2017 Montana Legislature
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SENATE BILL NO. 127
INTRODUCED BY M. MOE, J. SESSO
AN ACT REVISING PUBLIC OFFICE VACANCY LAWS; PROVIDING THAT AN OFFICE BECOMES VACANT ON THE EFFECTIVE DATE STIPULATED IN THE OFFICIAL RESIGNATION OF AN INCUMBENT; PROVIDING THAT RESIGNATIONS MUST STIPULATE AN EFFECTIVE DATE; CLARIFYING LEGISLATOR APPOINTMENT LAWS REGARDING VACANCY AND RESIGNATION; AND AMENDING SECTIONS 2-16-501, 2-16-502, AND 5-2-402, MCA.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
Section 1. Section 2-16-501, MCA, is amended to read:
"2-16-501. Vacancies created. An office becomes vacant on the happening occurrence of any one of the following events before the expiration of the term of the incumbent:
(1) the death of the incumbent;
(2) a determination pursuant to Title 53, chapter 21, part 1, that the incumbent suffers from a mental disorder and is in need of commitment;
(3) the effective date stipulated in the resignation of the incumbent becoming effective;
(4) removal of the incumbent from office;
(5) the incumbent's ceasing to be a resident of the state or, if the office is local, of the district, city, county, town, or township for which the incumbent was chosen or appointed or within which the duties of the incumbent's office are required to be discharged;
(6) except as provided in 10-1-1008, absence of the incumbent from the state, without the permission of the legislature, beyond the period allowed by law;
(7) the incumbent's ceasing to discharge the duty of the incumbent's office for the period of 3 consecutive months, except when prevented by sickness, when absent from the state by permission of the legislature, or as provided in 10-1-1008;
(8) conviction of the incumbent of a felony or of an offense involving moral turpitude or a violation of the incumbent's official duties;
(9) the incumbent's refusal or neglect to file the incumbent's official oath or bond within the time prescribed;
(10) the decision of a competent tribunal declaring void the incumbent's election or appointment."
Section 2. Section 2-16-502, MCA, is amended to read:
"2-16-502. Resignations. (1) Resignations must be in writing, must stipulate an effective date, and made must be submitted as follows:
(a)(1) by the governor and lieutenant governor, to the legislature if it is in session and, if not, then to the secretary of state;
(b)(2) by all officers commissioned by the governor, to the governor;
(c)(3) by senators and members of the house of representatives, if the legislature is not in session, to the secretary of state and, if it is in session, to the presiding officer of the branch to which the member belongs, who must immediately transmit the same to the secretary of state;
(d)(4) by all county and township officers not commissioned by the governor, to the clerk of the board of commissioners of their respective counties;
(e)(5) by all other appointed officers, to the body or officer that appointed them;
(f)(6) by all trustees of school districts, to the clerk of the respective school district, provided for in 20-3-325;
(g)(7) in all cases not otherwise provided for, by filing the resignation in the office of the secretary of state.
(2) A resignation is effective 72 hours after its submission in the manner provided for in subsection (1) unless the resignation is withdrawn during that 72-hour period by the resigner through written notification of withdrawal made in the same manner as provided in subsection (1) for resignations."
Section 3. Section 5-2-402, MCA, is amended to read:
"5-2-402. Appointment by board of county commissioners -- county central committee role -- timeframes. (1) Except as provided in subsection (5) or as otherwise provided by law, whenever a vacancy occurs in the legislature, the vacancy must be filled by appointment by the board of county commissioners or, in the event of a multicounty district, the boards of county commissioners of the counties comprising the district sitting as one appointing board.
(2) (a) Whenever a vacancy as described in 2-16-501 is within a single county, the board of county commissioners shall make the appointment as described in 5-2-403, 5-2-404, or 5-2-406.
(b) Whenever a vacancy is within a multicounty district, the boards of county commissioners shall sit as one appointing board. The selection of an individual to fill the vacancy must be as follows:
(i) The presiding officer of the board of county commissioners of the county in which the person resided whose vacancy is to be filled shall call a meeting for the purpose of appointing the member of the legislature and shall preside at the meeting.
(ii) Each commissioner's vote is determined by the following formula: 100 multiplied by (A divided by B) multiplied by (1 divided by C), where:
(A) A is the total votes cast in the respective county for the person vacating the legislative seat or, if the vacating person was not elected, the votes cast for the last person to be elected for the current term;
(B) B is the total votes cast for that person in the legislative district; and
(C) C is the number of authorized commissioners on the board of the commissioner whose vote is being determined.
(iii) The person selected to fill the vacancy is the one who receives the highest number above 50 that results from the calculation in subsection (2)(b)(ii). If none of the candidates receives a number higher than 50 from that calculation, the selection board shall cast its votes again in the same manner for the persons receiving the two highest numbers. If neither vote results in a candidate receiving a number higher than 50 from the calculation provided in subsection (2)(b)(ii), then 5-2-404 applies.
(c) If a vacancy occurs in a holdover senate seat after holdover senators have been assigned to new districts under each reapportionment, the formula in subsection (2)(b)(ii) must be applied using the votes cast for the senatorial candidates at the last election in which votes were cast for a senate candidate. Only the number of votes cast by electors residing in the new senate district for senate candidates of the party to which the person vacating the seat belonged may be counted. The secretary of state shall provide an estimate of the number of votes cast for each party by county or portion of a county. The selection process is the same as provided in subsection (2)(b)(iii).
(3) The appointment process to fill a vacant legislative seat vacancy in the legislature under this section is as follows:
(a) Within 7 days of being notified of a vacancy as described in 2-16-501, the secretary of state shall notify the board of county commissioners and the state party that is responsible for notifying the county central committee of the county where the vacating legislator is a resident, if the legislative seat is within one county, or the boards of county commissioners and the corresponding county central committees if the legislative seat is in a multicounty district. If the legislator is an independent or belongs to a party for which there is no county central committee, the notification of county commissioners suffices.
(b) The county central committee or committees, upon receipt of notification of a vacancy, have 45 days to propose a list of prospective appointees, pursuant to 5-2-403(1). The county central committee or the county central committees, acting together, shall forward the list of names to the appointing board within the 45-day period.
(c) The appointing board shall make and confirm an appointment and notify the secretary of state within 15 days:
(i) after receiving the list of prospective appointees from the county central committee or committees;
(ii) after 45 days have expired after the notification of a vacancy if the county central committee or committees have not provided a list of prospective appointees; or
(iii) after notification of a vacancy if the legislator vacating the seat is an independent.
(4) If the legislature is in session, the notification process in subsection (3)(a) must be followed within 5 days. The process described in subsection (3)(b) must take place in 5 days. The process described in subsection (3)(c) must take place in 5 days.
(5) Notwithstanding subsection (6), if a vacancy occurs prior to a primary election, 13-10-326 applies. If a vacancy occurs after a primary and prior to a general election, 13-10-327 applies.
(6) If the legislature is called into special session within 85 days of a general election, a person must be appointed to fill a legislative vacancy pursuant to subsections (1) through (4)."
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Version of SB 127 (SB0127.ENR)
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