Election 2016: How Amendment 71 could affect the state constitution


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In a week, Colorado voters will decide on a measure that could make it harder to change the state constitution.

Amendment 71 would require constitutional amendments to pass by 55percent instead of 50.

The proposal would also require more voter signatures to put amendments on the ballot, raising it from about 98,000 signatures to two percent of the registered voters in each of Colorado’s 35 state senate districts.

The federal constitution has been amended 27 times, dealing with things like fundamental civil rights and basic governing principles.

Compare that to the Colorado state constitution, which has been amended more than 150 times.

“And there are strange provisions in there that deal with things as diverse as spring hunting, and bear hunting and things like that – really not appropriate things to be in the constitution,” said Rachel Beck, government affairs manager for the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance.

Instead, the Regional Business Alliance says those things can go into the state statutes, which people will still have easier access to.

“There are a lot of challenges in governing the state as a result of all this experimentation that we’ve seen in the state constitution. There are constitutional amendments that have passed that are in direct conflict with each other and we aren’t quite sure how to reconcile that,” Beck said.

But those against the amendment say it would take away a right from people, making it more complicated for a regular person to get a proposal on a ballot.

“I think it’s really important to keep the voice of the common person, to keep outside interests, to keep business out of the process. The process has worked for this many years, why are we changing it?” said Mike Ham, president of Colorado Springs Area Labor Council.

Some worry Amendment 71 will allow for outside interests to come in and dictate who can and cannot change the constitution.

“As unions, we represent the voice, the voices of working men and women across the state. We feel that this is another attack on that voice. We don’t want our voices silenced and anything that what we perceive is outside interest, anything they can do to squash our voice, we’re going to come out against,” Ham said.

This is not the first time a measure like this has been on the ballot.

In 1996 and 2008 both were rejected by voters.

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