Why Does Sen. Rick Laible Hate Public Access on Public Waterways?

by jhwygirl


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


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


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

  1. if i were a republican i would be sorely embarrassed and ashamed that any of my kind would have the timerity to propose this legislation. the landed gentry and the aristocrats back in europe privatized hunting and fishing a long time ago. texas and deep south ultra conservatives have made it a private rich only need apply proposition down there. now this sychophant has the gall to attempt to thwart the will of the people and usurp the right of working men and women and our kids access to our streams for fishing. is there no end to the greed and the despicable mean-spiritedness of some of these political boot lickers of the rich. mr liable should hang his head as a traitor to all the values montana sportsfolk hold dear in this state.

  2. MT Republican

    Look, poor people feel so entitled to water. They want to drink it, they want to bathe in it, and in Montana, they think they can swim and fish in it, even if it’s in a river in front of MY HOUSE.

    The nerve.

    Well smart people like James Cox Kennedy have finally stood up to these riff raff people and nerr-do-well commoners who have no respect for all the money we rich people pay for our homes.

    No respect.

    Aren’t the public pools, and YMCA’s good enough? If you really like to fish, you aught to be able to afford your own house on a river way. Fence the shit out of it and keep the dirty commoners out.

    No respect.

    We’re just lucky the Republican party has the foreskin, I mean foresight, to act on behalf or the real estate industry and keep these commoners out!

  3. Actually, problembear, the Magna Carta is one of many historic legal documents that declared public waters and public fisheries open to the public.

    I can dig out something on that for everyone, if ya’all want to be bored to tears.

  4. Big Swede

    My advice to the landowners, culvert and cover the slough. Then pipe water away from the original waterway to privately held and fenced ponds.

    Problem solved.

  5. Illegal. Good think you aren’t a lawyer BS…and if you are, better up that liability insurance.

  6. Big Swede

    Actually, we did this on our ranch north of Big Timber, under the approval of the state, of course.

  7. Did you read the case? The Mitchell is a public waterway. It’s a fishery. It’s navigable. Was yours?

  8. Matthew Koehler

    Perhaps it has to do with the fact that Sen. Laible is a board member of the Big Sky Coalition: Environmentalists with Common Sense…and the founder of that group is none other than Tom Robak, of illegally building your house in the floodway of the West Fork of the Bitterroot fame.

  9. In reversing the District Court ruling in November, the Montana Supreme Court decision said, in part:

    “Under a technical or scientific definition of natural, recreational access under the SAL could be drastically limited. We thus conclude that the District Court’s dictionary-based definition, which essentially requires a pristine river unaffected by humans in order to be deemed “natural,” results in an absurdity: for many Montana waters, the SAL [Stream Access Law] would prohibit the very access it was enacted to provide.”

    Bad bill…bad! Kill it!

  10. Lucky

    Damn! Just when you thought you could take a breather…

    SB314 has been removed from the hearing schedule. Now here come the tournament anglers.

    Keith Bales (R) of Otter has finally got SB425 introduced. This is a bill to “Revise laws governing funding and operation of Fort Peck fish hatchery”. By law, the Fort Peck hatchery is to be run using only funds from the warm water license stamp. Well, they found out that not enough folks were buying the stamp so, Senator Steinbeisser introduced four bills earlier in the session to change the law to steal your tax money and give it to the warm water hatchery. That didn’t work, those bills died a quiet death in committee. The walleye fans won’t let that stop them though. They need more money for their hatchery so, this new bill allows the hatchery to produce “not more than 750,000″ cold water fish. That, of course, makes the hatchery eligible for “…any funding available to the department.” That includes Federal funds that would actually be doing some good for native species in the state. Don’t put down your pen. Write to the members of the Senate Fish and Game committee and stop this attempt to divert funding from all the other hatcheries in the state and other important projects to raise perch in West Dakota.

    Fish and Game
    Meets Tuesdays, Thursdays, 3 p.m., Room 422
    Barkus, Gregory (R) (Ch)
    Brenden, John (R) (V Ch)
    Balyeat, Joe (R)
    Barrett, Debby (R)
    Gallus, Steve (D)
    Jent, Larry (D)
    Schmidt, Trudi (D)
    Shockley, Jim (R)
    Tropila, Joseph (D)

  11. Get_over_it

    Do your homework before you make accusations:

    “…and he’s going to need it for re-election, I suppose…”

    Sen. Laible has reached his term limit and cannot seek reelection.

    • . get what you can- thanks for clarifying -so that would explain why sen liable is perfectly willing to thwart the wishes of the public interest and his own constituents public access to our streams. maybe he needs the lucrative friendship of the few wealthy landowners he is catering to for his retirement nest egg.

      this all makes sense now because it would seem that no reasonable lawmaker would coddle the rich at the expense of the public if he needed to get elected.

      thanks for the input. do come back.

  1. 1 Payday Loan Legislation Needs Your Attention Now « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] in mind, people, that calls and emails really do make a difference. As I noted in this previous post, SB314 has been pulled from schedule committee hearings twice due to mounting opponent pressure to […]

  2. 2 Sen. Laible Goes Mealy-Mouthed on SB314 « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] blogged about SB314 just a few days ago, based on a hat tip from Lucky of The Button Valley […]

  3. 3 Does Public Comment Make a Difference? « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] Saturday, Sen. Rick Liable withdrew his request for SB314. One day, notably, after his piss-poor interview with editor Perry Backus of the Ravalli […]

  4. 4 Today in Legislative Lunacy…. « 4&20 blackbirds

    […] County way did some high-stepping back-tracking when the public found out about his proposal to eliminate public access on the waterways, which essentially tried to undo the Mitchell Slough […]

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