Argument Against I-154
I-154 means higher taxes for Montana families and big breaks for special interests .
Out-of-state special interests are pushing a classic bait-and-switch on Montana voters. They want you to believe I-154 is about stopping abuses of eminent domain. But in fact, the fine print creates massive new loopholes for irresponsible development — at huge cost for taxpayers.
I-154 is unfair. I-154 allows irresponsible developers and special interests to dodge basicrules that benefit everyone. Montana communities put these laws on the books to protect our kids, the value of our homes, clean water, water rights, and neighborhoods. These local, democratic laws will be tossed out unless we pay special interests to follow them.
Here’s how I-154 would work: I-154 creates a radical, expensive new “pay or waive” system. Imagine a developer wants to put a gravel pit next to your home or an adult bookstore near a daycare. Under I-154, you and your neighbors cannot regulate these activities — unless you pay the developer. In other words, taxpayers must pay special interests to follow the rules. Montana taxpayers would have to pay — even if a proposed development would damage our own property values.
That’s backwards. That’s not the Montana way.
Who pays? Your pocketbook and your community. Local taxpayers will be forced to pay millions to developers just to enforce existing laws. As a result, cities and counties will be forced to cut services like fire and police protection or raise your taxes to keep your community safe. The governor’s budget director said: “The impact … is potentially tens of millions of dollars for claims and additional costs.” He added that families and business owners who pay local property taxes would bear the brunt. These dollars would go to special interests — with zero benefits for the average Montana family. The only other option would be to waive the rules that protect the things that belong to all of us — our natural beauty, clean water and friendly communities.
I-154 will trigger endless lawsuits. The initiative is so poorly written, it leaves many important questions unanswered. This will lead to endless and expensive lawsuits. Who decides where and when it applies? How much will each case cost which taxpayers? What money will be left for schools and roads?
I-154 destroys the existing balance. In Montana, locally elected officials work hard to balance new development with the rights of existing neighbors and property owners. I-154 throws that balance into chaos. It puts your property rights — and your community — at risk.
All Montanans cherish property rights. However, the right to develop one’s property does not include the right to damage the property — or the quality of life — on the other side of the fence. Montana’s current system protects property rights on both sides of the fence. I-154 is a radical, expensive, unnecessary measure that will cause major harm to families, communities, and businesses.
Say NO to the TAXPAYER TRAP . Vote NO on I-154.
The PROPONENT argument and rebuttal for this measure were prepared by State Senator Joe Balyeat, CPA; and the Honorable Ken Miller, former State Senator.
The OPPONENT argument and rebuttal for this measure were prepared by the Honorable Dorothy Bradley, former State Representative; the Honorable Charles Tooley, former Billings Mayor; County Commissioner Connie Eissinger; County Commissioner Doug Kaercher; and the Honorable Ron Erickson, former State Representative.
I-154 – written by Montanans, for Montanans.
I-154 won’t cause any of opponents' dire predictions because:
It’s not retroactive. ALL existing land-use regulations and zoning remain effective. Opponents’ claim that “taxpayers must pay developers …to enforce existing laws” and “laws will be tossed out” is 100% false.
It exempts all new regulations for health/safety. Claiming I-154 hampers “protecting our kids, clean water, and water rights…” is pure hooey.
It exempts all private subdivision covenants . Neighborhoods will be destroyed? Baloney.
It keeps all existing ordinances, and permits new regulations for sanitation, fire/building codes, solid/hazardous waste, common nuisances, blight, obscenity and other adult businesses, junk vehicles, criminals, etc. Claiming we couldn’t regulate adult bookstores, gravel pits, and developers is false.
I-154 doesn’t require spending ANY taxpayer dollars. If a new excessive regulation doesn’t fit one of I-154’s many exceptions, the property owner could protest within 2 years. But even if successful, it doesn’t mean he’ll receive money. Officials can just exempt his property from new regulations. I-154 will cost taxpayers millions? Hogwash.
I-154 changes nothing respecting property rights disputes. Courts will continue deciding cases as always.
Claiming I-154’s eminent domain protection is “bait-and-switch” is utterly false. I-154 is necessary because the federal Kelo decision trumped Montana’s 1995 case. Current Montana law specifies – condemnation is allowable for “ all public uses authorized by the U.S. government."
Opponents' claim that I-154 creates “massive loopholes for developers” is malarkey. I-154 restricts developers from using tax-hungry governments to confiscate your property.
I-154 protects your home – Vote YES.