Montanans Want SB 442 to Become Law

Western Montana lawmakers should vote for the veto poll override

By Ian Wargo

Will a win for county road maintenance result in a loss for wildlife? 

Senate Bill 442, a high point of collaboration in the 2023 Legislature, saw support from 130 of our 150 lawmakers. This is quite a feat considering the division in our world, and a reminder that Montanans can still work together when allowed. Senator Mike Lang’s SB 442 builds off the good work done in the 2021 relative session around recreational marijuana tax allocation in a way that benefits all Montanans: providing permanent property tax relief for disabled veterans and their spouses, public access road maintenance, and to fight drug addiction – while still keeping 20% for habitat protections plus new tools for habitat enhancement. Unfortunately, the bill has become embroiled in controversy due to poorly timed vetoes, and now, a clash between legislative leadership and everyone else.

But now, our legislators have a chance to override this veto.

The hang-up appears to be centered on the county road maintenance part of the funding since rural counties stand to gain a disproportionate amount of the revenue; but that’s the whole point!  

As a sportsman who resides in Kalispell, it’s important to me that our rural counties containing our large tracts of public land and Block Management Areas – the places we all go hunting – get appropriate funding for road maintenance. When it rains, it’s not locals in eastern Montana out tearing up roads. It’s the people like me that come from Kalispell, Missoula, Bozeman, etc. That’s why I’m okay with tax revenue going to help improve roads in rural counties: we all benefit from it.

Montanans have been perfectly clear that they want to see SB 442 become law, and western Montana lawmakers should vote for the veto poll override and, most importantly, return their ballot on time.

Ian Wargo