Difference between revisions of "Laws governing the initiative process in Montana"

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===2010===
 
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:: ''See also: [[Changes in 2010 to laws governing the initiative process]]
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:: ''See also: [[Changes in 2010 to laws governing ballot measures]]
  
 
'''The following proposals were made during the 2009-2010 session of the [[Montana Legislature]]:'''
 
'''The following proposals were made during the 2009-2010 session of the [[Montana Legislature]]:'''

Revision as of 16:21, 31 October 2011

[edit]

Ballot law
BallotLaw final.png
State laws
Initiative law
Recall law
Statutory changes
Court cases
Lawsuit news
Ballot access rulings
Recent court cases
Petitioner access
Ballot title challenges
Superseding initiatives
Signature challenges
Laws governing
local ballot measures
Contents
1 Laws and procedures
1.1 Crafting an initiative
1.1.1 Single-subject rule
1.1.2 Subject restrictions
1.1.3 Competing initiatives
1.2 Starting a petition
1.2.1 Applying to petition
1.2.2 Proposal review/approval
1.2.3 Fiscal review
1.2.4 Petition summary
1.3 Collecting signatures
1.3.1 Number required
1.3.2 Distribution requirements
1.3.3 Restrictions on circulators
1.3.4 Electronic signatures
1.3.5 Deadlines for collection
1.4 Getting on the ballot
1.4.1 Signature verification
1.4.2 Ballot title and summary
1.5 The election and beyond
1.5.1 Supermajority requirements
1.5.2 Litigation
1.5.3 Legislative tampering
1.5.4 Re-attempting an initiative
1.6 Funding an initiative campaign
1.7 State statutes
2 Changes in the law

Citizens of Montana may initiate a new law as either a state statute or a constitutional amendment. In Montana, citizens also have the power to repeal legislation via veto referendum and call a constitutional convention by initiative. The Montana State Legislature may also place measures on the ballot as legislatively-referred constitutional amendments or legislatively-referred state statutes.

Crafting an initiative

Of the 24 states that allow citizens to initiate legislation through the petition process, several states have adopted restrictions and regulations that limit the scope and content of proposed initiatives. These regulations may include laws that mandate that an initiative address only one topic, restrict the range of acceptable topics for proposed laws; prohibit unfunded mandates; and establish guidelines for adjudicating contradictory measures.

Single-subject rule

See also: Single-subject rules

Montana has a single-subject rules for initiatives. More specifically, the Montana Constitution requires that initiated statutes have a single subject, whereas constitutional amendments must meet a "separate vote requirement." The state constitution reads:

"If more than one amendment is submitted at the same election, each shall be so prepared and distinguished that it can be voted upon separately."

In 1999, the Montana Supreme Court held that this section imposes a narrower requirement that a single subject rule. In the case, Marshall v. State ex rel. Cooney, the court found an amendment unconstitutional for amending more that one section of the state constitution.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Constitution, Article V, Section 11(3) & Article XIV, Section 11

Subject restrictions

See also: Subject restrictions (ballot measures)

Petitioners in Montana may not propose legislation on certain subjects. Initiated laws may not make appropriations or create local/special laws.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Constitution, Article III, Section 4(1)

Competing initiatives

See also: Superseding initiatives; "Poison pills"; List of Montana ballot measures

Montana law does not address competing ballot initiatives, except by requiring the Attorney General to notify the Secretary of State about conflicting proposals. (The law does not prohibit conflicting proposals.) No competing measures have been on Montana ballot in the past decade. However, two 2002 initiatives, IR-117 and I-145, both attempted to the repeal the Montana Power Authority -- only IR-117 was successful.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Constitution, Article III, Section 4 ; Article IV, Section 7 ; Article XIV, Sections 9-11 & Montana Code, Title 13, Chapter 27, Section 202

Starting a petition

Each initiative and referendum state employs a different procedure for filing petition applications. Some states require preliminary signatures while others do not. In addition, several states review each proposed statute, verifying that the law conforms to the style and conventions of state law and recommending alterations to initiative proponents. Some of these of these states also review the law for more substantive considerations of content and consistency. Also, many states conduct a review of the ballot title and summary, and several states employ a fiscal review process which analyzes proposed laws to determine their impact on state finances.[1][2][3]

Applying to petition

See also: Approved for circulation

Prior to collecting signatures, the initiative sponsor must file a draft of the amendment text with the Secretary of State. He or she must also file drafts of the statement of purpose and the statements explaining a yes or a no vote.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Code, Title 13, Chapter 27, Section 202

Proposal review/approval

See also: Approved for circulation

After a proposal has been submitted, the secretary transfers the proposal to the Legislative Services Division. The division reviews the measure (and accompanying statements) for "clarity, consistency, and conformity with the most recent edition of the bill drafting manual." The division then recommends changes to the proponent. The proponent must respond in writing, detailing which recommendation have been accepted, rejected, or modified. Failure to include any substantive change in this reply is grounds for rejecting the proposal.

