by Dr. Edwin Berry
Montana House Majority Leader Keith Regier (R) tried to defeat Montana’s Last Indian Water Compact in 2015. He almost succeeded. Had he succeeded, he would have done serious damage to the State of Montana and to Montana citizens.
Termed out of Montana’s House, Regier is now running for the Montana Senate in SD 3. Melissa Hartman (D) is running against Regier. SD3 is known to be a strong Republican district. Can Hartman defeat Regier?
Given that Republicans dominate SD3, it is likely Regier will win. But what if enough SD3 voters realize that Regier is not really a Republican? Real Republicans voted for the Compact.
What if they realize that Regier did not just oppose the CSKT Water Compact, but he opposed the Compact for totally irrational reasons?
What if they realize that Regier did not support Congressman Ryan Zinke (R) in his first election to US Congress in 2014?
What if they realize Regier claimed he opposed Zinke because most of his voters opposed Zinke?
Voting data proves Regier wrong because an overwhelming majority of voters in Regier’s 2014 district supported Zinke. Did Regier lie? Or was he totally unaware of how his 2014 voters voted?
The point is that once voters elect Regier, he goes on to represent himself rather than the voters who elected him
It’s not just the Regier represents the far-right radical Libertarian tea-party opinion. It’s that Montana voters cannot trust him to make good decisions. The worst possible decision he made was to oppose the CSKT Water Compact.
Regier did not represent the voters of Montana in 2015 and now he is wants voters to elect him to the Montana Senate for 4 years.
The following are excerpts about Regier from my books. To fully understand the context of each subject, you must refer to the books.
Regier claimed the Compact required 60 votes.
Republican House Majority Leader Keith Regier claimed the Compact required 60 votes for House approval. He claimed a silver bullet applied only to pulling a bill from a committee by 51 votes but not to the bill’s final approval.
Republican Frank Garner disagreed with Regier. Garner said (to the Daily Inter Lake) when the Legislature approved the silver bullet rules, the agreement was a silver bullet bill would require only 51 votes for House approval, like any other bill.
Although Garner voted against the Compact, he voted for an honest interpretation of the silver bullet rules. Garner is an honest man. We need more honest people in our legislature.
Compact opponents tried one final tactic. They sent SB 262 to the House Rules Committee for a decision. The opponent-controlled House Rules Committee ruled SB 262 required 60 House votes for approval.
But Compact proponents then motioned to overrule the Rules Committee. Their motion won by a majority vote.
Regier’s final tactic lost. Now it would take only 51 votes to approve the Compact.
Thigpen answered Regier’s questions.
Helen Thigpen, Staff Attorney for Montana’s Legal Services Office, replied to Ballance and Regier (2014) questions on August 22, 2014.
Regier endangered Montana.
If Montana legislators, led by Rep. Keith Regier, had been successful in their attempt to reject the Compact, they would have opened the door to the federal government’s control of Montana’s water. This would have been a disaster for Montana.
Claim 8: They won’t let me edit it
Senator Janna Taylor, Senator Debbie Barrett, and House Majority Leader Keith Regier made this claim.
Senator Barrett (2015) wrote:
The legislature’s responsibility and authority includes amending proposals if necessary and approving all state costs associated with a compact such as this one.
But at an informational meeting held by proponents, the legislature was warned that it cannot amend the proposal. It’s a “take it or leave it” deal.
That insult to the constitutional role of the legislature is enough for me to want to leave it. Other proposed compacts have not been thrust on us, the legislature, with such arrogance and disrespect for legislators.
Senator Barrett would deprive Montanans of the benefits of the Compact because she feels the Compact Commission insulted her and treated her with “arrogance and disrespect.”
Barrett is arrogant and disrespectful of the law. She should respect the Compact Commission and the work the commissioners did to produce the Compact. She puts her personal feelings above her duty to best serve the interests of the people of Montana.
The 1979 Montana legislature created the Reserved Water Rights Compact Commission (DNRC, 2015) with the specific purpose to:
- conclude compacts for the equitable division and apportionment of waters between the State and its people and the several Indian Tribes claiming reserved water rights within the state (MCA 85-2-701), and
- between the State and its people and the federal government claiming non-Indian reserved waters within the state (MCA 85-2-703).
Montana’s 1979 Legislature, specifically delegated its legislative responsibility to negotiate and “conclude” the Compact to the Compact Commission.
This was for good reason. One-hundred fifty legislators, who work only 4 months every 2 years and get reelected every 2 years, cannot negotiate a Compact with the CSKT and the federal government.
Senator Janna Taylor, Senator Debbie Barrett, House Majority Leader Keith Regier think they are above Montana law as set by Montana’s 1979 legislature.
