IMPORTANT NOTICE: THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE HEARING FOR DAN SALOMON’S BILL HAS BEEN CHANGED TO 11:00 A.M. TUESDAY APRIL 2, 2013. ROOM 102.

NOTE: The Legislative Website for the Bill says the hearing is at 3:00 but we confirmed with Representative Ankney, the chair of the Appropriations Committee, they are meeting at 11:00 a.m.

WATER RIGHTS NOTIFICATION: Talking points for legislators re: Dan Salomon’s Bill & Potential Blast Motions to Floor Importance: High There are two important issues upcoming both this week and in upcoming weeks of the 2013 legislative session related to the illegal and unconstitutional CSKT Water Compact for which we are requesting your help. Dan Salomon’s Bill: “Implementing Tribal Water Compact”, HB Hearing Tuesday, April 2, 2013, at 3 pm before the House Appropriations Committee Contact vial email and/or phone: House Appropriation Committee Members to kill this bill.

Contact Representative Dan Salomon and Senator Chas Vincent to express your disappointment and displeasure with this bill.

The Bill: The stated purpose of this bill is ‘to find a way for the 2015 MT State Legislature to ‘approve’ and ‘study’ the CSKT Compact while providing $12 million in funding which is distributed to the Tribes and the Flathead Joint Board of Control. The bill provides a means to start implementing the FIP Water Use Agreement which was ruled an unconstitutional taking of property rights in February 2013 and is still in litigation. The bill is a blatant attempt to ‘appease’ the CSKT with $8 million dollars for unspecified habitat improvements. While the bill purports to ‘study’ the compact, it is a transparent attempt to give the public an appearance of examination of the Compact.

Make no mistake: the bill sponsors believe that the current CSKT Compact is just fine and plan to kick the can down the road to 2015 in an attempt to wear down the public while not changing one item in the existing Compact. IMPORTANT NOTICE: At the hearing on the Compact held on Wednesday, March 27, 2013, Chris Tweeten stated that the FIP Water Use Agreement is irrelevant to the Compact. In other words, the Compact can go through without the FIP water use agreement. This concerns us because we see no specific deadline for approval of a FIP agreement within HB629, and the parties have openly discussed alternative agreements to the FIP agreement. Despite a major element of the Compact being ruled unconstitutional, the Compact Commission has come up with a ‘work around’—ignore the FIP agreement.

Why this matters: In the current Compact, the Tribes assert ownership of all the water, so they will just implement their plan regardless of the irrigation community’s existing, verified state-based water rights. This is extremely dangerous!

Proposed Talking Points on why the bill should be rejected by the House Appropriations Committee:

  1. Thousands of people have contacted the MT legislature to oppose the CSKT Compact, and hundreds of people have traveled to Helena in the last three weeks alone to testify against it. The House Appropriations Committee has no right to ignore public comment, outrage, and opposition to the Compact by passing a bill that plans no new changes in the Compact.
  2. The Compact negotiations have failed to produce a workable Compact. This bill rewards failed negotiations and no taxpayer money should be spent until a workable Compact is produced.
  3. Senator Verdell Jackson’s Bill (SB 265) was introduced to extend the Compact Commission to provide adequate time and resources to truly study and resolve the current problems with the Compact. Representative Salomon’s bill will provide no such opportunity for Montana.
  4. Representative Salomon’s bill ignores public comment and assumes the current Compact is fine as it is. The Compact jeopardizes the water and land rights of eleven counties in Northwest Montana and is NOT acceptable
  5. The Montana Legislature has no right to spend taxpayer money to implement any compact before it is passed.

Blast Motions to the Floor: We have been advised that there are current plans to try THREE OPPORTUNITIES to blast motion the Compact to the floor of the House of Representatives. We are not sure when this is going to happen but it is important to contact legislators across Montana to vote against the blast motion to the floor, and if it gets to the floor, to vote against the Compact.

Here are a few talking points/letter points for your use:

  1. Public opinion is OVERWHELMINGLY AGAINST the CSKT Compact.
  2. The Compact is not complete—major portions of the Compact have been ruled unconstitutional
  3. Under the Compact, the State reneged on its constitutional responsibility to manage state citizens water rights and has withdrawn its protection for 23,000 state-based water users on the reservation.
  4. The Compact proposes to put every state citizen who lives in Sanders, Lake, and Missoula Counties under Tribal jurisdiction
  5. The Compact illegally asserts that the Tribes have water rights off the reservation. These water rights will close basins in Montana and will stop future growth and development.

Please see our previous emails for other potential talking points.

PLEASE URGE YOUR LEGISLATORS, NEIGHBORS, COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, BUSINESS LEADERS, AND CITIZENS TO OPPOSE THE CSKT COMPACT AND DEMAND THAT LEGISLATORS HONOR EXTENSIVE PUBLIC OPINION AND HONOR THEIR OATH OF OFFICE TO PROTECT AND UPHOLD MONTANA’S CONSTITUTION.

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