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2024 Montana Primary elections
Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Briefs: Knudsen backs court challenge over homeless camps; Marijuana tax veto override

State attorney general backs Supreme Court challenge over homeless camps
Victoria Traxler | Montana Public Radio

Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen is pushing back on recent legal restrictions banning homeless camps. Knudsen, with support from 23 other attorneys general, argued states are losing their ability to prevent homeless camps.

The states filed an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Johnson v. City of Grants Pass. The case asks the high court to reverse a Ninth Circuit decision restricting local governments from enforcing laws that prevent homeless encampments. The Ninth Circuit determined it was cruel and unusual punishment to arrest or ticket people for sleeping outside who have no other safe place to go.

The attorneys general argue under the Ninth Circuit ruling “States will be deprived of a valuable tool to combat the public harms associated with homelessness.”

The National Alliance to End Homelessness said in a statement that overturning the ruling will deter evidence-based support for unhoused people. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments regarding the case in April 2024.

Court orders veto override poll for marijuana tax bill
Ellis Juhlin | Montana Public Radio

A state court has ordered Montana’s Governor and Secretary of State to let lawmakers vote on whether to override the veto on a 2023 bill to redistribute marijuana sales tax revenue.

District Court Judge Mike Menahan ordered Gov. Greg Gianforte and Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen to poll lawmakers on overriding the veto by March 19.

This is the latest in an ongoing back-and-forth between Gianforte, lawmakers and interest groups backing the policy to give more marijuana sales tax money to county road maintenance and several conservation and habitat programs.

The bill was supported by 80% of lawmakers and Gianforte vetoed it on the last day of the session.

Gianforte earlier this year resisted sending out the override poll but Menahan’s latest ruling denies that request.

Ellis Juhlin is MTPR's Rocky Mountain Front reporter. Ellis previously worked as a science reporter at Utah Public Radio and a reporter at Yellowstone Public Radio. She has a Master's Degree in Ecology from Utah State University. She's an average birder and wants you to keep your cat indoors. She has two dogs, one of which is afraid of birds.

ellis.juhlin@mso.umt.edu
406-272-2568
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