Politics

Jun 15, 2012 8:41 PM by Marnee Banks - MTN News

Montana Constitution's 40th anniversary celebrated

It was 40 years ago that Montana's Constitution was ratified and became the guiding set of principles which govern the Treasure State, and on Friday, 31 of the original 100 people involved in creating it were back in Helena to celebrate the occasion.

Others delegates were represented by family members.

Former state lawmaker Dorothy Bradley was elected to the Montana Legislature just after the Constitution was ratified; she says that issues they tackled then are still being discussed today: equality, energy development, and education.

Bradley noted, "We will remind ourselves that this place and this political process are sacred and we can never take it for granted."

Reporter Chuck Johnson covered the Constitutional Convention and recalls it was the assignment of a lifetime.

Johnson, now the Capitol Bureau Chief for Lee Newspapers, said, "You sought public participation from all over the state. You asked Montanans to submit ideas and they did so by droves. Hearings were well publicized in advance. You not only prohibited lobbyists from coming onto the floor of the House, you required them to disclose how much they spent."

The delegates worked across party lines, sitting in alphabetical order and not by party affiliation.

They included language in the Constitution protecting Montana's environment and the dignity of all people.

To this day, Montana's is known as one of the most progressive state constitutions in America.

Here is the preamble to the Montana Constitution: We the people of Montana grateful to God for the quiet beauty of our state, the grandeur of our mountains, the vastness of our rolling plains, and desiring to improve the quality of life, equality of opportunity and to secure the blessings of liberty for this and future generations do ordain and establish this constitution.

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