Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and NRA Oppose Ballot Initiative in Montana to Eliminate Hunting License Set Aside for Montana Outfitters
I-161, a proposed ballot initiative to eliminate the assignment of hunting licenses to Montana outfitters, just got a setback when the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the NRA came out in opposition to the initiative. The process requires the sponsor of the initiative to collect 24,000 signatures before June for the initiative to be put on the November 2010 ballot. “Initiatives are always a slippery slope and are especially concerning when it comes to new wildlife management policies,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO.
The initiative is sponsored by a so-called sportsman from Billings, Kurt Kephart. Montana makes available 5,500 deer and elk tags and 2,300 deer tags for the outfitted non-resident hunter. FWP also sells 11,500 nonresident deer and elk combination licenses to the general public, whether or not hunters hire outfitters.
The Montana Outfitters and Guides Association (MOGA) is leading the charge against the initiative, which MOGA says will destabilize a significant portion of the outfitting industry in the state which currently generates nearly 5,000 jobs statewide. MOGA says if the initiative passes and outfitters lose dedicated licenses, the cost for non- resident licenses will increase to offset lost revenues. To learn more about the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association effort to stop the I-116 ballot initiative, go to http://stop161.org/
Shell Shelves Plans to Obtain Yampa Water Rights for Oil Shale Development
Shell Oil has withdrawn its application for water rights which would have withdrawn 8% of the Yampa River's average spring flow and transferred it to a pond to support oil shale development in the White River Basin. The company is still pursuing plans to develop oil shale but at a slower pace. Nearly 30 groups had protested the withdrawal, which was subject to challenge because the company’s nascent program had no firm idea how much water would be required for their processes.
Who’s Behind the Requirement for CDL's for 15 Passenger Vans?
Legislation in the House and Senate to require CDL's for 9 to 15 passenger vans transporting passengers across state lines has been supported by the AFL-CIO. S. 554 is sponsored by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-IL) and Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX). H.R. 1369 is sponsored by a bipartisan group of legislators, including Republicans and Democrats. Both bills are primarily aimed at improving safety for tour buses, but those are already heavily regulated.
The AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department has pushed for CDL’s and more stringent regulation of all 9 to 15 passenger vans used as commercial motor vehicles, including those used in intrastate commerce. AFL-CIO states:
“The FMCSA rule, which took effect on September 11, 2003, limits the application of federal motor carrier safety regulations to those interstate vans that operate outside a 75 mile radius from the driver’s normal work reporting location. The 75 mile and interstate limitations are arbitrary – it makes little sense that passengers who take short trips or stay within state lines are subject to an inferior level of safety. The rule also exempts van rides where passengers do not pay a direct fee for a ride, such as hotel shuttles, rental car shuttles, and outdoor recreation transporter services from the standards. Finally, these regulations do not cover passenger vans entering or leaving Mexico unless the vehicle meets the 75-mile criteria. This exemption was included despite the fact that in enacting the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act, Congress specifically required the FMCSA to make safety regulations applicable to camioneta operations – those that involve transporting passengers from Mexico to the U.S. and vice versa.”