Flathead Water Rights Compact

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.

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

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.

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
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.

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
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.

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
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
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.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk", tax cut bills are getting a lot of attention at the Montana Legislature this session. One legislator, Nicholas Schwaderer of Superior, introduced a bill that would put income tax cuts up to a vote via referendum. The bill drew bipartisan opposition during its hearing in the House. Schwaderer defended the bill saying, "taxation of income is theft."

Tax cuts could face vetoes from Gov. Bullock, who is intent on keeping at least a $300 million surplus.

Flickr user Brad Smith (CC-BY-NC-2.0)

Some of Montana’s most influential agriculture organizations are lining up to support the Flathead water compact.

Yesterday the Montana Stockgrowers Association said it endorses the compact, which is a negotiated settlement between state and federal government and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Right now, ownership of water on the reservation is disputed, and the compact is an attempt to codify who owns and controls the water without having to go to court.

Chuck Johnson, Sally Mauk and Mike Dennison
Eliza Wiley

This week on "Capitol Talk:" disagreement over how much money to spend and what to spend it on is at the core of many political disputes at the Montana Legislature.

Both parties agree on the need to improve mental health services, but that's where the agreement ends.

The conflict over state employee pay continues from the last legislative session.

Lake County Democrats and the county’s Republican Women’s group are getting together to learn about the Flathead water compact at the end of the month.

The event happens Thursday January 29th, 7:00 p.m. at Salish Kootenai College in Pablo.

An attorney from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes will present on the negotiated water settlement currently before the Montana legislature. An attorney for State of Montana will be on had to answer questions.

Eric Whitney

 Tonight in Helena Montana’s Reserved Water Rights Commission meets, and is expected to approve a huge water rights settlement between the state, the Confederated Salish and Kootnai Tribes and the federal government.

 

Negotiating teams for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the State of Montana, and the United States today released a revised draft of a proposed water right compact.

You can view the draft water compact here.

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