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HOUSE BILL NO. 444
INTRODUCED BY B. THOMAS, L. GRINDE, E. BERGSAGEL, R. DALE, D. HAINES
AN ACT REVISING CERTAIN PROVISIONS OF THE GRASS CONSERVATION ACT; CREATING THE MONTANA GRASS CONSERVATION COMMISSION; PRESCRIBING THE MEMBERSHIP AND DUTIES OF THE COMMISSION; TRANSFERRING PRIMARY ADMINISTRATION OF THE GRASS CONSERVATION ACT FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND CONSERVATION TO THE MONTANA GRASS CONSERVATION COMMISSION; REVISING DEFINITIONS; REVISING THE ADMINISTRATIVE FEE FOR IMPLEMENTING THE GRASS CONSERVATION ACT FROM 15 CENTS PER ANIMAL UNIT TO 10 CENTS PER ANIMAL UNIT MONTH OF PREFERENCE; ELIMINATING THE 40-YEAR LIMIT ON THE TERM OF INCORPORATION OF A STATE GRAZING DISTRICT; REQUIRING UPDATE AND REVIEW OF THE BYLAWS OF INCORPORATED STATE DISTRICTS; ALLOWING CERTAIN MEMBERS OF A DISTRICT THAT IS BEING LIQUIDATED TO MEET THE HIGHEST BID ON DISTRICT ASSETS; REVISING DISTRICT VOTING PROCEDURES; REVISING PROCEDURES FOR AND INCREASING THE FEE ASSOCIATED WITH TRESPASSING LIVESTOCK; AMENDING SECTIONS 76-16-103, 76-16-106, 76-16-107, 76-16-108, 76-16-109, 76-16-111, 76-16-201, 76-16-202, 76-16-203, 76-16-204, 76-16-206, 76-16-207, 76-16-208, 76-16-209, 76-16-210, 76-16-211, 76-16-212, 76-16-302, 76-16-303, 76-16-304, 76-16-307, 76-16-308, 76-16-311, 76-16-315, 76-16-316, 76-16-319, 76-16-323, 76-16-325, 76-16-403, 76-16-406, 76-16-413, AND 76-16-414, MCA; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
Section 1. Section 76-16-103, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-103. Definitions. Unless the context requires otherwise, in this chapter, the following definitions apply:
(1) "Animal unit" means one cow, one horse, or five sheep, 6 months
old or over of age or older.
(2) "Animal unit month" or "AUM" means one cow/calf pair, one horse, or five sheep, grazed individually for 1 month, or an equivalency as determined by a local grazing district.
(3) "Assessment" means a special levy imposed on permittee members by the state district to raise funds for specific purposes as provided in 76-16-323(1). The term does not include fees.
(3)(4) "Commensurate property" means land that is privately owned or controlled and that is not range.
(5) "Commission" means the Montana grass conservation commission provided for in [section 33].
(4)(6) "Department" means the department of natural resources and conservation provided for in Title 2, chapter 15,
part 33. (5)(7) "Dependent commensurate property" is commensurate property that:
(a) requires the use of range in connection with it to maintain its proper use;
(b) produces or whose owner furnishes as part of the owner's past customary practice the proper feed necessary to maintain livestock during the time other than the established grazing period on the range; and
(c) has been used in connection with the range for a period of any 3 years or for any 2 consecutive years in the 5-year period immediately preceding June 28, 1934, or in the case of districts organized after March 15, 1945, for a 5-year period immediately preceding the date of organization of the districts.
(6)(8) "Grazing preference" is a right to obtain a grazing permit from a state district, expressed in animal unit months.
Grazing preferences, expressed in AUMs, must be the basis for determining a member's proportionate interest in grazing
district assets. (7)(9) "Permits" are evidence of grazing privileges granted by state districts. (8)(10) "Person" means a natural person or persons, unincorporated associations, partnerships, corporations, and
governmental departments or agencies. (9)(11) "Range" is the land within a grazing district upon which grazing permits are granted to maintain livestock
through the established grazing period.
