Referendum O a step toward ballot sanity
September 16, 2008
See Exhibit A ” this November’s Colorado ballot.
It is a weighty list of four referendums and 14 proposed amendments to the state constitution ” reportedly the longest ballot in almost a century.
Unless you take the time to read the language of each amendment, research who worked to get the amendment on the ballot and come to understand their motivation ” you will be wading through this ballot as an uninformed voter.
One only needs to look at TABOR as an example of the problems an ill-conceived constitutional amendment can create.
By their nature, amendments are difficult to repeal and impossible to change. Once enacted, they cannot be altered by the Legislature.
This is why they are the preferred vehicle of activists who do not want the Legislature chipping away at their cause.
While this preserves the original intent of initiatives, it also handcuffs the public when problems arise.
Worse, we believe, it is a misuse of the staying power of our constitution.
Fortunately, this November’s lengthy ballot includes Referendum O concerning the initiative process. Referendum O would make it more difficult to place constitutional amendments on the ballot, while making it easier to pursue the same language in a state statute.
Referendum O would do this by decreasing the number of signatures required for a statutory initiative and increase the number required for a constitutional initiative.
Currently, there is no difference between the number of signatures needed to get a constitutional amendment or a state statute on the ballot.
Referendum O would require a number of signatures equal to 6 percent of the votes cast for governor at the most recent election for a constitutional amendment and 4 percent for a statutory initiative.
Referendum O would also increase the number of votes required for the Legislature to change a statutory initiative for five years after it takes effect.
The referendum would also increase the amount of time given to people collecting signatures for a statutory initiative from six months to nine months.
We support these procedural changes put forth in Referendum O.
Look at this November’s ballot and you will see that five of the proposed amendments were placed on the ballot by competing factions of labor, fighting over things such as who should pay an employee’s union dues ” employees or employers. How is this the stuff of a constitution? How does this promote the enduring framework of that document?
Instead, we believe the constitutional amendment process has been cheapened by the ease with which it can be accessed. That access should not be taken away, but should be re-examined this November.
” Editor’s note: Over the next month, the editorial board of the Sky-Hi Daily News will review portions of the November ballot that apply to Grand County. If you have concerns or questions about a referendum or amendment, e-mail editor Autumn Phillips at email@example.com.