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As the number of days left in the legislative calendar dwindles, state lawmakers in Helena scheduled time for a bill that would ban policies and education connected to a United Nations resolution signed by 170 countries two decades ago.

According to proponents of House Bill 583 who came before the Judiciary Committee on Monday, Agenda 21 is a U.N. plan to abolish private property rights, force urbanization and indoctrinate children in support of a totalitarian regime. The bill would block it.

The sponsor, Republican state Rep. Randall Pinocci of Sun River, said little during the hearing except that Agenda 21 policies had made it impossible to build on his land.

Former Madison County Commissioner Dan Happel of Pony was the bill’s primary proponent. Pinocci referred questions to him.

Holding up a copy of the sustainable development framework written in 1992, Happel explained to lawmakers that the bill would defend state sovereignty.

“Most people don’t understand what Agenda 21 is,” Happel said. “It outlines a socialist plan for a sustainable world in the 21st Century.”

In 1992, 170 heads of state traveled to Rio de Janeiro for a United Nations Earth Summit. There they signed a non-binding resolution as a symbolic step toward collaboration on sustainable development. President George H.W. Bush signed on behalf of the United States.

“Within months cabinet level agencies and U.N. sponsored NGOs started embedding policies of sustainable development into bureaucratic regulations,” Happel said. But it was President Bill Clinton’s council on sustainable development that put Agenda 21 implementation into high gear, he said.

Happel said he and other activists had pushed back the U.N.’s timeline for eliminating non-corporate farming, livestock production, meat consumption, privately owned vehicles and single family homes. It also had a timeline to end most mineral extraction, stop timber harvests, destroy golf courses and resorts, and reduce the human population to 1 billion by 2030.

Mark Perea of Helena said passing the bill would be a historic defense of the U.S. Constitution. Perea is running for governor in 2016 on the GOP ticket. He helped draft the bill along with Happel and Michael Shaw of Aptos, California.

Rachel Carroll-Rivas, co-director of the Montana Human Rights Network, called the bill a reaction to a conspiracy theory promoted by xenophobes.

“One of the very key tenets of the patriot-militia movement is the conspiracy theory around a new world order or one-world governance,” she said. “It is a conspiracy used to incite fear and resentment against people from other nations, other beliefs, and against our federal government.”

The U.N. is not trying to take over Montana towns and cities, she said.

Happel and Pinocci said they were not members of a militia.

History teacher John Eck, whose daughter Democratic Rep. Jenny Eck of Helena is on the committee, also opposed the bill. He called Happel’s argument a lazy, “cherry-picked” screed.

“If I were to say Hitler instituted the development of the Autobahn highway system, therefore the U.S. interstate highway system, is a Nazi activity, this is the kind of thinking I just heard,” Eck said.

The bill passed committee and will be voted on on the House floor Tuesday.

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Troy Carter can be reached at 582-2630 or tcarter@dailychronicle.com. He’s on Twitter at @cartertroy.

Locations

Troy Carter covers politics and county government for the Chronicle.

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