Montana legislation seeking to change the definition of “wild bison” is in limbo as the governor and secretary of state disagree over whether the bill has become law.
Republican Secretary of State Corey Stapleton sent out a tweet Wednesday afternoon saying House Bill 132 became law because Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock didn’t deliver the bill to him within 10 days of vetoing it.
Governor Steve Bullock vetoed HB132 (a bill clarifying the definition of 'bison') on April 29th after the Legislature had adjourned, but failed to deliver the bill to me within 10 days. Therefore, HB132 has become Montana law. #mtleg #mtnews #mtpol
— Corey Stapleton (@Stapleton_MT) May 29, 2019
However, a statement from Governor’s Office spokesperson Marissa Perry says that Stapleton is confused. Perry says Bullock vetoed the bill within the 10-day deadline and the Legislature was notified the same day.
The Montana Constitution says the governor must sign or veto a bill within 10 days of it landing on his desk, or else it becomes law.
When the Legislature is not in session state law requires the governor to return a vetoed bill along with the reasons for vetoing it to the secretary of state. A timeline for that situation isn’t outlined.
House Bill 132 attempted to clarify state definitions related to bison. Supporters of the bill, including the Montana Association of Counties, said the current definition of wild bison and wild buffalo is vague.
The Montana Native American Caucus opposed the bill, saying it could stand in the way of tribes creating wild buffalo herds.
Montana Code Commissioner Todd Everts says nothing will happen to the bill until the secretary of state and governor reach an agreement or the bill’s fate is determined by a court.