Senate passes bill requiring the state to fund law enforcement on the Flathead Reservation
A bill that would require the state to pay for the cost of law enforcement services on the Flathead Reservation passed through the state Senate Thursday.
In the 1960s, Lake County agreed to provide law enforcement services on behalf of the state across the Flathead Reservation, but county officials earlier this year pulled out of that agreement saying that county taxpayers can no longer foot the bill, estimated at nearly $5 million annually.
Senate Bill 127 would require the state to negotiate funding for law enforcement on the reservation with Lake County every other year. If the parties do not come to an agreement, the state would then be responsible for law enforcement services.
Lake County commissioners and officials spoke in favor of the bill last month. They say it would be more costly for the state to hire officers and build local infrastructure than to pay the county to do the work.
The Legislature passed a bill last session paving the way for the state to pay Lake County for its law enforcement services, but did not appropriate any funds. The bill requiring the state to fund those services now moves to the House for consideration.