Two CO Anti-Initiative Bills KO’d

Fri, May 2 2014 by Paul Jacob

Late Wednesday, the hard work of Colorado’s broad, diverse, left-right, pro-initiative & referendum coalition paid off. With an awakened public communicating with legislators, the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee unanimously defeated Rep. Lois Court’s House Concurrent Resolution 2 on a bipartisan 5-0 vote.

HCR 2 sought to double the number of signatures citizens would be required to collect on petitions and to additionally mandate that petitions qualify in all seven congressional districts. The constitutional amendment is now effectively dead for this session, after having just passed the House by a large margin.

Senators on the committee, all voting to defeat the attack on citizen initiatives, were:  Irene Aguilar (D-Denver), Ted Harvey (R-Douglas), Bernie Herpin (R-El Paso), Matt Jones (D-Boulder) and Jessie Ulibarri (D-Adams). The Senate committee also postponed indefinitely Senate Concurrent Resolution 5, introduced only the day before, which simply required petitions to qualify in all seven congressional districts, with failure in any one of the seven blocking an issue from going to a vote.

Both HCR 2 and SCR 5 also would have created a double-standard for issue petitions, with someone wanting to repeal, say the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, for instance, or campaign finance reform passed by initiative, only needing half as many signatures as a new reform initiative would have to collect.

Rep. Lois Court has attempted every session to place major impediments into law to block citizen initiatives. She was a supporter of Referendum O in 2008, which was thankfully defeated by the voters. Elected that same year, she passed sweeping legislation in 2009 re-writing the rules for initiative petitions. Her re-writes were largely struck down in federal court as unconstitutional violations of the First Amendment rights of Coloradans. Since then, she has launched repeated attempts to put a new constitutional amendment on the ballot to wreck the petition process – and failed every time, as citizens have mobilized and spoken out.

But wait until next year. By the way, Court will be term-limited in 2016.