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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Flathead Water Compact Faces First Committee Vote Friday

Montana Capitol.
William Marcus
Montana Public Radio

On Friday, the Salish-Kootenai water compact faces its first big vote. If the Senate Judiciary Committee advances the bill, it will face the anger of irrigators who say they won’t get as much water. If the lawmakers kill it, thousands of Montanans and municipalities from the Idaho border to as far as Billings will likely face litigation to gain rights to water on or near tribal lands.

Hundreds came for the compact’s hearing Monday, and Republican Senator Chas Vincent, who’s carrying the bill, says he thinks the 5-hour-long committee hearing helped answer some questions. He says he looks forward to having one of the same length, if not longer, in the House.

“And even if a policy-maker votes against it, I want them to be able to tell me why.”

Vincent says he’s confident the bill will pass the Senate and House this session. At least seven of the 12 committee members must vote for the compact before it can be debated on the Senate floor.

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