Judge Strikes Parts of Heavily Amended Campaign Finance Bill | Montana News

By AMY BETH HANSON, Associated Press

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana’s Republican-controlled Legislature violated the state Constitution, a state judge has ruled, when it changed a campaign finance bill late in the 2021 session to make it more difficult to register and encourage college students to vote and to, in effect , limit donations to judicial campaigns.

District Court Judge Mike Menahan on Thursday granted a permanent injunction preventing the state from enforcing the two provisions that were added to Senate Bill 319 during a free conference committee — with no public input — a day before the Legislature adjourned.

Montana’s Constitution requires that bills contain a single subject.

The bill initially offered a way for groups of candidates to create joint fundraising committees.

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The late amendments included one to prohibit political committees from conducting voter registration, ballot signature gathering, ballot collection efforts or turn-out-the-vote efforts inside a residence hall, dining facility or athletic facility on public college campuses.

The other called for judges to recuse themselves if an attorney or party in a case before them made more than 50% of the maximum allowed donation to their campaign within the previous six years.

Both amendments were outside the title of the bill, making them unconstitutional, Menahan said.

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