Editorial: Good bills, bad bills
Now’s the time when we watch, often in amazement, at some of the bills being put forth by the State Legislature. First, here’s one we believe most Coloradans can get behind: an effort to reform the constitutional initiative process in this state.
Every election year, Colorado voters are faced with a dizzying array of efforts to amend the state constitution. Some of them, like last year’s amendments 60 and 61, are downright scary (those two would have gutted an already fragile state economy). Others may make some sense but don’t rise to the level of a constitutional amendment, but because the process for getting such questions on the ballot is relatively easy, well, there they are. We spend millions fighting over these questions – money that could certainly be put to better use.
Citizens should certainly be endowed with the power to put initiatives on the ballot, but the bar needs to be higher than it is now to prevent the frivolous and potentially damaging questions from appearing year after year. One of the main problems with the current initiative process is that a group need only get signatures from a total of 5 percent of the voter population, and it doesn’t matter where they come from. The result is often that signatures are collected only in dense Front Range areas with little or no input from the rest of the state. Once on the ballot, amendment questions need only 50 percent of the vote to pass.
A bipartisan bill (SCR11-001) being proposed in the State Senate would:
1. Increase the number of votes needed to pass a constitutional amendment from
50 percent to 60 percent;
2. Require that 70 percent of the signatures gathered come from voters in each congressional district across the state;
3. Allow constitutional amendments passed prior to 2013 to be repealed by a 50 percent
vote (this would not apply to SCR11-001).
4. Protect citizen-initiated laws for three years after they become effective by increasing the required vote of the legislature to two-thirds to change or repeal such a statute.
This may not solve all our ballot-question woes, but it sounds like a good start. Now if we can just get it passed by voters …
On the dumb side of things is a terrible State House Bill (1150) that would take revenue from hunting and fishing licenses that currently funds the Colorado Division of Wildlife and divert it instead to the Colorado Water Conservation Board to develop water storage projects.
Huh? This bill, sponsored by Denver legislators, would divert $5 million annually over the next 10 years from CDOW to the water board. Trout Unlimited says that $50 million balloons to $260 million to CDOW if you figure in lost federal matching funds.
This deal stinks, plain and simple. The Colorado Division of Wildlife is integral to the conservation of the species and habitat that define our state, and robbing it of vital funds is short-sighted and detrimental to the state as a whole. Language that says the projects will only be those contributing to wildlife habitat is misleading, as the obvious intent is to finance more water exploration for the thirsty Front Range at the expense of vital wildlife resources.
Find your water money elsewhere, Denver, and hands off CDOW!
– Summit Daily Editorial Board
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