DENVER – Western Slope legislators’ latest plans to make it harder to amend the state constitution met a familiar fate Wednesday.
Legislators, especially those in Western Colorado, have complained for years that Colorado has the country’s lowest standards for putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot. They tried to double the number of petition signatures needed, to more than 170,000, and to require at least 10 percent of the signatures to come from each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts. A second, lighter version of the bill would have merely instituted the 10 percent requirement.
The Senate State Affairs Committee killed both bills Wednesday.
“We have the most easily amended constitution. It has led to a budgeting train wreck,” said the sponsor of the bills, Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village.
But Schwartz got no support from her own party or Republicans.
Sen. Matt Jones, D-Louisville, said even if the first proposal made the ballot, it would lose.
“Doubling signatures is not the answer to this thing, and your chances at the polls with this thing are really small. People are not going to vote for this,” Jones said.
The House passed one of the bills last week on a 47-18 vote. But it was an entirely different story at the Senate hearing.
Supporters like the League of Women Voters were no match for perhaps the broadest political coalition the Capitol has seen this year, with anti-fracking groups on the left and anti-tax groups on the right all opposing the bills.
Citizens are pushing constitutional amendments this year on gas and oil regulation, the creation of a state-owned bank, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s new logo, and altering Colorado’s water law. Several of the ballot initiative sponsors testified against Schwartz’s bills Wednesday.
It was the ninth time since 2004 that legislators have tried to put some version of the idea on the ballot. They succeeded just once, in 2008, but voters rejected it.