(12) "Secretary" means the secretary of the Montana grass conservation commission.
(10)(13) "State district" means a nonprofit cooperative organization incorporated under this chapter and its board of
directors. The term includes all lands owned or controlled by the state district or its members."
Section 2. Section 76-16-106, MCA, is amended to read:
Department Commission fees. (1) The department commission may impose fees against the several state
grazing districts of the state in an amount not in excess of 15 10 cents per animal unit month of preference, based upon the
number of animal units unit months per year for which the district grants permits, to defray expenses incurred by the
department commission in carrying out its powers and duties under this chapter.
(2) These fees
shall must be held in the state special revenue fund to be expended by order and direction of the
department commission for the operation and administration of the department's functions commission under this chapter.
(3) If a state district fails or refuses to pay the fee on or before October 1 of each year and after the district is provided
with a full report from the department of all money collected and expended by it for its fiscal year
next preceding that date,
the department commission may compel and levy collection and payment by writ of mandate or other appropriate remedy
against the state district."
Section 3. Section 76-16-107, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-107. Range for wild game animals. In each state district a sufficient carrying capacity of range
shall must be
reserved for the maintenance of a reasonable number of wild game animals to use the range in common with livestock
grazing in the district. The department commission may act in an advisory capacity to the department of fish, wildlife, and
parks in the protection of wildlife within the boundaries of all state districts. The department shall encourage the transfer of
beaver from streams where they are doing damage to other streams where they are needed."
Section 4. Section 76-16-108, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-108. Nature of rights. (1) Preferences or rights under this chapter through the creation of the district or the
issuance of permits
or preferences based on AUMs of preference are statutory and do not create any vested right, title,
interest, or estate in or to the lands owned or controlled by the district excepting except as herein provided in this chapter.
Any A person who chooses to become a member of any a state district is bound by all the provisions of this chapter
and is limited to the statutory remedies therein contained in this chapter, and no a court shall have has no jurisdiction to
consider any right claimed under this chapter excepting only except by judicial review from the final decision of the
commission as herein provided in this chapter."
Section 5. Section 76-16-109, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-109. Appeal procedure. (1) Notice of a decision of a state district must be given in writing by the secretary of the state district to the interested parties or their attorneys by certified mail at the address as shown on the records of the district.
(2) A person affected by the decision of a state district may appeal to the
department commission, and the department
commission shall hear and decide all those appeals. An appeal from the decision of the district to the department
commission may be taken by filing written notice of the appeal with the department commission, by filing a copy of the
notice of appeal with the secretary of the district, and by serving a copy of the notice of appeal by certified mail upon any
interested parties who have appeared or upon their attorneys within 60 days after receiving written notice of the decision of
the district. The appellant shall also file with the department commission proof by affidavit of the filing and service of the
notice of appeal. The appeal to the department commission must be taken and review of the appeal must be upon the record
of any hearing conducted and considered by the state district. However, the department commission may, at its discretion
and for good cause shown, permit additional testimony to be submitted."
Section 6. Section 76-16-111, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-111. What constitutes receipt of notice. In all cases where notices are given permittees under this chapter by
registered or certified mail and addressed to the post-office address of the permittee as shown by the records of the state
district, the notices
shall must be considered received by the permittee when deposited in the United States post office by
the district or by the department commission."
Section 7. Section 76-16-201, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-201. Procedure to incorporate state district. (1) If three or more persons who own or control commensurate
property and are livestock operators within the area proposed to be created into a state district decide to incorporate a state
district, they shall submit a statement in writing to the
department commission together with a plat showing the proposed
boundaries of the area.
(2) The statement shall set forth the name of the proposed state district, the county or counties in which the proposed
state district is located, and the names and addresses of all operators of land and livestock units within the area. The
department commission may require any additional information it considers necessary.
(3) On receipt of the statement and plat and any additional information, the
department commission shall fix a time and
place of a hearing for approval within the district or county, which may not be less than 30 days or more than 60 days after
receipt of the statement."
