There’s a problem in Colorado, or so we’re told. And a solution. But the one doesn’t seem to match the other.
The problem, according to the supporters of Amendment 71, is too many constitutional amendments.
Their solution? Pass another constitutional amendment.
Moreover, even though two-thirds of constitutional changes have been proposed by legislators, not by citizen initiative, Amendment 71 makes it much tougher for citizens to propose amendments, while not altering the legislature’s power.
Maybe that’s because their committee, Rig the Bar . . . er, Raise the Bar, is a bipartisan group of politicians and political insiders. Their amendment would (1) increase the vote required to pass a constitutional amendment to a 55 percent supermajority, and (2) mandate that citizens qualify petitions statewide, as currently required, but also in each of the 35 state senate districts.
This means that to get an issue on the ballot citizens must successfully run 36 petition drives, not just one. And falling short in any single senate district would doom an entire effort. In short, future citizen initiatives would be much more expensive and likely to fail.
Meanwhile, the supermajority vote threshold provides well-heeled special interests with an ability to win even when they lose. Expect the powers-that-be to beat up reform measures with negative ads, knowing that simply by holding YES votes down to 54.9 percent, the establishment wins.
In a recent debate, Elena Nunez with Common Cause explained, “The problem with Amendment 71 is it’s designed to allow the wealthiest special interests in the state to act as a gate-keeper, because the cost of initiatives will go up dramatically.”
This Special Interest Protection Act sure is a problematic solution.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.