Bollixing the ballot
As if Coloradans needed more evidence that our system for amending the state Constitution desperately needs repair, there is this:
A brother and sister team from Colorado Springs, through “family discussions” have concocted four proposed constitutional amendments that would radically change public policy in this state.
The most radical of the four aims to eliminate property taxes in Colorado by 2017. In doing so, the measure offers voters the chance to make up for the lost property taxes by approving other taxes before Dec. 31, 2016. If that isn’t done, the measure says budget cuts must be made. But it offers the absurd mandate that this be accomplished without affecting funding for schools, law enforcement or fire protection.
Since school districts depend to a large extent on property taxes for their revenue, and many fire districts depend exclusively on a property mill levy, eliminating property taxes without establishing another form of revenue, then simply decreeing that the revenue of these agencies can’t be affected, is nonsensical.
It’s as logical as passing a ballot measure to declare that winter, and the cost it imposes on people, is no longer allowed.
None of the four measures put forth by Samuel Babcock and Elise Van Grinsven is yet on the ballot. The organizers still have to gather roughly 86,000 signatures for each. But the fact they have made it this far — each has an approved ballot title by the state — is testament to the fact that Colorado’s amendment process far too easy.
The other measures proposed by these siblings, according to The Denver Post, include one to eliminate the requirement for concealed carry permits and thereby allow anyone over 21 to legally carry concealed guns in most places in the state, as well as an amendment to create an open primary in Colorado so that citizens could vote for any candidate in a primary, regardless of party affiliation.
The fourth measure would change state Senate districts so that they are based entirely on geography with no population component. As the Post noted, the last measure would violate U.S. Supreme Court decisions going back at least 50 years.
If the siblings successfully gather enough signatures to get these measures on the ballot, it’s likely Colorado voters will reject them, as we have done in the past with outrageous ballot plans. But that will only occur after costly campaigns to explain the measures and their consequences. The costs and efforts are unfortunate distractions from other important campaigns at stake this election year.
Even more unfortunate is that Colorado continues to allow small groups of people to, with relative ease and little expense, force measures onto the ballot that propose massive, ill-considered and illogical changes to our system of government. As a state, we must change our system for amending the state Constitution.