Montana legislators filed requests for 67 amendments to our state constitution this year, but as of the writing of this article, none look likely to be passed by the legislature. Failed proposals run the gamut, but range from putting the Governor in charge of the judiciary branch (by making Supreme Court appointments) to undermining local government to four separate bills that sought to write gerrymandering into our constitution.
Northern Plains worked throughout the legislature to combat these bad bills, and our hard work paid off. We organized a February rally at the Capitol that turned out hundreds of Montanans in support of our constitution, and co-sponsored another one in May. Northern Plains members testified in committee hearings, lobbied in the halls, and organized strategic phone calls to constituents in moderate legislators’ districts to encourage everyday Montanans to talk with their legislators and help flip their votes. We crafted newspaper and social media ads to help drive constituent contacts as well.
A group of Northern Plains members has been meeting for over a year, including weekly during the legislative session, to build and implement our constitution protection strategy, and it worked! In addition to defeating bad bills, we helped scare off the introduction of many amendments, including the long-awaited attack on our right to a clean and healthful environment, which was requested in early December of last year but ultimately was never introduced.
We are fiercely proud of our constitution, which was written by Montanans to serve Montanans. For more than half a century, it has faithfully protected our freedoms, rights, and people. We’re proud to help protect it, for this and future generations.