© 2015 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana

It’s hard to understand exactly why our state is more than willing to dive off of a cliff, taking its citizens along for the ride.  Sadly however, we are all standing at the edge of that cliff this morning.

Let us try to cover the events of the last two days:

On Monday, the House Judiciary Committee amended SB262 with several changes such as removing all off reservation water rights, and others.  The UMO was not amended.  The bill was then sent out of committee with a recommendation for “Do Not Pass”, which under the old house rules would have required at least 60 of 100 House members to overturn that action.

House MINORITY leader Chuck Hunter, speaking for the democrat / RINO coalition in the house, objected because the compact is one of the democrat’s 6 “silver bullets”.  (If you recall earlier this year, this same coalition joined together to change the house rules to allow each party six silver bullets that would require just a simple majority of the House to blast a bill to the floor).

Speaker Knudsen overruled the objection, and Hunter appealed to the Rules Committee, which met Tuesday morning and ruled in favor of Speaker Knudsen. However Tuesday afternoon, Hunter objected to that ruling and the house overturned the Rules Committee action with a simple majority.

We have been dealing with this pattern for the last week.  They overturned the Rules Committee with a vote of 52 – 48.

Then Hunter motioned to move SB262 out of the Judiciary Committee to the house floor for its second reading Wednesday afternoon, and house members voted 52-48 to support that motion. It is unknown at this time if the bill will move to the floor with or without the amendments added in committee, but we think it will be without the committee amendments. 

Many of you know that this is the same path that was taken with the Medicaid expansion bill.

Representative Lee Randall, Speaker Pro Tempore, then requested Speaker Knudsen to interpret house rules on the requirement for a 2/3 vote of both houses on Senate Bill 262.

Randall referenced Article II Section 18 of the Constitution:  “The state, counties, cities, towns and all other local governmental entities shall have no immunity from suit for injury to a person or property, except as may be specifically provided by law by a 2/3 vote of each house of the legislature.”

He then referenced Page 46, lines 20-24 of SB262:  “Waiver of Immunity. The Tribes and the State hereby waive their respective immunities from suit, including any defense the State shall have under the Eleventh Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, in order to permit the resolution of disputes under the Compact by the Board, and the appeal or judicial enforcement of Board decisions as provided herein, except that such waivers of sovereign immunity by the Tribes or the State shall not extend to any action for money damages, costs, or attorneys’ fees.” 

Speaker Knudsen ruled that based upon this information, SB262 would require a 2/3 vote of each house.

Hunter responded saying that the Attorney General had already weighed in on this issue and there was not a problem, but in light of the speaker’s ruling, he was objecting to the ruling of the Speaker.  The House then voted 52-48 to overrule the Speaker’s ruling.  The issue now goes to the rules committee tomorrow morning for a vote.

Anyone want to guess what will happen on the floor Wednesday afternoon?

The People’s House has become a circus, the rule book has been thrown out the window along with the United States and Montana Constitutions.  What we are seeing is mob rule and why our founders had set up a representative republic, not the “democracy” of a simple majority that clearly is able to subvert the will of the people to the benefit of someone like Steve Bullock

The interests pushing this compact down the throats of western Montanans are willing to do so no matter what the cost.  They clearly have no qualms about creating chaos and breaking any and every rule that gets in their way in order to accomplish their objective of passing the compact. 

Is this really how the state of Montana wants to pass a forever document, by cramming it down on its citizens?

It seems that Dan Salomon and Bruce Tutvedt were true to their word about getting rid of the “60 vote problem in the house”.  We are grateful to have this documented from the CSKT tribal council minutes.

Please continue to contact legislators to stop SB262. 

Also pray for those in the House and Senate who have shown great leadership and continue to try to stop the compact.

We will follow up with another update tomorrow afternoon after the house floor session.