Section 8. Section 76-16-202, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-202. Notice and hearing on question of incorporation. (1) The persons deciding to incorporate the state
grazing district shall cause notice of the hearing to be given by publishing a notice prescribed by the
commission once a week for 2 consecutive weeks, the first publication to be at least 30 days prior to the date of hearing, in
a newspaper of general circulation in the area.
department commission shall hear evidence offered in support of or in opposition to the creation of the state
district and shall make a full inquiry into the advisability of its creation."
Section 9. Section 76-16-203, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-203. Certificate of approval. If the creation of the state district appears feasible, beneficial, and desirable to
those who own or control more than 50% of the lands to be included in the district, the
department commission may issue a
certificate of approval."
Section 10. Section 76-16-204, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-204. Articles of incorporation. (1) Upon the issuance of the certificate of approval, three or more persons who own or control commensurate property and are livestock operators within or near the proposed state district may prepare articles of incorporation and file them in the office of the secretary of state without payment of fees.
(2) The articles
shall must be accompanied by the certificate of approval and signed, sealed, and acknowledged. The
articles, as prescribed by the department commission, shall substantially state the following:
(a) the name of the state district, the last four words of which
shall must be "cooperative state grazing district";
(b) the county or counties in which the state district is located and the place where the principal office and business of the state district will be conducted;
(c) the membership fee for each member of the state district, which may not be more than $5;
(d) the term for which the state district is incorporated, which may not exceed 40 years; (e)(d) the names and residences of the persons who subscribe, together with a statement that each owns or controls
commensurate property and is a livestock operator within the proposed state district; (f)(e) the powers of the state district, which may not be inconsistent with this chapter; (g)(f) the officers of the state district, their principal duties, and the principal duties of the board of directors; (h)(g) the purpose for which the state district is incorporated."
Section 11. Section 76-16-206, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-206. Amending articles of incorporation. (1) A state district may amend its articles of incorporation by a
two-thirds vote of all members present at any regular or special meeting of its members and the approval of the
commission. The only notice of the meeting which that is necessary is the notice of meetings of members as required by the
bylaws of the district. The amended articles of incorporation and bylaws shall must be submitted to the department
commission for approval. Upon approval, the department commission shall issue a certificate of approval. The amended
articles of incorporation shall must be filed by the secretary of state without charge, but may not be filed unless
accompanied by the certificate of approval. If the articles of incorporation are amended, the amendment shall must be filed
with the county clerk or clerks.
(2) Upon the filing of the amended articles with the secretary of state and the proper county clerk or clerks, the district
possesses the same powers and
shall be is subject to the same obligations as if incorporated under this chapter."
Section 12. Section 76-16-207, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-207. Filing of map or plat of district. A state district shall, upon completion of its organization, file with the
commission and the county clerk and recorder of each county in which its lands lie a map or plat of the external boundaries
of the state district showing the allocation of individual allotments, members running in common allotments, allotment
names, and references to lands used as base properties,
and along with a copy of its articles of incorporation. If the
boundaries of a state district are changed and the changes are approved by the department commission after a hearing, the
state district shall file with the county clerk or clerks and with the commission a revised map or plat indicating the changed
Section 13. Section 76-16-208, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-208. Adoption of bylaws and periodic review -- annual report. (1) A state district incorporated under this
chapter shall within 60 days after its incorporation adopt bylaws approved by the
department commission. The bylaws may
be amended or revised with the approval of the department commission. Each incorporated district shall review and update
its bylaws to ensure compliance with this chapter and the general laws of this state. The first review and update must be
completed no later than January 1, 2001. Subsequent review and update must be completed at reasonable intervals, not to
exceed 5 years.
(2) Each state district incorporated under this chapter shall report annually to the commission any changes to the allocation of grazing preferences, redefinitions of grazing allotment boundaries, or dispositions of base properties within the district. The annual reports must include an updated plat depicting current allocation of preferences, grazing allotment boundaries, and a list of all members running in common allotments where more than one member may have grazing preferences."
Section 14. Section 76-16-209, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-209. Alteration of district. (1) A state district may change the boundaries of the district, merge with another state district organized under this chapter, or subdivide.
