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Montana Gender Quota for Legislature Initiative (2014)

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The Montana Gender Quota for Legislature, Initiative 114 will not appear on the November 4, 2014 ballot in Montana as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure would have required that the Montana Legislature be composed of 50% men and 50% women.[1]

Text of measure

The ballot question would have read as follows:[2]

CI-114 would amend Article V, Section 1 of Montana’s Constitution to require that Montana’s Legislature be comprised of exactly one-half men and one-half women. The amendment does not differentiate between legislators serving in the Montana House of Representatives and the Montana State Senate. Consequently, it requires an equal number of men and women within the entire Legislature, regardless of the chamber in which they serve.

[ ] YES on Constitutional Initiative CI-114.
[ ] NO on Constitutional Initiative CI-114.[3]

Constitutional changes

The proposed amendment would have amended Section 1 of Article V of the Constitution of Montana:[2]

Section 1. Power and structure. (1) The legislative power is vested in a legislature consisting of a senate and a house of representatives. The people reserve to themselves the powers of initiative and referendum.

(2) The legislature shall be composed of fifty percent men and fifty percent women, as may be provided by law.
Section 2. Transition. Legislative seats may not be subject to the provisions of this amendment until on or before the second general legislative election held after the next redistricting and reapportionment plan becomes law following the effective date of this amendment.
Section 3. {standard} Effective date. [This act] is effective upon approval by the electorate.

Background

In 2014, the Montana Legislature was composed of 108 men and 42 women or 72% and 28%, respectively.[4]

Support

John Marshall, an online businessman, writer and former libertarian candidate, sponsored the initiative. He said, “Let’s be the first state in the nation to set quotas by gender. We’ll catch the attention of the nation. It will benefit the state economically, socially and culturally in the future.”

Arguments

John Marshall, the initiative’s sponsor, made the following arguments for gender quotas in the state legislature:

  • "Women are now the majority of the population. They are now the majority of the workforce. So by happenstance, by destiny, by default, call it what you will, they're the rightful heirs to the reigns of political power in this country."[5]
  • “We’ll be a better state and have a stronger government and have a stronger democracy … The states were originally set up to be laboratories in the experiment of democracy. We can do all kinds of things. Why not be an experiment in that case and further the ideals that were set at the founding of the nation in helping democracy grow and prosper?”[6]
  • "Women are better at sitting down and negotiating and compromising and coming up with legislation than men."

Other arguments in favor of the measure included:

  • Rep. Franke Wilmer (D-63), who is also a political science professor at Montana State University, noted that about half the countries in the world have electoral quotas and that, in some instances, these quotas have “radically and positively changed” those countries. Nonetheless, Wilmer did not endorse the initiative.

Opposition

Opponents

Arguments

  • Rep. Pat Ingraham (R-13) argued, "You need willing hearts that are willing and able to do it (serve in the Legislature). You can’t legislate that heart. You have to have to have that heart and commitment. I just don’t think mandating those things are a wise decision."[7]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Montana

John Marshall sponsored the initiative and submitted documents to the Office of the Secretary of State on November 5, 2013. The measure was approved for circulation on March 4, 2014.[1]

Supporters needed to collect valid signatures from ten percent of the total number of votes cast in the last gubernatorial general election, including ten percent of the voters in each of the forty legislative house districts. In total, supporters were required to collect 48,349 valid signatures. Those signatures needed to be submitted by the petition drive deadline on June 20, 2014.

The initiative did not meet the signature threshold to make the ballot.[8]

See also

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Additional reading

References