Hey savvy news reader! Thanks for choosing local.
You are now reading
1 of 3 free articles.
Subscribe now to stay in the know!
The Montana legislature is considering SB 72, sponsored by Sen. Fitzpatrick. The bill would make significant changes pertaining to “the powers, duties, terms, designations, appointments, operations, and jurisdiction of the Montana Water Court.” It amends MCA 85-2-114, entitled “Judicial Enforcement,” which lists several criteria and processes for water rights administration. However, Section 8 of that statute is not amended. It states, “the provisions of this section do not apply within the exterior boundaries of the Flathead Indian reservation.”
A Lee Newspaper article said the Senate Committee “heard nearly two hours of divided public testimony on the bill.” Obviously, there is great concern in Montana about water rights being justly administered. Ag associations, environmental groups, utility companies, individual farmers and ranchers, the Governor’s office, and the DNRC, sought the ear of legislators to properly represent their interests. This is understandable, since it is a constitutional duty of the state to administer water “for the use of its people...” (Art. IX Sec. 3)
The hypocrisy of many of the associations and individuals that testified on SB 72, along with the bill’s sponsor and the Governor, is glaring. While they clamor to have their interests represented in state gov’t and protected by law, they supported the CSKT water compact, which removed certain state citizens from the same representation which they expect for themselves.
Since taxpaying Montana citizen property owners “within the boundaries of the Flathead Indian reservation” are removed from application of state law pertaining to “judicial enforcement” of their water rights, should I be looking for a bill that removes them from “judicial enforcement” of their tax bill? Or would these unprincipled political pragmatists say that taxation without representation only mattered in 1776?