Archive for the 'Petition Rights' Category

Panel Event Featuring John Fund of the WSJ

Posted by on May 16 2011 | Events, Petition Rights, PPC

Bills like HB 1072 and SCR-001 have reminded us that the assaults on our initiative and referendum rights are not going anywhere. This coming Thursday, May 26th, we’ll be addressing these assaults on our rights as Colorado citizens to petition our government. We are holding a panel event at the University Club that will feature keynote speaker John Fund of the Wall Street Journal. Panelists include yours truly, Paul Jacob of the Citizens in Charge Foundation, Elena Nunez of Colorado Common Cause, M. Dane Waters of The Humane Society of the United States, and Thad Tecza of the University of Colorado. The event is FREE so please join us! You can RSVP online here.

Remember, one of the great checks against government’s power is for the people to petition their representatives. Join us as we explore how we can preserve this vital check.

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Simple Majority, Super Irony

Posted by on May 12 2011 | Petition Rights, PPC

Finally some good news came out of the general assembly yesterday, the final day of this year’s legislative session. By the skin of our teeth, we Coloradans dodged the “Son of Ref O,” also known as SCR-001. As you might remember, this Senate resolution was aimed at limiting our right to petition our government, which stands as the people’s safety valve against an out of control legislature. Among other traps against our petition process, SCR-001 would have required a super-majority of 60% to pass an amendment on the ballot. A super-majority requirement in the past would have prevented great things like TABOR and term limits from passing. But more importantly, requiring a super-majority for constitutional amendments does nothing to change the simple majority that exists to chip away at things like our taxpayer bill of rights. Catch my drift? 60% to pass, but 50% + 1 to undue constraints on government.

Notice in the Durango Herald article this quote,

Supporters might try to put it on the ballot through a citizens’ campaign, said Sen. Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, a co-sponsor of the measure.

Oh really? Because the resolution died this legislative session, you’d like to put in on this November’s ballot where it could pass with just a simple 50% + 1 majority? Back in my English literature class, we learned that’s called irony.

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A Petition Process Change of Heart?

Posted by on Apr 01 2011 | Constitutional Amendments, Petition Rights, PPC

Maybe the special interests stacked against our petition rights have finally come around! Maybe they will do something about HB 1326 and revive our petition process…


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Watch Devil’s Advocate On The Petition Process Tonight

Posted by on Feb 18 2011 | Idiot Box (TV Show), Petition Rights, PPC

Tune in to the Independence Institute’s public affairs television show Devil’s Advocate tonight as host Jon Caldara is joined by Elena Nunez from Colorado Common Cause and Danny Katz from Colorado Public Interest Research Group (CoPIRG) for a conversation about SCR-001, the ongoing effort in the legislature to refer a measure to the ballot to make it much more difficult for regular Coloradans to petition their government through the citizens initiative process.

That’s tonight, February 18 at 8:30 PM on Colorado Public Television 12. Re-broadcast the following Monday at 1:30 PM.

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Zombie Politics

Posted by on Feb 11 2011 | Capitol Crazies, Petition Rights, PPC, TABOR, Taxes

Hide the women and children. The zombie son of Referendum O is back and eager to haunt the citizens of Colorado. Like any piece of zombie legislation, this new version of Ref O feeds on brains bipartisan support. If you can remember back to 2008, Referendum O was defeated by voters. It would have made it much more difficult for citizens to petition their government. In other words, it would have changed nothing for rich special interests, only the little guy who wants to restrain government. (Like us).

Since Ref O went down, the legislature has been itching to bring back a similar amendment. Fast forward to today and we’ve got the zombie son of Ref O getting cooked up and ready to be delivered to a ballot near you. It is officially called, “Senate Concurrent Resolution 11-001,” or “SCR-001″ if you prefer. If passed “we the people” would never again be able to vote in a change to the state constitution.

SCR-001 would, among other traps against the petition process, require a super-majority of 60% to pass a citizen’s initiative to amend the constitution. If such a requirement were in place before, we would never have had passed Term Limits, which elected officials hate. Not to mention the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), which amazingly enough, politicians also hate. Catching a theme here? Just for fun, check the initiative history and try to find some Amendments that passed with a 60% vote. SCR-001 kills the citizen amendment.

How, in this Tea-Party-ish year, our elected officials can strip away the people’s ability to keep their out-of control government in check simply befuddles me.

Prediction – this bill, SCR-001, which will take away the safety valve “we the people” have over run-away government, will shoot through the Colorado legislature like a ham sandwich through Oprah.

