The Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission
(FEC) decision earlier this year gave corporations the same First
Amendment rights as citizens with regard to advocating for or against
political candidates, unleashing
a flood of new corporate cash into state races and a range of new
state policy initiatives that aim to protect the integrity of their
elections. In response, states are pursuing other reforms, such as
requiring shareholder approval for corporations spending election cash,
tighter public disclosure and attribution in ads, public financing of
elections, and calling for a federal constitutional amendment to reverse
the Citizens United decision.
During Montana's 90-day legislative session lawmakers moved beyond the bitter acrimony that bedeviled their last meeting two years ago. Instead, legislators worked to craft a compromise budget that made new investments in health care and education, but saw agency spending drop 2%. While working families were protected on key issues, the state did take several steps back on the environmental front as laws regulating resources extraction and energy infrastructure saw rollbacks in multiple areas.
Recently conservatives in Montana sought to roll back the annual cost-of-living wage increases for minimum wage workers that voters overwhelmingly approved in 2006 by 73-27%. Montana is one of twenty-seven states (plus the District of Columbia)
that has a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage, and one
of eleven states that index the minimum wage to the consumer price
index. Montana progressives successfully fought a conservative push by
the restaurant industry to keep wages stagnant.