AP NEWS

Bill giving Land Board authority over easements vetoed

May 12, 2019

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock has vetoed a bill that would have required conservation easement purchases to be authorized by the state Land Board instead of the governor.

The bill passed the Republican-led Legislature after last year’s dispute between the Democratic governor and the GOP-dominated Land Board over the approval of a $6.1 million easement in eastern Montana.

Bullock approved that easement after the Land Board indefinitely delayed action on the proposal.

The state Supreme Court sided with the governor, who argued that easements are outside the Land Board’s authority because they protect private land from development but the land’s ownership doesn’t change.

Legislators sought to change the law to require the Land Board’s approval.

Bullock’s veto letter Friday says the change would subject vetted projects to “the whims of arbitrary political approval.”