October 19, 2016
Relative to the rest of the country, it’s pretty easy to make changes to Colorado’s Constitution. It should be hard.
The purpose of the Constitution is to define policies, limitations and procedures for how our government should operate. Once something is in the Constitution, it is very difficult to amend or repeal.
In contrast, State Statutes outline the specific laws and regulations by which individuals and organizations must abide. Statutory law can be changed through a citizen initiative process, or it can be changed by the State Legislature.
Okay, so what’s the problem?
Every two years, Colorado voters must decide the fate of an avalanche of ballot initiatives seeking to amend our State’s Constitution. Why? Well, because Colorado is a “Guinea Pig” state. We are roughly 1/3 Republican, 1/3 Democrat and 1/3 unaffiliated, making sentiments on policy easy to swing.
More importantly, our Constitution is one of the three easiest in the entire country to amend. Placing an initiative on the ballot requires petition signatures equivalent to just 5% of votes cast in the previous Secretary of State election (even years), and once on the ballot, it only takes a 50% +1 majority to pass.
Compare this with the United S
tates Constitution, which requires a 2/3 majority in both houses of Congress and approval of ¾ of the states to amend. It isn’t surprising that there are just 27 amendments to the United States Constitution, while there are 151 to Colorado’s, and Colorado’s has been around for 100 fewer years!
Because of the ease of getting on the ballot in front of a flexible voting population, special interests of all kinds use our Constitution to try and plant a flag in the ground for whatever their hot-button issue is.
Take oil and gas development, for example
As we described last week, although 89% of Colorado’s oil and gas production takes place in Weld County, less than 1% of the signatures collected to place two anti-oil and gas initiatives on the ballot (that ultimately failed to make it) were actually collected in Weld. Meanwhile, more than 70% of the signatures came from the Denver Metro Area
As it stands, out of state environmental interests like the Sierra Club and San Francisco billionaire activist Tom Steyer use Colorado’s constitution as a playground to promote their special interests while disregarding Colorado citizens’ property rights and economic interests.
So, let’s RAISE THE BAR!
Shouldn’t all of Colorado have a say about what goes into our Constitution rather than just Denver and Boulder?
Raise the Bar accomplishes just that. It would require the proponents of an initiative to amend the Constitution to gather signatures from at least 2% of voters in all 35 of Colorado’s State Senate Districts. The same 5% requirement still applies, but it must be more evenly spread out. Additionally, once on the ballot an initiative would require a 55% majority to pass.
The Weld Energy Councils support Amendment 71 because it gives our Constitution—and ultimately our way of life—the protection it deserves.