House Bill 309, the ‘ditch’ bill, was tabled in the Senate Ag committee this afternoon.

Amendments were offered to strip the bill of any mention of redefining what is a ditch and related access issues and to update the Stream Access law to reflect corrections from the so-called ‘Galt Decision’ from the Montana Supreme Court.

Even while considering these wholesale amendments, committee members were wary that a stripped-down HB309 could be amended  back to the original language in the House or in a conference committee formed to iron out any and all amendments from both the Senate and the House. 

With this possibility in mind, Sen. Taylor Brown moved to withdraw the amendments and table the bill.  The committee voted 8 for tabling, 3 against. 

Sen. Brown may try to have the House suspend their rules barring introduction of any new bills at this late date and try to cobble up a committee bill to bring forward the Galt Decision language in a new bill, but the chances of an unused bill draft being available and the House suspending their rules to allow it’s introduction are sketchy.

FOAM will track the final throes of HB309, but today’s committee action may well be the end of this saga.

Jason Lanier
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