Testifying for local discretion and entitlements before the Montana legislature; and working for local infrastructure
During a visit to the Montana State Capitol to testify before committees of the Montana House of Representatives and work on legislation with the Montana Infrastructure Coalition. Our Commissioner, Shane Gorder, is the Chair of the Coalition.
Pictured from left to right, Mayor Rick Norby, Craig Steinbeisser, Tom Halvorson, Representative Joel Krauter, Commissioner Shane Gorder, City Clerk Jessica Redfield, and Commissioner Loren Young.
Commissioners Gorder and Young and I had the opportunity to support a bill that would let the county commissioners lift restrictive agricultural covenants from land that is leaving agricultural use, but is going into a public use. A law like this recently would have saved our rural electric cooperative over $80,000 in useless subdivision regulation studies. Since the cooperative will be using the land for an electrical substation to serve the residents of our county, there really was no reason for an expensive study of drinking water and sewer regulations. This bill was drafted by the Montana Association of Counties at the request of the Board of County Commissioners of Richland County.
I had the opportunity to defend the local government entitlement share from being raided to enable continued mismanagement and wasteful overspending the state Office of Public Defender. The Montana Association of Counties had about 70 members in attendance. Its Executive Director, Eric Bryson, spoke against the raid, as did many county commissioners from around the state. From my experience in criminal defense for 23 years, with 5.5 of those years as local public defender by contract with the county, and 18 years as deputy county attorney prosecuting crimes, and seeing what has happened with the Office of Public Defender, I was able to add information to the hearing that no other witness was in a position to provide. This all was a stroke of luck because the matter popped up like a jack-in-a-box without notice, and we happened to be in Helena for the Midwinter Conference of the Montana Association of Counties.
We also had the pleasure of seeing former Representative Bob Gilbert and his wife Dee, of Sidney. Bob was appearing before several committees providing information on various bills.
During that same trip to Helena, I had the opportunity to meet with the subdivision bureau chief, engineer, and bureau attorney of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality working on issues for Richland County.