Voters may decide tax, TABOR issues
Legalize marijuana, raise taxes to fund education and make it harder to amend the state’s Constitution.
Those are some of the more well-known measures that may make the ballot this year or next.
But, as there are every year, the fall ballot in the next two years could see a slew of unknown ones, including some that Colorado voters have no control over, such as efforts to recall federal officials.
Such proposals usually don’t make the ballot, but they do highlight questions as to whether voters should make it harder to amend the state Constitution as lawmakers have considered in recent years.
Thaddeus Tecza, a retired political science professor at the University of Colorado, doesn’t agree with that idea.
“When people in the past have tried to use the statutory initiative process, the Legislature has overturned that,” Tecza said. “The initiative process is an excellent check on the Legislature as well as expressing the direct wishes of the people. Making it more difficult, all that does is make the initiative process available to those who can run a big-moneyed campaign, but not to ordinary grass-roots organizations.”
Tecza had filed a proposal to require a three-fourths vote of the General Assembly to alter any proposition approved by voters, but he plans to withdraw it because it was in response to a proposed referendum the Legislature was considering to make it harder to alter the Constitution.
There is, however, another measure to do just that. It would require a 60 percent majority of voters to approve amendments to the Constitution, and 60 percent of legislators to alter propositions, which create new statutes.
Other measures include a proposed repeal of the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, a ban on out-of state contributions in political races, and a five-year increase in income and sales taxes to fund education.
Sen. Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, and a coalition of education groups already have started gathering signatures for that last measure, the only one so far to reach that stage.
Meanwhile, Denver resident Mason Tvert, who in 2005 successfully got that city to legalize possession of less than an ounce of the herb, filed eight proposals this week to legalize it statewide. Initiative proponents often file numerous, but slightly different versions of the same idea as a way of ensuring that at least one will pass constitutional muster to make the ballot.
Some of the quirkiest ideas that have surfaced this year came from the same Aurora resident who once tried to get voters to impeach President Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
That man, Page Penk, wanted to do that in 2007, seven years after Clinton left office. In recent years, Penk also has proposed such initiatives as Global Day Without Violence, Sex Strike Against War, Prohibit Nuclear Weapons in Colorado and several measures simply known as Peace.
This year, Penk proposes to impeach U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, and is calling on the state to fund his design to seal leaky underwater oil pipes, such as the one that burst in the Gulf of Mexico last year.
Penk wants voters to give him money from something he calls a free speech tax imposed by Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. No such tax exists, of course, and Hickenlooper is now governor.
Penk wants to impeach the justice because Roberts somehow denied him a jury trial in Denver traffic court on a speeding charge.
Roberts has no oversight of state courts.
Penk’s plan is to pour 1,000 miles of cables and chains onto a leak to cover it.