Montana Politics

If it’s come to this…

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If our legislators really think that they are well-positioned to alter or straight up overturn the will of the voters of Montana, then I think it’s time the voters of Montana stood up for their own rights. Doing so via elections for Senators and Representatives, however, runs into the obvious problems of party politics and the mix of issues and personality that goes into every person’s vote for a particular candidate.

No, I think the best thing to do is to launch an initiative to amend the Montana constitution. What I have in mind would be something to the effect of –

“No law passed by the State Legislature overturning or altering a statute enacted by means of the Montana initiative process may take effect until the following November Elections. The legislation in question, to be effective, must be approved by a simple majority of voters, voting ‘yes’ or ‘no’, as with a citizen initiative. The summary description of the legislation provided on the ballot will be written using the same process as a citizens initiative, and information about the legislation will be disseminated using the same process as is used for a citizen’s initiative.”

Obviously I don’t know the actual wording that would be used – we need lawyers for that. But I think an addition like that to our constitution would be very helpful. It would add some validity to the initiative process that we are so proud of here in Montana, in two ways. We have a relatively small population and therefore are well positioned to take advantage of some less-diluted democracy. This would protect laws enacted in this way from being overturned by legislature.

It would also be a Constitutional Initiative that actually defended our rights as voters, rather than describing who can get married and what transactions can be taxed. Thus, it would demonstrate that the initiative process can in fact work to defend the rights of the people against the bickering, sloth, and unwillingness to compromise of some of our politicians.

It would allow for the regulation and adjustment of citizen’s initiatives, while adding a mechanism to ensure that the will of the voters is not completely trampled. I’m not a legal expert, but if anyone else thinks this is a good idea let me know!

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The Polish Wolf

3 Comments

  • Why can’t we nullify the worse of the ‘baggers’? They don’t want to respect voter referendums, then we can say ‘we changed our minds’ also and toss Skees, Hale, ‘Birther Bob’, Knox and
    ilk……fair play?

  • I think we’re probably better off making it a law, not an amendment, but requiring that legislators can overturn it only if they have 75% of total votes in both House and Senate AND the date for the overturn is after the next election cycle, so that voters can reorganize and renew the initiative.

    I can envision scenarios where bad but legal initiatives can pass. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing to overturn a popular initiative (e.g. Prop 13 in CA should have been overturned because it’s basically bankrupting the state), but there should be a very high hurdle for doing it.

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