districts during a state of emergency – TBD

I sent an email request about this bill earlier this week. Basically, any zoning map amendment made during the pandemic would be nullified. Holy cow will this bill have a major impact on Montana! Zoning map amendments facilitating the potential development of over 6,000 units statewide would be wiped off the books. The impacts to the development community would be massive. Tens of Millions of dollars lost. Potentially hundreds of jobs effected. Billings entire zoning code project would be nullified. Missoula County and the City of Missoula’s new joint form-based code would be nullified. Ugh! We are working hard to pass along the data that shows how many approvals would be affected. Thanks to everyone for contributing.

SB 231 – Revise exempt well laws for family transfer parcels – TBD

We are still evaluating this bill, but it looks to be problematic