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Stories about Montana

Montana governor announces ban on ESG considerations in state investments

The office of Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) released the following statement on January 18 announcing that Montana has joined several other states in prohibiting non-financial considerations, including considerations related to ESG, in the state’s investments:

“Governor Greg Gianforte and the Montana Board of Investments today announced the State of Montana has reaffirmed its commitment to maximizing returns on the over $26 billion in investments of the state’s financial assets, not advancing a political agenda through Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing.

“‘As the State of Montana invests its financial assets, our priority is and should always be maximizing returns for our shareholders – the people of Montana,’ Governor Gianforte said. ‘On my watch, we won’t undermine taxpayers’ returns on investment in favor of the trend of activist, woke capitalism through ESG investing.’

“Late last year, the Board of Investments revoked the ability of the state’s investment managers to vote the state’s proxies which align with ESG investment decisions.

“‘The Board’s fiduciary duty is to maximize returns independent of political agendas, social pressures or any other non-pecuniary factors,’ said Dan Villa, Executive Director of the Board of Investments. ‘We have and will continue to grow Montana’s wealth without bias and based solely on what is in the best interest of the beneficiaries of the assets we invest.'”

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Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission submits final legislative district boundary proposal to legislature

The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission (MDAC) voted 3-2 to submit its final legislative district boundary proposal to the legislature. The commission’s nonpartisan chairperson, Maylinn Smith, and two Democratic-appointed commissioners voted to approve the map, and the two Republican-appointed commissioners voted against it.

According to Nicole Girten of the Daily Montanan, “The legislature will have 30 days after submission on Jan. 6 to comment on the map before it gets kicked back to the commission, which will…meet again in February to receive recommendations from the legislature and will then have 30 days to submit the final map to the Secretary of State’s Office.”

MDAC Commissioner Jeff Essmann, who was appointed by Senate Majority Leader Fred Thomas (R), stated his opposition to the final proposal: “This map does have compromises, but I would not call it a compromise map. There are still significant differences that we have in viewing this map, as was evidenced even today.” Commissioner Kendra Miller, who was appointed to the MDAC by House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner (D), said that both the Republican and Democratic commissioners knew Smith, who was appointed to the MDAC by the Montana Supreme Court, would cast the tie-breaking vote: “They needed to put up what they thought was the very best map they had, that met the criteria and could get her vote…We had to put up a map that we knew was going to be superior on criteria, and that’s what we did.”

After the MDAC voted 3-2 to advance the proposal on Dec. 1 for consideration at a public hearing. Arren Kimbel-Sannit of the Montana Free Press wrote that the proposed map “yields 60 House seats that, to varying degrees, favor Republicans, and 40 that favor Democrats. Ten of the seats are considered competitive based on metrics the commission adopted earlier in the process, with five that lean Republican and five that lean Democratic.”

The MDAC voted 3-2 to enact the state’s new congressional district boundaries on Nov. 12, 2021. Both Republican commissioners and Smith voted in favor of that map, and the two Democratic commissioners voted against it.

More information about the final legislative map proposal—named “Tentative Commission Plan-3″—along with population and statistical reports and GIS shapefiles, can be viewed by visiting the MDAC’s website.

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All candidates for Montana State Senate District 42 complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Both of the candidates running in the November 8, 2022, general election for Montana State Senate District 42 — Mary Anne Dunwell (D) and Matt Olson (R) — 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 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? 

Dunwell:

  • “I’m a pro-choice candidate with experienced service leadership for public benefit, not my personal gain.”
  • “I have a strong background in revenue policy and continue to promote and vote for a fairer tax system. We must stop giving unfair tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations at the expense of hard-working Montanans and small businesses.”
  • “My job is to serve you, whether you vote for me or not. When people ask me if I’m a Democrat or Republican, I reply that I’m a fellow Montanan with integrity, courage, and compassion, and the Democratic candidate for SD 42.”

Olson:   

  • “I am honest and have integrity . I WILL NOT make promises just to get elected. I will lead by example by studying issues to the best of my ability . I will show up to work.”
  • “I will uphold our Montana and United States constitution. Our personal rights and freedoms must be protected.”
  • “I believe in fiscal responsibility. We cannot continue to spend borrowed money. That is why it is so important to get team members back to work and provide an environment where business can thrive. We are only able to provide programs from tax revenue. If we cannot earn it, we should spend it.”

Click on the 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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All candidates for Montana House of Representatives District 62 complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Both candidates running in the November 8, 2022, general election for Montana House of Representatives District 62 — incumbent Ed Stafman (D) and Marc Greendorfer (R) — 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 Missouri’s state legislature. Missouri is one of 23 states with a Republican trifecta.

Here are excerpts from candidates’ responses to the question: What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?                    

Stafman:

“I’m committed to improving our broken mental health and nursing care systems. I am the only freshman to be elected to chair a major committee (on a bipartisan vote) – the Interim Children, Families, Health & Human Services committee. Working together, my bipartisan committee has produced eight bills (four of which I proposed) which, if passed by the full legislature, will dramatically improve Montana’s mental health system.”

Greendorfer:           

“It is critical for our constitutional republic, and the state of Montana, to ensure that we listen to all voices but legislate based on the state Constitution and the rule of law. Too often now, the loud voices dictate policy and deprive the citizenry of their right to be heard.”

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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All candidates for Montana Public Service Commission District 5 complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Both of the candidates running in the November 8, 2022, general election for Montana Public Service Commission District 5 — John Repke (D) and Ann Bukacek (R) — completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. These survey responses allow voters to hear directly from candidates about what motivates them to run for office. 

The Montana Public Service Commission is a five-member board responsible for regulation of energy, telecommunications, water/sewer, transportation, and pipeline utilities in the state. 

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?            

Repke:       

  • “Experience Matters – For a position like Public Service Commissioner, candidates should have the experience and expertise necessary to be competent and effective in the job.”
  • “Integrity is a Must – All Montanans should expect that their elected officials carry out their responsibilities with integrity, honesty, and professionalism.”
  • “Professionalism makes it work – For a position like Public Service Commissioner professionalism means taking the work seriously, being fully engaged, keeping an open mind to expert opinions, deliberating in good faith, and fostering a healthy, ethical work environment for the agency staff.”

Bukacek:

  • “Almost every vital component of our lives relies on access to energy and water. Keeping Montana energy-independent is key to keeping the lights on and the water running.”
  • “The combination of business owner, old fashioned doctor and seasoned advocate for citizens is a great combination for the PSC position.”
  • “Having been involved with Montana legislators every session since 2009, I am familiar with the legislative process, have helped craft and draft bills, testified for or against bills and garnered legislative and citizen support for same.”

Click on the 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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All candidates for Montana House of Representatives District 59 complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Both of the candidates running in the November 8, 2022, general election for Montana House of Representatives District 59 — incumbent Marty Malone (R) and Ruth Weissman (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 trifecta government.

Here are excerpts from candidates’ responses to the question: What do you perceive to be your state’s greatest challenges over the next decade?            

Malone:           

“Keeping taxes low and government smaller.”

Weissman:       

“Managing growth. Balancing access to and conservation of natural resources. Providing affordable and effective healthcare, including mental health services and prevention.”

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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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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