Three Initiatives Qualify for Montana Ballot in November

By Beacon Staff

HELENA – The state said Monday that three proposed initiatives received enough signatures of support from voters to qualify for the November ballot.

Secretary of State Linda McCulloch said a fourth initiative, the constitutionally required question on whether voters want a Montana constitutional convention, will also be on the ballot.

Initiative 161 qualified for the ballot and seeks to change the way hunter-access programs are funded. Another, I-164, caps the interest rate that payday loan operators can charge.

Constitutional Initiative 105 aims to prevent the Legislature from ever implementing a tax Montana currently does not have on the transfer of real estate.

McCulloch said her office is finalizing signature totals, which county offices were required to turn in by Friday.

“Out of 26 proposed ballot measures, three have successfully met the requirements needed to qualify for the November ballot,” McCulloch said. “Even after we tabulate the remaining signatures, none of the other ballot issues will have enough signatures to qualify.”

Backers of the campaign to cap payday loans at an annual percentage rate of 36 percent said they expect voters to approve the measure because current fees are unreasonably high and predatory.

The payday loan shops oppose the initiative, which they say would become unprofitable because the 36 percent annual rate is a small amount on short-term loans and the cap would such loans no longer worth the risk.

I-161 is largely driven by an opposition to the way outfitters operate on public land and would take away the guaranteed outfitter-sponsored, nonresident hunting license. Its backers say access to wildlife has decreased due to the for-profit fee hunting of outfitters.

The outfitters have largely come out in opposition to the measure.

Among the proposed initiatives that didn’t not receive enough support to qualify for the ballot was an anti-abortion effort to constitutionally declare that life begins at conception, and a late effort to undo the state’s medical marijuana law.