Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Another Trespass Law Attempt

Oppose - HB 566, EMAIL the HOUSE asap, our comments last time had a major impact!
I want to be very clear, I do not advocate trespassing on private land, but I do advocate access to our public lands and preventing the privatization of our public lands.

I alerted y'all previously about HB 231, with the hijacked trespass bill. I have been trying to keep an eye on judiciary with trespass and this bill to make sure that it doesn't get changed back.

Yesterday morning I saw Rep. Alan Redfield put forth HB 566, which had it's first reading on the 23rd, is scheduled for a hearing on the 8th of March before the House Judiciary Committee.

In HB 231, they tried to pass the hijacked changes off as a mistake by a junior legislator, Rep. Casey Knudsen, I didn't buy it, I felt it was intentional.

Knudsen and Harris, who were involved with the trespass hijacking, are both on the House Judiciary Committee.

Redfield has added the following section to his trespass bill, affecting the same MCA on trespass - 45-6-201.

(5) In cases where it is not practicable to provide effective posting of private land as required by subsections (1) through (3), including private land that is unfenced and situated in a checkerboard ownership pattern with public lands, privilege to enter or remain upon land is extended only by the explicit permission of the landowner. Entry to private property as described in this subsection (5) from adjacent public lands without permission of the landowner or the landowner's agent is an absolute liability offense. A violator of this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than $50 or more than $500 or imprisoned in the county jail for not more than 6 months, or both.

I wanted to wait until I called FWP legal this morning, to be sure I was reading this correctly and my concerns were warranted. They had not seen this, but Becky Dockter and I talked about this one for a bit, and the attempts on HB 231. My concerns,
  • part of this bill is confusing, stating "land" without a qualifier whether it was private or public needing explicit landowner permission;
  • another part would act like a trespassing trap, in that recreationists would not know if they had unintentionally crossed onto unposted, unfenced private land from public checkerboard land ownership;
  • by not posting private, this could go towards landowners treating checkerboarded, even partially surrounded public lands as private;
  • legally make corner crossing against the law, where no statute currently exists.

Fiscal Note
There is no fiscal note link yet, and again, like HB 231, a fiscal note would involve FWP (our license dollars), the DNRC (our state dollars) and the counties with the changing of the law involving trespass, the informational publications and presentations, which have had this trespass law published to educate the public at large, will have to be revised, published and distributed, at great taxpayer cost and time.

Under the definitions of 45-6-201, (5) it states, "The department of fish, wildlife, and parks shall attempt to educate and inform all persons holding hunting, fishing, or trapping licenses or permits by including on any publication concerning the licenses or permits, in condensed form, the provisions of this section concerning entry on private land. The department shall use public media, as well as its own publications, in attempting to educate and inform other recreational users of the provisions of this section. In the interests of providing the public with clear information regarding the public nature of certain unfenced rural rights-of-way, the department may develop and distribute posting signs that satisfy the requirements of subsection (3)."
  • These publications and education efforts would affect not only FWP, but our DNRC with the State trust public lands and connecting Federal public lands agencies publications, and the counties at least, at great taxpayer cost and time.
Legislative services stated the fiscal note may not be up for a week.

Corner Crossing
This passage could legislate corner crossing, which does not currently exist. On page 22 of the Montana Access Guide, it talks about the checkerboard situation.

"What does the law say with regard to corner crossing? Corner crossing (such at at section corners) in checkerboard land patterns is not recommended. Recreationists are advised to obtain permission from the adjacent landowner to reduce conflict and ensure compliance with applicable access laws and rules.
There are no laws that prohibit corner crossing."

  • There are no laws that prohibit corner crossing from a public parcel to a public parcel. While the access guide does not recommend it to avoid conflicts, there is no law prohibiting it.
  • While it states private land and public land in various places, it has no such designation when stating, "privilege to enter or remain upon land is extended only by the explicit permission of the landowner." Does this apply to entering and remaining upon public checkerboarded land?

No Posting Requirement
This bill, once again removes effective posting requirements from the landowner, stating, "In cases where it is not practicable to provide effective posting of private land as required by subsections (1) through (3)", discussing checkerboard ownership pattern.
  • Who is going to be the arbiter of what is "not practicable"  to provide effective posting?

Then it goes on to state that entry to private land from public land, without landowner permission is an offense, a misdemeanor and shall be fined not less than $50 or more than $500 or imprisoned in the county jail for not more than 6 months or both. 

Redfield doesn't want the landowners responsible for designating what is private. Again, just as with HB 231, removing the requirement to post would cause a speed trap scenario. Conviction would not only put a misdemeanor on a person's record, but would involve court costs, a fine and/or possible imprisonment or both.

