Governor signs bounty hunt bill prompted in part by fatal Butte incident


Gov. Greg Gianforte has signed legislation designed to curb reckless and dangerous bounty-hunting tactics in Montana that was drafted after a series of violent apprehensions, including one in Butte that led to homicide charges.

Republican Troy Downing, the state’s auditor and commissioner of Securities and Insurance, proposed House Bill 62 and it was sponsored by Republican Rep. Bill Mercer of Billings and Democrat Sen. Ryan Lynch of Butte.

The bill passed both chambers by big margins with bipartisan support and the Republican governor signed it Thursday.

The new law requires all bail recovery agents to be trained and licensed and in most circumstances, notify police of planned apprehensions. They have to be 21 or older, cannot be convicted felons and must be instructed on procedures for detaining people, their civil rights, the use of force and civil liability, among other things.

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“Bounty hunter abuses are putting the public at risk,” Downing said Friday. “Our agency’s bill puts up sideboards to protect Montanans.

“Armed bounty hunters have broad arrest powers,” he said. “Our bill ensures bounty hunters are not felons, receive training and alert law enforcement before arresting a

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