HELENA – A Montana legislative committee voted Friday to restore funding for two positions within the state health department that are dedicated to serving Native American communities.
Democratic Rep. Jonathan Windy Boy of Box Elder brought the amendment to restore the funding for the the American Indian health director and the tribal relations manager, saying the panel’s earlier elimination of two jobs held by Native Americans doesn’t “look good out there to Montana.”
Republican Rep. Matt Regier of Kalispell had argued the positions were redundant, that other health department workers could work with tribes and that there are other tribal liaisons in state government.
Adam Meier, director of the Department of Public Health and Human Services, told the committee on Thursday that the employees do important work.
The House Appropriations Committee voted 15-9 Friday to restore the $481,000 in state and federal funding for the jobs for the next two years.
Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte supported restoring the funding, spokesperson Brooke Stroyke has said.
The proposed eliminations of the positions were among several moves made by the Republican-controlled Legislature this year that have triggered concerns from some Native Americans and their allies who fear they are losing influence and representation.
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