I am for preventing unknowing trespass to private property.
How does
this bill help to prevent unknowing trespass on private land?
It doesn't.

Please oppose HB 566 and email the House of Representatives (addresses below)
or call 444-4800.

House of Representatives addresses

Rep.Kim.Abbott@mt.gov, Jbachmeier4hd28@gmail.com, nancyballance@aol.com, Danbartel2@gmail.com, becky4hd80@blackfoot.net, bennettforhouse@gmail.com, Rep.Seth.Berglee@mt.gov, Rep.Laurie.Bishop@mt.gov, randybrodehl57@gmail.com, Rep.Bob.Brown@mt.gov, brownformontana@gmail.com, Rep.Tom.Burnett@mt.gov, Rep.Rob.Cook@mt.gov, vcourtforlegislature@yahoo.com, Rep.Mike.Cuffe@mt.gov, Rep.Willis.Curdy@mt.gov, Amanda@amandaformontana.com, Rep.Geraldine.Custer@mt.gov, alandoane@midrivers.com, kimberly.dudik@gmail.com, Rep.MaryAnn.Dunwell@mt.gov, Rep.Jenny.Eck@mt.gov, Rep.Ron.Ehli@mt.gov, Rep.Janet.Ellis@mt.gov, jessmann@mt.gov, Rep.Dave.Fern@mt.gov, Rep.Ross.Fitzgerald@mt.gov, JohnFlemingStIgnatius@gmail.com, Rep.Kelly.Flynn@mt.gov, Rep.Moffie.Funk@mt.gov, wyliegaltformt@gmail.com, frankgarnerhd7@gmail.com, Rep.Carl.Glimm@mt.gov, edgreef@hotmail.com, rep.bruce.grubbs@mt.gov, Rep.Steve.Gunderson@mt.gov, Rep.Jim.Hamilton@mt.gov, Rep.Bradley.Hamlett@mt.gov, Rep.Bill.Harris@mt.gov, Rep.Denise.Hayman@mt.gov, Rep.Adam.Hertz@mt.gov, greghertz11@gmail.com, elliehillhd94@gmail.com, Rep.Ken.Holmlund@mt.gov, Mikeformontana@gmail.com, Rep.Tom.Jacobson@mt.gov, donjonesmt2@gmail.com, Rep.Jessica.Karjala@mt.gov, Rep.Kathy.Kelker@mt.gov, Rep.George.Kipp@mt.gov, Rep.Jon.Knokey@mt.gov, austinforhouse@yahoo.com, Rep.Casey.Knudsen@mt.gov, Rep.Steve.Lavin@mt.gov, Rep.Dennis.Lenz@mt.gov, Denleylogehd14@gmail.com, Rep.Ryan.Lynch@mt.gov, Rep.Forrest.Mandeville@mt.gov, Rep.Theresa.Manzella@mt.gov, kelly@bigskytech.net, Rep.Nate.McConnell@mt.gov, Rep.Wendy.McKamey@mt.gov, Rep.Shane.Morigeau@mt.gov, Rep.Dale.Mortensen@mt.gov, marknolandhd10@gmail.com, Rep.james.ohara@mt.gov, Rep.Andrea.Olsen@mt.gov, Rep.Jimmy.Patelis@mt.gov, Rep.Rae.Peppers@mt.gov, Rep.Zac.Perry@mt.gov, Rep.Gordon.Pierson@mt.gov, jeanbigskybigwin@gmail.com, Rep.Alan.Redfield@mt.gov, Rep.Matt.Regier@mt.gov, Rep.Vince.Ricci@mt.gov, Atomicrosie@gmail.com, Rep.Marilyn.Ryan@mt.gov, Rep.Walt.Sales@mt.gov, Rep.Casey.Schreiner@mt.gov, Rep.Ray.Shaw@mt.gov, Rep.Lola.Sheldon-Galloway@mt.gov, Rep.Derek.Skees@mt.gov, repbsmith@gmail.com, scottstaffanson@gmail.com, Rep.Sharon.Peregoy@mt.gov, Rep.Kathy.Swanson@mt.gov, Rep.Jeremy.Trebas@mt.gov, Rep.Brad.Tschida@mt.gov, Rep.Barry.Usher@mt.gov, Rep.Sue.Vinton@mt.gov, Rep.Kirk.Wagoner@mt.gov, Webb4house@gmail.com, Rep.Susan.Webber@mt.gov, Twelch1213@gmail.com, winwithwhite@gmail.com, tomwoods4mt@gmail.com, Rep.Daniel.Zolnikov@mt.gov,

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