Legislators: Montana Entitled To Money From Public Land Sales

Feb 26, 2015

Sen. Jennifer Fielder (R) SD7
Credit Montana Legislature

Thursday, the Montana Senate passed a bill to ask the Federal Government to pay up for lands they’ve sold off.

Republican Representative Jennifer Fielder says under the Enabling Act, the Government is supposed to pay the state 5 percent of whatever money it makes selling off public lands. Fielder said they’ve been shirking this duty, costing Montana money intended for schools.

“They’ve really never been asked for this, I think it’s just a small detail that’s been overlooked for a very long time.”

Opponents fear unintended consequences and difficulties actually getting the money when there are no consequences if it is denied. Democratic Senator Jonathan Windy Boy pointed out this potential flaw.

“What are the penalties provisions of it, of who’s going to be held accountable and who’s going see prison time?”

The bill passed 2nd reading 36-14.