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Key Montana Dig Law Changes

Key Montana Dig Law Changes

By In Articles On October 5, 2017

Key Montana Dig Law Changes

 to MCA 69-4-5 by HB 365

Dear Excavator or Member,

Below are some of the changes that were initiated by HB365 and changed MCA 69-4-5.

This is an abbreviated summary of the changes.

Underground Facility Protection Advisory Council (HB365, Sections 1 & 2)

  • Consisting of 11 members appointed by the governor.
  • The council is allocated to the department of labor and industry for administrative purposes only.
  • Duty to promote efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and safety.
  • Advise the department in its duty to collect civil penalties.
  • Assist the department in the mediation and resolution of disputed civil penalties

Duties of the Department of Labor and Industry (HB365, Section 3)

  • Assess civil penalties
  • Maintain incident reports
  • Collect fines
  • Collection of annual fees of up to $0.10 per outgoing locate request issued to each individual underground facility owner. Fee based on the number of outgoing locate requests that an underground facility owner received in the previous 12-month period.

Excavators Reporting Damage to Underground Facility (HB365, Section 4)

  • Excavators are required to contact 9-1-1 if damage to an underground facility results in a release of a gas or a hazardous liquid.
  • Excavators are required to report as soon as practicable damage to an underground facility to the underground facility owner. If unable to contact the facility owner, then contact the proper 811 notification

If an excavator damages an underground facility and they are not able to contact the facility owner, the excavator is to contact the 811 call center and report the damage. 


Underground Facilities Damage–Underground Facility Owner Civil Penalites (HB365, Section 6)

  • Except as provided in [section 10(3)], within 14 days of receiving an incident report in accordance with subsection (2), the department shall issue a civil penalty in accordance with this section

Please see HB365, Section 6, for specifics.

Underground Facility Owners Reporting of Incidents (HB365, Section 10)

  • Report the incident to the appropriate notification center

Please see HB365, Section 10 for reporting specifics.

New Agricultural Locate Request (HB365, Section 13)

  • Defines a request based on the perimeter boundary of agricultural field,
  • Involves agricultural activity, or
  • Conducting soil probing or testing.

Agricultural tickets are now available. They will be processed as a regular 2 Business Day Ticket, with the “Work to be done” field, written as “Agricultural Locate”.

Please see HB365 for guidance regarding “Agricultural Locates” contained in the new laws.

Business Day Defined (HB365, Section 13)

  • Clarifies that a business day is from midnight to midnight, Monday through Friday, except Saturday, Sunday, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
  • Clarifies that a holiday is recognized on Friday if it falls on Saturday or on Monday if it falls on a Sunday.

All parties involved with must be aware of the impact of the holidays falling on weekends. Nothing else has changed as with the observed holidays, and we have always used the midnight to midnight time frame as a full business day.

Engineering Locate Request (HB365, Section 13)

Clarifies a request to identify underground facilities for planning and design purposes. Facilities owners now have 5 business days to complete locate marks for engineering locate requests.

Formerly called a Planning & Design Ticket. 

Excavation now does not Include: (HB365, Section 13)
Plowing, cultivating, planting, harvesting or similar agricultural activities in areas cultivated, if the following applies:

  • Within the last 10 years, unless the activities disturb the soil to a depth of 18 inches or more; or
  • Within the last 14 months, to a depth greater than 18 inches or more; unless the activities disturb the soil to a depth of more than 24 inches.

Gardening by homeowners or occupants in a previously established garden area unless the gardening disturbs the soil to a depth of 12 inches or more; or landscaping by homeowners or occupants unless using mechanized equipment or disturbing soil to a depth of 12 inches or more.

Size of Locate Request (HB365, Section 13)
Size is now restricted to:

  • 2 miles long by 1,000 feet wide in a rural area.
  • 2,000 feet long by 300 feet wide within city limits and an area of an authority (see MCA 75-6-304).

Locate Request excavation work period. (HB365, Section 15)

Limited to excavation work intended to start within 10 days and completed within 30 days of the notification. (Except for an agricultural locate request for soil probing or testing).

If an excavation has not occurred within 30 days of the location and marking being completed, the excavator shall request that the underground facility be located and marked again before excavating. (Except as provided in Subsection (9) of HB 365)

If an excavation has not occurred at a site within 30 days of the locate and mark being completed on two occasions and an excavator makes a third request for locate, the excavator is responsible for costs associated with the subsequent location and marking of the underground facility.

Locate Time Frame (HB365, Section 15)
the locate time frame stays the same – two full business days, except for:

  • Engineering locate request – 5 business days
  • Or as soon as practicable if it is an emergency


Note: This is an abbreviated summary of the changes. For more information, please refer to HB365. If you have questions please contact Montana 811 UDig, [email protected] or contact Mark Crowley (FVUCC Board President), [email protected]

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