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As primary election day approaches on June 7, be aware of signature gatherers at polling locations for a couple of troubling ballot initiatives. Proponents are under a deadline to secure enough signatures to get initiatives to qualify for the November ballot and polling locations provide a great opportunity to capture signatures by way of short, catchy messages and incomplete facts to sign petitions. 
CI-121 is a constitutional amendment to cap residential property tax and would result in a major tax shift to business and agricultural operations. The Montana Chamber of Commerce supports comprehensive tax reform, but CI-121 is neither comprehensive or reform and instead provides relief to only one class of taxpayer and forces tax increases on other tax classes. Burdening businesses with additional tax will slow economic growth and create far more problems than supporters claim it will solve. If passed, expect years of litigation, confusing rulings and contradictory legal interpretations. In short…expect statewide chaos. Read an Op Ed published in the Whitehall Ledger.

Another troublesome ballot initiative is I-191; an initiative that would place water quality standards on sections of the Gallatin and the Madison rivers that would impact any activity that might even temporarily change water quality in those rivers. Changes in agricultural practices, hazardous fuel reduction projects, highway projects, commercial and residential development and even habitat restoration efforts would be suddenly delayed or outright prohibited. I-191 would even apply to tributaries of those rivers, expanding the reach of the initiative to encompass hundreds of miles of private property and economic development. READ MORE in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. 

Montana already has some of the strictest water quality laws in the country and we all support protecting our natural resources. I-191 is not helpful to earnest, collaborative efforts to maintain and protect water quality.  If passed, I-191 would put large stretches of the Gallatin and Madison rivers under the same strict regulations only found in national parks and wilderness areas. It is easy to recognize impacts that would follow passage—from recreational to commercial, no activity would go untouched.

There’s a better way to accomplish the goals we as Montanan’s share. Both of these ballot initiatives subvert the Montana way of working together to find common ground and neither deserve your signature.

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