Further, they used their lack of edit right as an excuse to reject the Compact. They put their egos above the interests of the citizens of Montana.
They think they should have the right to edit the Compact after all parties to the negotiation approved the Compact.
In the legislative floor fight, opponent legislators tried to add amendments to the Compact as a means to cause the Compact to fail.
House Majority Leader Keith Regier, who offered most of the amendments, said Bauman (2015):
“We have an obligation as a Legislature to make the legislation the best we can. The water of Montana is controlled by the state of Montana for all of us, not just one group.”
Regier lied. The obligation of the legislature was not to change the Compact. The obligation of the legislature was to determine whether Montana would be better served with or without the negotiated Compact.
Opponents in the legislature proposed 13 amendments, all of which failed. Some proposed amendments to SB 262 included removal of CSKT off-reservation water rights and language that exempts the CSKT from certain water-rights laws and rules.
Clearly, the CSKT would not accept these changes. So, if any proposed amendment had passed, the Compact would have failed.
Regier knew this, which is why he attempted to add amendments.
Democrat Rep. Margie MacDonald, who supported the Compact, said (Dennison, 2015),
“For us to take apart this agreement, this compact, so naively, so ignorantly, really shows our ignorance and it really degrades our (legislative) branch.”
Rep. MacDonald is correct. The far-right tea party legislators showed they are not as smart as the Democrats.
Claim 9: They did not give me enough time to read it.
Elected legislators were paid to read and study the Compact. It’s their job. They ran for elected office and assumed responsibility to do their job. However, many opponents claimed they did not have enough time to read the Compact.
The 2015 version of the Compact had only minor changes from the 2013 version. Most 2015 legislators were also there in 2013. So, they only had to read the changes for 2015.
Legislators who claimed they had “no time to read it” cannot also object to the Compact because they “can’t edit it.” They can’t have it both ways. If they did not have time to read the Compact, then they did not have time to understand and edit the Compact.
Regier and others used both the “I can’t edit it” excuse and the incompatible “no time to read it” excuse as dual reasons to oppose the Compact. Opponents contradict themselves.
Compact opponents made so many invalid claims against the Compact that they even made claims that conflicted.
Regier does not know the difference between fact and fiction. Regier wrote in the October 11, 2015, Daily Inter Lake (Regier, 2015):
“He [Berry] said he spent 200 hours studying the Compact and that I [Regier] didn’t review it. I did study the Compact, and it didn’t take me 200 hours to realize it is not good for Montana.”
So, there you have it. On the one hand, Regier claimed the State of Montana did not give him enough time to read the Compact. On the other hand, he brags that he read it and understood it in under 200 hours.
In the same opinion letter, Regier listed three reasons he opposed the Compact and (the claim that proves him wrong):
- It gives the CSKT off-reservation water rights. (Claim 20 proves him wrong.)
- It will cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. (Claim 10 proves him wrong.)
- It puts non-tribal land owners on the reservation under a new water court that has strong tribal control. (Claim 16 proves him wrong.)
(The referenced claims refer to the discussion of the claims against the Compact in my book.)
All three of Regier’s reasons show he lied. He did not study the Compact as he claimed. The rebuttal to the claims noted in the above parentheses prove all Regier’s reasons to oppose the Compact were invalid.
Regier did not consider the benefits of the Compact. He did not consider the testimony of the proponents. He did not consider the key question. He did not correctly represent the people of Montana.
Claim 10: The $55 million settlement fee is outrageous
The settlement fee is Montana’s obligation to the CSKT project under the Compact. Those who objected to the $55 million settlement fee do not understand that it is mostly an investment in Montana infrastructure rather than an expense.
Regier (2015) opposed the Compact because it would “cost the taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.” Regier does not understand money.
Montana’s $55 million settlement fee helps Montana. It stays in Montana just like any other improvement to our infrastructure.
- $30 million is for a revolving pumping fund needed only in drier years.
- $4 million is for stock water management
- $4 million is for farm improvement
- $4 million is for hydrologic data collection and measurement
- $13 million is for habitat conservation.
Montana funded $3 million in 2015 and will fund a maximum of $52 million in the future. Of this, $30 million is an emergency fund to be used only if necessary in the event of a drought. The remaining $22 million will add to Montana’s economy just like any public works project.
The settlement fee will improve irrigation efficiency and alleviate negative impacts of changes in irrigation necessary for water use efficiency.
The $55 million settlement fee is 5 percent of the expected $1.2 billion federal contribution and only 3 percent of the estimated $1.8 billion in legal costs without the Compact.
In short, Montana pays $55 for every $3,000 gained in Compact benefits.
