MTPR

Flathead Water Rights Compact

Flathead irrigators are appealing to the State Supreme Court in a legal battle to overturn the state’s water compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
David Wiley (CC-BY-2)

Flathead irrigators are appealing to the State Supreme Court in a legal battle to overturn the state’s water compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

Flathead irrigators are appealing to the State Supreme Court in a legal battle to overturn the state’s water compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
David Wiley (CC-BY-2)

The controversial Flathead Water Compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes remains largely intact following a judge’s ruling Wednesday that part of the water rights agreement is unconstitutional.

Judge James Manley today ruled the portion of the water compact unconstitutional that protects members of a yet-to-be-created water compact board from being sued.
Flickr user Brad Smith (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

A district court judge is declaring wins for both the Flathead Valley irrigators who sued to overturn the water compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and the state of Montana that’s defending the compact after it passed the state legislature last year.

Judge James Manley today ruled the portion of the water compact unconstitutional that protects members of a yet-to-be-created water compact board from being sued.
Flickr user Brad Smith (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes were encouraged by the first U.S. Senate hearing of their water compact settlement with the State of Montana. Senator Jon Tester introduced the legislation to Congress last month.

CSKT Chairman Vernon Finley urged the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs to accept the compact.
U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee

At the first U.S. Senate hearing for the water compact with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes today, federal officials said it looks expensive, and needs more analysis. Tribal leaders testified as well.

The water compact narrowly passed in Montana’s last legislative session and now it must be affirmed by the U.S. Congress.

Judge James Manley today ruled the portion of the water compact unconstitutional that protects members of a yet-to-be-created water compact board from being sued.
Flickr user Brad Smith (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

Senator Jon Tester Thursday introduced the Flathead water compact in Congress. This is Montana’s final tribal water rights agreement, and has proven the most contentious.

Without water, we perish. For 30 years, the Confederated Salish-Kootenai Tribes and the state of Montana have disagreed about tribal water right claims. But this year the legislature approved a comprehensive water rights agreement. Melissa Hornbein was one of the lead attorneys in the negotiations, working for Montana DNRC and the Montana Reserved Water Rights Commission. Hornbein talks with Brian Kahn about the legal and emotional challenges of negotiating the Flathead water compact.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

On the final "Capitol Talk" of the 2015 session, Sally, Chuck, and Mike talk about the death of the infrastructure bill, the session's winners and losers, and how the outcome might affect the 2016 election.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk": The Flathead water compact and "dark money" disclosure bills are on their way to the Governor's desk. Work remains on the state budget, the pay plan, and infrastructure funding bill. Will the legislature adjourn early? Sally, Chuck, and Mike bring you up to speed on this week at the legislature.

House Narrowly Approves Flathead Water Compact

Apr 15, 2015

Wednesday afternoon the Montana House narrowly approved the Flathead Reservation Water Compact after more than three hours of debate on the House floor.

Flathead Water Compact Mired In Debate Over Rules

Apr 14, 2015
Montana Capitol dome, Helena.
William Marcus

The proposed Flathead Water Compact will come up for a vote in the Montana House Wednesday, but as MTPR Capitol Reporter Steve Jess reports, opponents are trying to put up another roadblock to prevent its passage.

Judge James Manley today ruled the portion of the water compact unconstitutional that protects members of a yet-to-be-created water compact board from being sued.
Flickr user Brad Smith (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

The contentious Flathead Reservation water compact appears to be taking the same convoluted path to the House floor as the Medicaid expansion bill did last week.

Flickr, Peggy2012CREATIVELENZ

The Montana State Capitol was bustling with activity Saturday, as literal busloads of people arrived from the Flathead Valley to weigh in on the controversial Flathead Reservation compact that will settle tribal water rights and determine how much water farmers and ranchers of that region will receive in future years.

Flathead Water Compact On Saturday's Legislative Agenda

Apr 10, 2015
Montana capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

The Montana Legislature is holding a special weekend hearing Saturday for the hundreds expected to come to speak their mind on the Salish Kootenai water compact. If passed, the compact would outline water rights on and around the Flathead Reservation.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk": The bitter fight in the House over Medicaid expansion, the state budget fights yet to come, the Flathead water compact's chances for passage, and the legacy of former Governor Tim Babcock, who passed away this week.

The controversy over the water compact for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes continued this week when the head of the Flathead County Republicans alleged that groups supporting the compact failed to fully disclose their lobbying activities.

