A Townsend rancher has taken his concerns over Montana’s eminent domain laws and turned it into a bill draft for the Montana Legislature.
MT State Representative Kelly Flynn (R-Townsend) is carrying House Bill 240 for rancher Chuck Hahn. The bill aims to give property owners more negotiation power with developers.
Hahn says too often eminent domain is used and property owners don’t get a fair price for their land or proper due process of law.
Before the House judiciary committee, nine people spoke in favor of the legislation, while just one opposed it.
“Many landowners whose property lies in the path of a project simply accept the first offer of a condemning authority rather than subject themselves to a long expensive legal battle,” Hahn said.
“This is not going to level the playing field. It’s going to stretch the playing field 500 miles, because what it will do is create a legal morass for which there is no end, it will drive up the cost of negotiation. It’s going to protract the process for developing and constructing projects,” John Fitzpatrick, NorthWestern Energy Executive Director of Government Affairs said.
NorthWestern Energy’s representative told the committee that if it passes this bill, projects like Otter Creek and renewable wind projects won’t go through.
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