One last-minute ballot measure affecting utility rates was introduced Wednesday, while backers decided not to pursue another referendum for “top-two” primary elections that was drafted and ready to go. Wednesday was the deadline for legislators to introduce statutory referendums or constitutional initiatives. A dozen bills have been introduced to ask voters in 2016 to approve laws or constitutional amendments, and they remain alive at the Legislature. Rep. Tom Woods, D-Bozeman, introduced House Bill 638. It’s a statutory referendum to deny a electric utility automatic rate changes to cover costs of a plant outage. Senate Republicans decided not to proceed with a referendum drafted for Sen. Fred Thomas, R-Stevensville, which would have created the “top-two” primary election for certain offices.
Under the proposal, the names of all candidates for certain statewide and district political races would have appeared on a single primary ballot, instead of having separate Democratic and Republican primary ballots. The top two primary vote-getters in each race, regardless of party, would advance to the general election.
Third-party advocates said it was designed to freeze them out of being on the general election ballots. Republican candidates said Libertarian candidates on the ballot had hurt Republicans and helped Democrats.