The State-Tribal Relations Committee (STRC) re-elected Representative Jonathan Windy Boy (D-Box Elder) as its chair and Representative Alan Doane (R-Bloomfield) as its vice-chair at its first meeting of the 2017-2018 interim. The two have served in those capacities since 2013.
On July 13, the STRC also set its work plan for the interim, opting to spend about half of its time studying ways to increase access to tribal resources for tribal members who are in the state's criminal justice system. While American Indians and Alaska Natives comprise 7% of the state's total population, American Indians constitute 17% of the state's total adult correctional facility population and 27% of all arrests related to failure to appear for court or violations of conditions related to community supervision. In SJ 3 (2017), the Legislature asked an interim committee to examine how the state could:
The committee agreed to study the following topics as well:
The committee got a head start on its study of Indian health care with a tour of the Leo Pocha Memorial Clinic at the Helena Indian Alliance. HIA staff discussed plans for expansion of the clinic, the increased enrollment of Indians in insurance programs available through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and the use of electronic health records.
The STRC expects to receive updates on the new Tribal Health Improvement Program administered by the Department of Public Health and Human Services at future meetings, as well as suicide prevention, and the incidence of missing persons, human trafficking, and violence against women on reservations.
Senate members of the STRC are Jen Gross (D-Billings), Steve Hinebauch (R-Wibaux), Jason Small (R-Busby), and Lea Whitford (D-Cut Bank).
House members are Doane, James O'Hara (R-Fort Benton), Rae Peppers (D-Lame Deer), and Windy Boy.
As the legislature's liaison with tribal governments, the committee plans to travel to southeast Montana this fall to meet with the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Tribal Councils. For more information on the committee’s activities and upcoming meetings, visit the committee’s website or contact Hope Stockwell, committee staff. A full agenda and meeting materials will be posted approximately two weeks in advance of each meeting.