Our view: Vote ‘yes’ on Amendment 71

Advertisement

Colorado voters are faced with a long string of amendments and propositions to decide this November, and among those, is Amendment 71.

At issue:

Voters are being asked to vote in favor of a constitutional amendment that would make it harder to amend the Colorado constitution.

Our view:

The constitution is a sacred document, and Amendment 71 ensures the constitution cannot be altered easily by special interest groups.

If approved, the measure would toughen the requirements to amend the Colorado Constitution, and based on the number of amendments that have been placed on the ballot through citizen initiatives this fall, we think that’s proof enough that the process could stand some more rigor.

Under state law, citizens in Colorado have the power to propose changes to the state constitution through a citizen-initiative process. Currently, that process involves collecting enough signatures to equal at least 5 percent of the votes cast in the most recent Secretary of State election — in 2016, that threshold was 98,492 signatures.

It could be considered ironic that Amendment 71 made it to the ballot via citizen initiative, and if approved, it would amend the state constitution to make amending the state constitution more difficult. But regardless of how you look at it, we think Amendment 71 deserves a “yes” vote.

The amendment does not propose to change the process for citizen initiatives but rather adds a requirement that signatures must be collected statewide and also increases the percentage of votes required to change the state constitution.

Amendment 71 would change signature requirements so, that of the total required signatures, some must be collected from each of the state’s 35 Senate districts, amounting to at least 2 percent of the registered voters in each district.

Additionally, Amendment 71 would change the percent of the vote required to adopt changes to the constitution. Currently, only a simple majority of votes is needed to adopt a constitutional change, but under Amendment 71, that would change to 55 percent of votes cast.

In our opinion, it’s currently too easy for groups with special interest agendas to launch an initiative campaign to get an amendment on the ballot. Colorado is currently one of only 14 states that allows qualifying initiatives to go directly to the ballot. Many other states require initiatives to be submitted to the legislature first.

All too often, groups can get the signatures they need by canvassing the urban areas of the state, basically ignoring the interests of Colorado’s more rural areas that have smaller populations. Amendment 71 would ensure that all Coloradans, regardless of where they live, have a voice in whether or not an amendment that would change the state’s constitution makes the ballot.

In a state with such diverse regional interests, it only seems right to require signature gatherers to secure support from around Colorado and to raise the percentage of the vote required to pass an amendment once it makes it to the ballot.

Over the years, in its editorials, the Steamboat Pilot & Today has advocated for making it tougher to change the state constitution through ballot initiatives, and we think Amendment 71 will get that done. We encourage citizens to educate themselves on the issue, and we think once they do, they’ll join us in voting “yes” on Amendment 71.

Comments

bill schurman 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The Denver Post and I vote NO. One can always vote no on any proposed constitutional amendment on the ballot.

1

Tim Keenan 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Once again I strongly disagree with the Pilot's position on an amendment. Don't kid yourselves; if you vote yes on this, you're voting to do away with the citizens' initiative process, since in order to meet the new requirements, you'd need a huge, well-organized, well-funded organization. How long has our constitution been around, and we're on amendment 71 or so? Doesn't sound too bad to me.

Don't like an amendment? Vote No! It's that simple.

1

Scott Wedel 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Getting 2% of registered voters in every state senate district is not a substantial hurdle.

It is actually a thinly disguised means of increasing the power of the political parties as they have the existing structure to get signatures in every district.

0

steve randall 6 months, 3 weeks ago

You can always vote no in the general election....71 is just more bureaucracy.

0

Tim Keenan 6 months, 3 weeks ago

http://www.coloradoindependent.com/161544/raise-the-bar-oil-and-gas-industry

They're terrified that something like this year's amendments 75 and 78, would ban fracking close to schools and parks and allow local jurisdictions to initiate moratoriums on fracking might make it onto the ballot next time.

0

Paul Hughes 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I agree with the editorial and am going to vote yes because it will return at least a modicum of clout to us out here in the boonies. Right now -- and for many years -- the Front Range and Boulder drive Colorado. I point to the awful Gallagher Amendment as a prime example of "what's good for Denver is good for the rest of the state." If you think this amendment will take away your citizen initiative rights, I say you never really had them in the first place. You surrendered them to the big population centers. But if you vote yes, you will, for the first time, demand the attention of the rest of the state. And by the way, the meetings and discussions about this amendment started years before talk of the fracking amendments.

0

Scott Wedel 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Paul,

Though, seems to me that requiring 55% to pass future amendments would make it far harder to pass a new amendment that corrects the Gallagher Amendment. But Gallagher Amendment has proven popular as it has kept residential property taxes low.

It also strikes me as fundamentally anti-democratic to argue that it is somehow unfair that the population centers is where the votes are. A citizen of the Front Range does not count any more than a citizen of the Western Slope. There are just a whole lot more of time.

1

Paul Hughes 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Scott,

Two points. First, Gallagher may be popular in the big commercial centers, but it has kept residential property taxes artificially low here. Here, where we have the great majority of assessed valuations on the residential side, and more than half of that in second homes, it is unnecessary. But we had no effective say in whether we wanted it. Second, I didn't say that it's unfair that most voters live in the population centers. I said that it's unfair that those votes, 'til now, have been the only ones that carried any weight.

0

Scott Wedel 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Paul,

Front Range voters carry the same weight as SB voters, but there are just a lot more of them. Just as there are lot more House and Senate seats along the Front Range than Western Slope.

Just because the population centers have the most voters doesn't mean they win all votes. California had the Peripheral Canal to move Norcal's water to Socal. It won a majority of LA's voters, but it lost badly in Norcal to lose overall. There were a couple of rural Norcal counties in which it was opposed by 100% of the voters.

Also, most any population group can complain about having less influence than desired. Colorado Springs can complain about their typically conservative votes being overwhelmed by Denver voters. In this election, Boulder and Denver Democrats can complain that rest of state isn't progressive enough to pass ColoradoCare.

Voter initiatives was a founding principle of Colorado's Constitution as a way for voters to counteract corrupt government controlled by special interests. If you look at many of the signature Colorado laws such as TABOR, legal MJ and so on, they were passed as citizen's initiatives, not by the legislature.

1

Tim Keenan 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I don't get it. You can still vote No on the amendment when it's on the ballot. If enough people do, it doesn't pass. This just makes it much harder for truly grassroots initiatives to go anywhere.

2

George Hresko 6 months, 3 weeks ago

To those of you who are not in favor, I assume you all have received your 2016 State Ballot Information Booklet--runs to 100 pages almost--and have read it completely and have then gone to the many websites, sources of information on each, and studied them--say minimum of 10 hours, and more likely 20? My guess is the vast majority of folks 99% plus will not read the booklet, nor will they do any real research but will get their info from newspaper editorials, ala Bill and this paper here. So, I fail to see how having an up or down vote on so many proposed amendments yields an informed outcome! With the plethora of (no not pinatas) of amendments I believe we are (a) letting the Legislature off the hook (same thing happens here regularly with City Council) and (b) ending with a bunch of amendments that should never ever been in the State Constitution but rather should be laws, passed and changed via normal legislative processes. Amendments 69, 70 and 72 should never be in a Constitution for the simple reason that they obviously will need to be changed in the near future should they be passed. All Founders struggled with how best to balance the potential of an uninformed majority versus a vulnerable minority, as well as the big city influence vs the country-side. I note that many early states placed their capitals not in the big cities as one attempt to minimize the influence of the major population centers.

0

Requires free registration

Posting comments requires a free account and verification.