Is Giving One Person Power to Waive the Rules Wise?


by Maggie Nutter, Marias River Livestock Association


Giving authority does not remove responsibility.

At the Board of Livestock meeting in October 2014, it was realized that there was no authority for the State Veterinary or the BOL to waive import requirements for animals being imported, though the BOL had been doing just that to allow for exemption for the NILE show.  Zaluski presented the proposed rule changes to 32.3.206 and 32.3.2001 at the January 27, 2015 Board of Livestock meeting.  While a rule change allowing the State Veterinarian to waive import requirements on a case by case basis may make sense on a test or health certificate being one day past the 60 day requirement or to waive  the CAN brand for cattle coming in the NILE, it also opens the door to other more controversial waivers


It is much easier to give permission than it is to take authority away.  At the January 27th Board of Livestock meeting State Veterinary, Dr. Marty Zaluski offered at Action Item revising the Administrative Rules to give authority to the State Veterinary to waive importation requirements when it does not create a risk to Montana livestock, wildlife or public.  The problem being we don’t always know the future or unintended consequence of such actions.


Board Member, John Scully argued that livestock producers should have the right to present their position and science prior to waiver being made and moved to authorize the proposals with changes to 206 and 2001that would allow such decisions be subject to BOL approval.   The motion died for lack of a second.  There was discussion that ensued and Dr Szymanski offered to wordsmith options so that there would be limits on what could be waived by the State Vet and what would need Board approval. 

Jan French felt that Dr. Zaluski was trust worthy and that micromanagement was not needed. The changes passed with two Board Members opposed.


            (4) The state veterinarian may waive requirements for animals imported into Montana on a case-by-case basis if granting the waiver does not create a threat of disease to livestock or to the public.

(4) remains the same but is renumbered (5).


AUTH: 81-2-102, 81-2-703, 81-2-707, 81-20-101, MCA

IMP: 81-2-102, 81-2-703, 81-20-101, MCA


REASON: The proposed amendment adds language which gives the state veterinarian authority to provide exemptions for import requirements. The citation 81-2-703, MCA, is added and required for importation – exemptions, and 81-2-707, MCA, is added and authorizes department rulemaking power


While the argument can be made that Dr. Marty Zaluski has the educational background to make science based and wise decision, there is also the point that this change gives authority to the State Veterinary position and we do not know who may fill that position in the future.  It would be naive to think that political pressure to look at one sided science or ignore science could not come into play. 

In reviewing the Board of Livestock Procedures and Guidelines, it is found the “Board, as head of the DOL, has the duties and powers of a department head, as provided in Section 2-15-112 MCA.”

 (2) Except as otherwise provided by law, each department head may:
     (a) subject to law, transfer employees between positions, remove persons appointed to positions, and change the duties, titles, and compensation of employees within the department;
     (b) delegate any of the functions vested in the department head to subordinate employees;

Under Chapter III of the Board of Livestock Procedures and Guidelines section 2:


2.  Animal Health Division functions to:

A. Provide coordination of the diagnosis, presentation, control and eradication of animal diseases.

b. Monitor and enforce import/export requirements applied to livestock:

C. Enforce state and federal animal health laws and rules:

(and so on)


Waiving import requirement is contrary to the defined function of the Animal Health Division.


While the Board may be able to “delegate” the functions/ authority, they are not able to rid themselves of the accountability for the decisions made.  A prime example could be made by the budget issues the Department of Livestock is now suffering.  By giving the authority to waive rules pertaining to animal importation to an employee the Board is not upholding their responsibility to the livestock industry and weakening their ability to achieve the mission statement “To control and eradicate animal diseases, prevent the transmission of animal diseases to humans, and to protect the livestock industry from theft and predatory animals.”


There are three separate rule change notices posted for public comment on the Department of Livestock website right now.  You can read these under the “ARM Notices” heading.  The comment period for “Notice 32-15-260 Exemptions Granted by State Veterinarian” ends March 26, 2015, so you will need to jump on these to let them know your point of view.


How do you take action on purposed rules changes?


1. Concerned persons may submit their data, views, or arguments in writing concerning the proposed action to Christian Mackay, Department of Livestock, 301 N. Roberts St., Room 308, P.O. Box 202001, Helena, MT 59620-2001, by faxing to (406) 444-1929, or by e-mailing to to be received no later than 5:00 p.m., March 26, 2015.


2. If persons who are directly affected by the proposed action wish to express their data, views, and arguments orally or in writing at a public hearing, they must make a written request for a hearing and submit this request along with any written comments they have to the same address as above. The written request for hearing must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. March 26, 2015.


3. If the department receives requests for a public hearing on the proposed action from either 10 percent or 25, whichever is less, of the persons who are directly affected by the proposed action; from the appropriate administrative rule review committee of the Legislature; from a governmental subdivision or agency; or from an association having not less than 25 members who will be directly affected, a public hearing will be held at a later date. Notice of the public hearing will be published in the Montana Administrative Register. Ten percent of those persons directly affected has been determined to be more than 25, based upon the approximately 700 veterinarians and approximately 1,500 producers. 


4. The department maintains a list of interested persons who wish to receive notices of rulemaking actions proposed by this agency. Persons who wish to have their name added to the list shall make a written request that includes the name, e-mail, and mailing address of the person to receive notices and specifies for which program the person wishes to receive notices. Notices will be sent by e-mail unless a mailing preference is noted in the request. Such written request may be mailed or delivered to the contact person in 5 above or may be made by completing a request form at any rules hearing held by the department.


5. An electronic copy of this proposal notice is available through the Secretary of State's web site at The Secretary of State strives to make the electronic copy of this notice conform to the official version of the notice, as printed in the Montana Administrative Register, but advises all concerned persons that in the event of a discrepancy between the official printed text of the notice and the electronic version of the notice, only the official printed text will be considered. In addition, although the Secretary of State works to keep its web site accessible at all times, concerned persons should be aware that the web site may be unavailable during some periods, due to system maintenance or technical problems.



Source:  Marias River Livestock Association Post Rider Newsletter

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