Elections and Government Services Administrative Rules of Montana Business Services Notary and Certification Records and Information Management

Argument For I-154 

I-154 is the Protect Our Homes initiative. It guards your home, business, and private property against abusive practices by over-ambitious politicians and special interests.

  • Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court’s Kelodecision ruled that government could use eminent domain to seize your property and re-transfer it to a mall developer. You could have a big box store where your living room once was. The only justification needed for bulldozing your home is government’s desire to collect higher taxes from a commercial development.
  • The Court ruled this broader eminent domain interpretation would apply unless your state passes a law like I-154, that prohibits this abuse.
  • Since Kelo, eminent domain abuse has skyrocketed – nationwide, nearly 6000 properties either threatened or taken – working class homes, businesses, elderly widows’ houses, even churches. No one is safe. For many families, the American Dream of home ownership is being destroyed by an unholy alliance of ambitious politicians and commercial interests.
  • I-154 says “Not in Montana.” It preserves the historical purpose of eminent domain – your property could only be taken for true public purposes – highways, utilities, etc.
  • Kelo ’s eminent domain bulldozer is government theft – plain and simple. That’s why laws similarto I-154’seminent domain restriction are already enacted or currently progressing in 35 states.
  • I-154protects your property from excessive and abusive regulations that reduce the value of your land and restrict your ability to use it as you would like. Under I-154, you’d have an avenue of legal relief by filing protest within two years. If you’re successful, regulators would have three choices:
  • Exempt you from the unnecessary regulation , or
  • Repeal the unnecessary regulation entirely, or
  • Compensate you for your property value loss .

Only if option C is chosen, would government costs result.

  • I-154 is balanced. It only targets abusive property regulations – it doesn’t apply to any already existing zoning or regulation, new health and safety regulations, or privately imposed subdivision covenants. I-154 includes numerous reasonable exemptions – allowing new regulations for sanitation, fire and building codes, solid waste, hazardous waste, common nuisances, blight, obscenity, junk vehicles, dangerous felons, sexual offenders, and property used in connection with criminal activity.
  • The uninformed try telling us that eminent domain abuses “can’t happen in Montana.” They rely on a 1995 Montana court decision that is no longer relevant, now that federal law has changed under Kelo. The only way to safeguard our homes from the tax-seeking Bulldozer is to pass I-154.

I-154 protects our freedom by limiting the power of government over our property, establishing a fair playing field for appealing regulatory abuses, and ensuring that no commercial interest can use eminent domain to rob us of our property for personal gain. If you believe in limiting government power, if you believe in fundamental private property rights, if you believe in reasonable compensation when government reduces your property value, if you want to protect YOUR home –

  • Vote YES on I-154.

Opponents' Rebuttal  

I-154 is bait-and-switch. Reforming “eminent domain” is only bait. Beware of the “switch.”

Initiative-154 is a tax trap. Supporters barely mention costs to taxpayers. No wonder, because costs are staggering. A similar law recently took effect in Oregon. Already, special interests there are demanding $4 billion from taxpayers, according to the Salem Statesman Journal.

I-154 works by creating a sweeping, new “pay-or-waive” system that guts everyday rules we use to protect our homes, clean water, and property. That system forces taxpayers to pay irresponsible developers just to follow the law like everyone else. If a developer doesn’t like a rule, he simply demands a payoff for alleged losses. I-154 hands a blank check to certain developers, which means more taxes for average Montanans.

Imagine the kind of irresponsible development that I-154 could unleash in your neighborhood: An adult bookstore? A high-density development? A motorcycle racetrack? A gravel pit? The choice would be to accept the degradation of your neighborhood and property, or pay the developer not to act. I-154 actually harms your property rights.

Again,I-154 is NOT about eminent domain. Kelo isn’t possible in Montana. Even the National Association of Realtors, which defends property rights, reports Montana “explicitly prohibited the use of eminent domain to acquire property for economic development” because of our current laws and legal cases.

The loopholes are enormous. No wonder out-of-state developers are pushing I-154 on Montana — they will benefit at our expense. Vote NO on the tax 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.