October 11, 2016 – The Durango Herald
Amendment 71 will not limit Coloradans’ freedom of expression or their right to govern themselves. It will encourage them to do so, however, in a more responsible manner. The state’s Constitution is not the place for routine legislation or pet schemes.
Amendment 71 would require proposed constitutional amendments to be signed by 2 percent of the people in each state Senate district and to garner a supermajority of 55 percent of the vote. Amendments to repeal all or part of an existing amendment would be exempt from the 55 percent rule.
Requirements for proposed statutory changes would not change from current law. They would thus become easier to enact relative to constitutional amendments. That is the point – not to stifle citizen input, but to channel it in a healthier direction.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and every living former governor of the state support Amendment 71.
Initiative and referendum, policy questions or proposals that are initiated by the people or are referred to them by the Legislature, are Progressive Era reforms particularly popular in the West. With them the voters can create or alter state law or amend the state Constitution.
But too many want to put their idea beyond the reach of legislators by embedding it in the Constitution. And at present there is no incentive to make the change statutory instead. Moreover, given Colorado’s population distribution anyone with enough money can pay people to stand outside Front Range supermarkets and collect enough signatures to put something on the ballot, which is hardly representative of the whole state.
The U.S. Constitution has been amended only 27 times. Almost a century younger, Colorado’s Constitution has been amended 152 times.
There is a state constitutional amendment urging the adoption of a U.S. constitutional amendment on campaign finance reform. A limit on methods of taking wildlife is in the Constitution as are livestock regulations and rules about school board meetings.
That is not what the Constitution is for. Vote “Yes” on Amendment 71.