Further prediction – it will fail at the ballot box and politicians who have benefited from the Tea Party movement but voted to put it on the ballot might have some interesting townhall meetings in their future. Get ready for what politicians always say whenever they put a tax increase or power grab on the ballot – “Oh, I’m not necessarily for it, I’m just for asking the people how they feel about the issue.”

Last thought – ever notice that the General Assembly has NEVER put a tax decrease, or term limits, or spending cuts, or an amendment to stop Obamacare on the ballot, just to see how “we the people” feel about it? Only “we the people” have done so, at our own expense.

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Earthquake on Post Ed. Board, Petitions Still Dead

Posted by on Feb 02 2011 | Constitutional Amendments, Petition Rights, PPC, Purely Personal

The Denver Post editorial board has a policy manual, a dusty old thing full of important policy positions to which they strictly adhere.  Right after “all tax increases are good,” but before “Pimp transit projects like it is a cure for cancer,” is this tried and true gem, “Whatever side Caldara is on, we’re on the opposite.”

So imagine my surprise when this Denver Post editorial came out this morning. The Post came out in support of me both in my current legal harassment situation and in my serious concern over House Bill 1072. This new bill in the legislature will further amend the already dead petition process here in Colorado. As it stands, only a rich guy with a financial death wish would bring an initiative to the ballot. This bill however, makes things even worse. As lawyer and expert in petition law Shayne Madsen was quoted,

…the bill would provide initiative opponents with additional opportunity to sue, while increasing the already high costs and bureaucratic hurdles for putting a measure on the ballot.

Worse yet, the bill also turns the burden of proof on its head! If anyone were to file a claim against a petitioner asserting fraud of any sort, the burden of proof is on the initiative’s proponents to prove that no fraud took place. Guilty until proven innocent.

And that’s the bottom-line with this new bill HB 1072, and the old bill HB 1326: raising the costs and risks associated with bringing an amendment to the people so that no one, except maybe only the most well-funded, union backed special interests can bring an initiative forward to the people of Colorado.

Update: Word out of the legislature today, HB 1072 passed out of committee today unanimously, with a change to the “burden of proof” section.

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The Petition Process is Dead in Colorado

Posted by on Jan 25 2011 | ACORN, Amendment 63, Capitol Crazies, First Amendment, Freedom of Speech, Petition Rights, PPC, Purely Personal

This legislative session there will be yet another attempt to make it harder for citizens to change the Colorado State Constitution by raising the signature requirements to get something on the ballot. Why bother? The petition process in Colorado is already DEAD.

I mean it. Dead. Only a fool with a financial death-wish would try to get ANY initiative on a statewide ballot.

You see, the petition process frightens many in government because it gives us little people the ability to have a meaningful say in restricting government. When the legislature fails to address our needs, we can bypass them and bring an issue directly to our fellow Coloradans. Over the years we’ve been able to do this on a number of occasions. Take for example the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) or Term Limits. Without the petition process, we would not have TABOR in place now saving us from an even larger budget deficit. And legislators certainly would never have limited their own terms in office.

To be sure, the enemies of the petition process have come from both the left and the right. In 2009, the legislature passed the 24-page HB 1326, which placed several restrictions and regulations on the petition process that did not exist before – restrictions that would hamper ordinary citizens from petitioning their government by greatly raising the cost of petitioning. Of course this does not effect the rich, union backed forces nearly as much as the little guy (us).

Additionally, the law for the first time opened up the individual proponents of petitions to be liable for a much more loosely defined “fraud” or wrongdoing by nearly anyone working or volunteering on behalf of the amendment. And here is where the story really begins. With the proponent of a petition forced to personally pay the legal costs if someone else commits “fraud” – even when their amendment does not pass – who in their right mind would take on that risk? Answer: me.

Right now I am the target of a legal complaint and may be personally liable for so-called “fraud” committed by other people during the signature gathering process for Amendment 63, our Right to Health Care Choice initiative. As this MUST READ Citizens in Charge article outlines, I could be forced into personal bankruptcy because of this legal complaint. All because I wanted my fellow Coloradans to have a say in how our government was run.

Despite the initiative process still officially on the books, it has effectively been nullified by this 2009 legislation. I join Vince Carroll at the Denver Post in calling for cleaning up these rules.

My current situation now serves as a warning to those who might be considering running an initiative in the future. Now read this Citizens in Charge article.

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