Laws governing local ballot measures in Montana
- 1 Types of local government
- 2 School districts
- 3 Local recall rules
- 4 Initiative process availability
- 5 Authority
- 6 Initiative process features for all local governments
- 7 Initiative process features for amendment of local government charter
- 8 Initiative process in the top 10 most populated cities
- 9 External links
- 10 References
|I • II • III • IV • V • VI • VII • VIII • IX • X • XI • XII • XIII • XIV • Schedule|
This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in Montana. It explains:
- Which local units of government make the initiative process available to residents.
- How and whether local units of government, including school districts, can refer local ballot measures (such as school bond propositions) to the ballot.
- An overview of laws governing local recall elections.
Note that Montana is one of twenty-four states that allow the initiative process at the statewide level.
Types of local government
Local government in Montana consists of:
- 129 city governments.
- 54 county governments.
- In addition, there are 736 special districts and 321 independent school districts.
Cities in Montana may be classified as:
- Charter city: of which there are 32
- General law city: of which there are 97
- See also: School bond and tax elections in Montana
School bond and tax elections in Montana are required for:
- Issuance and sale of new bonds.
Local recall rules
- For additional detail, see: Laws governing recall in Montana
Initiative process availability
The local units of government in Montana that make the initiative process available are:
- General law cities, which have a state mandated initiative and referendum process for ordinances. There are 97 such cities.
- Charter cities, which have the same state mandated initiative and referendum process for ordinances, as well as for charter amendment. Unlike in some other states, charter cities may not differ from the general law initiative requirements. There are 32 such cities.
- General law counties, which have a state mandated initiative and referendum process for ordinances. There are 51 such counties.
- Charter counties, which have a state mandated initiative and referendum process for ordinances and charter amendments. There are 3 such counties.
| Ballot Law Portal|
|Laws Governing Ballot Measures|
Montana Constitution, Article XI, Section 5 and 6 authorize local governments (cities and counties) to adopt home rule charters.
|“||(1) The legislature shall provide procedures permitting a local government unit or combination of units to frame, adopt, amend, revise, or abandon a self-government charter with the approval of a majority of those voting on the question. The procedures shall not require approval of a charter by a legislative body.(2) If the legislature does not provide such procedures by July 1, 1975, they may be established by election either:(a) Initiated by petition in the local government unit or combination of units; or(b) Called by the governing body of the local government unit or combination of units.(3) Charter provisions establishing executive, legislative, and administrative structure and organization are superior to statutory provisions.||”|
Article XI, Section 8 mandates the power of local initiative and referendum to all local governments.
|“||The legislature shall extend the initiative and referendum powers reserved to the people by the constitution to the qualified electors of each local government unit.||”|
Montana Code Section 7-3-103 mandates local initiative for charter amendments.
|“||An amendment to a self-government charter or an adopted alternative form of government may be proposed by initiative by petition of 15% of the electors registered at the last general election of the local government or by ordinance enacted by the governing body. The question on amendment of a charter or an adopted alternative form of government must be submitted to the electors at the next regular or primary election.||”|
Montana Code Section 7-3-709 states "A charter may be amended only as provided by state law."
Montana Code Section 7-5-131 mandates local initiative and referendum powers to citizens of all local governments.
|“||(1) The powers of initiative and referendum are reserved to the electors of each local government. Resolutions and ordinances within the legislative jurisdiction and power of the governing body of the local government, except those set out in subsection (2), may be proposed or amended and prior resolutions and ordinances may be repealed in the manner provided in 7-5-132 through 7-5-137.||”|
Montana Code Section 7-3-708 states that charters may not differ from the general law initiative process.
|“||Limitations on charter provisions. (1) Charter provisions may not conflict with the provisions of part 1, chapter 1, which establish statutory limitations on the powers of self-government units. (2) Charter forms are subject to state laws establishing election, initiative, and referendum procedures; and charters shall not contain provisions establishing election, initiative, and referendum procedures. (3) The charter shall not contain provisions establishing or modifying local court systems.||”|
See law: Montana Code, Title 7
|A guide to local ballot initiatives|
Initiative process features for all local governments
The initiative and referendum process for local governments can be found in Montana Code 7-5-131 through 7-5-137.
Initiative process features for amendment of local government charter
Charter cities are subject to the above provisions for ordinance initiative. Citizens in charter cities may also use initiative for charter amendments, as authorized by the Montana Code 7-3-103.
|Local I&R Laws in the 50 States|
|Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with |
clipboards, conversations, and campaigns
Initiative process in the top 10 most populated cities
|List of Most Populated Cities in Montana|
|City||Population||City Type||Next election|
|Miles City||8,438||General law||N/A|
In Montana, all local governments must follow the initiative requirements as provided above.
- The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 study of local governments
- Ballotpedia: Types and #'s of local government by state
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Montana Code 7-5
- Montana Code 13-27
- Montana Code 7-3-103
- Mont. Code 7-1-111
- US Census Bureau "City and Town Totals: Vintage 2011 (Population figures as of 2011 Census estimates)
- US Census, Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places in Montana: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011