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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Gov. vetoes funding bill for Lake County law enforcement on the Flathead Reservation

Gov. Greg Gianforte has vetoed a bill that would have funded Lake County’s law enforcement services on the Flathead Reservation.

The bill would have used state money to pay Lake County $5 million for providing law enforcement on the reservation. County officials have argued residents can no longer afford to pay for those services.

Lake County, the state and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) entered into an agreement in the 1960s outlining that the county would provide law enforcement on the reservation.

Lake County commissioners earlier this year withdrew from the agreement, saying that the state is responsible for picking up the work later this year.

Gianforte wrote in his veto letter that when Lake County entered into the 1960 agreement, it “agreed to bear the corresponding costs for the benefit of its residents, both tribal and non-tribal.” Gianforte also said the state isn’t responsible for funding law enforcement on the reservation and pointed out that the county had opposed handing over law enforcement jurisdiction to CSKT in the past.

Tribal officials did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.
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