The State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse
U.S. states where the people can use a state constitutional convention to bypass the legislature's gatekeeping power over constitutional amendment
Montana Constitutional Conventions
Color Code: Highlights in red; Majority requirements in bold.
Section 1. Constitutional convention.
The legislature, by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of all the members, whether one or more bodies, may at any time submit to the qualified electors the question of whether there shall be an unlimited convention to revise, alter, or amend this constitution.
Section 2. Initiative for constitutional convention.
(1) The people may by initiative petition direct the secretary of state to submit to the qualified electors the question of whether there shall be an unlimited convention to revise, alter, or amend this constitution. The petition shall be signed by at least ten percent of the qualified electors of the state. That number shall include at least ten percent of the qualified electors in each of two-fifths of the legislative districts.
(2) The secretary of state shall certify the filing of the petition in his office and cause the question to be submitted at the next general election.
Section 3. Periodic submission.
If the question of holding a convention is not otherwise submitted during any period of 20 years, it shall be submitted as provided by law at the general election in the twentieth year following the last submission.
Section 4. Call of convention.
If a majority of those voting on the question answer in the affirmative, the legislature shall provide for the calling thereof at its next session. The number of delegates to the convention shall be the same as that of the larger body of the legislature. The qualifications of delegates shall be the same as the highest qualifications required for election to the legislature. The legislature shall determine whether the delegates may be nominated on a partisan or a non-partisan basis. They shall be elected at the same places and in the same districts as are the members of the legislative body determining the number of delegates.
Section 5. Convention expenses.
The legislature shall, in the act calling the convention, designate the day, hour, and place of its meeting, and fix and provide for the pay of its members and officers and the necessary expenses of the convention.
Section 6. Oath, vacancies.
Before proceeding, the delegates shall take the oath provided in this constitution. Vacancies occurring shall be filled in the manner provided for filling vacancies in the legislature if not otherwise provided by law.
Section 7. Convention duties.
The convention shall meet after the election of the delegates and prepare such revisions, alterations, or amendments to the constitution as may be deemed necessary. They shall be submitted to the qualified electors for ratification or rejection as a whole or in separate articles or amendments as determined by the convention at an election appointed by the convention for that purpose not less than two months after adjournment. Unless so submitted and approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon, no such revision, alteration, or amendment shall take effect.
Section 8. Amendment by legislative referendum.
Amendments to this constitution may be proposed by any member of the legislature. If adopted by an affirmative roll call vote of two-thirds of all the members thereof, whether one or more bodies, the proposed amendment shall be submitted to the qualified electors at the next general election. If approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon, the amendment shall become a part of this constitution on the first day of July after certification of the election returns unless the amendment provides otherwise.
Section 9. Amendment by initiative.
(1) The people may also propose constitutional amendments by initiative. Petitions including the full text of the proposed amendment shall be signed by at least ten percent of the qualified electors of the state. That number shall include at least ten percent of the qualified electors in each of at least one-half of the counties.
(2) The petitions shall be filed with the secretary of state. If the petitions are found to have been signed by the required number of electors, the secretary of state shall cause the amendment to be published as provided by law twice each month for two months previous to the next regular state-wide election.
(3) At that election, the proposed amendment shall be submitted to the qualified electors for approval or rejection. If approved by a majority voting thereon, it shall become a part of the constitution effective the first day of July following its approval, unless the amendment provides otherwise.
History: Amd. Const. Amend. No. 37, approved Nov. 5, 2002.
Section 10. Petition signers.
The number of qualified electors required for the filing of any petition provided for in this Article shall be determined by the number of votes cast for the office of governor in the preceding general election.
Section 11. Submission.
If more than one amendment is submitted at the same election, each shall be so prepared and distinguished that it can be voted upon separately.
Section 4. Initiative.
(1) The people may enact laws by initiative on all matters except appropriations of money and local or special laws.
(2) Initiative petitions must contain the full text of the proposed measure, shall be signed by at least five percent of the qualified electors in each of at least one-half of the counties and the total number of signers must be at least five percent of the total qualified electors of the state. Petitions shall be filed with the secretary of state at least three months prior to the election at which the measure will be voted upon.
(3) The sufficiency of the initiative petition shall not be questioned after the election is held.
Section 5. Referendum.
