Amending State Constitution moves one step closer to being more difficult

The Colorado House passed a resolution 52-12 today that will give the voters the option of limiting their own ability to change the Colorado Constitution in the next election. SCR 001 now goes back to the Senate, as amended by the House, for a final vote.

Numerous Republicans took to the podium today to explain their position on SCR 001, which if passed will raise the threshold of votes needed to change the Colorado Constitution to 67 percent and would stipulate that a certain number of petition signatures must come from each congressional district.

The House changed the resolution yesterday at the request of House Minority Leader Sal Pace, D-Pueblo,  by lowering the limit in resolution for citizen initiated statutory changes from a two-thirds to 60 percent majority vote.

Rep. Spencer Swalm, R-Centennial, said that the U.S. system of government was designed to allow political passions to cool.

“I think that what we see in Colorado is a perfect example of these ratcheting back and forth from one extreme to the other,” Swalm said. “Either from things I don’t like–Amendment 23–or to thing I do like–TABOR. Now what we get are these political passions that boil up and don’t get cooled as the founding fathers envision in our constitution.”

Swalm said that what we are doing now is designing the Constitution by 30 second commercials and said we needed to make it harder to change the Constitution.

Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, rose against the resolution.  “I am reminded of the fable of Br’er Rabbit and when caught by the fox, Br’er Rabbit pled anything but the brier patch.” Holbert said. “Do not be the fox and do not be Br’er rabbit.”

Holbert told the House that they should watch through the summer where the money for initiatives come from and suggested special interests represented in the lobby corps would have more power if the resolution was passed.

Speaker of the House Frank McNulty, however, said that the Colorado Constitution was something that should be protected and that the resolution did just that. He said that it would be up to the people to decide on the referred amendment if passed by the legislature, but he would vote yes on his own ballot.

“I know that when I, Frank McNulty from Highlands Ranch, go to cast my ballot, should this be put on the 2012 ballot, that I will vote yes, because our State Constitution matters and this vote here today matters,” McNulty said.

Sponsors of the legislation, Reps. Lois Court, D-Denver, and Carole Murray, R-Castle Rock, both stood to speak to the importance of the resolution.

“I am very proud, and I thank Rep. Murray from the bottom of my heart, that we have done this.” Court said. “This is important to the people of the state of Colorado.”

The Senate will now decide whether to accept the amendment change.

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