Claim 13: Democrats support it, so Republicans must oppose it
This may be the dumbest reason to reject the Compact. It says Republicans should not think for themselves but just vote the opposite of the Democrats.
On April 3, 2015, Montana Senator Janna Taylor told the Kalispell Pachyderm audience that real Republicans always vote opposite of the Democrats. Rep. Keith Regier, House Majority Leader also championed this claim. (Berry, 2015a)
Those who made this claim do not understand the difference between a partisan and bipartisan issue. Republicans and Democrats should vote the same on bipartisan issues.
This claim is absurd. It means, for example, all Republicans should vote for gravel highways just because Democrats vote for paved highways. It means Republicans should always wait to see how Democrats vote on every issue before they decide how to vote. We could train a monkey to do the work of such mechanized Republicans.
Ballance and Regier (2014) claimed the UMO is unconstitutional.
Opponents’ legal claims require Compact ratification.
Do you notice a difference between the proponents and opponents in the legal debate over the Compact?
Governor Steve Bullock, Attorney General Tim Fox, Colleen Coyle, Andrew Huff, Melissa Hornbein, Hertha L. Lund, Dale Schowengerdt, Helen Thigpen, and Jay Weiner are all attorneys with experience in Montana water law.
Vandemoer, Willman, Barrett, Regier, Balance, Taylor, Holmquist, Mitchell, and Jackson are not attorneys. Attorney Simms is not licensed to practice in Montana. No opponent has any experience, education, or credibility in Montana water law.
The legislature does not have the authority to make legal decisions on negotiated agreements like the Compact. Only the courts have the authority to make legal decisions.
Legislators do not have the right to play attorney in the legislature even if they are attorneys. As all attorneys should know, only the court, not the legislature, can resolve legal issues.
Legislators are supposed to accept the legal advice of state attorneys and the Attorney General. The courts can later overrule the state’s legal advice but the legislature does not have the legal expertise or authority to do so.
The state attorneys advised the legislature that the Compact was constitutional and there were no serious legal defects in the Compact.
Yet, opponent legislators voted against the Compact because they believed their amateur legal opinions were more credible than the professional legal opinions.
The legislators who voted against the Compact because their personal legal opinions conflicted with the advice of state attorneys were out of order and immoral.
The legislature passed the Compact subject to it being constitutional and subject to allowing the courts to remove or modify any parts of it a court finds unconstitutional. On that basis, the Compact required only a majority vote of the legislature for its passage.
A YES vote was fail safe. It threatened no one. It allowed opponents to test their legal claims in court. It allowed the court to reject the Compact.
Regier demands perfection or rejection.
VCEs view the world as negatives rather than positives. To VCEs, the glass is half empty rather than half full.
They are very good at criticizing candidates but very bad at choosing the better candidate. VCEs reject candidates who are “not good enough” for them.
VCEs evaluated the CSKT Water Compact the same negative way. VCEs opposed the Compact because it “was not good enough” for them. They evaluated the Compact only from their negative view rather than from a positive view.
The movie “The Taming of the Shrew,” starring Richard Burton and Liz Taylor, illustrates the negative mindset of the VCEs. The scene was a dinner table where the women had done their best to prepare good meals for everyone. Richard Burton, however, found an imperfection in the meal.
Rather than to allow the women to fix the imperfection, Burton went berserk, overturned the table, and dumped the good food on the floor. Because the dinner was not “perfect” no one would eat that night.
In a similar fit of rage, Republican House Majority Leader Rep. Keith Regier and his flock viewed the Compact as imperfect. So they tried to “blow up” the Compact so no one could benefit from it. The Compact was “good enough” for most Montanans but it was “not good enough” for VCEs like Regier.
Regier (2015) wrote his objection to the Compact (Flathead Beacon, April 23, 2015):
However, this is still not a good deal for the majority of Montanans. Like so many proposals coming from the other side of the aisle over the last three months, we are supposed to take this or leave it. There is no opportunity to amend.
The compact is 68 pages long, with over 1,000 pages of appendices, and was introduced late in the legislative process so that most legislators wouldn’t have time to read it.
If the Legislature’s choice is this compact or nothing, I think we are better off with nothing.
VCE Regier views the world as black and white with no gray scale. To him, it’s perfection or rejection. The Compact, after 12 years of work funded by our taxpayers, was not good enough to go to heaven, so Regier voted to send the Compact to hell.
Regier believes all issues are partisan.
Rep. Regier declared all Republicans must always vote the opposite of Democrats. Therefore, he concluded, since the Democrats supported the Compact, all Republicans must oppose the Compact. Regier has no room in his mind for bipartisan bills where Republicans and Democrats should agree.
