House Joint Resolution No. 33

Introduced By denny, mills, hagener, ewer, bartlett

A Joint Resolution of the Senate and the House of Representatives of the state of Montana requesting that an appropriate interim committee study the benefits and drawbacks of enhancing the ability of local jurisdictions to self-govern; and requiring the committee to report its findings, conclusions, and recommendations.

WHEREAS, many of the provisions of Title 7, MCA, prohibit, restrict, or prescribe certain actions by a unit of local government; and

WHEREAS, current statutory provisions are, in many cases, akin to the unnecessary micromanagement repudiated and condemned in current schools of business and government and by state and local government officials and the public; and

WHEREAS, units of local government are better situated in most cases than the state Legislature to devise the framework within which their respective jurisdictions should be governed; and

WHEREAS, the Montana Constitution provides that specific delegation of powers to local governments is necessary; and

WHEREAS, although there is provided within Title 7, MCA, the procedures by which a unit of local government may adopt a charter with self-governing powers, the self-governing powers authorized are limited beyond what may be necessary or prudent.


That an appropriate interim committee be assigned to conduct a comprehensive review of the constitutional and statutory options for units of local government to establish self-governing powers with the broad purposes of:

(1) contemplating the philosophical underpinnings of local government and the relationships among local government units and between local governments and the state;

(2) developing an understanding of what self-governance options are and are not available to local governments under the constitution and current law;

(3) revisiting state policies, primarily enacted as state laws and codified in Title 7, MCA, that direct, restrict, or otherwise affect governance at the local level; and

(4) identifying options for local governance that are consistent with constitutional provisions and that more effectively address the needs and goals of local governments within the contemporary yet traditional context of providing maximum flexibility that is consolidated with accountability and responsibility.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the committee:

(1) may request assistance or information from:

(a) the Montana Association of Counties, the Montana League of Cities and Towns, the Montana Taxpayers Association, the Montana School Boards Association, or others, including citizens' groups, ASSOCIATIONS OF ELECTED OFFICIALS, AND PRIVATE CITIZENS, identified by the committee as having relevant insights or information germane to the study;

(b) private entities that have business relationships with local governments and that may be affected by the authority exercised by local governments; and

(c) other persons or entities, including the Local Government Center of Montana State University-Bozeman and other resources within the Montana University System, that may have insights or information pertinent to the study of the powers of local government; and

(2) shall prepare a report of its findings, conclusions, options identified for further consideration, and recommendations, including legislation if advisable, to the Governor and the 56th Legislature.