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EXPERIENCE & ACHIEVEMENTS

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Experience - Achievements - Endorsements

EXPERIENCE:

  • 4 years serving as a HD2 Representative
  • Elected into leadership of the Republican Caucus (by fellow Republicans) to serve as the 2009 Minority Whip
  • Current Chair of the Environmental Quality Council
  • Current Co-Chair of the Sportsmen’s Caucus
  • During the past 4 years, Chas has served on the following:
    • Natural Resource Committee
    • Taxation Committee
    • Fish Wildlife and Parks Committee
    • Environmental Quality Council
    • Fire Suppression Committee
    • Wild Land Urban Interface and Infrastructure Sub-Committees

ACHIEVEMENTS:

With the help of co-sponsors and supporting votes from fellow legislators, I was able to sponsor and successfully pass 10 Bills and 2 Resolutions last session. Below is a brief look at each. I hope that you take a few minutes to read through them to see how they will benefit both Lincoln County residents and citizens across Montana. Please click here to view for the details on each piece of legislation.

State involvement in Federal land management planning
HB 44 allows the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) to use “coordination” as a tool in Federal forest management planning and will allow for the department to assist in counties that want to coordinate with federal agencies on natural resource planning as well.

HB 139 has will allow the DNRC to be an intervening party on behalf of the people of MT on any timber sale being litigated that poses a threat to our citizen’s health and safety due to fuel loading concerns. The bill will work hand in glove with HB 44 as the state will be able to help defend timber sales that state and federal land managing agencies agree on in the judicial system.

Healthy Forests = More Revenues For Our Schools
HB 140 is very important to both our schools and our forests health. It allows the DNRC to exceed the sustained yield on school trust lands by 10% if they are addressing forest health concerns such as beetle kill, or fuel loading concerns.  The bill will improve forest health, reduce fire suppression hazards, turn unproductive timberlands into productive timberlands, increase the trusts sustained yield formula by improving the rate of growth and in turn increase revenue for our schools. 

Increasing Citizen Involvement in Local Government
HB 545 created more public participation on county compensation boards. The law created a few more seats on county compensation boards to allow citizens that actually pay for government to have the majority vote on salaries and pay schedules instead of those that receive the benefits.

Insuring Fairness
HB 544 requires insurance companies to return pre-payments of premiums should coverage be cancelled.  Premiums were considered “earned” upon payment in MT previous to the bill, HB 544 changed that.

Holding Criminals Accountable
HB 574 is a revision to the burglary statute that will help law enforcement charge, and county attorneys convict, felony burglary. The bill helps clarify perpetrators “intent” and will put an end to some very unfortunate situations that have transpired in MT over the last couple years. 

Resolutions to our Congressional Delegation Urging Federal Legislation
Two state resolutions (HJ 7, HJ 4) I sponsored also passed and have been filed with the Secretary of State’s office and sent on to our congressional delegation.

HJ 7 and HJ 4 urge our Federal delegation to pass legislation giving our state some tools to address the threats of catastrophic wildfire by allowing active management of fuel loading and ensuring our ability to access our forests for aggressive initial attack.

HJ 4 Urges our congressional delegation to enact legislation that would allow for a governor to declare an emergency on identified lands within its borders and require the federal agency of jurisdiction to expedite mitigation plans that would be excluded from the NEPA appeals process and require those that wish to litigate to post 10% bond of the value of the property that would be protected under a mitigation plan.

HJ 7 urges our congressional delegation to immediately modify ineffective federal land management and wildfire policies in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Montana communities.

Business Equipment Tax Relief for Struggling Businesses
HB 670 simply allows for local governments to suspend or eliminate up to 95% of the business equipment tax (class 8 and class 4). The bill was designed to allow companies, who are now forced to pay the tax while awaiting a turnaround in the economy, to consider mothballing with no taxes instead of liquidating assets to avoid taxes.  This type of situation is abundant right now in MT.  We may be able to get companies to hang onto their equipment until things pick up for them rather than run the risk of them never returning after liquidating assets. While I would have liked to eliminate the business equipment tax all together, the political reality was that there weren’t enough votes to do so last session. Let’s hope we do next session.

Forest Management = Better Wildlife Habitat
HB 42 requires the Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks to create and implement forest management plans on the 135,000 acres of timberlands it has jurisdiction over.  The bill allowed the agency to address fuel loading conditions, diseased timber stands suffering from ailments such as pine beetle infestations, and enhance wildlife habitat through active management.

Fighting For Our Remaining Loggers and Sawmills in MT While Protecting Our Tax Base
HB 674 includes a 21 million dollar bond that will allow the DNRC to acquire an area called the Potomac in Missoula County that up until recently was owned by Plum Creek Timber.  The area is 26,000 acres of open space that has many multiple use purposes, but most importantly for the schools trust, it is very productive timber lands.

HB 674 allowed the DNRC to purchase the Potomac, but it also required the Department to liquidate an equal amount of acres to offset the net gain of public lands.

HB 674 also included new provisions for FWP land acquisitions.  The aim of this component is to keep MT’s recreation costs affordable, something that will be increasingly more difficult if the department is not held more accountable to its land grabbing.

The new requirements will allow for more public participation and transparency for land acquisitions.  Prior to acquiring any fee simple lands the department will be required to provide an estimate of all the costs the department plans to undertake in furtherance of its proposed use including operating, staffing, and maintenance costs. These measures are needed to be properly vetted as it is the sportsmen (and women) of this state that ultimately pay the costs through licenses, fees, and permits.  

HB 669 is a low interest revolving loan account that will be made available to our state’s loggers and milling infrastructure in hopes of getting it through this downturn in the market. MT is on the cusp of losing what infrastructure we have left and this legislation is just one part of the larger effort to hold on to it.  The bill allowed for low interest loans to be administered by the Department of Commerce to any individual, business, or entity that is critical to the timber industry in MT.     

The milling infrastructure was on life support before going into the recession, and the 61st legislature  took great strides this last session to help “right” many of the “wrongs” that have crippled our timber industry’s ability to have predictable, dependable,  and sustainable flows of timber.  HB 669 will help, but it is only a piece of the larger puzzle.   We have more work to do on this front, and if elected I will continue to fight for our sawmills, and the logging culture and heritage that accompanies it.

ENDORSEMENTS:

2009 AND 2007

  • Champion of Business Award - from the Montana Chamber of Commerce
  • Guardian of Small Business Award - from NFIB Montana
  • The endorsement of the NRA & MT Shooting Sports Association

2009

  • "The single most effective Legislator in passing a pro-multiple use agenda" - Citizens for Balanced Use
  • Golden Windmill Award - from the Montana Farm Bureau

2007

  • Rookie of the Year Award - the Montana Farm Bureau
    "Chas showed knowledge beyond his years during the 2007 legislature. His calm rational demeanor was a steadying influence even for legislators with much more experience."
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