Archive: Initiatives

The wacko world of citizen-driven initiatives has historically been hysterical.

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Montana has a robust history of intiatives.  In this series, “CI” denotes an initiative to amend the constitution.  “I” denotes an initiative to amend or establish statutory law.


In 1984, CI-23 proposed to amend the constitution, requiring the Legislature to pass a resolution telling Congress to balance the federal budget.  Although it gathered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot, the Montana Supreme Court kept it off the ballot, saying it was beyond the scope of the initiative process.  Jim Waltermire was Secretary of State (in charge of elections).  Larry Williams of Kalispell was a mojor proponent of the measure.

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1986 was a big year for ballot measures.  CI-27 proposed a constitutional amendment to abolish property taxes and require voter approval of any sales tax.  It failed.

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CI-30 was aimed at “tort reform” by limiting the damages plaintiffs could recover in liability lawsuits.  Insurance companies strongly backed the measure, which passed.

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After CI-30 (the tort-reform amendment) passed in the 1986 election, the Montana Supreme Court ruled it invalid.

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The 1987 attempt to get CI-31 on the ballot failed to get enough signatures.  It proposed to remove the legal requirement for kids to attend school.

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I-105 froze property taxes at 1986 levels.  It passed, impacting school funding.

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After the 1987 Legislature failed to pass any tax reform, the effects of I-105 kicked in.

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1988 was another busy year for ballot measures.  Eventually,  seven issues were placed in front of voters in the general election.

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I-110 would have repealed the Seatbelt Use Act, which the Legislature passed in 1987.

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Also in 1988, I-113 (the “bottle bill” proposed refundable deposits on all beverage containers.  It was voted down after a barrage of ads and publicity.


In 1990, CI-55 proposed to eliminate existing taxes and fund government through a “trade charge” on business and financial transactions.  It went down in defeat.

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In 1992, Fred Thomas (R-Stevensville) was a prime mover behind CI-64.  It established term limits for state executive and legislative elected offices.

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In my opinion, term limits have been detrimental to Montana, especially in the Legislature.

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In 2010, CI-105 amended the constitution to prohibit imposing a tax on real estate transactions.  The National Association of Realtors spent a lot of money backing the issue.

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Even though Montana had no real estate transaction tax and the Legislature had killed a bill proposing one, the realtors insisted the amendment was needed.