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Senator Welborn’s Weekly Report

Senator Welborn’s Weekly Report

HELENA: First I’m happy to report some progress out of Washington on delisting of the Grizzly Bear. Grizzly bear recovery has been a conservation success in the areas surrounding Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. As we’ve been advocating in the Montana Senate for years, it’s time to recognize this conservation win, remove grizzly bears from endangered listing in those ecosystems, and return management of the bears to the state of Montana. I’m glad to see this step in the right direction from the federal government, now they just need to follow through.

Another item we are working on this session, is for Montana to join the National discussion of our foreign adversaries owning Agricultural land and critical infrastructure in Montana. Senator Ken Bogner, a Miles City Republican is proposing legislation to do just that.

Senate Bill 203 will had its first hearing last week in the Senate agriculture committee, which I sit on.

China especially has shown a concerning interest in acquiring lands and resources in our country that could help them with spying efforts, economic competition, and gaining the upper hand in any conflict with the United States. Foreign adversaries and corporations acting at their behest have no business owning or leasing any part of Montana that is important to our national security.

Critical infrastructure is defined in Montana law as systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of the systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.

Senator Bogner has agricultural production land in this proposal both because food security is essential to national security and because of the importance of agriculture to Montana’s economy. I also believe that In the Treasure State, agricultural land is critical infrastructure.

Recent news reports have identified increasing concern at the federal level about China and Chinese Communist Party affiliated corporations buying up agricultural land in the United States, including near strategic military facilities in North Dakota and Montana.

While introduced specifically with China in mind, the provisions of SB 203 also include Russia, North Korea, and Iran as foreign adversaries identified by the federal government that would be banned from critical infrastructure and agricultural land in Montana.

Our adversaries are becoming more sophisticated in how they compete with and threaten the United States economically, culturally, and militarily. While national security is primarily the responsibility of the federal government, keeping our adversaries from buying up critical parts of Montana is something we can achieve at the state legislature with Senate Bill 203.

Please stay in touch on any issue that you feel is important. Have a great week.

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