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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Flathead Water Compact Mired In Debate Over Rules

The Capitol dome in Helena, MT.
William Marcus
Montana Public Radio

The proposed Flathead Water Compact will come up for a vote in the Montana House Wednesday, but as MTPR Capitol Reporter Steve Jess reports, opponents are trying to put up another roadblock to prevent its passage.

Hours after winning one procedural fight and “blasting” the controversial water compact to the House floor for a vote Wednesday, backers face another challenge from conservative opponents, who now say it needs a super-majority to pass the House.

Speaker Austin Knudsen ruled in the opponents’ favor.

“It’s my interpretation that the bill, Senate Bill 262, does purport to give immunity from suit to the state of Montana; therefore it is my ruling that this bill requires a two-thirds vote."

Democratic leader Chuck Hunter disagrees. He says it only needs a simple majority, and he claims the state attorney general, and history, are on his side.

"I think these water compacts, how many of them have been ratified before?  Many. Have they ever required more than a majority vote?  I don’t believe so."

The House rules committee will vote on the matter tomorrow morning. So far this session the full House has overturned every decision from the rules committee. The Senate has already passed the compact bill.

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