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Montana Constitution

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Montana Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIVSchedule
The Montana Constitution is the primary governing document for the state of Montana.

Features

The Montana Constitution consists of a preamble followed by 15 sections. It also establishes and defines the powers of the three branches of the government of Montana and the rights of its citizens. Its provisions are sovereign within the state, subject only to the limits imposed by federal laws and the constitution of the United States.[1]

The current Montana Constitution was adopted in 1972 and is the second enacted in the state's history.

Preamble

See also: Preambles to state constitutions

The preamble of the Montana Constitution states:

We the people of Montana grateful to God for the quiet beauty of our state, the grandeur of our mountains, the vastness of our rolling plains, and desiring to improve the quality of life, equality of opportunity and to secure the blessings of liberty for this and future generations do ordain and establish this constitution.[1]

Article I: Compact with the United States

Article I of the Montana Constitution is entitled "Compact with the United States" and consists of a single section.

Article II: Declaration of Rights

Article II of the Montana Constitution is entitled "Declaration of Rights" and consists of 35 sections.

Article III: General Government

Article III of the Montana Constitution is entitled "General Government" and consists of nine sections.

Article IV: Suffrage and Elections

Article IV of the Montana Constitution is entitled "Suffrage and Elections" and consists of eight sections.

Article V: The Legislature

Article V of the Montana Constitution is entitled "The Legislature" and consists of 14 sections.

Article VI: The Executive

Article VI of the Montana Constitution is entitled "The Executive" and consists of 15 sections.

Article VII: The Judiciary

Article VII of the Montana Constitution is entitled "The Judiciary" and consists of 11 sections.

Article VIII: Revenue and Finance

Article VIII of the Montana Constitution is entitled "Revenue and Finance" and consists of 16 sections.

Article IX: Environment and Natural Resources

Article IX of the Montana Constitution is entitled "Environment and Natural Resources" and consists of seven sections.

Article X: Education and Public Lands

Article X of the Montana Constitution is entitled "Education and Public Lands" and consists of 11 sections.

Article XI: Local Government

Article XI of the Montana Constitution is entitled "Local Government" and consists of nine sections.

Article XII: Departments and Institutions

Article XII of the Montana Constitution is entitled "Departments and Institutions" and consists of four sections.

Article XIII: General Provisions

Article XIII of the Montana Constitution is entitled "General Provisions" and consists of seven sections.

Article XIV: Constitutional Revision

Article XIV or the Montana Constitution is entitled "Constitutional Revision" and consists of 11 sections.

Schedule: Transition Schedule

The "Transition Schedule" of the Montana Constitution follows 14 articles and a preamble and consists of six sections.

Amending the constitution

See also: Article XIV, Montana Constitution and Laws governing the initiative process in Montana

The Montana Constitution can be amended through initiated constitutional amendments, legislatively-referred constitutional amendments and constitutional conventions.

Montana offers three different paths to having a constitutional convention. They are:

  • Section 1, Article XIV says that the Montana State Legislature, "by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of all the members ... may at any time submit to the qualified electors the question of whether there shall be an unlimited convention to revise, alter, or amend" the constitution.
  • Section 2, Article XIV says that the state's electors can put a question about whether to hold a convention on a statewide ballot if a petition is signed by at least ten percent of the qualified electors of the state, including at least ten percent of the qualified electors in each of two-fifths of the legislative districts.
  • Section 3, Article XIV says that a question about whether to hold a convention shall automatically go on the ballot every twenty years if it has not otherwise appeared on the ballot.

The Montana State Legislature can put a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment on the ballot, according to Section 8 of Article XIV. Any member of the legislature can propose an amendment. The amendment must then be adopted by an affirmative roll call vote of two-thirds of all members of the legislature.

The electors of the state can qualify an initiated constitutional amendment, according to Section 9 of Article XIV. Proposed initiated amendments go on the ballot if petitions are signed by at least ten percent of the qualified electors of the state, including at least ten percent of the qualified electors in each of at least one-half of the counties.

History

The United States, through the Louisiana Purchase, acquired the territory that would become Montana in 1803.[2]

The Montana Territory was organized by the United States Congress on May 26, 1864. The first constitution intended for Montana's statehood was written in 1866 but was lost on the way to the printer and so was never subject to a vote. A second constitution was written and ratified in 1884, but due to political reasons, Congress failed to take any action to approve Montana's admission to the Union. That document consequently never attained legal force.[3]

In 1889, Congress passed an enabling act that finally permitted the citizens of Montana to be admitted to the Union after adopting and ratifying a constitution. Subsequently, the third constitution for the incipient state was written and ratified later that year.[2] It became effective on November 8, 1889, when Montana became the 41st state admitted to the Union by the Presidential Proclamation of Benjamin Harrison.[3]

The 1889 Constitution remained in force until 1972, when a constitutional convention was held. The 1972 Constitution was adopted by the 100 delegates to the Constitutional Convention on March 22, 1972, and was ratified by the citizens of Montana on June 6, 1972, through Referendum No. 68.[2] The 100 delegates to this groundbreaking constitutional convention came from all walks of life to represent ordinary Montanans. There were ranchers and farmers, business people, educators, housewives, attorneys and even a beekeeper and a retired FBI agent. None of them at the time held a political office; all were charged by the people of Montana to rewrite what was seen as an outdated, “creaky, lumbering” state constitution." What came out of this convention was a constitution that the delegates hoped would better serve the needs of Montanans now and in the future.[4][5]

See also

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