Montana Crime Victims Rights Initiative (Marsy’s Law), CI-116

Ballot Text:

“CI-116 would add a new section to the Montana Constitution establishing specific rights for crime victims. The rights enumerated include the right to participate in criminal and juvenile justice proceedings, to be notified of major developments in the criminal case, to be notified of changes to the offender’s custodial status, to be present at court proceedings and provide input to the prosecutor before a plea agreement is finalized, and to be heard at plea or sentencing proceedings, or any process that may result in the offender’s release. CI-116 guarantees crime victims’ rights to restitution, privacy, to confer with the prosecuting attorney, and to be informed of their rights. Fiscal impacts for the Office of the Public Defender, Judicial Branch, Department of Corrections and local governments could not be accurately determined at this time.”

Proponents say: Marsy’s Law raises victims’ rights to a level equal with the rights of the accused. Victims of crime should have the right to be notified of hearings in their case, and the right to be present and be heard at those hearings. Victims should have the right to confer with the prosecuting attorney in their case and to provide input before a plea agreement is finalized. Crime victims should have the right to privacy and to refuse unreasonable requests for discovery or the release of personal information. Victims should have the right to be notified of any changes in the custodial status of the offender in their case. Providing victims of crime with long-overdue equal rights will be a huge step toward ensuring victims of crime are treated with dignity, notified of important legal events like bail and parole hearings, and provided a voice in the process.

Opponents say: Montana has strong laws to protect crime victims—this amendment is costly and
unnecessary. To handle all the requirements of CI-116, Montana cities and counties will be forced to either cut
other services to citizens, or raise taxes to pay for adding staff. CI-116 has a vague definition of “victim” that
will include many people who are not victims at all, including friends of actual victims. Years of costly lawsuits
will be needed to determine whether the new rights are superior to the rights being taken away or minimized.
CI-116 creates new victims’ rights that conflict with a defendant’s constitutional rights. If CI-116 is approved,
lawsuits will pit the victim’s new rights against the civil liberties of a person who is presumed innocent, creating
uncertainty and delay within Montana’s criminal justice system.

Montana Animal Trap Restrictions Initiative, I-177

Ballot Text: “I-177 generally prohibits the use of traps and snares for animals on any public lands within
Montana and establishes misdemeanor criminal penalties for violations of the trapping prohibitions. I-177
allows the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks to use certain traps on public land when necessary
if nonlethal methods have been tried and found ineffective. I-177 allows trapping by public employees and
their agents to protect public health and safety, protect livestock and property, or conduct specified scientific
and wildlife management activities. I-177 reduces approximately $61,380 of state funds annually, resulting
from a loss of trapping license revenue.”

Proponents say: Because trapping is indiscriminate, it is not an effective management tool to control disease
or populations. Limited trapping to protect livestock and property, for health and safety, and for scientific and
wildlife management activities is allowed under I-177. Public lands belong to the public. For every trapper who
wants to engage in that activity, on those lands, there are thousands of Montanans who value robust wildlife
populations, ethical hunting practices, and freedom from the fear of hidden weapons on land that belongs to us
all.

Opponents say: Wildlife management professionals recognize trapping as an effective and legitimate wildlife
management tool. Trapping is an important tool for biologists, ranchers, farmers, home owners and pest control
professionals. It enables wildlife managers to control problematic predator and pest populations that can attack
pets, spread diseases among humans and wildlife, damage property, impact other wildlife populations and kill
livestock. I-177 is overly broad and will impact the ability to control pests and wildlife on all publicly owned
land and facilities.