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HOUSE BILL NO. 311
INTRODUCED BY B. MOLNAR
A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED: "AN ACT PROVIDING AN ADMINISTRATIVE OR COURT PROCEEDING UPON AN ALLEGATION THAT A PERSON MADE A FALSE STATEMENT ABOUT A BALLOT ISSUE; PROVIDING FOR AN ADMINISTRATIVE CIVIL PROCEEDING UPON AN ALLEGATION THAT A PERSON MADE A FALSE STATEMENT ABOUT A POLITICAL CANDIDATE'S VOTING RECORD, CHARACTER, OR MORALITY OR ABOUT A BALLOT ISSUE; AND AMENDING SECTION 13-37-131, MCA."
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
Section 1. Section 13-37-131, MCA, is amended to read:
"13-37-131. Misrepresentation of voting record -- political civil libel. (1) It is unlawful for a person to willfully
(a) make or publish a
false statement about a candidate's public voting record that the person knows or should know is
or to make or publish a false statement that reflects unfavorably upon a candidate's character or morality that the
person knows or should know is false; . (2) It is unlawful for a person to willfully or negligently
(c) provide false information to a candidate concerning another candidate's public voting record when the person knows
or should know that the information will or may be made public during the course of a campaign
(d) make or publish a statement about the purpose, meaning, or effect of a ballot issue that the person knows or should know is false.
(3)(2) For the purposes of this section, the public voting record of a candidate who was previously a member of the
legislature includes an officially recorded a vote of that candidate recorded in committee minutes or in journals of the
senate or the house of representatives. Failure of a person to verify a public voting record is evidence of the person's willful
or negligent conduct if the statement made by the person or the information provided to the candidate is false.
(3) Upon receipt of a request by a candidate or by a committee appointed under 13-27-402 alleging a violation of subsection (1), the commissioner shall, within 48 hours, form a review committee composed of the commissioner and two persons appointed by the commissioner, one each from the democratic party and the republican party, and shall notify the complainant and the alleged violator of the formation of the committee. The alleged violator may give the committee evidence of the truth, and the complainant may give the committee evidence of the falsity, of the statement or information alleged to be false within 48 hours after being notified of the formation of the committee. The committee shall make a finding of the truth or falsity of the statement or information within 72 hours after the close of the 48-hour period for submission of evidence.
(4) An alleged violator who does not submit evidence of the truth of the statement or information shall be assessed a $500 civil penalty. If the committee finds that subsection (1) was violated, it shall impose a $1,000 civil penalty against the violator if the violation occurred more than 3 weeks before the election and a $5,000 civil penalty if the violation occurred within 3 weeks of the election. The party against whom the finding is made shall pay the other party's reasonable costs of the proceeding.
(4)(5) A person violating subsection (1) or (2) is liable in a civil action brought by the commissioner or county attorney
pursuant to 13-37-124 for an amount up to $1,000, but may not be found liable under both subsection (4) of this section and
this subsection. An action pursuant to this section subsection is subject to the provisions of 13-37-129 and 13-37-130.
(6) As used in this section, "candidate" means a person seeking election to any federal, state, or local government office."
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Latest Version of HB 311 (HB0311.01)
Processed for the Web on January 18, 1999 (12:29PM)
New language in a bill appears underlined, deleted material appears stricken.
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Status of this Bill| 1999 Session | Leg. Branch Home
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