NewsMontana Legislature


Lake County law enforcement funding proposal passes Montana Legislature

PL 280
Posted at 5:19 PM, May 02, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-02 19:19:42-04

POLSON - A proposal to have the state contribute funding to support Lake County’s law enforcement services on the Flathead Indian Reservation, has passed the state legislature.

The arrangement — the only one of its kind in Montana — is based on an agreement between the state and federal governments and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT).

The agreement is based on Public Law 280.

Lake County has investigated and prosecuted felony cases involving Native Americans on the Reservation since the 1960s.

Under House Bill 479, Lake County will receive $2.5 million annually in funding for the next two years. A task force will also be created to help find a long-term solution for funding.

That task force will include a representative from the Governor’s office, presiding officers from CSKT and the Lake County Commissioners Office and a representative of the attorney general.

Lake County Commissioner Chairman Gale Decker hopes the task force finds a long-term solution for continuing funding for law enforcement.

"Hopefully during this two years we will get everyone that’s on this task force to really understand the uniqueness of Public Law 280 here on the Flathead Reservation, valuable we see it here, you know as a law enforcement tool," said Decker.

The bill will now be sent to Gov. Greg Gianforte’s desk for final approval.