DENVER (AP) – Colorado citizens would have a harder time adding laws to the state constitution with a pair of proposals legislators are considering this week.
Lawmakers from both parties have long said it’s too easy to amend the constitution and that voters aren’t always properly informed before they make a change.
One measure would require that citizen petitions have estimates of the fiscal impact when organizers are gathering signatures, instead of the current practice of having those estimates available right before the vote.
A House committee on Monday advanced that measure on a 6-5 vote. It still needs approval by another committee and the full House.
“If you’re signing something to put something on the ballot to have it be voted on, you know, the more information that we can give to the voters on what they’re signing, we think that’s the best way to go,” said one of the sponsors of the measure, Rep. Brian DelGrosso, the Republican House leader.
Detractors say that process would make it more expensive to print petitions to gather signatures.
Another measure being considered Wednesday in a Senate committee would require two separate votes on the ballot, not one, to add an amendment to the constitution. The first vote would be to approve consideration of a proposal, and the second vote would be to ratify it.
The sponsor of that legislation, Democratic Sen. Pat Steadman, said having two votes would allow voters to “have a much more deliberate, rational, adult conversation about whether something belongs in the constitution or not.”
Colorado has one of the easiest processes for residents to amend the state constitution, in big part because of a low signature requirement to put a proposal on the ballot. Just over 86,000 signatures are needed from the state’s nearly 3.5 million registered voters.
The legalization of marijuana for recreational use in 2012 and pot for medical use in 2000 both were citizen amendments to the constitution.
The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which limits spending and requires voter approval to raise taxes, also was a constitutional amendment, as was Amendment 23, which calls for increases to education funding. Critics of both say those two mandates conflict.
But while some view the amendment process as too easy, others want to protect the current system, saying it empowers citizens to have a voice in state government.
– By Ivan Moreno, AP Writer
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