Thanks to all of you who braved the winter weather and came from great distances to Helena to testify for Senator Jackson’s bill to extend the compact commission, SB265. For those of you unable to be there, here’s a brief summary.
We estimate about 200 people made it to the hearing, and 9 of the 11 counties impacted were represented: Lincoln, Sanders, Missoula, Ravalli, Flathead, Mineral, Powell, and Granite counties. About 100 people testified in support of the compact commission extension, citing many reasons for their support. Other supporters of the bill included Sanders county representatives Senator Jennifer Fielder, and Representative Luke Schwaderer, from Sanders / Mineral County. We wonder where our local representatives Salomon, Taylor and Hertz didn’t do the same. County commissioners from Ravalli county spoke in support of the extension as well.
We were told to not talk about the compact, and to stick with the extension, and people did a pretty good job of it. The testimonies were respectful, and this hearing spoke volumes about the hardworking people from many walks of life who came to express their concerns about this issue. It was an honor to participate.
Because this is a forever document, many just urged time to understand what it will mean, others stressed the fact that it’s still incomplete. It was clear people have done their homework and informed themselves as best they could. All this, in spite of the lack of specific information from the compact commission, “acceptance or litigation” threats, and without any information to really explain what this compact will mean to them personally, or to future generations.
The bill had very few opponents, the tribe’s lobbyist, someone from Trout Unlimited, another from the Clarkfork something or another, and a former legislator from Sanders County.
Informational testimony people included Bill Schultz and Chris Tweeten from the compact commission, as well as John Carter, attorney from the Tribe.
Senator Jackson did an excellent job of introducing the bill, closing, and answering questions from the committee members. It is expected his bill will go to a vote of the house early this week.
Thank you again for your efforts. See you again in Helena when the compact comes up for a hearing!