MT 2011 Legislature

May 9, 2011 6:14 PM by Marnee Banks (Helena)

Eminent domain bill to become law without Schweitzer's signature

Governor Brian Schweitzer has announced he will not be able to amend the eminent domain bill, but that won't keep it from becoming law.

In April, Schweitzer announced he would amend House Bill 198, which gives utility companies the right to use eminent domain.

The Governor says Republican leadership didn't get him the bill in time, so now he must allow the bill to become law without his signature.

He says he can't sign it because it isn't fair to landowners, but says that it's an important piece of legislation because without it the Montana Alberta Tie Line (MATL) will not be built.

Schweitzer noted, "But they didn't send me the bill until after they left town. They skedaddled and then they sent me a stack of bills that looked like a collection of the Billings Gazette stacked to the ceiling over the last 40 years."

The Governor says he has spoken with MATL officials and the company will resume construction on the line.

Efforts came to a standstill when a district court judge ruled utility companies do not have the right to use eminent domain.