A bill seeking to repeal some eminent domain powers is being considered by the Montana Legislature. The Montana Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee recently approved Senate Bill 180 which would repeal the explicit grant of authority to a public utility or a developer to exercise the power of eminent domain that comes with a project permit awarded under the Major Facility Siting Act. Property rights groups and utilities that build power and pipelines were on opposite sides of the debate. “Nothing in Montana is more vital and more important than private property rights, so that is why I brought Senate Bill 180 and I’m still asking you to pass that,” SB 180’s sponsor Debby Barrett said at the close of the hearing.
The Montana Legislature passed House Bill 198 in 2011 which enabled public utilities and other developers of pipelines and power lines have the authority to use eminent domain if need be.
SB 180 will be considered soon by the Montana Senate.