In the closing days of this year’s legislative session, Colorado Rep. Lois Court sponsored a bill that would have amended the state constitution to require a 60 percent supermajority to pass any future constitutional amendments. This issue had previously been floated to — and defeated by — voters in 2008, as Referendum O.
In 2009, 2010, 2011 and again this year, this attack on the citizen initiative had been introduced in the Legislature, but beaten back by a coalition of citizens and policy groups, including Common Cause and the Colorado Union of Taxpayers.
This year, Denver Post reporter Lynn Bartels informed us that Court’s bill had been “hijacked.” Republican Rep. Jon Becker amended it in committee, requiring the bill’s 60 percent supermajority to apply to any amendment to the state constitution — an idea so repulsive that even Court voted against her own bill.
But there, oddly, is where Bartels’s explanation ends.
You see, Court’s legislation mandated a supermajority to pass a new constitutional amendment, but not for repealing past constitutional amendments — at least, not past amendments proposed by citizens.
Why? Look no further than TABOR.
Passed by citizen initiative in 1992, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights amendment requires any increase in overall government spending, or any tax increase, to be approved by the politicians’ boss: the people of Colorado.
Therefore, Court and her fellow legislative Democrats seek a supermajority to block any future amendment like TABOR, while at the same time allowing TABOR to be more easily nixed with only a simple majority. They want two sets of books, two sets of standards, one for the people and another custom-made for them.
This is Common sense. I’m Paul Jacob.