(2) A merger may not be made unless consented to by a majority of the members of each merging state district and
approved by the
department commission after a hearing.
(3) A subdivision may not be made unless consented to by a majority of the members in the affected area and approved
department commission after a hearing."
Section 15. Section 76-16-210, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-210. Request for dissolution of district. A state district, with the written consent of three-fourths of its
permittee members, may at any time request the
department commission to dissolve the state district subject to the
preferences of this chapter. The commission shall establish procedures for the dissolution of any state district."
Section 16. Section 76-16-211, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-211. Dissolution of district. (1) If a state district ceases to function in accordance with its bylaws and this
chapter and it appears to the
department commission that the reinstatement and future operation of the district is no longer
feasible, beneficial, and desirable to those who own or control more than 50% of the lands included in the majority of
members of the district, the department commission, after a hearing and upon 30 days' notice in writing, published for 2
consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in or nearest to the district, may dissolve the district.
(2) A notice of the dissolution must be filed by the
department commission with the secretary of state and the clerk and
recorder of the county or counties in which the district is located."
Section 17. Section 76-16-212, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-212. Distribution of district assets. (1) When a hearing on the request for dissolution has been held before the
department commission and the board's consent has been given, the directors shall distribute the assets of the state district,
either in items of property or in cash or in both. Distribution shall must first be made with the approval of the department
commission to creditors up to the amount of their claims. Distribution shall must then be made with the approval of the
department commission to permittee members upon the basis of their proportionate interest in the assets.
(2) If assets must be liquidated, the directors shall offer them for sale at public auction or through another competitive bidding procedure after publication of a notice of the sale once a week for 2 successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation within the state district. District members holding grazing preference directly proportional to and associated with the assets being liquidated must be offered an opportunity to meet the highest bid submitted through the bidding process."
Section 18. Section 76-16-302, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-302. Membership in district. (1) Membership in the district is limited to persons engaged in the livestock
business who own or lease forage-producing lands within or near the district, except that the agent of a person entitled to
membership in the district may become a member in place of
his the agent's principal.
(2) If an agent becomes a member,
his the agent's qualifications for membership and his the agent's obligations to and
the privileges in the district shall must be measured by those his that the agent's principal would have had if he the principal
had elected to become a member. An agent and his the agent's principal may not both be members of the district unless the
agent has individual qualifications for membership which that are separable from and independent of those of his the
All members who possessed preferential grazing permits Livestock producers owning or controlling base property
within the designated boundaries of the district and who held preference during the preceding grazing season or who
possess such a permit at the time of voting shall must be designated as permittee members."
Section 19. Section 76-16-303, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-303. Voting rights.
Permittee Only permittee members only in good standing as set forth in the district bylaws
are entitled to vote on all issues submitted to a vote of the members. Individuals or livestock producers who operate on
temporary permits may not vote. A permittee member has only one vote. Voting by proxy may not be permitted unless
clearly outlined procedures for proxy voting are incorporated into the district bylaws."
Section 20. Section 76-16-304, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-304. Effect of transfer of land. When a member disposes of a part of the lands or leases owned by
member so that another person becomes the owner of the lands or leases and acquires the right to membership, then the
rights and interest involved shall must be determined by the directors of the state district with the approval of the
Section 21. Section 76-16-307, MCA, is amended to read:
Requirement to lease available Leasing of state lands. State land situated that is situated within the
boundaries of a grazing district created under this chapter and that is not otherwise disposed of by the department must be
leased by the grazing district at a reasonable rental when offered for lease to the officers of the grazing district by the
department. However, the officers of the grazing district may appear or submit evidence in writing before the department
and show reason and cause for a change in the rental. If there is cause, the department may reappraise the land in question
may be leased by one or more members of a grazing district if the lease is in accordance with existing laws and regulations
of the department. The board of directors of a cooperative state district may assist members of a grazing district in acquiring
and administering a state grazing lease. The department commission shall require that all state districts comply with this
Section 22. Section 76-16-308, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-308. Regulation of stock grazing in district. A state district may:
(1) specify the breed, quality, and number of male breeding animals
which that each member must furnish when stock is
grazing in common in the state district;
(2) regulate the driving of stock over, across, into, or through the range and collect fees
therefor; (3) impose sanitary provisions, regulations, and practices for driving stock."
