Expenses and refund provisions for 2023 legislative session lobbying
The State Bar of Montana typically supports and opposes certain legislation during Montana Legislative session germane to the bar’s established purposes including to “aid the courts in maintaining and improving the administration of justice,” and “to insure that the responsibilities of the legal profession to the public are more effectively discharged.” Article III, Constitution of the State Bar of Montana.
In addition to the bar’s constitution and various orders from the Montana Supreme Court establishing the purposes of the bar, Article I, section 4(b) of the Bylaws of the State Bar of Montana and Policy 3-102 also guide Executive Committee in making legislative decisions, including establishing that the State Bar “may take a position on issues that arise from the following areas:
A. Issues relating to the regulation and discipline of attorneys;
B. Issues relating to the functioning of the courts, and to judicial efficiency and efficacy;
C. Issues relating to the availability of legal services;
D. Issues relating to attorney trust accounts;
E. Issues relating to the education, ethics, integrity and regulation of the legal profession;
F. Issues relating to law reform, adoption of uniform laws and statutory improvement.”
Policy 3-102 states that if the issues falls outside of those enumerated above, the State Bar may take a position on a matter if: “(i) The issue is of great public interest; (ii) Lawyers are especially suited to evaluate and explain the issue to the public; and (iii) The subject matter affects the rights of those likely to come into contact with the legal system.”
In Reynolds v. State Bar of Montana, the Montana Supreme Court ordered: “[T]he State Bar of Montana may not use funds derived from compulsory dues for lobbying purposes unless the State Bar makes provision to refund members dissenting to such lobbying an aliquot portion of compulsory dues paid by said members, said refund to be based upon the proportion of the lobbying expenses incurred by the State Bar to the number of dues paying members …” 660 P.2d 581 (1983).
Bar Expenses for the 2023 session are filed with the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices and detailed in the table at right.
The compulsory dues refund required by Reynolds, is set forth in Policy 3-104. Members objecting to the use of dues for the legislative positions taken by the State Bar of Montana during the 2023 Legislative Session may make a pro rata refund request within 45 days of the publication of this notice. The State Bar Board of Trustees will thereafter decide within the time specified by policy whether to approve the request.
To request a refund, send a written objection and request for a refund, including the required information from Policy 3-104, to the executive director of the State Bar of Montana, P.O. Box 577, Helena, MT 59624. Please sign the letter and include the challenger’s name, address, telephone number and Bar number.
The Bylaws and Policies of the State Bar of Montana are available on the State Bar website.