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Though the power of the Tea Party weighed on the minds of some Republican legislators today, it was not strong enough to stop the passage of a resolution that would make it more difficult for people to amend the constitution through the ballot amendment process.
Referendum O, a bipartisan attempt to make it more difficult to amend Colorado's state constitution, didn't rank among the top controversial ballot initiatives last year. The initiatives that generated heat included one on affirmative-action discrimination and one on the rights of the unborn, which were controversial in part because many voters don’t even believe there are such things as affirmative-action discrimination and the rights of the unborn.
Denver attorney and state Republican insider Scott Gessler appears to be building his campaign for secretary of state on opposition to ballot-initiative reform. It's a move that positions him as a populist champion of citizen lawmaking at a time when broad consensus has built among lawmakers and analysts in favor of reining in the state's famously loose initiative process.
Colorado's gargantuan ballot includes more than 14 constitutional amendments and referenda even after four measures were withdrawn on Oct. 2 by proponents after a surprise alliance of labor and business interests joined forces to oppose three anti-union amendments that remain. The Colorado Independent is putting the press to the test — we're compiling newspaper endorsements, analyzing them and then tracking the persuasive talents of editorial boards statewide.
With the longest ballot in the country this year, Colorado voters will face a dizzying list of 18 questions come November. But impassioned, signature-gathering citizens aren't the only ones to blame for packing the mondo ballot. Four of the questions were placed on the ballot by the state legislature. Called referenda, this year's items deal with state government rules and procedures. And, in a grand twist, one of them makes it harder for citizens to amend the state's constitution via the initiative process.
Colorado voters haven't faced a ballot this long since 1912, the first year citizens were able to initiate laws in the state. After striking a pro-affirmative action measure for insufficient signatures Wednesday night, the Secretary of State's office drew a line under a total 18 statewide questions for the November ballot -- 14 initiated by citizens and four referred by the State Legislature.