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Business group proposes change to Montana constitution

March 22, 2006View for printing

A Helena-based business group wants to change the Montana Constitution to make legislators, not judges, balance citizens’ basic rights like the right to a clean environment and the rights to enjoy life and liberty.

The change would also forbid Montanans from suing businesses or other people for violating their fundamental rights.

Former U.S. Rep. Rick Hill, R-Mont., submitted two proposed constitutional ballot initiatives Tuesday proposed by the Montana Business Leadership Council.

The first would specify that the Legislature alone can “balance, administer and enforce” the inalienable rights laid out in state’s 1972 Constitution. Those rights include the right to “pursue life’s basic necessities” and “enjoy and defend their lives and liberties.” The rights also include the “right to a clean and healthful environment.” The Montana Supreme Court is currently considering a case that asks an identical question: Can citizens sue each other and businesses for violating their right to a clean and healthful environment.

By Jennifer McKee of The Standard State Bureau

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