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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Lake County will continue policing Flathead Reservation while funding lawsuit advances

Lake County commissioners delayed a decision Thursday about whether to stop county law-enforcement work on the Flathead Reservation. The delay comes as the county waits for a court to weigh in.

Lake County commissioners pushed back the effective date for a resolution that would have stopped law enforcement services on the Flathead Reservation this week. Commissioners say the county will continue policing the reservation while a court case to determine whether the county or state is financially responsible for that work plays out. The county filed that lawsuit last year.

Gov. Greg Gianforte recently vetoed a bill to pay Lake County $5 million over the next two years, arguing the state isn’t responsible for paying for law enforcement on the reservation.

Lake County, the state and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) entered into an agreement in the 1960s giving the county police jurisdiction, but it’s long been a question of who pays for those services.

The CSKT have repeatedly declined to comment on the issue.

The Lake County district court could make a ruling on the case this summer.

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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