Romanoff Proposes “Time Out” on State Constitution

The Colorado state legislators have had a lot of discussion about making it harder to amend the state constitution. A measure toughening regulations will surely be on the 2008 ballot. House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver plans to go a step further. Next year he wants to propose legislation to temporarily suspend the state constitution’s “single subject rule” for ballot measures, according to the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.Romanoff explained his view to reporter Mike Saccone in a Sunday article:

That time-out, Romanoff said, would allow the Legislature to pass a ballot question along to voters in 2010 to resolve the fiscal conflicts contained inside the Colorado Constitution.

“Part of the constitution says grow government, another part says shrink it, and a third provision says balance the budget,” Romanoff said, highlighting the conflicts.

He said the conflicts between 1982’s Gallagher Amendment, 1992’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and 2000’s Amendment 23 were one of the reasons Gov. Bill Ritter and the Legislature were forced to pass a controversial property tax-rate freeze earlier this year.

Romanoff said his plan would dodge the difficulties of a constitutional convention, which would take at least three even-year election cycles for voters to convene the convention, select delegates and ratify the convention’s results.

“The other peril with respect to a constitutional convention is the whole constitution might be up for grabs,” Romanoff said. “It’s not entirely clear that you could constitutionally confine the deliberations of the constitutional convention to the subject you think are a problem.”

The state constitution has been altered or amended over 50 times since 1978 and its verbiage is three times the size of the U.S. Constitution according to the Colorado Economic Futures Panel.

Check Cara DeGette’s series of stories about changing the state constitution.

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