Guest Breaking News:Montana Senate Must Restore Money for Public Lands | Columnists

Guest Breaking News:Montana Senate Must Restore Money for Public Lands |  Columnists

Montana voters know that we’ll lose our outdoor way of life if we don’t fund it. Some lawmakers, though, seem fine with letting our parks, trails, working lands, access, and outdoor way of life go belly-up regardless of what voters want.
BOB WALKER
and MATT BOWSER

To defend our outdoor way of life, all lawmakers have to do is support a solution that voters already approved: using recreational marijuana tax revenue. Unfortunately, lawmakers are trying to rewrite I-190, claiming they know better than voters how this money should be spent. The House just approved three bills siphoning off public lands funding and its preferred alternative, HB 701, cuts almost all the funds intended to help farmers and ranchers keep their land in production, expand public access, maintain trails and parks, and improve hunting and fishing opportunities.

Multiple polls and voting records across the state show that Montanans want to dedicate more funding to our great outdoors. Use of public lands and waters is surging, there’s more demand than there are dollars, and we need to do something if we’re going to keep up. Source billingsgazette.com

Now, despite well-established precedent saying otherwise, lawmakers are saying it’s unconstitutional for voters to provide input on how the state spends tax dollars. Last November, 57% of Montana voters approved Initiative 190, legalizing recreational marijuana and assessing a 20% tax on its sale. About half of these tax dollars were meant to fund efforts safeguarding Montana’s land and water, creating new outdoor opportunities, protecting working farms and ranches, and supporting public access and wildlife.

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