Lawmakers to introduce bill to revise gift ban |

Lawmakers to introduce bill to revise gift ban

DENVER ” Lawmakers plan to introduce a bill that would revise a ban on gifts to legislators and state employees to make sure the children of government workers can still accept scholarships, The Associated Press has learned.

The ban, approved by voters last fall, has raised questions about whether some kinds of financial aid are now illegal for the children and grandchildren of government employees.

Sen. Steve Ward, R-Littleton, said Wednesday that starting the bill through the Legislature will allow lawmakers to ask the Colorado Supreme Court whether they can legally change the measure, an amendment to the state constitution.

Republicans, meanwhile, called on Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter to “come out of hiding” and send a letter to the Supreme Court asking for a clarification of the amendment.

They said Ritter already has the power to ask the court directly and does not need to wait for legislation.

“It’s time for this governor to lead. The governor needs to come out of hiding on this issue,” said House Minority Leader Mike May, R-Parker.

Ritter spokesman Evan Dreyer said the governor asked the attorney general the best way to clarify the issue.

“Everybody is looking for clarity. At this point, it looks like that clarity needs to come from the judiciary. What is not helpful is empty rhetoric,” Dreyer said.

Ward said he is working on the bill with House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver.

Ward brushed aside what he described as criticism from other Republicans, who believe the amendment should not be changed.

“I didn’t come down here to pass license plate bills. I think the constitutional interpretation should be the plain meaning. If that leads to absurd results, that should not stand either,” Ward said.

Romanoff said he’s not sure when the bill will be introduced.

Ward said a news conference has been scheduled for Thursday to announce the legislation.

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