Battle Over Water Heats Up In Montana
(And some people are boiling mad!)
A couple of legislative sessions ago, Montana State Senator Mr. Chas Vincent carried a bill into the Montana legislature that delivered a contract between the Confederated Salish and the Kootenai Tribes. That legislation in 2015 brought lawyers from across the country to get “a piece of the pie” for each side of the Water Compact.
Many citizens of Montana called foul on the compact, based on concerns that the compact violates the Constitution of Montana. Under laws since Montana became a state in the Union, agreements were initiated and made. Those agreements worked their way through the constitutional process but were not properly adopted by the citizens of Montana, according to Republican Senator AL Olszewski.
Senator Olszewski has entered the 2020 race for the Governor of Montana. He has been a staunch conservative who has been working to protect property rights in Montana, according to many citizens across Montana. Mr. Olszewski is a military veteran and a practicing orthopedic surgeon in Kalispell.
Senator Olszewski has told the citizens of Montana that he will continue to fight for the people of Montana. Senator Steve Daines and Senator Jon Tester have introduced a bill in Congress that will finalize the contract. Senator Olszewski advised the citizens of Montana that he hopes the federal legislation will be pulled by Montana’s senators.
If the legislation is pulled from Congress, the compact can be brought back to the Montana legislature to review the constitutional issues in question. Randy Pinocci stated that if the legislation comes back to Montana, there is a high likelihood that the contract will be pushed into litigation. In that event there is a chance the people of Montana will lose more. Mr. Pinocci, who served in the Montana Legislature, is currently serving as a Montana Public Service Commissioner.
The federal legislation will provide reparations to the tribes to the tune of $1.9 billion dollars. If passed, Lake and Sanders counties will get an additional $10 million to help replace lost infrastructure, in addition to processing over 10,000 pending claims in Montana’s water court.
In the event that the deals brokered behind the scenes are broken, this case will likely go to court. It was stated a long time ago that “Whiskey is for drinking and water is for fighting!” The battle in Montana continues.
Don Bradway contributed to this article.
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