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HOUSE BILL NO. 663
INTRODUCED BY H. HARPER
A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: "AN ACT CREATING LOCAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT THROUGH DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND CONSERVATION GRANTS FOR THE RESTORATION OF WATERSHEDS; AUTHORIZING LOCAL CONSERVATION DISTRICTS AND LOCAL WATERSHED RESTORATION COUNCILS TO APPLY FOR WATERSHED RESTORATION GRANTS; PROVIDING THE DEPARTMENT WITH RULEMAKING AUTHORITY IN ADMINISTERING GRANTS; ESTABLISHING THE WATERSHED RESTORATION DEVELOPMENT ACCOUNT; AUTHORIZING SILVER CREEK WATERSHED RESTORATION AS A MODEL PILOT PROJECT; APPROPRIATING UP TO $2,170,000 FROM THE TAX REVENUE PROCEEDS OF ANY SALE OF ENERGY GENERATION ASSETS; AND PROVIDING AN EFFECTIVE DATE."
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
NEW SECTION. Section 1. Legislative findings. The legislature finds that:
(1) many watersheds in Montana that are impaired because of past historical uses could be returned to productivity through the efforts of local conservation districts or local watershed restoration councils;
(2) watersheds are experiencing a tremendous increase in use and pressure across the state;
(3) watershed restoration creates high quality and high paying jobs, such as engineering, hydrology, heavy machinery operation, and other jobs;
(4) economic conditions in Montana are adversely impacting the ability of Montanans to acquire meaningful employment that pays living wages with benefits;
(5) investment in watershed restoration guarantees long-term economic and environmental benefits;
(6) watershed restoration is in the public interest; and
(7) fiscal opportunities from the sale of energy generation assets in Montana provide an opportunity to restore long-term economic and environmental viability to unproductive watersheds.
NEW SECTION. Section 2. Definitions. As used in [sections 1 through 5], the following definitions apply:
(1) "Conservation district" means a district as defined in 76-15-103.
(2) "Department" means the department of natural resources and conservation provided for in 2-15-3301.
(3) (a) "Impaired watershed" means a water body or stream segment for which sufficient credible data shows that the water body or stream segment is failing to achieve compliance with applicable water quality standards.
(b) The term does not include a stream or river segment or a watershed:
(i) that is listed or proposed for listing on the national priorities list pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 9601, et seq.;
(ii) for which an order has been issued or consent decree has been entered into pursuant to Title 75, chapter 10, part 7;
(iii) that is the subject of an agency order or an action filed in district court by any state agency that addresses the release or threatened release of a hazardous or deleterious substance; or
(iv) for which the release or threatened release of a hazardous or deleterious substance is regulated by the Montana Hazardous Waste and Underground Storage Tank Act and rules adopted under that act.
(4) "Watershed" means the drainage area of a river or stream and its tributaries and associated lands.
(5) "Watershed restoration council" means a local group of citizens that forms to assess, design, and pursue the cleanup and restoration of impaired watersheds.
NEW SECTION. Section 3. Watershed restoration grants -- coordination. (1) To achieve the restoration of watersheds, the department may make grants to conservation districts or watershed restoration councils from funds appropriated from the watershed restoration development special revenue account.
(2) The department shall publicize the statutes and rules governing grants to conservation districts or watershed restoration councils, set and publicize application deadlines, and accept applications for grants and loans.
(3) The department shall review, evaluate, and select the conservation districts or watershed restoration councils to which grants may be awarded.
(4) The department shall work with conservation districts and watershed restoration councils in coordinating and maximizing private, local, state, and federal resources to be applied to watershed restorations in an expeditious manner.
NEW SECTION. Section 4. Applications for grants -- department rulemaking. (1) A conservation district or watershed restoration council may apply for a grant to finance a watershed restoration project.
(2) An application for a grant must be in the form prescribed by the department and must contain or be accompanied by any information necessary to adequately describe the proposed project and necessary for evaluation of the proposed project.
(3) The department shall adopt rules that prescribe project eligibility criteria, project ranking, and project selection.
NEW SECTION. Section 5. Watershed restoration development account. (1) There is a watershed restoration development special revenue account within the state special revenue fund established in 17-2-102.
(2) There must be deposited in the account:
(a) legislatively appropriated tax revenue proceeds from the sale of any energy generation facility or asset; and
(b) money received by the department in the form of gifts, grants, reimbursements, or appropriations from any source intended to be used for the purposes of this account.
(3) The department may spend funds in the account only to carry out the provisions of [sections 1 through 5].
NEW SECTION. Section 6. Silver Creek model pilot project. (1) The Silver Creek watershed located at township 11 north, range 5 west, through township 12 north, range 5 west, is designated as a model pilot project for the purposes of watershed restoration under [sections 1 through 5].
(2) The department shall assist the Lewis and Clark conservation district in assessing, designing, and pursuing the cleanup and restoration of the Silver Creek watershed.
NEW SECTION. Section 7. Appropriation. (1) There is appropriated from the general fund to the department of natural resources and conservation for fiscal years 2000 and 2001 an amount equal to the receipt of tax revenue proceeds resulting from the sale of any energy generation facility or asset up to a total of $2,170,000.
(2) The funds appropriated in this section must be awarded by the department to a conservation district or watershed restoration council for the purposes of assessing, designing, and pursuing the cleanup and restoration of watersheds.
(3) The department shall grant to the Lewis and Clark conservation district an amount not to exceed $1 million for the Silver Creek model restoration pilot project as provided in [section 6].
NEW SECTION. Section 8. Codification instruction. [Sections 1 through 5] are intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 75, chapter 7, and the provisions of Title 75, chapter 7, apply to [sections 1 through 5].
NEW SECTION. Section 9. Effective date. [This act] is effective July 1, 1999.
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Latest Version of HB 663 (HB0663.01)
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