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Montana’s days of partisan balance in interim committees could soon come to an end.
While the GOP wants more power between legislative sessions, there was wide support to leave one committee — that’s the liaison between the state and tribal nations — unchanged.
Montana Public Radio’s Ellis Juhlin has more.
Senate Bill 176, which has already passed through the Senate, would restructure interim committees to have more members from the majority party.
It passed an initial House vote closely along party lines Tuesday.
Representative Amy Regier from Kalispell, says this change better reflects the makeup of the legislature, and the GOP’s supermajority.
A 50/50 makeup of interim committees does not reflect the will of the voters. Senate Bill 176 would correct that.
Before the House voted in support of the policy it amended it with a carveout to keep equal bipartisan balance on the State-Tribal Relations Interim committee.
State Rep. Tyson Running Wolf (Blackfeet Nation/D-MT) said that since the majority of the state’s American Indian Caucus members are Democrats, changing that committee’s structure would negatively affect tribal representation.
Fewer tribal members on State Tribal, would decrease the understanding of these the unique differences in it can sometimes bring policy that is not in the best interest of the tribes
Six tribal lawmakers sat on this ten person committee last interim to study issues like Missing and Murdered Indigenous Persons and tribal economic development.
The amendment passed with strong bipartisan support in the House on Tuesday.
Having passed its final vote in the House, the bill will be returned to the Senate for approval on the amendment.
A lawsuit is taking the state of Alaska to task for failed salmon runs in Western Alaska, as Rhonda McBride from our flagship station KNBA reports.
It claims that the state has not only mismanaged the fisheries but also violated the state constitution.
As reported in the Alaska Beacon, the case was heard on Monday in a courtroom in Bethel, one of many communities hit hard by the salmon crisis on the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers, where runs have been so weak, traditional Native subsistence harvests have been restricted or banned. The state’s management of the salmon runs has pitted different regions of the state — and different Alaska Native groups — against each other.
Joe Geldhof, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, argued that the state has failed to follow the constitution’s principle of “sustained yield,” which requires a balance between harvesting fish and maintaining their numbers.
Geldhof’s case is one of the first to challenge the state in court over the salmon disasters.
Western Alaska fishermen have pushed state managers to restrict fishing on the Alaska Peninsula, to protect salmon that are being caught incidentally, as fishermen target other species of fish.
The state asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit.
It argued that it should be thrown out, because it doesn’t challenge any specific management decisions. It said citing poor salmon runs isn’t enough to build a case against the state.
The judge could take six months to decide if the case will go forward.
Fans crowded into the Alaska Airlines Center in Anchorage this week to cheer on their favorite teams during state basketball championship games. KNBA’s Jill Fratis has more.
This year, a unique partnership is bringing together basketball and Native art.
Artists are set up on the third floor of the center for the inaugural Alaska Native Art Market.
Fannie Perry is a Yup’ik artist whose table was full of crocheted hats, and seal and otter fur slippers.
Perry says it’s important for Alaska Native artists to be successful selling their work because, for many, their livelihood depends on it.
For Perry, returning to the arena is like coming back to her old stomping grounds.
“I’m a huge basketball fan, I love basketball. 20 plus years ago, my team was actually down the court, and so I love things like this, I love seeing all the people coming together and enjoying themselves.
The Alaska School Activities Association teamed up with the Alaska Native Heritage Center for the art market.
Video of Yup’ik artist Fannie Perry (by Antonia Gonzales):
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