Section 23. Section 76-16-311, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-311. Control of trespassing livestock. (1) The state district or its duly authorized agent controlling the land
such wrongful entry is made by trespassing livestock may take the livestock into its possession such livestock
and shall reasonably care for same the livestock while in its possession and may retain possession of said the livestock and
have a lien and claim thereon on the livestock as security for payment of such damages and reasonable charges for the care
of said livestock while in its possession.
(2) The state district taking
up such possession of trespassing livestock shall, within 72 hours after taking possession
thereof, notify said the owner, owners, or person in charge thereof of the livestock by a notice in writing describing said the
livestock by number of animals and brands thereon on the livestock, if any, the amount of damages claimed to date, and the
charge per animal unit per day for caring for and feeding the same livestock thereafter , such charges. Charges may not to
exceed 50 cents $2 per animal unit per day , and describing by general description. The notice must generally describe the
location of the premises upon which said where the livestock is held and requiring such require the owner or owners, within
10 days after receiving said the notice, to take said the livestock away after making full payment of all damages and costs of
(3) In case the parties do not agree as to the amount of damages, the state district taking
up such possession of the
livestock may at the expense of the owner retain a sufficient amount number of such livestock to cover the amount of
damages claimed by the state district. However, the owner may, upon furnishing a good and sufficient bond, conditioned
for the payment to the state district of all sums, including costs that may be recovered by said the state district in a civil
action to foreclose its lien, have returned to him the owner all livestock held as aforesaid, and said. The state district shall
be is liable to such the owner for any loss or injury to said the livestock accruing through the state district's lack of
(4) If the state district taking
up possession of the livestock shall fail fails to recover in a civil action a sum equal to that
offered to the state district by the owner of the livestock, the former state district shall bear the expense of keeping and
feeding same the livestock while in its possession. Such notice Notice may be given by personal service on the said owner,
owners, or person in charge thereof, by leaving said notice at his usual place of residence with some member of his family
over the age of 14 years, or of the livestock by sending said notice by prepaid registered or certified mail, addressed to his
that person's last known place of residence. Said service Service by registered or certified mail shall be deemed is
considered complete upon the deposit of said the notice in the post office."
Section 24. Section 76-16-315, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-315. Procedure upon inability to locate person responsible for trespassing livestock.
The If a state district
taking up such takes possession of livestock (if, after due diligence to discover the owner or possessor of such the livestock ,
such and the owner or possessor cannot be found or the ownership of such the livestock discovered ) or the if a party taking
up such takes possession of livestock (if said and the owner or claimant shall refuse refuses to pay the amount of damages
or charges or to furnish bonds therefor, as herein provided ) in 76-16-311, the state district or person shall, within 10 days
from the time that said the livestock was taken up into possession, deliver to the sheriff or a constable of the county in
which the livestock was taken up into possession or to the nearest state livestock inspector a statement containing the
information required to be given in the notice , hereinbefore set out , and in 76-16-311 addition thereto, he shall mail, by
prepaid registered or certified mail, a copy of said statement addressed to the nearest state livestock inspector."
Section 25. Section 76-16-316, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-316. Sale of trespassing livestock. (1) Upon receipt of the statement referred to in 76-16-315, the sheriff
constable shall proceed to advertise and sell at public auction the livestock so taken up.
Such The livestock shall must be sold on 5 days' notice posted at the courthouse of each county in which any portion
of the district lies and posted in three public places a newspaper of general circulation in such the county , one of which
shall be within the district. Such The sheriff may require from the state district a good and sufficient bond, conditioned:
(a) that the state district has used reasonable diligence to discover the owner of
such the stock and to notify him the
owner in the premises;
and that all requirements of law on the part of the state district to be performed in the premises have been performed;
indemnifying that the sheriff is indemnified against all liability for the sale of said the livestock except as to his the
sheriff's own failure to perform the things required of him by law."
