Last November’s biggest mistake? Colorado voters passing Amendment 71. It makes the Rocky Mountain State’s constitution exceedingly more difficult for voters to amend through the initiative petition process.
And more like it may be in the offing. Legislation is moving in Florida to require a 66.7 percent vote to amend the state constitution. Already, a 60 percent vote is required, but legislators remain fearful voters can muster that.
The Ohio Modernization Commission, a legislatively created mix of legislators and insiders, is recommending a new constitutional amendment to — you guessed it — make it tougher for voters to pass amendments. Future voter-initiated amendments must pass twice, by a 55 percent supermajority.
The big money behind Colorado’s Amendment 71 told whopper after whopper to win. They pretended to love and revere the constitution. Finally, they put former Denver Broncos Super Bowl champion quarterback John Elway on television — spot after spot — telling voters the amendment “protects our constitution.”
But . . . from whom?
You see, politicians and special interests don’t have to amend the state constitution to spend money on themselves or their cronies. From their perch in the state capitol, they can do that with a simple statute.
But you and I need the ability to pass constitutional amendments. Why? Only through the constitution can we limit the power of those same politicians — the power of government. Legislators can overrule a mere statutory ballot initiative (and often do).
That’s what this battle is all about. Politicians mean to limit our power to limit theirs.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.
* Thankfully, South Dakota legislators defeated several bills aimed at making it tougher to place initiatives on the ballot.