Tagmontana

Stories about Montana

All candidates for Montana House of Representatives District 3 complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Both of the candidates running in the November 8, 2022, general election for Montana House of Representatives District 3 — incumbent Braxton Mitchell (R) and Andrea Getts (D) — completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. These survey responses allow voters to hear directly from candidates about what motivates them to run for office.

Eighty-eight of the country’s 99 state legislative chambers will hold regularly scheduled elections in 2022. The Republican Party controls both chambers of Montana’s state legislature. Montana is one of 23 states with a Republican party trifecta.

Here are excerpts from candidates’ responses to the question: What are the main points you want voters to remember about your goals for your time in office?            

Mitchell:           

  • “District 3 is who I am. I grew up in Columbia Falls and am working hard with the people and small businesses in our district to solve problems and bring about change in state government.”
  • “Conservatives made a lot of reforms that were vetoed by 16 years of democrat governors. There is still a lot of work to do and I am working with my constituents and fellow legislators to be prepared to hit the ground running in 2023 and continue making government even more accountable and efficient.”
  • “Joe Biden and unelected judges are taking away our states rights. They are responsible for inflation in every aspect of our economy and over turning our election security laws.”

Getts:       

  • “I’m not interested in partisan politics. I want to bring us back to the middle, where our common ground is found and where the work gets done.”
  • “Our schools need our support. They are often the center of the our communities in Montana educate our future generations.”
  • “We need to support Montanans at all stages in life – from birth through aging in place.”

Click on candidates’ profile pages below to read their full responses to this and other questions.

We ask all federal, state, and local candidates with profiles on Ballotpedia to complete a survey and share what motivates them on political and personal levels. Ask the candidates in your area to fill out the survey.

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Six abortion-related measures are on the ballot in 2022—the most on record for a single year

In 2022, there are six ballot measures addressing abortion—the most on record. Measures have been certified for the ballot in California, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana, and Vermont. Votes on these ballot measures follow Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which held that the U.S. Constitution does not confer a right to abortion.

Voters in California, Michigan, and Vermont will be the first to decide on ballot measures to establish state constitutional rights to abortion. These measures are also the first abortion-related ballot measures since 1992 to have the support of organizations that describe themselves as pro-choice/pro-reproductive rights.

In August, voters in Kansas rejected a measure to provide that the state constitution cannot be interpreted to establish a state constitutional right to abortion. Turnout on the amendment was 49%, exceeding the number of votes cast in the state’s U.S. Senate and gubernatorial primaries on August 2. On November 8, voters in Kentucky will decide on a similar amendment. These types of amendments are designed to address previous and future state court rulings on abortion that have prevented or could prevent legislatures from passing certain abortion laws. 

In November, voters will decide on five abortion-related ballot measures:

  • California Proposition 1: Amends the California Constitution to provide that the state cannot “deny or interfere with an individual’s reproductive freedom in their most intimate decisions,” including decisions to have an abortion or to choose or refuse contraceptives
  • Kentucky Constitutional Amendment 2: Amends the Kentucky Constitution to state that nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion or requires government funding of abortions
  • Michigan Proposal 3: Amends the Michigan Constitution to provide a state constitutional right to reproductive freedom, defined to include abortion, contraception, and other matters related to pregnancy
  • Montana LR-131: Provides, in state law, that infants born alive at any stage of development are legal persons and requires medical care to be provided to infants born alive after an induced labor, cesarean section, attempted abortion, or another method
  • Vermont Amendment: Amends the Vermont Constitution to provide a state constitutional right to personal reproductive autonomy

From 1970 to August 2022, there have been 48 abortion-related ballot measures, and 41 (85%) of these had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-life. Voters approved 11 (27%) and rejected 30 (73%) of these 41 ballot measures. The other seven abortion-related ballot measures had the support of organizations that described themselves as pro-choice or pro-reproductive rights. Voters approved four (57%) and rejected three (43%).

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Montana voters in Lewis and Clark County will decide on two local-option marijuana taxes on June 7

On June 7, voters in Lewis and Clark County, Montana, will decide on two local-option excise taxes on medical and recreational marijuana sales. The first ballot measure would impose a 3% tax on recreational marijuana sales and related products. The second ballot measure would also impose a 3% tax on medical marijuana sales and related products. The taxes would take effect on October 1, 2022.

The Lewis and Clark County Commission voted to refer the measures to the ballot on Feb. 8, 2022.

In the 2020 election, Montana voters approved I-190 by a vote of 56.90% to 43.10%. The initiative legalized the possession and use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, imposed a 20% tax on marijuana sales, required the Department of Revenue to develop rules to regulate marijuana businesses, and allowed for the resentencing or expungement of marijuana-related crimes.

