Another Montana initiative sees legal action for removal

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September 1, 2010


HELENA, Montana:

In the second time in one month, another Montana initiative will see legal action in order to remove it from the ballot. The Montana Outfitters and Guides Association filed a lawsuit during the week of August 23, 2010, aiming to block the hunting initiative from being placed in front of voters on November 2, 2010. Mac Minard, the executive director the group, stated that the initiative should be removed from the ballot due to the allegations that there were violations of state law when the initiative process was in operation. According to Minard, "These are such broad violations. We're asking them to toss the thing out."

The initiative, I-161, increases nonresident big game license fees and abolishes outfitter-sponsored licenses. The lawsuit, filed in Lewis and Clark County District Court, lists initiative leader Kurt Kephart, the Montana Public Wildlife, who obtained signatures from registered voters, and Secretary of State Linda McCulloch, who certified those signatures.[1]

The other initiative that was under the legal process has already been decided on, and will stay on the ballot. On August 17, 2010, the Montana Supreme Court ruled that the Montana interest rate limit measure could stay on the November ballot, after The Montana Consumer Finance Association requested that the court remove it from the ballot. The measure was allowed to stay on the ballot after a 4-2 vote 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. 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."[2]

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