Once this review process is complete, the measure is transferred to the Attorney General for review. The Attorney General then reviews the measure for compliance with the state's single-subject rule and subject restriction. He or she also reviews the ballot statements for fairness and clarity. The Attorney General is required to seek the advice of opponents and proponents in conducting this review.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Code, Title 13, Chapter 27, Section 202 & Section 312

Fiscal review

See also: Fiscal impact statements

During the Attorney General's review, he or she must determine if the bill affects state revenues or expenditures. If so, the budget director must prepare a short fiscal note for inclusion on the petition and ballot.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Code, Title 13, Chapter 27, Section 312

Petition summary

See also: Ballot measure summary statement

Once the Attorney General has approved a measure and its accompanying statements. The secretary prepares a proof copy of the petition. Petition forms include: the text of the proposal, the statement of purpose, the fiscal note (if required), and the statements explaining a yes or a no vote.

  • An example of a petition form can be found here.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Code, Title 13, Chapter 27, Section 202

Collecting signatures

Each initiative and referendum state employs a unique method of calculating the state's signature requirements. Some states mandate a certain fraction of registered voters while others base their calculation on those who actually voted in a preceding election. In addition, many states employ a distribution requirement, dictating where in the state these signatures must be collected. Beyond these overarching requirements, many states regulate the manner in which signature may be collected and the timeline for collecting them.

Number required

See also: Montana signature requirements

The number of signatures required to qualify a measure for the ballot is tied to how many votes were cast in the last gubernatorial election. To place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, proponents must collect 10% of votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial general election. For a new state statute or veto referendum, 5% of votes cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election are required.

Year Amendment Statute Veto referendum
2014 48,349 24,174 24,174
2012 48,673 24,337 24,337
2010 48,673 24,337 24,337
2008 44,615 22,308 22,308

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Constitution, Article III, Section 4 & Article XIV, Sections 9

Distribution requirements

See also: Distribution requirements

For a constitutional amendment, proponents must collect signatures equal to 10% of the qualified electors in each of two-fifths (40) of the state's 100 legislative districts. For an initiated statute or a veto referendum, signatures must be equal to 5% of the qualified electors in each of one-third (34) of the state's legislative districts. The number of qualified electors in any district, for the purpose of the distribution requirement, is equal to the number of votes cast for governor in that district in the last gubernatorial election.

If a petition is circulated after redistricting and before the next gubernatorial election, the number of qualified electors in each district is equal to the total number of votes cast for governor statewide divided by the total number of districts.

In 2002, two amendments, C-37 & C-38, attempted to change the basis for the distribution requirement from legislative districts to counties. However, given population disparities among counties, the amendments were struck down by a federal court in Montana PIRG v. Johnson.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Constitution, Article III, Section 4 ; Article XIV, Section 9 & Montana Code Annotated, Title 13, Chapter 27, Section 303(2)

Restrictions on circulators

Pay-per-signature

See also: Pay-per-signature

Montana bans pay-per-signature for initiative petition gatherers.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Code Annotated, Title 13, Chapter 27, Section 102

Out-of-state circulators

See also: Residency requirements for petition circulators

Montana requires that petition circulators reside in the state.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Code Annotated, Title 13, Chapter 27, Section 102

Badge requirements

See also: Badge requirements

Montana does not employ a badge requirement. These laws mandate that circulators be identified as either paid or volunteer. Notices to this effect are sometimes required on the petition form and/or a badge worn by circulators. The latter is also known as a "Scarlet Letter Law."

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Code Annotated, Title 13, Chapter 27

Electronic signatures

See Also: Electronic petition signatures

Only one state, Utah, officially permits electronic petition signatures. However, the constitutionality of bans on electronic signatures and the legality of e-signatures in states without bans is largely untested.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Code Annotated, Title 13, Chapter 27

Deadlines for collection

See also: Petition drive deadlines; Circulation period

Once proponents have received the official petition proof copy, they have (at most) one year to circulate petitions and receive certification from county election officials. The county officials must submit each verified petition to the Secretary of State by the final filing deadline (the third Friday of the fourth month prior to the election). Proponents must submit their petitions to county officials no sooner than 9 months and no later than 4 weeks prior to the final filing deadline. Proponents may begin collecting signatures no earlier than one year prior to the final filing deadline.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Code Annotated, Title 13, Chapter 27, Section 104 & Section 202

Getting on the ballot

Once signatures have been collected, state officials must verify that requirements are met and that fraudulent signatures are excluded. States generally employ a random sample process or a full verification of signatures. After verification, the issue must be prepared for the ballot. This often involves preparing a fiscal review and ballot summary.