On March 29, 2021, the Montana House of Representatives introduced House Bill 701 (HB 701). It passed both chambers and was signed by Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) in May 2021. HB 701 authorized counties to impose a local-option excise tax of up to 3% on medical and recreational marijuana sales. The revenue from the tax would be distributed as follows:

  • 50% to the authorizing county;
  • 45% to municipalities according to share of county population; and
  • 5% to the Montana Department of Revenue for administration costs.

According to the state’s Department of Revenue, in February 2022, non-medical and medical marijuana sales totaled nearly $1.7 million. With a 3% tax rate, the estimated tax revenue would be $50,643.09.

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One-quarter of Montana legislators ineligible to seek re-election this year due to term limit laws

Thirty incumbent state legislators in Montana—24% of those with expiring terms—were ineligible to file for re-election this year because of the state’s term limit laws.

These laws guarantee open districts on a regular basis since incumbents are barred from running. Montana’s term limits had the largest effect on the state Senate where they left 12 of the 25 districts holding elections (48%) open. In the House, 18 of the 100 districts up for election (18%) were left open due to term limits.

In addition to the 30 term-limited legislators, 10 other incumbents did not file for re-election, one in the Senate and nine in the House. Overall, term limits accounted for 75% of the open districts in Montana this year, the largest percentage since 2014.

In Montana, one of 15 states with state legislative term limits, legislators can serve eight years in office during any 16-year period. These are not lifetime limits, meaning legislators can run again after spending the requisite amount of time out of office.

Montana’s limits are also chamber-specific, meaning that while a term-limited senator cannot seek re-election to the Senate, he or she can file to run in the House and vice versa. This year, 10 term-limited House members are running in a Senate district and two term-limited Senators are running in the House:

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in Montana this year was March 14. Candidates filed to run for the state’s 100 House districts and 25 of the 50 Senate districts.

Overall, 272 major party candidates filed to run this year. That’s 2.2 candidates per district, the largest such figure since 2016, which had 2.5 candidates per district.

This is Montana’s first election cycle as a Republican trifecta since 2004. From 2005 to 2020, Montana had a divided government. In 2020, Republicans gained the governorship with the election of Greg Gianforte (R). Republicans currently hold a 31-19 majority in the Senate and a 67-33 majority in the House.

Montana’s state legislative primaries are scheduled for Jun 7, making them the 14th in the nation.

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Twenty candidates file for Montana’s two U.S. House districts

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in Montana was March 14. This year, 20 candidates are running in Montana’s two U.S. House districts, including nine Republicans, six Democrats, four Libertarians, and one independent. That’s an average of 10 candidates per district.

The state gained a congressional district following the 2020 census. In 2020, nine candidates ran for Montana’s lone House district. In 2018, eight candidates ran.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • Incumbent Matt Rosendale (R) is seeking re-election in the 2nd Congressional District. He faces three Republican primary challengers.
  • The 1st District race is open.
  • The state’s only congressional district in 2020 was open. Incumbent Greg Gianforte (R) ran for re-election in 2018 and won.
  • This year, more than one candidate filed for both major party primaries in both districts.
  • The 2nd District has the largest candidate field at 11—four Republicans, three Democrats, three Libertarians, and one independent.

Montana’s U.S. House primaries are on June 7, alongside primaries in six other states. Thirteen states hold their primaries before that date.

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Twenty candidates file for Montana’s two U.S. House districts

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in Montana was March 14. This year, 20 candidates are running in Montana’s two U.S. House districts, including nine Republicans, six Democrats, four Libertarians, and one independent. That’s an average of 10 candidates per district.

The state gained a congressional district following the 2020 census. In 2020, nine candidates ran for Montana’s lone House district. In 2018, eight candidates ran.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • Incumbent Matt Rosendale (R) is seeking re-election in the 2nd Congressional District. He faces three Republican primary challengers.
  • The 1st District race is open.
  • The state’s only congressional district in 2020 was open. Incumbent Greg Gianforte (R) ran for re-election in 2018 and won.
  • This year, more than one candidate filed for both major party primaries in both districts.
  • The 2nd District has the largest candidate field at 11—four Republicans, three Democrats, three Libertarians, and one independent.

Montana’s U.S. House primaries are on June 7, alongside primaries in six other states. Thirteen states hold their primaries before that date.

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Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission enacts new congressional map

On Nov. 12, the Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission enacted a new congressional map following the 2020 redistricting cycle. The commissioners voted 3-2 to approve the map and to transmit it to the Montana Secretary of State. Both Republican commissioners and Maylinn Smith, the nonpartisan tiebreaker, voted in favor of the map, and the two Democratic commissioners voted against the map.

