Our thanks to Mike Taylor for this GREAT letter to the editor.
At least four reasons to fight water compact
By MIKE TAYLOR in Daily Interlake 03/13/15
There is an old saying: Don’t buy a pig in a poke. So what do the Montana power deregulation bill, the Affordable Care Act and the Flathead water compact bill all have in common? Millions of dollars spent to buy votes on both sides of the aisle. And many of the same people who voted for deregulation are now supporting the water compact.
How did that work out for the people of Montana? The Affordable Care Act is so affordable that the sponsor was exiled to China. And now we are told we need to expand Medicaid for 70,000 people in Montana. Who comes up with these numbers?
The good senator from Libby says he has spent hundreds of hours reading the compact bill, and we should lock step behind him and support a private-property-rights taking, the largest in Montana’s history. Let’s go over some of the facts that are being lost in a stampede to pass this bill.
One: water given to the tribes off the reservation will give the tribes and their members access to the private property that the water flows through, without having to gain your permission. The tribe’s able lawyers confirmed this to be so.
Two: the compact gives anyone associated with this bill immunity from legal recourse, and if there is a lawsuit, the state of Montana and the federal government will defend the tribes against all compact lawsuits, of course using your tax dollars.
Three: it sets up five-member board control. Two members appointed by the tribal council, two appointed by the pro-compact governor and one that the first four agree on. Of course if you do not like the board decision, you can appeal in federal court, if you have the money to fight the state and the feds. This compact takes Montanans out of their rights to the Montana water court.
Four: there is no transparency as to where the $55 million, hard-earned Montanan taxpayer money, is used. The sponsor of the bill will tell you it’s going for irrigation upgrades, environment protection, administration, etc. No requirement for accounting. We need to follow the money.
With the water given in the compact and the dam the tribes are buying, there is going to be over a billion dollars going to the tribes in the long run. By the way, language for the dam is in this compact bill also. Of course legislators are told they can’t amend this bill or the compact to make it better for the people of Montana.
The tribes are saying they will file for thousands of water rights if this compact fails. I am sure that many of the great Montanans that helped build this state will be rolling over in their graves, if we pass a bill because of a threat. Not to mention giving back our rights to the federal government to be held in trust for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
By the way, I am an owner of land on the reservation. As a state senator in the 1990s I voted against deregulation on third reading and would vote against the Affordable Care Act and the water compact, if given a chance.
Taylor is a resident of Rollins.