Senator Verdell Jackson from Kalispell has introduced a bill into the Montana Legislature to extend the Compact Commission another two years.  It was passed in the Senate on 02/27/13, by a margin of 31 to 19, and is now headed to the House for consideration.

Considering the fact that the commission is asking legislators to vote on an incomplete document, contingent upon the irrigator agreement being inserted at a later time, and the fact that these documents truly are not ready for prime time, we think it’s reasonable to slow down, and take some time to really understand what’s in this FOREVER DOCUMENT.  There simply is too much at stake to do otherwise.

Senator Jackson’s bill is headed to the House Natural Resources Committe where a hearing is scheduled on Friday March 22nd at 3:00 p.m.  in Room 172.  Please let your friends and neighbors know about this bill, and ask them to support it by heading to Helena to testify for it, and by calling members of the Natural Resources Committee to let them know you support it.

Committee information can be found at this link.

Here’s another bit of background information you might find helpful:

At a compact commission meeting in Helena on August 2, 2012, the commission discussed the fact that the commission had submitted 5 bills to the EQC Environmental Quality Council for consideration to be put on the track for the 2013 Montana Legislature:

1.  Charles M Russell Compact
2.  Upper Missouri River Breaks Compact
3,  CSKT Compact
4.  Sunset of the Compact Commission
5.  An appropriations bill related to previously ratified compacts

The EQC approved 1, 2, and 5, but not the CSKT Compact or the Sunset of the Compact Commission.  While we cannot know for sure, and the compact commission was uncomfortable discussing it in front us, we believe this is because even the EQC realized that the compact wasn’t close to being ready to go to the legislature.  Unfortunately in their haste to get the compact done and to allow the commission to sunset, they have decided to ram the compact through without taking time to assess its far reaching implications into our economy, property values, impacts on agriculture, and Montana’s future.

Why the rush?  Is it because the commission knows the product of their 10 or more years of negotiation will not stand public scrutiny and the light of day?  We say the answer to that question is undoubtedly a resounding YES.  They won’t even tell us what the tribe’s quantified water right actually is and instead refer the public to 1,000 or so pages of water abstracts, many of which don’t even have an amount of water associated with them.