Did Gov Stab “Moderates” in Back with Veto Pen?

***(Full disclosure: The president of the company that I work for serves in the state senate and was reported in several publications as one of the “moderate” state senators.  Any views, or perceptions thereof, included in the post below are entirely my own.)

United we stand.  Divided we fall. 

I know, its an oft heard phrase.  However, now that Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT) has gone on his latest veto spree in the state capitol, it appears several of those Republicans who so publicly sided with Bullock and legislative Democrats on some key issues, have now seen some of their own top bills go down in flames by the latest veto pen. 

Did Gov. Bullock stab the very so-called “moderates” he needed in the back at the end of the session?  And, what does this mean for future cooperation with the veto-happy Governor?

As one anonymous, dark money blog with likely ties to Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) and Gov Bullock (D-MT) notes, the Governor vetoed at least 71 bills this session. According to MT Streetfighter, that is only 7 less vetoes than former Gov. Brian Schweitzer back in 2011. 

According to Lee Newspapers’ Chuck Johnson, some of the bills vetoed by Bullock Monday included:

— SB282, by Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell, which would have simplified Montana’s individual income taxes and lowered the rates and lowered corporate income tax rates, mostly by eliminating a number of tax credits, exemptions and deductions.

— SB305, by Sen. Jim Peterson, R-Buffalo, which would have revised the definition of wild bison to limit their movement.

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/bullock-vetoes-several-republican-tax-measures-bill-allowing-guns-on/article_bebd0b64-6d83-51e2-9ed7-a8e5671dbc03.html#ixzz2SdBiGMh9

Aside from the bills listed above, the Montana Farm Bureau is also disappointed in the governor’s amendatory veto on HB 2, the main budget bill.  Here’s what the Farm Bureau sent out Tuesday:  

The Montana Farm Bureau has expressed strong disappointment in the latest action by Governor Steve Bullock on House Bill 2. The governor signed HB 2, but made an unexpected amendatory veto that stripped $250,000 funding for the Montana Ag Experiment Stations (MAES) and $400,000 from the Extension Service from the state’s budget.

“By this amendatory veto, the governor stripped money from two very important entities,” noted MFBF Vice President of Governmental Affairs John Youngberg.

In his letter to Secretary of State Linda McCullouch, the governor said of both the MAES and Extension Service, that if their funding is a priority, the Extension Service and MAES have more than sufficient appropriation authority to cover these expenses.”

“Given the current status of the budget and the Legislature’s failure to meet my minimum ending fund balance requirements, I cannot support this additional earmark,” the Governor wrote about both Extension and MAES.

Youngberg doesn’t agree. “Agriculture is Montana’s number-one industry. MAES and Extension are invaluable to farmer, ranchers and all rural landowners,” he noted. “They are the ones doing research on new and better crops, crops that use less fertilizer, crops that thrive in drought. Many people rely on the Extension for accurate information, whether it’s about pest control or the best grasses to grow in Montana. The fact that our governor doesn’t recognize the true value of MAES and Extension is certainly discouraging.”

As for the bison bills that were vetoed by Gov. Bullock this session, the Montana Stockgrowers sent out this update:

SB 256 “Making FWP liable for private property damages caused by wild buffalo/bison” was vetoed by the Governor on May 6. In his veto letter, Governor Bullock said “SB 256 would set an unacceptable precedent. If applied to other species, this rationale would practically preclude any wildlife restoration efforts, regardless of the benefits. If this precedent had existed 100 years ago, Montana’s world-class wildlife heritage would not exist today.” Bullock also cited the Rathbone decision of 1940 which states “…a property owner in this state must recognize the fact that there may be some injury to property or inconvenience from wild game for which there is no recourse.”  MSGA supported this bill.

SB 305 “Generally revise laws governing bison management in Montana” was vetoed by the Governor on May 6. This bill would have changed definition of wild buffalo or wild bison from “a bison that has not been reduced to captivity and is not owned by a person” to “a bison that has never been owned by an individual, partnership, corporation, association, firm, or other entity, except for the state or a state agency.” Governor Bullock stated in his veto letter “To effectively manage wild buffalo and wild bison in Montana, the state needs to rely on various partners including the federal government and the tribal nations. SB 305 precludes any meaningful role for these entities and severely limits the ability of the state to meet its obligations to the public under the law.” MSGA supported this bill.

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