Regier said the Compact bill came “from the other side of the isle.” But Republican Senator Chas Vincent sponsored SB 262. Regier considers Republicans who supported the Compact to be “from the other side of the isle.”
Regier was upset that he could not “amend” the Compact even though 1979 legislature did not give him that authority. The 1979 legislature assigned that authority to the Compact Committee.
Regier was distressed that the Compact is too long, too complicated, and too late for him. People who see only negatives always find things to be “too” something for them.
Regier wanted the Compact Commission to work on his schedule rather than on the Commissioners negotiation schedule. Because the Commission did not work on Regier’s schedule, he concluded Montana is “better off with nothing.”
Just like Burton, Regier turned over the table so no one could participate in the benefits.
Regier did not consider that his objection to the Compact would force the next generation of Montanans to defend themselves at great cost and time against water-rights lawsuits.
VCEs demand Godly perfection of candidates and bills. Yet they are far from Godly perfection themselves. Godly perfection does not exist in our real world. VCEs live in a dream world.
Regier refused to support Ryan Zinke.
Keith Regier did not support Ryan Zinke for Congress. To explain why, Regier wrote in the October 4, 2015, Daily Inter Lake, that the reason he did not support Zinke was his district did not support Zinke:
“I simply vote my values; values that the majority of voters in HD 4 agree.”
Let’s fact-check Regier’s excuse. How did Regier’s “values” compare to voters in his House District 4?
In 2014, HD 4 voters gave Regier 2658 votes and Zinke 2585 votes, a difference of only 73 votes. Therefore, Regier’s anti-Zinke values represent less than 3 percent of his HD 4 voters. Regier’s values conflict with 97 percent of the values of HD3 voters. The voters have not figured this out.
Regier lied and, honestly, I don’t think he realized he lied. Like Regier lied when he launched his claims against the Compact. Like Cruz lied when he promised to support the winner of the Republican presidential nomination. Something about VCEs permits them to lie when it helps them achieve their immediate objective.
By not supporting Ryan Zinke for Congress, Keith Regier supported the Democrat who opposed Zinke. Therefore, Keith Regier is not much different than Pastor Chuck Baldwin. If we judge them by their works, they are both Regier and Baldwin Democrats.
Zinke won the Congressional election without the help of Regier, Baldwin, and the VCEs voters who hoped to trash Zinke and elect the Democrat.
This shows how the VCEs represent only about 10 percent of all voters. As our normal curve predicts, Republican candidates do better by trying for more mid-curve independent votes than by going extreme to get more VCE votes.
Book: Choose America
Regier opposed Montana’s CSKT Water Compact in 2015
The organization principle applies to Montana’s CSKT Water Compact.
The Montana House Judiciary Committee held its public hearing of the CSKT Water Compact, SB 262, on April 11, 2015. I said in my testimony in support of the Compact,
“The CSKT Compact is an organized solution to a complex problem.”
When I spoke these words, committee member VCE Rep. Keith Regier, who opposed the Compact, was so shocked by the truth that he fell noisily out of his chair, and scrambled to get back in his seat. The truth I spoke contradicted his preconceived, incorrect opinion that the Compact was bad.
I spoke the truth but Compact opponents did not understand the truth. Their minds were blocked.
Like a building, the Compact is an organization of stuff. In this case, the stuff is information and laws. Organized information has value. It takes work to organize information, just like it takes work to organize materials.
The Compact Commission began with the complicated disorganization of information composed of laws, water rights, treaties, and opinions. It ended with an organized agreement that resolved the problem of disorganized information.
Like terrorists who try to blow up a valuable building, Compact opponents tried to “blow up” the Compact. They wanted to return its organized information to the prior state of disorganization.
Compact opponents had no viable organized replacement for the Compact. Therefore, we consider the opponents’ actions bad.
Compact opponents did not present a viable argument that Montana would be better served without the Compact. They did not provide a valid argument to show that Compact rejection would result in a more organized state than Compact ratification.
We understand that opponents did not think in terms of organization when they decided to oppose the Compact. But this does not stop us from evaluating their opposition in terms of organization.
Compact opponents offered only one alternative: the original state before the Compact. They preferred to fight the CSKT and the federal government over thousands of individual water right claims. No matter how these thousands of water rights lawsuits may have turned out, the resulting organization would have been much lower than the high organization provided by the Compact.
Ratification of the Compact provides a much more organized state than rejection of the Compact. This fact should be obvious to everyone with common sense.
In summary, the entropy principle of physics provides a simple, powerful argument that Montana is better served with rather than without the Compact. Entropy shows that proponents’ works were good and opponents’ works were bad.