A Guide to Ballot Issues

first_img Email Along with choosing public leaders, voters in the 2012 general election also have the responsibility of deciding whether certain policies will go into effect in Montana. These ballot issues touch on heavy social matters: abortion, medical marijuana, immigration, health insurance and corporate personhood. The following is a brief description of each issue, along with the pros and cons provided by supporters and opponents. The information is provided by the Montana Secretary of State. The general election is Nov. 6. Legislative Referendum No. 120 – AbortionLR-120 prohibits a doctor from performing an abortion on a minor under the age of 16 without the doctor first contacting the minor’s parent or guardian 48 hours before the procedure. Notice would not be required if there is a medical emergency; notice is waived by youth court in a sealed proceeding; or it is waived by a parent or guardian. Anyone performing an abortion in violation of this act would be subject to criminal prosecution and civil liability. State Sen. Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, and state Rep. Gerald Bennett, R-Libby, provided the view from proponents of the initiative, who believe it makes sense for minors to get parental permission before undergoing a medical procedure for the following reasons:• Abortion procedures can involve surgery, powerful medications, potential medical complications and death, the supporters said. Parents have knowledge of the minor’s medical record, and “if a teenage girl suffers complications following an abortion, who is responsible for ensuring that she receives proper care?”• Parents also need to be involved to protect a minor who is victimized by a “child predator,” the proponents argue, and informing the parents about a secret abortion could end a coercive and threatening relationship.• Surrounding states have parental consent and notification laws, the proponents said, and adding one in Montana discourages minors from coming here to get an abortion.State Sen. Lynda Moss, D-Billings, and state Rep. Diane Sands, D-Missoula, provided the opponents’ view against the initiative, arguing that LR-120 is unnecessary and potentially dangerous for women for the following reasons:• The referendum means more government intrusion on what should be matters of family communication. “In the real world, this law may place a teen in danger who is from an abusive or violent family,” proponents argue.• Families need to talk to their daughters about responsible, appropriate sexual behavior to foster an atmosphere where teens facing unintended pregnancies can receive safe medical care and counseling. This referendum could cause minors to run away and obtain illegal abortions.• Opponents say 80 percent of girls obtaining abortions in Montana already include their parents in the decision. A small number don’t involve their parents due to abuse or incest.• Referendum opponents believe LR-120 is unconstitutional, because the state constitution provides the right to privacy when making medical decisions. Legislative Referendum No. 121 – Illegal ImmigrantsLR-121 prohibits providing state services to people who are not U.S. citizens and have entered or remained the country unlawfully. These services include applying for state licenses, state employment, unemployment or disability benefits, or aid for university students. Anyone seeking state services must provide evidence of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status. State agencies must notify federal authorities of illegal aliens. LR-121 will add costs due to hiring and training personnel to use federal databases; software, hardware and search charges; and information assessment and management costs.State Sen. Jim Shockley, R-Victor, and Rep. David Howard, R-Park City, prepared the argument for the initiative, which they said is to save taxpayer dollars and “honor the rule of law”:• The language forces illegal immigrants to leave the state and not use services. These people can cost taxpayers significant money by applying for food stamps, benefits and education aid, and can take jobs from Montanans.• The law would not discriminate because everyone would be treated equally when applying for state services, proponents say. State Sen. David Wanzenried, D-Missoula, and Rep. Margie MacDonald, D-Billings, prepared the argument against the initiative, which they believe goes against Montanans’ tradition of being open and welcoming:• LR-121 creates more red tape for families to fight through when applying for services.• The referendum could force state employees to check residents’ identities against a federal database and report it if something doesn’t match up, while forcing the state to shoulder the cost of searching the database and training employees to use it.• It is similar to the Real ID federal program that Montana rejected. Legislative Referendum No. 122 – Health InsuranceLR-122 prohibits state and federal governments from requiring residents to purchase health insurance or imposing a penalty, tax, fine or fee on those who don’t. The prohibition would not apply to court orders; the state Department of Public Health and Human Services as part of child support enforcement; and the university system as a requirement for students. State Sen. Art Wittich, R-Bozeman, and Rep. Cary Smith, R-Billings, prepared the proponents’ argument, which centers around the ideas of more expense and less freedom:• Montana’s attorney general did not fight the Affordable Care Act like other states did, but the Legislature did not approve of the new law.• The federal law may be good for hospitals and drug and insurance companies, but the Medicaid expansion it requires will be paid through higher taxes and insurance premiums.