Unpaid child support? No fishing or hunting license for you

By Cole Grant/UM Legislative News Service

HELENA – Under a bill in the Montana Legislature, people who owe child support in Montana could be barred from buying a hunting, fishing, or trapping license.

Sen. Mike Lang, R-Malta

“I had a guy that came up to me and he said I don’t like your bill. I’m not paying my child support now because my wife wouldn’t let me see the children,” said Sen. Mike Lang, R-Malta, who is carrying Senate Bill 172. “OK, so I said, ‘Well she was bad, now you’re creating another bad, who’s really losing here? The kids are losing.’ ”

Lang said the bill is needed because there are currently 33,144 cases of child support enforcement that are in arrears in Montana, and that those cases have accumulated a debt of a little over $147 million. Lang said his bill should lower these numbers.

Committee member Sen. Jennifer Fielder, R-Thompson Falls, said she has concerns with the bill, especially if hunting rights are stripped away from someone who provides meat for their families for sustenance rather than hunting for sport.

“I’m really concerned that we’re actually not helping families, we’re actually going to be making it worse for some families,” Fielder said.

No opponents testified at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday morning and the committee did not immediately vote on the bill.

Cole Grant is a reporter with the UM Legislative News Service, a partnership of the University of Montana School of Journalism, the Montana Broadcasters Association and the Greater Montana Foundation.