Billings to Request Opinion from Montana Attorney General - KULR-8 Television, Billings, MT

Billings to Request Opinion from Montana Attorney General

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The Billings city council wants to ask the attorney general if the city has the authority to pass the non-discrimination ordinance.

After a 6-5 vote, the Billings city council will request an opinion from Montana Attorney General Tim Fox on the non-discrimination ordinance. City attorney Brent Brooks says based on research, the city has the authority to pass the NDO. But he understands the council's concerns, as the Attorney General's opinion would be like the law.

"It carries what we call the force of law unless until either a District Court opinion overrules or overturns that decision or until there's legislation from our legislature that overturns that decision," Brooks says.

He says if the AG’s opinion concludes that cities don't have the authority, it will have an effect on the four other cities, which have enacted the ordinance.

"I would imagine that they may reconsider their ordinance and either draft some amendments that they think would comply with the attorney general's opinion or potentially might even repeal their ordinances all together,” Brooks says. “It’s going to be driven basically by the attorney general's opinion."

Brooks believes the Attorney General will ask for input from the four cities and Billings when drafting his opinion. Brooks says it will take three months or more to get an opinion from the AG's office after a request is submitted.

Meanwhile, the city continues to work on the draft of the non-discrimination ordinance. Council members will discuss it again during the work session on July 7.