(1) The people may approve or reject by referendum any act of the legislature except an appropriation of money. A referendum shall be held either upon order by the legislature or upon petition signed by at least five percent of the qualified electors in each of at least one-third of the legislative representative districts. The total number of signers must be at least five percent of the qualified electors of the state. A referendum petition shall be filed with the secretary of state no later than six months after adjournment of the legislature which passed the act.
(2) An act referred to the people is in effect until suspended by petitions signed by at least 15 percent of the qualified electors in a majority of the legislative representative districts. If so suspended the act shall become operative only after it is approved at an election, the result of which has been determined and declared as provided by law.
SUFFRAGE AND ELECTIONS
Section 7. Ballot issues — challenges — elections.
(1) An initiative or referendum that qualifies for the ballot under Article III or Article XIV shall be submitted to the qualified electors as provided in the Article under which the initiative or referendum qualified unless a new election is held pursuant to this section.
(2) A preelection challenge to the procedure by which an initiative or referendum qualified for the ballot or a postelection challenge to the manner in which the election was conducted shall be given priority by the courts.
(3) If the election on an initiative or referendum properly qualifying for the ballot is declared invalid because the election was improperly conducted, the secretary of state shall submit the issue to the qualified electors at the next regularly scheduled statewide election unless the legislature orders a special election.
DECLARATION OF RIGHTS
Section 1. Popular sovereignty. All political power is vested in and derived from the people. All government of right originates with the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole.
Section 2. Self-government. The people have the exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent state. They may alter or abolish the constitution and form of government whenever they deem it necessary.
Section 3. Inalienable rights. All persons are born free and have certain inalienable rights. They include the right to a clean and healthful environment and the rights of pursuing life’s basic necessities, enjoying and defending their lives and liberties, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and seeking their safety, health and happiness in all lawful ways. In enjoying these rights, all persons recognize corresponding responsibilities.
Source: Montana Constitution
All constitution related documents, Montana Memory Project; for example: Enabling Act for 1971, Comparison of the Montana Constitution with the constitutions of selected other States, Constitution of the State of Montana : as adopted by the Constitutional Convention August 17, 1889 ; ratified by the people October 1, 1889 ; amended through the 1966 general election. State admitted, November 8, 1889, and [Official] returns for special general election [November 2] 1971 [for delegates to Constitutional Convention and vote on Referendum no. 68]
Full text of “Montana Constitutional Convention, 1971-1972”, Internet Archives
Guide to the Montana Constitutional Convention (1972) Records, Northwest Digital Archives
Chambers, Gus, and Zalis, Paul, For This and Future Generations, Montana PBS, 56 minutes, December 2002. (a regional Emmy Award-winning television documentary)
“For This and Future Generations: Montana’s 1972 Constitutional Convention” is set in the mid-winter of 1972 when 100 grassroots delegates and a staff of some of the best and brightest young people under the Big Sky, gathered in Helena for what many would recall as the proudest time of their lives. Their task: to re-write the lumbering, old state constitution. Two months later, all 100 delegates walked down the aisle of the House Chambers and unanimously signed a document that would affect the lives of generations of Montanans to come.
This is the story of those 100 delegates and the tumultuous times that ignited their fervor. It is also the story of the 700,000 Montanans who charged the delegates – a group of ranchers and farmers, business people, educators, housewives, attorneys, a beekeeper, a retired librarian, a graduate student and a retired FBI agent – with the challenge of writing a legal foundation for life in the state. 30 years later, in a new century, this is the story of their legacy.
Production of ” For This and Future Generations: Montana’s 1972 Constitutional Convention” was made possible, in part, by grants from the Montana Committee for the Humanities and The Greater Montana Foundation. Additional funding was provided by The University of Montana and the membership support of Montana PBS viewers.
Producers: Gus Chambers and Paul Zalis
Copyright: 2002 KUFM-TV Montana PBS, The University of Montana
Bowman, Jean, Montana history: Clarifying detail in Con-Con, Missoulian, July 24, 2014.
Inbody, Kristen, MT Constitution lets the ‘sunshine in’, Great Falls Tribune, October 31, 2014.
Carter, Troy, Dorothy Eck to be honored for career in public service, Bozeman Daily Chronicle, August 28, 2015.