Archive for February 10th, 2009

by jhwygirl

Or:

Why does Sen. Rick Laible kowtow to rich out-of-state landowners?

Or:

Why doesn’t Sen. Rick Laible support his constituents?

Or:

Why does Sen. Rick Laible hate our Supreme Court?

Sen. Rick Laible represents Senate District 44, which is the greater part of Ravalli County, where the Bitterroot River runs through it.

You know – the Bitterroot River and the Mitchell Slough – the basis for the recent Montana Supreme Court ruling which affirmed (amongst other things) the right of the citizens of Montana to access natural waterways which carry state waters.

Sen. Laible has brought forward SB314, which would seek to backtrack on the recent supreme court ruling that confirmed the Mitchell Slough – known as the St. Mary’s Fork of the Bitterroot River around the time of statehood – was a natural stream.

Opponents – landowners bank rolled and lawyered up by Marnell Carrao Associates, owners of the Double Fork Ranch; Huey Lewis; Bitterroot Springs Ranch, owned by Ken and Judy Siebel; and the Tucker Crossing Ranch, owned by Charles Schwab – argued the Mitchell was no longer “natural” because of the man-made influences that had been placed upon it, including an irrigation headgate which controlled water into the 15 mile long waterway.

The court disagreed, saying that if all Montana streams were held to such a standard for determination for being a natural waterway, there would be few if any that would be natural, and therefore open to public access.

So Senator Laible, apparently, wants to help out the rich out-of-state landowners who hold the Mitchell in their grasps…they’ve got $$$$, afterall – and he’s going to need it for re-election, I suppose. Give them one last legislative chance before they throw out their Hail Mary and appeal to the Supreme Court.

And whether that court would take it is a whole other matter of speculation, now, isn’t it?

Laible should be ashamed. Instead he’s trying to figure out how to pull it off. He’s had it pulled from the Senate Natural Resources schedule twice already – but he’s yet to fully withdraw it. Republicans on the committee are “on the fence,” despite huge opposition already flowing into the committee.

Senator Wanzenried, from Missoula, has assured opponents to the bill that he intends to vote “NO”.

You know – this is sad. Public access to our waterways, and the laws behind it, have been confirmed by our Supreme Court. This should not be a Republican v Democrat issue, but it apparently is, as Laible and friends continue to work behind the scenes to maneuver a way to get SB314 through committee and out to the floor.

Let’s make that a cold day in Hell, shall we?

Take the time to contact all the committee members of the Senate Natural Resources committee and tell them to vote “NO” to SB314. Tell them that Montana citizens have a right to access public waterways. Tell them that trying to redefine natural streams isn’t the right thing to do. Contact Senator Laible, too – and ask him why he doesn’t support public access on public waterways – and tell him that if he did, he’d withdraw SB314.

Kelly Gebhardt (R) (Ch) gebby@midrivers.com
Debby Barrett (R) (V Ch) grt3177@smtel.com
Aubyn Curtiss (R) aubyna@interbel.net
Ken Hansen (D) hansen_kenneth@email.com
Christine Kaufmann (D) kaufmann@mt.net
Jim Keane (D) (you need to use the online form to contact him)
Gary Perry (R) perrysd35@aol.com
Jim Peterson (R) jpranch@mtintouch.net
Donald Steinbeisser (R) donstein@midrivers.com
Mitch Tropila (D) tropila@mt.net
David Wanzenried (D) daveew@gmail.com

You can also call the Session Information Desk at 406-444-4800 to leave a message for as many as five legislators or one legislative committee per call. Your message will be delivered directly to the legislators. The TTY (Telephone Device for the Deaf) number is 406-444-4462. The Session Information Desk opens at 7:30 a.m., and closes at 5 p.m.

And here I almost forgot..

Rick Laible (R), Sponsor of SB314 – ricklaible@aol.com

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