Signature verification

See also: Signature certification

Petitioners must submit their signatures to county election officials for verification. The verification process involves two steps. First county officials verify that each name on the sheets corresponds to a registered voter. Second, they verify the authenticity of a random sample of signatures against the corresponding signatures on voter registration records. If any signature appears to be forged, all signatures on the affected sheet or section must be checked for authenticity. Once the county officials have completed this process, they must forward both their official total and the petition sheets themselves to the Secretary of State.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Code Annotated, Title 13, Chapter 27, Section 303 (1) & Section 304

Ballot title and summary

See also: Ballot title

In Montana, the ballot title is identical with the statement of purpose (summary). It is prepared by petitioners, reviewed by the Legislative Services Division, and approved by the Attorney General prior to signature collection. The ballot title is a short (less than 100 words) question explaining the purpose of the measure.

Each measure also receives a generic title during the initial review process (I-161, CI-105, LR-119, C-43, IR-124, CC-2) and an identifying statement (an act referred by the legislature, a constitutional amendment proposed by initiative petition).

  • A 2008 sample ballot can be found here.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Code, Title 13, Chapter 27, Section 202, Section 312 & Section 501

The election and beyond

Ballot measures face additional challenges beyond qualifying for the ballot and receiving a majority of the vote. Several states require ballot measures to get more than a simple majority. While some states mandate a 3/5 supermajority, others states set the margin differently. In addition, ballot measures may face legal challenge or modification by legislators. If a ballot measure does fail, some states limit how soon that initiative can be re-attempted.

Supermajority requirements

See also: Supermajority requirements

Montana ballot measures do not require a supermajority for passage.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Constitution, Article III, Section 4 & Article XIV, Section 9

Effective date

Unless the measure specifies otherwise, approved ballot measures take effect on October 1 following the election.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Code Annotated, Title 13, Chapter 27, Section 105

Litigation

See also: Ballot measure lawsuit news

The Montana Constitution gives priority to cases challenging initiatives. The constitution also forbids any challenge of the process of placing a measure on the ballot once the election has been held. In addition, the constitution requires that any measure overturned because of an improperly conducted election be presented to voters again at the next election.

Both proponents and opponents of a measure may challenge the Attorney General's decision regarding the ballot statements and the proposal's compliance with legal/constitutional requirements. These challenges should be filed in the Montana Supreme Court. Any qualified elector may challenge the certification of a measure for the ballot due to invalid signatures or an erroneous count. These challenges should be filed in the district court in the county of residence of the individual bringing the action.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Constitution, Article IV, Section 7 & Montana Code Annotated, Title 13, Chapter 27, Section 316 & Section 317

Legislative tampering

See also: Legislative tampering

The Montana State Legislature may repeal or amend any statute approved by voters. To repeal or alter an amendment, they must must follow the ordinary legislative referral process. In order to place an amendment on the ballot, lawmakers must adopt the proposal by a 2/3 vote of all members.[4]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Constitution, Article XIV, Section 8

Re-attempting an initiative

Montana does not limit how soon an initiative can be re-attempted.[5]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Montana Constitution, Article III, Section 4 ; Article IV, Section 7 ; Article XIV, Sections 9-11 & Montana Code Annotated, Title 13, Chapter 27

Funding an initiative campaign

See also: Campaign finance requirements for Montana ballot measures

Some of the notable features of Montana's campaign finance laws include:

  • Montana treats groups that are registered to support or oppose a ballot question the same like other political committees.
  • Montana has a separate designation for independent expenditure groups influencing a ballot question called a incidental political committee.
  • Montana requires urgent reporting of all campaign contributions of $500 or more in the last ten days of the election, within 24 hours of receiving the contribution.
  • Montana allows corporations and labor unions to donate to political committees in support or opposition of a ballot question.
  • Montana requires urgent reporting of all campaign debts of $500 or more used towards election materials within 24 hours of receipt of the transaction.

State statutes

Articles III, IV, XIV of the Montana Constitution address initiative, referendum, and recall.

Title 13, Chapter 27 of the Montana Code Annotated governs initiative, referendum, and recall.

External Links

References


Ballot law
BallotLaw final.png
State laws
Initiative law
Recall law
Statutory changes
Court cases
Lawsuit news
Ballot access rulings
Recent court cases
Petitioner access
Ballot title challenges
Superseding initiatives
Signature challenges
Laws governing
local ballot measures
Contents
1 Laws and procedures
2 Changes in the law
2.1 Proposed changes by year
2.1.1 2011
2.1.2 2010

The following laws have been proposed which modify ballot measure law in Montana.

Proposed changes by year

2011

See also: Changes in 2011 to laws governing ballot measures

Bills that have or might be introduced in the 2011 session of the Montana State Legislature include:


2010

See also: Changes in 2010 to laws governing ballot measures

The following proposals were made during the 2009-2010 session of the Montana Legislature:


  • No new ballot measure laws were proposed in 2010.