(Missoula Current) Conservationists are amassing to oppose a Legislative bill that would go against voters’ wishes and permanently cut marijuana tax money out of Montana’s popular habitat acquisition program.
On Thursday, the Montana House Appropriations committee will hear House Bill 462, which changes previous legislation mandating how marijuana tax money is distributed. Most important to hunters and conservationists, the bill eliminates the tax money allocated annually to the Habitat Montana program.
In 2021, after much debate, the Legislature passed House Bill 701 allocating 20% of the annual tax revenue to Habitat Montana. But that was a substantial cut from what voters passed in 2020.
In November 2020, Constitutional Initiative 190, which passed with 57% of the vote, legalized marijuana for adults but also tacked a 20% tax on to marijuana sales. The initiative also promised about half of the annual tax revenue to public lands programs. Of that, about 37% would go to the Habitat Montana program, which uses state money to purchase land or conservation easements for wildlife habitat. Nongame wildlife programs, to state parks and to trails, and recreational facilities would each receive 4% of the revenue.
In 2020, the Montana Conservation Voters, Montana Wildlife Federation, Wild Montana Action Fund and Trust for Public Land advocated for Initiative 190 specifically because of the conservation funding.
Now, those groups and about a dozen other Montana…