Many bills during the 2019 legislative session grabbed headlines. Here are a few that passed quietly but will be of interest to Montanans.

Are you a recreational beekeeper in the area? This bill, HB 443, would require a certificate of registration from the Department of Agriculture for up to $19 annually for a hobbyist beekeeper at their apiary site. The health of our beehives is critical to Montana agriculture and is a way for the department to track these little buzzers and be on the frontline of this transient population. 

A person who owns or possesses an apiary in the state shall, before April 1 each year, register the site. A person who fails or refuses to register or reregister is subject to a civil penalty. I know some new beekeepers who were very upset with my Facebook ‘head’s up’ on this one. It’s past the deadline so will have to happen next year.

What is meat? This bill, HB 327, was labeled as the Real Meat Act. Most of us know what a butchered animal and carcass is. Senator Olszewski carried the bill in the Senate and described what cannot be considered meat—lab grown meats consisting of muscle cells, fat cells, connective tissue, blood, and other components produced via cell culture, rather than from a whole slaughtered animal. This conglomeration may look and taste like meat but certainly isn’t what we enjoy from our ag producers. Many of us took note of the ‘looks like meat’ description by Dr. Olszewski and voted for the bill. None of us want to consume parts and pieces without knowing it!

Sports betting is now legal. The governor signed HB725 into law since it will go through the Montana lottery instead of being run in licensed gaming establishments. They are predicting $3.7 million for the first year’s income to the state which is hard to believe. I didn’t vote for either bill. How much gambling do we need in Montana? There were more bills this session than I’ve seen in my legislative history.

Veterans get half-price in state parks. This bill, HB 423, will allow veterans to get half price camping at a state park in Montana. You must be able to provide a DD214 or picture ID indicating that you are a veteran, much like veterans do in other camping situations across the nation including BLM and Corps of Engineer sites.

Republican Dee Brown represents Hungry Horse in the Montana Senate.