Sunday, January 25, 2015

2015 Montana Legislature, Day 1-16 (January 5-24)

Friends!

  The 2015 Montana Legislature is in full swing. I owe you an update!
  On Monday, January 5, senators and representatives were sworn in to office at high noon. I'm proud to represent Senate District 33, Bozeman and Gallatin County, along with friends and neighbors and Montanans in all reaches of the state!

  I started the session with several bill drafts, and I've presented at least one bill in each of these three weeks.

The powerful front row of Democratic women, including my seat.
  The first bill I presented (in the first week!) was Senate Bill 46 on behalf of Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and Montana sportsmen and women, to allow electronic signatures on hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses so that licenses can be displayed on electronic devices. The Senate Fish and Game Committee passed the bill unanimously, then the bill passed the Senate 47-3. Next week, I present it to the House of Representatives committee. Fingers crossed it keeps progressing!

Fellow senators Diane Sands and Lea Whitford at our inauguration.
  Week Two: Senate Bill 47 proposes an increase in wildland fire assessments for private forest land owners (from $45 to $50). The Senate Natural Resources Committee has the bill now, and I hope it advances.

34 co-sponsors of the state soil bill, Democrats and Republicans!
  On January 19, I presented Senate Bill 86 on behalf of the Commissioner of Political Practices and Montanans everywhere, for electronic filing of campaign finance reports. It'd make campaign finance information immediately available and searchable! It's a good bill...but I found out that it was tabled in committee yesterday (likely dead).
Introducing Senate Bill 176, to name a state soil!

  And in the meantime, I introduced Senate Bill 176, to name a new state symbol: a state soil! The fourth-graders at Longfellow Elementary in Bozeman approached me in the early fall last year to carry this bill, and they're all (52 of 'em) coming to Helena to try to get their bill passed! They've studies soils and propose that the Scobey soil series be named the state soil. (The Natural Resources and Conservation Service, a federal agency, has already identified state soils for each state in the nation, and named the Scobey soils as Montana's. It's just that we as a state have not memorialized the soil as a state symbol...YET.)
  Scobey soils underlie the Golden Triangle in Montana, the most productive non-irrigated farmland that produces high-yield, high-protein wheat, and the soils extend all along the Hi-Line, too. US Senator Tester has written a letter in support of the effort, and so has Dean Folkvord, our very successful local farmer and entrepreneur of Wheat Montana!

  In these first three weeks, legislators have held joint sessions to hear addresses from Montana Supreme Court Justice Mike McGrath and US Senator Jon Tester. And I've included a few more photos from these first sixteen days of the session.

  More to come, everyone, as the session advances. Stay tuned!
Montana Supreme Court Chief Justice Mike McGrath


U.S. Senator Jon Tester addresses a joint session
Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau and me

My fellow senator from Gallatin Valley, Mike Phillips






My dad, Ralph Pomnichowski, and his wife, Barbara Mittal