Kelly Flynn’s WHIP bill is the Legislation Montanans Need
Rep. Kelly Flynn’s brother, Joel Flynn, passed away the day after Easter. Two days later Flynn (R-Townsend) was on the house floor, fighting for values his brother and himself knew were worth fighting for.
Both Flynn and his brother were landowners. His brother a farmer, himself a rancher. On the house floor, Kelly Flynn told his colleagues that the Thursday before his brother lost his life to cancer they had a short conversation.
“My brother was dying and the conversation was very frank,” Flynn said.
Flynn and his brother talked about how they, like all Montanans, are stewards of the land. But, wiser when late in life, they talked about how this stewardship is only temporary. Flynn told his fellow representatives that we need to leave the land in better condition than it was when we became stewards of it.
So, two days after his brother’s passing, Flynn was on the house floor, defending a bill that should have already been passed.
His bill, The Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (WHIP) doubles the amount of grant money available to help individuals fight noxious weeds on their land, improving grazing, wildlife habitat and the overall health of the land.
“From a sportsman perspective and a natural resource perspective this really was one of the best bills we’ve seen this session,” Rep. Zach Brown (D-Bozeman) said of the bill.
Noxious weeds reduce wildlife habitat, lower water quality, limit forage for livestock, invade fields and lower real estate values. Which is why ranchers, farmers, and sportsmen all supported it.
It was a well thought-out, bipartisan bill with huge support from the Montana Wildlife Federation, Montana Stockgrowers Association, and many others.
One of Flynn’s house speeches showed how deeply he cared about honoring the work that Montanans put into drafting his bill, and the broad support that it gained:
“My brother is gone now, and no one will remember Kelly Flynn or any of the bipartisan people who signed on this bill. However, if this bill is passed as originally framed future generations will certainly remember that this bill helped maintain the beautiful wildlife populations of animals and birds that we all enjoy for this generation and future generations.”
Thanks to Flynn’s fighting spirit, The Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program is off the ground. Two million dollars of federal funding will now be available for Montanans to manage their noxious weeds, which effectively doubles the state’s investment in fighting weeds from previous years.
But, during the last legislative session, Flynn was fighting more than one battle.
Shortly before the session ended Kelly Flynn was diagnosed with cancer. So, even now that he’s termed out of the House, he’s still got a fight ahead of him.
Flynn has a fighting spirit and a devotion to a way of life that honors hard work and honesty. But, we have to contradict him on one thing…
We think the next generation will remember Kelly Flynn.
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