Montana Politics

Reject the Effort to Amend Montana’s Constitution

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I love Montana and its constitution. I love that the delegates who wrote it in 1972 had the wisdom to recognize the importance of protecting our environment and ensuring quality education for all. Montana has a constitution to be proud of, for the most part, and we should be very wary about efforts to change it for special interests.

Representative Dan Kennedy from Laurel isn’t satisfied with the simple, clean language embodied in Article II, Section 3. He wants to amend the constitution to ensure an “economically productive” environment for Montana citizens:

Constitution

Let’s put aside for a moment that Kennedy’s vague language does nothing to define what "an “economically productive” environment would mean. Personally, I can only assume that he means a living wage for all workers, access to education from cradle to degree, and a social services safety net that ensures all Montanans will grow up in an environment that gives them an opportunity to succeed economically as adults. Somehow, I suspect that what Mr. Kennedy means is something closer to little regulation on business, insufficient taxation, and a nuclear power plant on Mount Helena. It’s a meaningless phrase, one that Kennedy no doubt hopes will be used to weaken environmental protection in Montana.

That agenda becomes very clear when one reads the language that Kennedy intends to include on the ballot in 2012. It reads:

[]      FOR recognizing that a person’s inalienable right to a clean and healthful environment includes the right to an economically productive environment.
[]      AGAINST recognizing that a person’s inalienable right to a clean and healthful environment includes the right to an economically productive environment.

That language does not even suggest that a “clean and healthful” environment is equal to an “economically productive” one. Kennedy is proposing a decreased commitment to the clean air and water Montanans cherish, less protections for the mountains we hike and streams we fish, subordinating those values to whatever laissez-faire definition of economic productivity some company hopes to impose.

Let’s protect our environment for future generations and preserve our constitution from these ill-advised modifications that are not only unnecessary, but counter-productive.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is a seventeen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

6 Comments

  • Well, first of all, the man is a total ass. He's equating economy with biology, and I'd say for that he's a total ass. An economic "environment" has absolutley NOTHING to do with a biological environment. Hence, his proposal is false on the face of it. Now, to be more truthful, he SHOULD have proposed something like, "For, turning our environment into a giant shithole in an specious attempt to improve the economy". That wold be much more truthful. But to equate biology with economics is pure bullshit. An enviroment is an environment. Are we to live in a clean and healthful environment, or a clean and healthful economy? The two are completely unrelated. You can't BREATHE AND DRINK a f*ckin' economy!

    Words do have meaning whether or not this idiot wants to believe it.

  • Wow – why don't we just get rid of the legislature entirely and just elect judges? Can you imagine if judges had to determine whether every law encouraged a healthy economic environment?

  • It should be remembered that the 1972 Constitutional Convention was a bipartisan affair. Both Republicans and Democrats hammered out our excellent Montana Constitution. Of course that was back when you could actually find some reasonable Republicans.

    • The problem with being sarcastic about the "Great Leader" on the internet is that without a tone of voice accompanying it, it sounds exactly the same as your genuine blind faith in the Republican party. I suppose that's why you add 'LOL' to your sarcastic comments. The necessity of it is telling.

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