Montana Legislative News Roundup

Apr 3, 2015
Montana Senate.
William Marcus

The Montana Legislature is taking a spring break through Monday as it prepares for its final four weeks of work. MTPR Capitol Reporter Steve Jess has a look at what lawmakers have done so far.

Tax Breaks For Private School Tuition On Next Week's Legislative Agenda

Apr 1, 2015
Montana Capitol dome, Helena.
William Marcus

Legislators head into an early spring break April 2, but will be back next week to hear some of the most contentious bills including the Salish Kootenai Water Compact, Medicaid expansion and tax breaks.

Sonia Narang

In celebration of International Women's Day and Women's History Month 2015, Beth Judy and Ann Szalda-Petree produced what Ann calls an hour-long "docu-drama." It's about about access to justice,  health care, education and political power, but also about why we often don't hear about the lives of women, whether they live in far-flung parts of the world or in our own backyard.

Montana Republicans Divided Over Open Primaries

Mar 18, 2015
Michael Wright - UM Community News Service

Rep. Steve Fitzpatrick, the tall, bespectacled Republican from Great Falls, stood up on the House floor in late February and explained his bill that would allow local political party officers to be appointed by the state party instead of elected in primary elections.

But the bill was about something bigger, Montana’s century-old open primary law.

“It’s really a fundamental question with this bill,” Fitzpatrick said. “Do you believe in open primaries or do you believe in closed primaries?”

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on Capitol Talk: Sally, Mike and Chuck look back at the week's events at the Montana Legislature, from the Flathead water compact, to dark money, to the death of the death penalty repeal.

Lawmakers Say Much Work Remains As Legislature Reaches Half-Way Point

Feb 27, 2015
Michael Wright - Community News Service

The Montana Legislature is at the half-way point of the scheduled 90-day session.

It’s more than just the numerical half-way point; it’s a key legislative deadline. All non-spending or non-tax bills had to meet the Day 45 deadline of being transmitted to the other chamber or they died.

Lawmakers will now have nearly a week off before they return to the Capitol to resume their work.

Yellowstone Public Radio’s Jackie Yamanaka talked to legislative leaders and the governor about the progress so far, and what lies ahead.

Flathead Compact Survives The Senate

Feb 25, 2015
Montana Senate.
William Marcus

Supporters of the proposed Flathead Water Compact, involving the state, the federal government, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have a victory to celebrate. The compact, one of the most contentious issues of the current Legislative session not only survived a debate and vote in the Montana Senate, but did so with a sizable margin.

Montana Legislature

The  Flathead Water Compact working its way through the Montana Legislature was briefly killed today, but quickly brought back to life.

Because the massive water-rights agreement contains $8 million for canal system upgrades, the bill was routed to the Senate finance Committee. There, Dayton Republican Janna Taylor tried to amend it to add financial accountability.

The Sponsor Republican Chas Vincent, saw ulterior motives.

The Montana Legislature took a step toward ratifying the state’s final outstanding water compact this morning, with a vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee. The compact involving the federal government and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes has drawn more heated debate than any issue except perhaps Medicaid expansion. 

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk": The Flathead water rights compact passes out of committee. A bill intended to "shine sunlight on dark money" is making its way through the process. Lawmakers heard testimony on one part of the GOP healthcare plan. And next Friday is the bill transmittal deadline and halfway point of the session

Flathead Water Compact Faces First Committee Vote Friday

Feb 19, 2015
Montana capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

On Friday, the Salish-Kootenai water compact faces its first big vote. If the Senate Judiciary Committee advances the bill, it will face the anger of irrigators who say they won’t get as much water.

Eric Whitney

On the calendar it may have been Presidents Day, but for the Senate Judiciary Committee, Monday was no holiday.

Flathead Water Compact On Monday's Legislative Agenda

Feb 13, 2015
Montana capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

Monday, the Montana legislature will hear the bill to pass the Salish-Kootenai water compact, essentially mapping out water rights for the Flathead reservation and surrounding area. The bill’s sponsor is Republican Senator Chas Vincent of Libby, who was the compact’s opposition last session. He says, even amid death threats, he believes this year’s compact is better and absolutely necessary to ensure Montana keeps it’s water.

Steve Jess

This past weekend, about 40 of Montana’s state legislators did something unusual. After a very busy week, they stuck around when they could have gone home.

They spent close to three hours on a Saturday morning in the old Supreme Court chamber of the capitol, at the invitation of Republican Senator Chas Vincent of Libby.

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