CSKT Water Compact Continues to Move Through Process, to House Floor


April 13, 2015

Shelby DeMars

CSKT Water Compact Continues to Move Through Process, to House Floor

(Helena, Mont.)—After a long Saturday hearing where hundreds of water users from across the state attended to voice their support of the Compact, SB 262 was scheduled for Executive Action and a vote by the House Judiciary Committee this morning.

The Committee voted to adversely report SB 262 by an 11-10 vote after several hours of proposed amendments intended to upend the decades of negotiations that went in to the agreement to define the federally reserved water rights of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CSKT).

“It’s disappointing to see the members of the House Judiciary Committee vote against the Compact and the farmers, ranchers, and irrigators that it would support,” said Montana Farm Bureau Federation spokesperson Chelcie Cremer. “The Compact ensures water right certainty for members of the agriculture industry, and without it Montana’s individual water users will be the ones to bear the cost.”

SB 262 was then addressed on the House floor today when Rep. Bennett moved to adopt the recommendation of House Judiciary Committee, the adverse committee report, indicating that the committee recommended a ‘do not pass’ to the entire House body.

House Minority Leader, Rep. Chuck Hunter objected, Speaker Knudsen then overruled Hunter’s objection, which was then appealed to the House Rules Committee, which will hear the objection at 11 am tomorrow.

“We’re confident that the House will do what is right for their constituents and for water users across Montana by passing the Compact,” said Shelby DeMars, spokesperson for Farmers And Ranchers for Montana. “The Compact has undergone years of negotiations and stakeholder input—it is truly the best deal for our state and will make Montana stronger. Those who oppose SB 262 are not only doing a disservice to their constituents, but to the people of Montana.”

It is anticipated that once the House Rules Committee makes a ruling, it will be reported to the full House and further action will be taken by the full House membership. It is expected that the House Rules Committee will release a ruling after their meeting tomorrow, April 14th, 2015.

Farmers And Ranchers for Montana (FARM) is a coalition of hundreds of farmers and ranchers, united with local leaders, tribal governments, businesses, water-users, and other Montanans who support the approval of a Water Compact.

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