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50th Anniversary Constitution Celebration event to be held at State Capitol June 15-16

“We the people of Montana grateful to God for the quiet beauty of our state, the grandeur of our mountains, the vastness of our rolling plains, and desiring to improve the quality of life, equality of opportunity and to secure the blessings of liberty for this and future generations do ordain and establish this constitution.” – Preamble, Montana Constitution. 

By Joel Krautter
Every time I read the Preamble to our Montana Constitution I am filled with pride and inspiration. Not only do I get to call this great state home, but, as a Montana attorney, I am thankful to take and adhere to an oath to “support, protect and defend” our beautifully written and forward-looking Constitution. 
Fifty years ago,100 citizen-delegates from every corner of the state came together to draft our Constitution. “We the people” adopted it, and we are the source of all political power. Many provisions have come to be taken for granted by today’s Montanans – the right to privacy, the right to know about and participate in government operations, the right to a clean and healthful environment, the right to equality in educational opportunity, and the fundamental right to vote, to name just a few. Yet an awareness of Montana history tells us that these provisions mark a dramatic change from the Copper King era, and they make Montana’s Constitution a model for other states.
Thus, when I received a phone call asking if I would consider serving on the Constitutional Convention Celebration Committee (CCCC), to help plan and organize the 50th Anniversary celebration of the 1972 Montana Constitutional Convention and the Constitution itself – I considered it the honor of a lifetime to serve among this distinguished group of Montanans in this endeavor and immediately accepted the opportunity. 
The committee has been working hard to put together a series of events across Montana on the Constitution’s 50th Anniversary. The planned events highlight the Constitution’s uniqueness and importance. We hope to promote a better understanding of its provisions by all Montana citizens.
On May 23, in conjunction with the Mike Mansfield Center and Leadership Montana, CCCC will conduct concurrent “We the People” community discussions about Montana’s Constitution in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Great Falls, Helena, Kalispell, Lewistown, Missoula and Sidney. On June 15-16, the 50th Anniversary Constitution Celebration will culminate in Helena at the State Capitol and the Montana Historical Society, with a series of tributes, receptions, panel discussions and keynote addresses. In the spirit of the 1972 Constitution, all events are free and open to the public. For those in the legal profession, CLE credit approval for the panel discussions is pending. 
I strongly encourage you to attend at least one event near you or in Helena. I also ask you to tell your friends, family, neighbors, and fellow citizens about the schedule of events. This is a time for the citizens of our State to be vigilant about our democracy and promote and foster trust in our institutions, so as to strengthen support for its foundation, the rule of law. I hope that you will join us in celebrating our groundbreaking Montana Constitution on its 50th Anniversary by attending a “We the People” event and the celebration in Helena on June 15 and 16!
Joel G. Krautter is an attorney with the Netzer Law Office, P.C., a former State Representative and a member of the Constitutional Convention Celebration Committee. He is a State Bar of Montana Trustee representing Area E.


Wednesday, June 15th

Opening Greetings from former Governor Ted Schwinden, remarks from former Governor Brian Schweitzer, and welcome from Governor Greg Gianforte.
Panel Discussions 1-2:
“The Beginning” – How it came to be: why, when, what, and who”
“Let the Sunshine In” Right to Know, Right to Participate, Open Government at all levels.
Evening cocktail reception at the Montana Historical Society.
Thursday June 16th
Welcome from Chief Justice McGrath
Lunch in the Rotunda with guest speakers: Montana’s Constitution and Native Americans  
Panel Discussions 3-7:
“The Basic Rule of Law: the Backbone of a Constitution” The separation of powers and checks and balances in the three branches of government.
“Natural Resources and Water” Montana’s Constitution is unique among State Constitutions in providing the Right to a Clean and Healthful Environment. What does this mean, and what have been the implications?
“Montana’s Unique and Comprehensive Declaration of Rights”
“Revenue and Taxation” – Basic provisions of the Constitution.
“Education and Public Lands”
Closing remarks with Mae Nan Ellingson, former Governors Marc Racicot and Steve Bullock.