Monday, August 11, 2014

Fwd: SD 7 Column

Property rights conference to feature bison, grouse, and water compact
August 11, 2014

By Senator Jennifer Fielder, Thompson Falls

You may be surprised that Montana State legislators are only paid for the days we are officially in session, which is typically January through April every odd winter plus a few interim committee meetings. Our salary for these official work days is roughly $83/day.

On all those other days, like now, I visit with constituents, study stacks of reading materials, sift through heaps of letters and emails, and attend local, state, and national meetings on my own time.

Whether it is a local festival or a national legislative council, I feel it is important to go out of my way to interact with a lot of people so I can learn as much as I can about key issues and do the best I can to understand and represent the interests of Montanans. In addition to gathering input from local citizens, this past year I have invested a great deal of my time with some of the top land, water, and constitutional experts in America.

This week I will drive to Billings to attend a Property Rights Conference featuring a range of issues including impacts of free-roaming bison on
private property, how best to manage sage grouse populations to prevent another economically devastating Endangered Species Act listing, and the Flathead Water Compact’s potential effect on water rights throughout the state.

One of the key note speakers will be William Perry Pendley, President and COO of the Mountain States Legal Foundation. I am particularly interested in his perspectives on land and water law given his biography which states he received a"J.D. from the University of Wyoming College of Law, where he was Senior Editor on Land and Water Law Review. During the Reagan
Administration, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy and
Minerals of the Department of Interior, where he authored President
Reagan’s National Minerals Policy and Exclusive Economic Zone proclamation. He has argued cases before the Supreme Court of the United States as well as various federal courts of appeals; he won what Time called a"legal earthquake” when the Supreme Court ruled in his favor in the historic
Adarand (equal protection) case.”

Another featured speaker will be Paul Beard, a Principal Attorney in the Pacific Legal Foundation’s Property Rights Group. According to his
biography, Mr. Beard oversees litigation against land-use agencies"that violate landowners’ private property rights. His cases on behalf of
property owners include challenges to unconstitutional conditions on
land-use permits and the unlawful assertion of jurisdiction by land-use agencies over private property and its development.

In 2013, he argued and won a landmark property rights case before the
United States Supreme Court: Koontz v. St Johns River Water Management
District. Koontz is PLF’s seventh consecutive win before the High Court.”

I will also be hearing from Dr. Andrew P. Morriss, J.D., Ph.D, dean of the Texas A&M University School of Law. His scholarly work includes"analysis of state eminent domain laws as they relate to growth in modern energy and communications infrastructure. In a recent working paper on the topic, Dr. Morriss and his co-authors suggest several policy alternatives that would enhance the rights of property owners facing the eminent domain process.”

Early next month I have been invited to Denver, CO to debate the pros and cons of state versus federal land management with President Obama’s former Secretary of Interior, Ken Salazar. I’ll have to give up opening week of elk archery season for that treat, followed by several days on official assignment in Helena with Montana's Water Policy Interim Committee and
Environmental Quality Council.

Relatively speaking, this is a light month. Even so, it will be a busy few weeks. If you need to reach me, try email at or sign in and leave your comments on my web site at

Thanks, and God Bless!

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