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The Montana Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a ballot initiative to bolster pollution protections along stretches of the Gallatin and Madison rivers can advance. The ruling overturns a determination by the state attorney general.

Back in January, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen concluded that a proposed ballot initiative was “legally insufficient” under provisions of the Montana Constitution because it undermined private property rights.

The Montana Supreme Court reversed his decision earlier this week, writing in an opinion that, as an administrative official, Knudsen did not have the authority to foreclose the public’s right to the ballot initiative process on constitutional grounds.

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Helena Dore can be reached at hdore@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2628.

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