Section 26. Section 76-16-319, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-319. No liability for official acts. An officer, the
department commission, an employee of an officer or the
department commission, or an employee of any county or of any state district is not liable for any act performed in good
faith in discharging official duties under this chapter. All acts are presumed to have been in good faith and in conformity
with this chapter."
Section 27. Section 76-16-323, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-323. District finances. A state district may:
(1) fix and determine the amount of grazing fees to be imposed on members or nonmembers for the purpose of paying
leases and operating expenses and fix and determine the amount of assessments to be made on members on
an animal unit a
grazing preference basis for the purpose of acquiring lands by purchase or for the purpose of constructing improvements in
the state district;
(2) set up and maintain a reasonable reserve fund;
(3) borrow money and if necessary mortgage the physical assets of a state district to provide for operation and
development, provided that at least 80% of the permittee members of the state district consent in writing to the borrowing
and the borrowing has been approved by the
department commission. This subsection does not confer power upon a state
district to mortgage the property of the individual members of the district."
Section 28. Section 76-16-325, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-325. Compliance with
department commission orders required. (1) If a state district or the directors of a
state district fail to comply with an order of the department commission, the department commission may order a hearing
on the order within the district or county and cite the directors of the district to appear before the department commission.
(2) If upon the hearing it appears that the directors refuse to perform the duties of their office as provided in this part
and as set forth in the articles of incorporation and the bylaws of the association or refuse to comply with a lawful order of
department commission, the directors may be summarily removed from office by the department commission, and the
district shall elect new officers. During the period until the election, the department commission may operate and manage
the affairs of the state district.
(3) The expense of operating and managing the affairs of a noncomplying state district must be paid by the noncomplying state district before it may be reinstated."
Section 29. Section 76-16-403, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-403. Procedure if reduction in grazing privileges necessary. (1) If
reductions a reduction in grazing
privileges become becomes necessary, operators with temporary permits will be reduced first on a proportionate basis prior
to any reduction to any holder of grazing preference. When the extent of reduction of privileges exceeds that of temporary
permits, then the rights of operators with both dependent commensurate property and commensurate property shall be
reduced together on a proportionate basis.
(2) Reductions of grazing preference for individual members that result from actions beyond the control of the state district or the board of directors of a cooperative state district or as a result of actions or of the failure to take appropriate actions by the holder of the preference in question, do not require a general reduction in grazing preference and the state district may not be compelled to require proportionate reductions in grazing preference by the membership of the state district."
Section 30. Section 76-16-406, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-406. Transfer of preferences. (1) Upon application by a permittee, the state district with the approval of the
department commission may allow a preference based on ownership or control of dependent commensurate or
commensurate property to be transferred to other property of sufficient commensurability ; however. However, in any
transfer of preference from dependent commensurate or commensurate property controlled but not owned by the applicant,
the applicant must have had control and use of the dependent commensurate or commensurate property and the preference
appurtenant thereto to the property for 5 consecutive years and must have established and maintained the livestock
operation upon which the dependency was established by use or priority immediately prior to the application for transfer.
(2) In addition, the transfer may not interfere with the stability of livestock operations or with proper range management
and may not affect adversely the established local economy. A transfer may not be allowed without the written consent of
the owner or owners of the dependent commensurate or commensurate property from which the transfer is to be made and
the owner or owners of any encumbrances on the property. A transfer is not effective until approved by the
(3) All expenses involved under the application
shall must be borne by the applicant."
Section 31. Section 76-16-413, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-413. Effect of revocation. (1) When a preference is revoked, it is detached from the dependent commensurate or commensurate property to which it was formerly appurtenant and it immediately shifts to the state district. A revocation includes all rights, privileges, and authorities associated with a preference.
(2) The state district may then allocate it to either dependent commensurate or commensurate property in the manner provided by its bylaws."
