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The Senate approved two bills Thursday recognizing Montana’s military men and women.
One bill dedicates every March 30th as ‘Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day’ to honor the men and women who served in the military during the Vietnam War.
The second measure is a resolution showing the Legislature’s support for Montana’s service members and their families.
The bill directs the Secretary of State to send copies of the resolution to the Montana Congressional Delegation and to all branches of the Armed Forces.
Senator Cliff Larsen (D-Missoula) said, “I encourage you, my fellow Senators, to keep in touch with the soldiers and their families, through this resolution and with them as your neighbors. It’s a simple way to say thank you to our military.”
Both measures received unanimous support from the Senate in their second-readings.
Lawmakers are trying to ramp up the state’s efforts to keep invasive mussel species out of Montana waterways.
The 2009 Legislature passed the Aquatic Invasive Species Act to establish an awareness and prevention campaign.
Now, some lawmakers want to take that a step further by increasing the authority of inspectors to establish check stations.
The stations would prevent boats carrying the species from getting anywhere near Montana waters.
But, not all Senators are completely on board.
Senator Kendall Van Dyk (D-Billings) said he supports the bill, but hesitantly, because of other areas that could use the money.
“I believe in spending money to take care of the fish and money to take care of our habitat because we want to preserve it for future generations, but I also strongly agree with taking care of the kids. In a time when $160-million has been taken from DPHHS, I want us all to think about what kind of message that sends,” he said.
The bill passed its second-reading on a vote of 44-4.
The Senate approved a bill Wednesday permitting the Board of Oil and Gas Conservation to make rules allowing new technology for coal-bed methane extraction.
The process involves injecting chemicals into the ground to stimulate the microbial process that turns coal into natural gas.
Supporters said Wyoming is successfully using the new process, and it can increase the amount of gas taken out of a well by 60 to 80 percent.
But, opponents are concerned about the possible effects on water quality.
Senator Ron Erickson (D-Missoula) said there are too many unknown factors to pass the legislation.
“This idea needs study. I hope it works and it works well because clearly this nation can continue to use natural gas. But, we’re giving a power to a board that doesn’t yet know what’s happening,” he told the Senate during floor session.
The measure passed its second-reading on a vote of 31-16.