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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

Judge strikes down sections of new law regulating political activity

A gavel and scale of justice.

A Lewis and Clark County judge has ruled part of a new law that regulates political campaign financing is unconstitutional due to the way lawmakers passed the legislation.

During the 2021 legislative session, the bill was amended at the last minute to restrict political activity on college campuses and judges’ ability to rule on cases involving political donors.

A coalition including Lewis and Clark Sheriff Leo Gallagher, nonprofit Forward Montana, an association of criminal defense attorneys and others challenged the bill, alleging the provisions were added without public input.

District Court Judge Mike Menahan ruled Thursday in their favor, writing that the amended part of the bill changed the original purpose of the legislation and therefore violates the part of the state constitution that regulates bill drafting. A bill’s title must accurately describe its content.

The other sections of new law dealing with campaign finance, fundraising and reporting rules still stand.

Shaylee is Montana Public Radio's Capitol reporter. She previously worked for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and covered the 2019 legislative session for the University of Montana's Legislative News Service.
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