Secretary of State Linda McCulloch and the State Board of Canvassers certified the election results of CI-116, also known as Marsy’s Law, on Monday.
The initiative gives expanded rights to victims of crime.
The ballot measure was approved by Montana voters by a 2-to-1 margin, with 325,934 votes for it, and 167,261 against.
The certification by the Board of Canvassers had been delayed after two members of the board initially refused to sign off the results.
They felt the constitutional initiative should take effect on July 1st of 2017.
The Montana Attorney General’s Office previously said the law should take effect immediately.
Those who want the delay believe that local governments need more time to prepare for the new requirements.
Marsy’s Law is named after a California woman was stalked and murdered by her boyfriend in 1983. Henry Nicholas, Marsy’s brother, is the sole financier of the Montana initiative. Nicholas funded campaigns for Marsy’s Law in several states.
While a victim’s advocate does work to keep victims and their families informed about the case, Montana courts are not required under law to provide notice about court hearings or when a defendant has been released.
In addition to providing notice of all court appearances to the victim, Marsy’s Law would also afford representation to all victims and would require the judge to consider the safety and well-being of victims at a defendant’s probation and bond hearings.
The Montana Supreme Court stepped into the debate late last week, ordering the Secretary of State’s office to not issue an effective date while the issue is being sorted out.
"Now the issue goes to court on when Marcy’s law is effective, the ballot issue said it has an immediate effect, we think that means today. Others think that immediate means seven months from now, and we just find that ridiculous," said Charles Denowh, Marcy’s Law State Director.
McCulloch said Monday was the deadline for certifying ballot issues, and then it’s in the Montana Supreme Court’s hands.
The decision date is uncertain at this time.
Here is the full text of the initiative:
BALLOT LANGUAGE FOR CONSTITUTIONAL INITIATIVE NO. 116 (CI-116)
CONSTITUTIONAL INITIATIVE NO. 116
A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PROPOSED BY INITIATIVE PETITION
CI-116 would add a new section to the Montana Constitution establishing specific rights for crime victims. The rights enumerated include the right to participate in criminal and juvenile justice proceedings, to be notified of major developments in the criminal case, to be notified of changes to the offender’s custodial status, to be present at court proceedings and provide input to the prosecutor before a plea agreement is finalized, and to be heard at plea or sentencing proceedings, or any process that may result in the offender’s release.
CI-116 guarantees crime victims’ rights to restitution, privacy, to confer with the prosecuting attorney, and to be informed of their rights. CI-116 defines specific terms and requires no further action by the Legislature for implementation. CI- 116, if passed by the electorate, will become effective immediately.
Fiscal impacts are expected for the Office of the Public Defender, Judicial Branch, Department of Corrections and local governments from passage of CI-116, but those costs could not be accurately determined at this time.
 YES ON CONSTITUTIONAL INITIATIVE CI-116
 NO ON CONSTITUTIONAL INITIATIVE CI-116