Monday, April 06, 2009

Monday, April 6, Legislative Day 75

A busy day today: this morning, there were five bills to be heard and considered by the House Taxation committee, on which I serve. I found out during the hearing on the second bill that the House Natural Resources committee bill on opencut mining (gravel pits) was scheduled to be heard this very afternoon by the Senate Natural Resources committee. It's indeed a rare (thank goodness) thing that a bill is scheduled and heard on the same day; we try to adhere to at least a 72-hour notice for public participation. I got the call out (with much help) so that those who could come started for Helena.

At noon, I had lunch with the Gallatin County delegation and many representatives of NorthWestern Energy, who invited us to hear their explanation of the gas leak, unquenched natural gas fire, and suppression efforts from the explosion in Bozeman. I had many questions about safety measures, after the devastation in my hometown.

It was a busy day in floor action in the House and Senate, too; two of my bills passed third reading today (to pass from the House, bound now for the governor's desk). The Senate passed a bill of mine unanimously, 50-0, to allow re-valuation of urban renewal districts after a disaster which devastates the value of the real estate in the district. The bill was prompted by the terrible explosion and fire in Bozeman a month ago.

At four o'clock, I served on a special conference committee of seven legislators to consider the House amendments on a Senate bill. The conference committee worked through the language and we agreed on a final version of the bill; now the conference committee report will be reported back to the House and Senate, and the bill will advance.

At nearly six o'clock, I presented House Bill 678, the gravel committee bill to the Senate Natural Resources committee. The bill was amended, and badly, so it may well be on its way to a conference committee, too.

The pictures here are from a short drive I took yesterday to Unionville, three miles southwest of Helena, up Last Chance Gulch. These buildings are at the end of Last Chance Gulch in Helena, where gold was discovered in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Here's the cathedral; note the moon between the twin spires. And today, wonderful news in the House: Pat Noonan of Butte and his wife, Jennifer, welcomed a baby girl to their family! That's two daughters for Pat. Girl power!

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