- Associated Press - Friday, June 20, 2014

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - Here is a look at the week’s most interesting and important developments in Montana’s election campaigns.


Citizen ballot initiatives faced a Friday deadline to qualify for the Nov. 4 election, but nearly all of the sponsors reported they had failed to collect enough signatures. The one sponsor who had not responded to Associated Press queries by the deadline was Billings businessman Steve Zabawa, who is seeking to ban the use and possession of marijuana and other Schedule I drugs in Montana. The state now allows the use of pot for medicinal purposes.

Sponsors of measures to expand Medicaid, ban most trapping on public lands, end gubernatorial appointments to U.S. Senate vacancies and other measures said the clock ran out on their signature-gathering efforts. Another proposal to roll back a tax increase for Charter Communications was dropped after the company reached a settlement agreement with the state over its property taxes.

Two legislative referendums will appear on the ballot. One proposes to end late voter registration on Election Day, while the other would change the name of the state auditor to the commissioner of securities and insurance.


Montana Republicans will wrap up their annual convention Saturday in Billings by voting on whether to change or add any issues to the party’s platform. One of the most contentious items up for a vote is whether to close voting in future primary elections to registered Republicans only. The proposal, which received initial approval on Thursday, arose after complaints that Democrats were voting for certain GOP candidates in elections held earlier this month.


Sen. John Walsh, who is trying to keep the seat he was appointed to in February, said “America cannot afford another Iraq” in a speech on the Senate floor earlier this week. He also said sending troops back to that country in the middle of a civil war is not the answer. Walsh, a Democrat, is the only Iraq war veteran serving in the Senate. His opponent, U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, said he also opposes sending more U.S. troops to Iraq and was one of 23 Republicans in the House to vote for legislation to prevent it from happening. President Barack Obama on Thursday said he would send up to 300 military advisers to help quell the insurgency in the country.


Walsh introduced legislation that would prohibit federal authorities from enforcing a ban on medical marijuana patients from owning or buying firearms and ammunition. Walsh says the measure would ensure patients can hunt and protect their homes without fear of prosecution. Daines, meanwhile, touted the House’s passage of legislation he sponsored to prevent funds from being used to prematurely decommission intercontinental ballistic missile silos. Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls is home to a third of the nation’s ICBMs.

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