The State-Tribal Relations Committee voted 7-0 to send a letter to U.S. Senate leaders urging swift action to reauthorize federal funding for tribal colleges.

The letter, approved on September 27 during a conference call, is addressed to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, who chairs the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The letter supports passage of S. 1279, which would reauthorize the Strengthening Institutions program used by tribal colleges to fund student support services, faculty development, academic curriculum, library services, classroom construction and modernization, and other educational activities.

There are seven tribal colleges in Montana -- the most of any state. Discontinuance of Strengthening Institutions would cost them $5 million collectively, according to Dr. David Yarlott, Jr, president of Little Big Horn College in Crow Agency.

If passed, S. 1279 would sustain current funding levels for two more years (FY 2021-2022).

Members of the STRC include Representatives Jade Bahr (D-Billings); Alan Doane (R-Bloomfield); Dale Mortensen (R-Billings); Vice Chair Rae Peppers (D-Lame Deer); Joe Read (R-Ronan); and Sharon Stewart-Peregoy (D-Crow Agency); as well as Senators Jen Gross (D-Billings); Dan Salomon (R-Ronan); Chair Jason Small (R-Busby); and Frank Smith (D-Poplar).

For more information on the committee’s activities and upcoming meetings, visit the committee’s website or contact Hope Stockwell, committee staff.

Committee Website:
Committee Staff: or 406-444-9280

The Legislative News.