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Montana Supreme Court allows ballot initiative to remain on ballot

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August 19, 2010

HELENA, Montana: On August 17, 2010, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that the Montana interest rate limit measure, I-164, could stay on the November ballot, after The Montana Consumer Finance Association requested that the court remove it from the general election. The measure was allowed to stay on the ballot after a 4-2 vote by the court to allow the measure to be decided by voters, but to alter the for and against statements and the statement of purpose on the ballot. If enacted by voters, the measure would cap yearly interest rates of payday and title loans at 36 percent. The current interest rate is 400 percent. The initiative effort was spearheaded by the organization, 400 Percent is Too High.

The group requesting that the measure be taken off the ballot did so due to their concerns that the Montana Attorney General, Steve Bullock, did not comply with state law, because ballot statements prepared by the AG's office were not impartial.

According to Justice Brian Morris, "We decline petitioners' request to overrule the attorney general's legal sufficiency for I-164, or to tamper with the text of the initiative itself. The attorney general acted within his considerable discretion in drafting the ballot statements and fiscal statements for I-164."[1]

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