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United States Department of the Interior
Montana State Office
5001 Southgate Drive
Billings, Montana 59101-4669

October 7, 2008

1120 (912) P
Instruction Memorandum No. MT-2009-004
Expires: 9/30/2010
To:             State Management Team
From:         State Director       
Subject:     Involvement in State Legislative Processes
Program Area: All
Purpose: This Instruction Memorandum (IM) provides guidance for involvement in state legislative processes. 
Policy/Action: For the purposes of this IM, involvement in state legislative processes is divided into two categories: formal and informal. 
Formal involvement is defined as presenting testimony before a legislature or any of its subordinate divisions, normally a committee or subcommittee. This testimony is further divided into two categories: informational (testimony that provides factual information only) and positional (testimony that expresses a position either in favor of or against legislation). Expressions of a Bureau position on legislation should be provided only through formal involvement.
Formal positional testimony by BLM employees is expected to be extremely limited. All proposals to provide positional testimony should be sent to the State Director for approval after review by the appropriate Deputy State Director and External Affairs. If approved, the State Director will decide who should provide the testimony. In addition to the above approvals, positional testimony may need clearance from the Solicitor or the Washington Office. Advanced notice for approvals and clearances is required.
Informational testimony may be more frequent. When informational testimony is required, both the person delivering the testimony and the testimony itself must be approved in advance by the State Director, Associate State Director or the appropriate Deputy State Director. Here again, adequate lead time is an obvious necessity.
Generally, the most appropriate employee for the situation should present the testimony. For example, positional testimony or BLM policy information of a statewide nature might best be presented by the State Director or Associate State Director. Local policy questions might best be presented by the Field Manager. Informational testimony of a technical nature might best be presented by a specialist. In some cases it may also be appropriate to direct the BLM legislative liaison to deliver verbatim testimony.
Informal involvement is defined as any involvement that does not meet the test of formal involvement outlined above. Informal involvement is the preferred method of interaction, but care must be taken not to engage in any action that could be considered lobbying. Questions about lobbying rules should be referred to the Branch of Human Resources. Generally, responding to a legislator's request for information is appropriate. When possible, specialists should have information reviewed by their supervisors before delivering it to a legislator, and all informal requests and responses should be reported as they occur to the State Director and the legislative liaison with a copy to External Affairs. This is especially important during actual legislative sessions.
Managers at all levels of the organization should strive to develop good working relationships with their local state legislators. These relationships can be effective tools in carrying out BLM's mission in harmony with state government and can often reduce the need to provide formal testimony.
Timeframe: These policies are effective immediately.
Budget Impact: None.
Background: This IM reissues standing policies related to involvement in state legislative processes.
Manual/Handbook Sections Affected:  None.
Coordination: Montana/Dakotas External Affairs.
Contact: Christine Tincher, Director of External Affairs, 406-896-5252.
Signed by: Gene R. Terland, State Director
Authenticated by: Ann Boucher, External Affairs
WO (610), LS, Rm. 406 - 1
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Last updated: 02-28-2013