On Friday, Governor Steve Bullock signed the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe Water Compact. Governor’s office spokesman Dave Parker described the event as historic and bipartisan.

"It was a historic day for Montana," Parker said. "It has been about 12 years in the making through negotiations. It was passed by the Legislature, the governor signed it today with principal bill sponsor Republican Senator Chas Vincent from Libby and Chairman Vernon Finley, from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe."

Unlike most bills that the governor will sign this year, the CSKT water compact still has another big hoop to jump through as it must also pass the U.S. House and Senate

"The compact with the Blackfeet tribe took about six or seven years in Congress," Parker said. "I think particularly with Senator Jon Tester's commitment pushing this, and also with the other two representatives, Zinke and Daines, I think we can push this forward in a much quicker fashion."

When Bullock signed the bill into law, there was an injunction request still pending that had been filed by a group of Flathead area irrigators. According to Parker, Bullock decided to sign the bill anyway because the lawsuit “lacked merit.”

Governor Bullock issued the following statement immediately after the signing:

“I am honored to sign the CSKT Water Compact into law. It is proof that when we put partisanship aside, work together and seek out solutions, we can tackle the biggest and most complex issues before us,” Bullock said. “This Compact will ensure that we’re living up to our treaty obligations while protecting the interests of Montana’s farmers, ranchers, and businesses.”

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