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Montana county complains about costs of policing the reservation

A sign on the Flathead Reservation in Montana. Photo: J. Stephen Conn

A Montana county says Public Law 280 isn't working out anymore.

The termination-era law granted authority to the state to prosecute crimes on the Flathead Reservation, the home of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Decades later, officials in Lake County says it's too expensive to carry out those duties.

“The feds get the benefit of the bargain, but the local taxpayers are footing the bill," county deputy attorney Wally Congdon told Courthouse News Service.

According to news reports, the county spends $1.85 million a year on reservation crime. A bill that was introduced in the Montana Legislature would have required the state to reimburse the county for those costs.

The bill was killed by a unanimous vote last Friday at the request of its sponsor, The Missoulian reported. Rep. Greg Hertz (R), whose district includes parts of the reservation, said he was trying to start dialogue about the issue.

Read More on the Story:
Cost of Tribal Crime Has Montana County Struggling (Courthouse News Service 3/1)
Polson lawmaker introduces, then kills tribal law enforcement bill (The Daily Inter Lake 2/27)
County-tribal law enforcement agreement could see changes (The Daily Inter Lake 2/21)
Montana county wants state to pay $1.85 million it spends to prosecute tribal felonies (The Missoulian 2/21)
Lake County charges toward Public Law 280 withdrawal; Tribal Law Enforcement says Good Idea (The Char-Koosta News 2/2)