Montana lawmakers preserve private-road rights

Proposed legislation in Montana that could have effectively turned private roads into public rights of way was squashed in committee amid the rush of last-minute legislative hearings as the state's mid-session transmittal deadline loomed.

The proposal posed major concerns for private property owners and would have allowed private roads that appeared to meet conditions of a public road to be automatically considered public roads, the Montana Farm Bureau said in a regular update on legislative actions. Private road owners would have been barred from installing barriers to prevent public access to their private road unless they first appealed to county commissioners to prove the road is private. A similar bill was killed in committee last year and met a similar end this year.

The bureau said there are still major concerns about Senate Bill 247, which prohibits the use of neonicotinoid insecticides. The bill seeks to ban the use of certain insecticides that are commonly used to control harmful insects. Those who support the bill are concerned about pollinators, claiming the chemicals are responsible for colony collapse disorder, while others disagree noting other factors, including habitat loss, viruses and beekeeping practices.

“Montana Farm Bureau member policy does not support the prohibition of this useful insecticide,” the bureau said in the  release. The bill has been amended at this point to remove the ban on neonics but does call for the state Department of aAriculture to conduct a pollinator report which the Montana Farm Bureau warns could be costly.

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Montana Farm Bureau

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