Irrigators Sue Over CSKT Compact, Claim Larger Majority Needed to Pass
Lawsuits against the CSKT Water Compact hit both the Montana Supreme Court and the District Court in Polson on Monday, seeking to stop the bill before Governor Steve Bullock has a chance to sign it. The suit was filed on behalf of the Flathead Joint Board of Control, but it was heralded by Montana Speaker of the House Austin Knudsen.
"The bill grants immunity to the state, and also to the new board that is being set up... immunity from suit," Knudsen said. "According to our State Constitution, that requires a two-thirds vote of the legislature, and that did not happen here. I put that on the record on the House floor. I put that on the record in the rules committee. I basically told people, 'this is what's going to happen, you're going to get sued for violating the Constitution."
Tim Orr is one of the Irrigators represented by the Flathead Board of Control, he claims that his access to water will be reduced by half under the compact and says the lack of a two-thirds vote is an example of Government overreach.
"The Constitution was designed to protect the people from a rogue government, and this deal that happened [at the legislature] last Saturday, was pretty close to being rogue. When they go against a two thirds vote and go to a simple majority to pass something, when it says it right in the Constitution... that tells you something is not right.
The CSKT water compact still has a long way to go. Even if it clears Governor Bullock’s desk, it will still need to make it through both the courts, and the U.S. House and Senate.