HELENA — A Montana lawmaker wants to give the state the power of eminent domain to take federal land.
Republican Sen. Rowlie Hutton of Havre told the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee Tuesday that about a third of the land in Montana is owned by federal agencies.
He says Senate Bill 254 would give the state the ability to reclaim some of that land and unlock it for resource development.
Opponents of the measure say it is unconstitutional.
The eminent domain bill is just one of several public lands issues being considered by the Montana Legislature this week. A related proposal by Rep. Derek Skees being heard Wednesday would try to curtail future federal government land purchases and allow the state to reclaim existing federal land.