A version of the congressional map enacted by the commission had previously been approved on Nov. 4. The map that received final approval on Nov. 12 made a minor change in Pondera County, allocating a smaller portion of it to the Western district.

Following the approval of the congressional map, Democratic Commissioner Kendra Miller said: “Neither district on this plan is seriously competitive. The two districts together don’t adequately represent the overall makeup of our state. And for that reason, this plan has been drawn to unduly favor one political party.” Republican Commissioner Jeff Essmann said: “In terms of the Western district, you know, as it’s drawn, this is not, whether it is represented in the future by a Democrat or Republican, it will never be considered a safe seat in the 10 years going forward that would permit any candidate to not listen to the voters of that district.”

Following the 2020 census, population increases in Montana gave the state two congressional districts. Previously, the state had one at-large congressional district. The next deadline ahead of the commission will be preparing a legislative redistricting plan by Jan. 14, 2022, the 10th day of the upcoming regular legislative session.



Recall election for Montana sewer district to be held Aug. 24

A recall election seeking to remove two of the five board members for the Sanders County Sewer District in Montana is being held on Aug. 24. Board President Sunny Chase and board member Rick McCollum are on the ballot.

The recall effort was started by a group of residents who opposed putting a sewer system in Paradise, Montana. The board voted in favor of the sewer project in May 2020. The town received a $3.5 million grant to help cover the cost of the project and took out a loan of $770,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development to cover the rest of the cost. 

In reaction to the recall effort, Chase said the board had gone through the process of putting in a sewer system in good faith. She said she saw it as a necessity for the town.

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters had to submit signatures equal to 15% of registered voters in the town of Paradise. The petitions were submitted with 43 signatures, which was over the threshold. The Sanders County Clerk and Recorder’s Office verified the signatures, allowing the recall election to be scheduled.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Petitions rejected in recall effort against Montana mayor

Two recall petitions filed in Montana against Stevensville Mayor Brandon Dewey this month were rejected by the office of the Ravalli County Clerk over issues with how the petitions were filed. State statutes also limit new recall efforts from moving forward until petitioners reimburse expenses from an earlier recall election against the same official. Dewey retained his position following a recall vote on Nov. 3.

The recall efforts were organized by resident Leanna Rodabaugh, who accused Dewey of violating his oath of office by signing contracts on behalf of the town without approval from the Stevensville Town Council. The first petition was filed in response to a three-year contract with MySidewalk, Inc. costing $23,000 per year. The second petition was over a three-year contract with Billing Document Services, Inc. for an unspecified dollar amount.

Rodabaugh led the 2020 recall effort against Dewey over a $79,800 contract signed with First Call Computer Solutions. Dewey survived the recall election with 52% of voters casting ballots against removing him from office.

Recall organizers are given 90 days to collect valid signatures equaling 20% of registered voters in the city. Ravalli County Clerk and Recorder Regina Plettenberg rejected the petitions because they weren’t filed with a written statement including reasons for a recall election. Petitioners are also required to swear before a person authorized to administer oaths that the written statements are true. Recalls cannot be filed against officials who were the subject of a recall election within two years prior to and during the official’s term of office unless petitioners reimburse the cost of the earlier recall election.

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Montana governor signs bill adding restrictions to the initiative process

On May 14, Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) signed House Bill 651 into law. Both chambers of the legislature passed the bill along party lines in the last week of April. All Republicans but one were in favor and all Democrats were opposed. 

House Bill 651 changes the laws governing the initiative process in Montana

• to require the employees of paid signature gatherers to register with the state and pay a fee;

• to require the relevant legislative committee or the legislative council to review and vote whether to support or oppose adding any proposed initiative to the ballot and to require the results of that vote to be published on the initiative petition during circulation;

• to require the attorney general to determine whether a proposed initiative would “cause significant material harm to one or more business interests in Montana” and to require a statement on petition sheets if the attorney general finds that it would; and

• to define appropriations, which the state constitution prohibits initiatives from making, to include directly or indirectly creating a financial obligation or expanding the eligibility for a government program.

Legislators in Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, and Utah have passed restrictions on the initiative processes in their states in 2021.

As of May 14, 2021, Ballotpedia had tracked 197 legislative proposals concerning ballot initiatives, veto referendums, referrals, local ballot measures, and recall in 39 states in 2021 legislative sessions. At least 21 had been approved, and 20 had been defeated or had died.

Notable topics among bills introduced in 2021 sessions include supermajority requirement increases, signature requirement and distribution requirement increases, single-subject rules, pay-per-signature bans, residency requirements and other circulator restrictions, fiscal impact statement and funding source requirements, and ballot measure campaign contribution restrictions.