• LR-122 creates new legal grounds so that the rights of Montanans are protected from federal coercion or state collusion.State Sen. Christine Kaufmann, D-Helena, and Rep. Franke Wilmer, D-Bozeman, prepared the argument against LR-122, because they believe Montanans deserve to receive health care regardless of how sick they are:• With ACA, insurance companies can no longer refuse to cover Montanans with preexisting conditions.• If LR-122 passes, some Montanans may go without insurance, knowing they can get it if they get sick or injured, thus raising the cost for everyone.• If LR-122 passes, insurance companies will have to charge high rates to residents and small businesses that buy insurance, because higher rates will be necessary to pay for those who went without or couldn’t afford it.• ACA has a lot of improvements, including tax credits to small businesses to provide insurance, lower premiums for those who need it most and lower prescription costs for seniors. LR-122 would take those away.Initiative Referendum No. 124 – Medical MarijuanaThis initiative seeks Montanans’ approval for the state’s medical marijuana program. The original program was created in 2004 with I-148 and changed by Senate Bill 423 in the 2011 Legislature. SB423 repeals the voter-approved program, and replaces it with one that permits patients to grow marijuana or designate a provider; limits each provider to three patients; prohibits providers from taking payment for services or products; grants local law enforcement authority to regulate providers; establishes specific standards for demonstrating chronic pain; and reviews doctors who certify marijuana use for 25 or more patients per year. Voting for this referendum affirms SB423 and enacts this new program. Voting against it restores the original medical marijuana program. State Sen. Jeff Essmann, R-Billings, and Rep. Cary Smith prepared the proponents’ argument for SB423. They believe the state did not get the program it thought it would in 2004:• The lax language of the original initiative led to an explosion of marijuana cardholders, from 4,000 in September 2009 to almost 31,000 in May 2011. One doctor was responsible for 6,860 of these cards, and half the cardholders were younger than 41.• There was no indication in 2004 that providers would supply their own product or sell it out of storefronts or that marijuana would be advertised on billboards and “provocative signage,” or that pot plants would be on display or there would be medical marijuana “caravans.”• SB423 is working because it has allowed cities and towns more control and tightened qualifications on card issuances.• Repealing SB423 would bring back a “Wild West” situation that voters didn’t know they were getting. Lori Burnam, Sarah Baugh Combs and Dr. Edwin Stickney prepared the argument against SB423, which says lawmakers went against the will of the people when they passed SB423 in 2011:• SB423 provides no legal way for a patient to obtain medical marijuana seeds or plants.• It makes it harder for doctors to care for patients eligible for medical marijuana.• It is “an extreme over-correction” to the 2004 law. Instead of destroying the original program, lawmakers should have found a middle ground.• Voting against SB423 will allow the future legislative session to come up with a more effective way to regulate medical marijuana without trampling patients’ rights. Ballot Initiative No. 166 – Corporate PersonhoodI-166 establishes a state policy that corporations are not entitled to constitutional rights because they are not human beings. It would prohibit corporate campaign contributions and spending and would limit political spending in elections. I-166 would also charge Montana’s congressional delegation to propose a joint resolution to the U.S. Constitution establishing that corporations are not human beings entitled to constitutional rights. Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Lt. Gov. John Bohlinger and former Secretary of State Verner Bertelsen prepared the proponents’ argument for I-166, which they believe would keep corporate money from unduly influencing elections:• Montanans passed the Corrupt Practices Act by citizen initiative in 1912 after witnessing corruption wrought by the Copper Kings.• Montana had a rare and pure form of democracy that gave citizens access to their government and didn’t allow people to buy their way to the front of the line.• There is a possibility that the American political system is now open to foreign money influencing elections.• I-166 can begin the process of overriding the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and returning elections back to the people. State Sen. Ed Buttrey, R-Great Falls, Rep. Rob Cook, R-Conrad, and Lee Bruner prepared the argument against I-166:• I-166 would impair U.S. Supreme Court decisions spanning nearly 200 years, including those that allow certain corporate rights such as the right to contract, to enforce contracts, to sue, the right to own property and freedom of speech.• The initiative is a far-reaching reaction to the Citizens United decision and vilifies Montana businesses.• I-166 would declare labor unions corrupt and unworthy of constitutional rights and protections.• The initiative would direct Montana’s elected officials to deny corporations’ established constitutional rights, which breaks the officials’ oath of office. For more information on the 2012 general election ballot issues, including rebuttals to the arguments presented, visit sos.mt.gov. Stay Connected with the Daily Roundup. Sign up for our newsletter and get the best of the Beacon delivered every day to your inbox.last_img read more

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