Section 32. Section 76-16-414, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-16-414. Equalization of district assets. (1) Whenever a state district
shall possess possesses reserves, the values
of which are greater than its liabilities, and the state district shall determine determines that a part of such the reserves is in
excess of its reasonable needs to operate the district, such the state district may refund to the permittee members their
proportionate share of such the reserves as determined at the last annual accounting.
(2) Whenever a state district
shall possess possesses reserves and physical assets, the values of which are greater than its
liabilities, and a permittee member shall lose his loses a grazing preference or any portion of a grazing preference, he shall
be the permittee member is entitled to receive his a proportionate share of the value of such the excess from the state
district, as determined by the annual accounting of the state district. Valuation must be as prescribed by the bylaws of the
state district. The state district may set off the amount of any claim it may have against such a former member.
(3) Whenever a new member
shall receive receives a grazing preference, he the new member shall, as a condition of
receiving such the preference, pay to the state district the value of the equitable interest in the physical assets and reserve
fund which that accrues to him the new member by virtue of such membership. Such The value shall must be determined at
the time of receiving such a preference, as prescribed by the bylaws of the state district, and upon the basis of the
determination of value of such physical assets and reserves made at the last annual accounting."
Section 33. Creation of Montana grass conservation commission -- membership -- meetings -- compensation. (1) There is a Montana grass conservation commission. The commission must be composed of five members appointed by the governor to serve staggered 3-year terms. Beginning on January 1, 2000, one member shall serve a 1-year term and two members shall serve 2-year terms, with assignment of terms based on a random drawing.
(2) (a) The governor, after giving full consideration to representation by both large and small operators, shall appoint:
(i) two members who are either officers of or who serve on the board of directors of a state grazing district;
(ii) two members who hold active preference rights within a state grazing district; and
(iii) one member of the public who possesses a general understanding of the livestock industry and the proper use of rangelands within state grazing districts for the purpose of livestock production.
(b) Ex officio members may be appointed by the commission as needed.
(3) Members may not be appointed for more than three consecutive terms. The commission shall annually elect from among its members a presiding officer and a vice presiding officer. The presiding officer shall preside over all meetings of the commission, except that the vice presiding officer shall assume the duties of the presiding officer in the absence of the presiding officer.
(4) The commission shall meet annually at the main offices of the department in Helena. The commission may hold other meetings at times and places as necessary upon the call of the presiding officer or upon the request of a majority of commission members, and upon at least 14 days' written notice to the commission members of the time and place of the meeting. A majority of commission members constitutes a quorum for the transaction of business. The commission shall keep accurate records of all business that is considered, and the presiding officer shall sign all orders, minutes, and other documents of the commission.
(5) Commission members may receive no compensation for their services, but members are entitled to compensation for actual expenses incurred in carrying out their duties, including travel and per diem.
(6) The commission is allocated to the department for administrative purposes only as provided in 2-15-121. The commission shall, if it determines that personnel services are required, hire its own personnel, and 2-15-122(2)(d) does not apply. The secretary must be employed at the discretion of the commission.
Section 34. Powers of commission. The commission has all the powers enumerated in this chapter and any other powers necessary or incidental to carrying out the full purpose and intent of this chapter, including but not limited to:
(1) conducting hearings on issues brought before the commission and conducting investigations into matters affecting the commission or the operation of state grazing districts, including appeals of decisions made by the board of directors of an individual state grazing district or other actions taken in accordance with this chapter;
(2) administratively promoting and fostering an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual trust between the federal bureau of land management, the United States forest service, the department, and cooperative state grazing districts and upholding the terms and conditions of any memorandum of understanding between those entities with regard to provisions noted in the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the Public Rangelands Improvement Act, the Taylor Grazing Act, and this chapter; and
(3) prescribing methodologies to be used for the reallocation of grazing preference within cooperative state grazing districts that, for whatever reason, no longer have access to historical preference records.
Section 35. Codification instruction. [Sections 33 and 34] are intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 76, chapter 16, and the provisions of Title 76, chapter 16, apply to [sections 33 and 34].
Section 36. Effective date. [This act] is effective on July 1, 1999.
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Latest Version of HB 444 (HB0444.ENR)
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