Initiatives’ Supporters Authorized to Gather Signatures

By Beacon Staff

HELENA (AP) – Proposed Montana constitutional amendments, one advanced by abortion opponents and the other intended to limit tax increases, have cleared a state hurdle that allows the backers to start gathering petition signatures needed to put the measures on the ballot.

Constitutional Initiative 100 defines a person as “a human being at all stages of human development or life, including the state of fertilization.” Passage by voters in November probably would compel the Legislature to outlaw abortion, said state Rep. Rick Jore of Ronan, the initiative’s author.

Getting enough signatures to put CI-100 on the ballot will not be easy, said Jore, a member of the Constitution Party.

The other measure, Constitutional Initiative 99, would limit increases in residential property taxes to 1.5 percent a year. The proposal also would create a system of real estate appraisal for tax purposes. Homes would be reappraised only when sold. The new value would be the purchase price or the assessed value, whichever is greater.

To get on the ballot, each measure requires petition signatures of 44,615 registered voters. Of those, at least 10 percent must be signatures of registered voters in at least 40 of Montana’s 100 state House districts.

June 20 is the deadline for submitting signatures.

“Based on the reaction I’ve received at this point, I don’t see any problem at all in gathering the 45,000 signatures,” said John McMenamin of Kalispell, chief organizer for CI-99.

Jore said supporters of CI-100 have formed a ballot committee, Life for Montana, that will coordinate a campaign.

Organized opposition to CI-100 includes civil rights and reproductive rights groups, among them the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood of Montana. Also opposed are NARAL Pro-Choice Montana and the Montana Human Rights Network.

Allyson Hagen, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Montana, said CI-100 would violate the right to privacy set forth in the Montana Constitution and would enable politicians to make “private medical decisions regarding women’s health.”

Opponents of the initiative speak only about the privacy rights of a woman, and not a child in the womb, Jore said.

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