Anti-Initiative Colorado Legislator at It Again

Wed, Apr 23 2014 by Neal Hobson

Colorado’s leading opponent of citizen control of government, Rep. Lois Court (D-Denver), is at it again. Court is seeking to amend the state’s constitution to ratchet-up the requirements for citizen-initiated petitions — something she has attempted repeatedly during her tenure in the legislature.

Rep. Court’s House Concurrent Resolution 2 would fully double the minimum signature threshold for initiative constitutional amendments, from the current 86,104 to a whopping 172,208. The amendment would also impose a new distribution requirement, mandating that a minimum number of valid signatures be gathered from each of the state’s seven congressional districts to qualify a petition.

“Rural Colorado should not be ignored when we’re changing the Constitution,” argued Court. “The fact that you can (under current law) change the Constitution by getting all your signatures right here in the Denver metro area is wrong to me.”

Strange that Rep. Court would make such a statement, because her HCR-2 must then be “wrong,” since the bill contains an exemption, specifically allowing all signatures to be gathered in Denver, if the proposed initiative would, say, repeal the Taxpayer Bill of Rights – Colorado’s tax and spending limitation that makes legislators get voter approval on tax increases – or repeal or change other amendments previously passed by voters.

Rep. Court’s measure has bi-partisan support in the Colorado House, with 48 of 65 members signed on as co-sponsors. It passed out of its first House committee on Monday by a 9-2 vote. HCR-2 also has two co-sponsors in the Senate.

A grassroots coalition is strongly opposing the idea of hiking up the hurdles to citizen-initiated amendments, featuring groups from across the political spectrum, including: Colorado Common Cause, the Independence Institute, the Colorado Union of Taxpayers (CUT), Tea Party groups and the Colorado chapter of the Humane Society of the United States.

In a letter to all legislators, the Humane Society’s state director, Jacquelyn Pyun, wrote: “HCR14-1002 would make it nearly impossible to gain ballot access via volunteer efforts in the state of Colorado, and effectively kill the ability for local individuals and communities to partake in the initiative process.”

Read the bill: