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The Supreme Court throws out a Trump-era ban on gun bump stocks; a look at how social media algorithms and Shakespearian villains have in common; and states receive federal funding to clean up legacy mine pollution.

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The Supreme Court for now protects access to abortion drug mifepristone, while Senate Republicans block a bill protecting access to in-vitro fertilization. Wisconsin's Supreme Court bans mobile voting sites, and colleges deal with funding cuts as legislatures target diversity programs.

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As summer nears, America's newest and largest international dark sky sanctuary beckons, rural job growth is up, but full recovery remains elusive, rural Americans living in prison towns support a transition, while birth control is more readily available in rural areas.

Marijuana revenue veto override fails as critics claim 'judicial overreach'

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Monday, May 20, 2024   

Montana constitutional experts say the state Supreme Court did the right thing by providing lawmakers a chance to override the governor's veto of a popular marijuana sales-tax bill.

Senate Bill 442 passed the Legislature with near unanimous support, but Gov. Greg Gianforte vetoed it minutes after the Senate adjourned, leaving lawmakers no chance to override the veto.

After a series of court challenges, the state Supreme Court confirmed lawmakers should be able to take an override vote by mail. Critics called it "judicial overreach."

Rylee Sommers-Flanagan, executive director of Helena-based Upper 7 Law, said the court did what it was supposed to do, despite Gianforte's efforts to sidestep the override ballot.

"Only as a result of the court order did the state comply with its constitutional obligation to ensure that legislators, at the end of the day, have the say in what laws are passed," Sommers-Flanagan asserted.

The bill would have used marijuana sales-tax revenue for veterans programs, social services and county road maintenance. In his veto note, Gianforte called it a "slippery slope," which could set a precedent for spending state dollars on local infrastructure projects.

Sommers-Flanagan noted her law firm did not take a position on the measure but represented Wild Montana and the Montana Wildlife Federation, which supported the measure and the legal action to require the mail-in override ballot.

"It was wildly popular. That's just factual," Sommers-Flanagan emphasized. "The governor and Secretary of State failed to comply with their constitutional duties to ensure that lawmakers had the final say. And then, the court told them they had to allow that to happen. They did so, and the Legislature decided they didn't want to override the veto."

She called the attacks on the court for requiring the vote "disappointing," and an attempt to avoid talking about the content of the bill.

The measure had support from hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, veterans and county governments. But critics argued the formula for distributing road maintenance money was unfair.


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