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Questions surround Montana hunting initiative

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July 12, 2010

HELENA, Montana: Initiative 161 has run into many questions surrounding its signature gathering process, and those questions haven't stopped coming. The Montana Outfitters & Guides Association, the main opposition to the measure, stated that officials should look into the legality of the signature gathering for the initiative. The proposed measure would increase nonresident big game license fees and abolish outfitter-sponsored licenses. According to the Association, inmates at the Butte Prerelease Center were working to gather signatures for the initiative for court ordered community service, which the group claimed may not coincide with initiative laws. According to Mac Minard, executive director of the Association, "Contact with Jay Grant, administrator, Butte Prerelease facility, confirmed that prerelease residents were in fact being used in this manner, although no confirmation was made as to whether these individuals were indeed working off community service requirements."[1]

Grant claimed that they were only hired, not volunteers. Grant countered by stating that these inmates were used as paid signature gatherers, working for $9 an hour and that no wrong doing occurred. Grant was not aware if any vehicles were used to transport inmates to the areas they were designated to gather signatures, to where Minard stated that the use of public employees, vehicles, and time was in violation of a law prohibiting such action. Grant also claimed that inmates only stated they were working for community service after Minard "badgered them pretty good." Grant said, "...they’re felons, they can’t have guns and they don’t have a dog in the fight. They’re just looking to make nine bucks an hour."[2]

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