Wild Montana v. Governor Gianforte et al.
On May 1, 2023, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 442—an overwhelmingly bipartisan, politically popular measure that directs recreational marijuana tax revenues to conservation and recreation programs, local infrastructure projects, and veterans’ services. Of 150 legislators, 130 voted to pass SB 442. The next day, the Governor vetoed the bill, but the Senate adjourned before the veto was communicated to the full Senate.
When the Governor vetoes a bill passed by a supermajority of legislators after the Legislature has adjourned, the Constitution requires that the Secretary poll the Legislature by mail. Normally, the Governor returns the bill with his reasons for veto to the Secretary, triggering the post-adjournment override process. When the Governor failed to take that step, Wild Montana—a nonprofit grassroots conservation organization that unites and mobilizes communities to keep Montana wild—and the Montana Wildlife Federation—Montana's oldest, largest, and most effective wildlife conservation organization—called on the Governor to uphold the Montana Constitution and return the bill to the Secretary. The Governor refused.
Wild Montana and the Montana Wildlife Federation filed suit to compel Governor Greg Gianforte and Secretary of State Christi Jacobsen to comply with their obligations under the Montana Constitution and allow the Montana Legislature the opportunity to override the Governor’s veto of SB 442.
Filings / Press
Seaborn Larson, Conservation groups sue Gianforte over veto dispute, Independent Record (June 7, 2023)
Arren Kimbel-Sannit, Conservation groups, counties sue to give lawmakers ability to override veto of marijuana revenue bill, Montana Free Press (June 7, 2023)
Darrell Ehrlick, Second lawsuit filed alleges Gianforte used ‘procedural trickery’ to stop popular marijuana bill, Daily Montanan (June 7, 2023)
Meridith Depping, Suit claims Gov. Gianforte did not follow post-adjournment veto override procedure, ABC Montana (June 7, 2023)
Ellis Juhlin, The governor's handling of a marijuana tax bill triggers lawsuits, MTPR (June 8, 2023)
Secretary's Brief in Opposition (Oct. 2, 2023)
Governor's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment (Oct. 2, 2023)