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Montana history: Clarifying detail in Con-Con

Montana history: Clarifying detail in Con-Con

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It was informative to read Chris Carson’s guest column in the Missoulian (July 20) praising Montana Gov. Forrest Anderson’s influence on Idaho’s governor, Cecil D. Andrus. And, I’m pleased to know he was so influential. Just to set the record straight, however, I want to point out one flaw in Carlson’s facts.

It was not the “Montana Constitutional Commission that sent to the people in 1972 a revised and modernized Constitution which narrowly passed.” Gov. Anderson recognized the inadequacies of the 1889 Constitution and was, indeed, instrumental in getting it revised. Briefly, the first step was the creation in 1967 of the Montana Constitution Revision Commission. The second step was the creation in 1969 of the Montana Constitutional Convention Commission. In 1970, Referendum 67 calling for a constitutional convention was on the ballot. After the referendum was passed overwhelmingly by the voters, both a primary and a general election were held to elect delegates to the convention. Finally, in June 1972, the new document was barely passed by only 2,386 votes.

Although Anderson was supportive of the delegate’s efforts, he chose to remain on the sidelines during the convention. Once the proposed document was completed, however, and the voters had to be convinced to vote for it, he emphatically encouraged the delegates to “go out and sell” the new Constitution the way he had sold executive reorganization.

Having his support was extremely important, and without it, our efforts could easily have been for naught. However, there was a bit more to it than “the creation of a Montana Constitutional Revision Commission.”

Jean Bowman, Missoula

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