Opinion Editorials


Coloradans’ petition rights attacked in legislature

By Elena Nunez and Dennis Polhill

April 28, 2014

http://completecolorado.com/pagetwo/2014/04/28/coloradans-petition-rights-attacked-in-legislature/

Coloradans’ constitutional right to initiative and referendum have greatly improved this state’s political process. That right is under attack, again, in the Colorado Legislature and must be defended.

These critical tools have enabled we, the people, to debate and adopt policy — even controversial policy — that has allowed us to check the excesses of public officials and provide governmental balance. Though democratic processes are never flawless, after 100 years of experience, from reforming campaign finance rules to imposing term limits, there are good reasons the public favors initiative and referendum by a three-to-one margin.

One measure of their effectiveness is the deep hostility of many legislators, special interest groups and their lobbyists against the process, made clear by the General Assembly’s repeated attempts at “reform.”

In 1996, legislators placed Measure A on the ballot to require constitutional amendments proposed by citizen petition to garner a supermajority of 60 percent in order to pass, while the constitutional amendments legislators placed on the ballot would need only a simple majority. Voters overwhelmingly said, “No.”

In 2008, politicians again voted to “fix” the petition process by requiring constitutional amendments to pass with that same 60 percent supermajority, forcing citizens to collect 20 percent more signatures to qualify for the ballot and imposing an onerous geographic distribution requirement. Coloradans again voted “no.”

In 2009, the Legislature struck again, enacting severe restrictions on the petitions through House Bill 09-1326, this time all on their own, without asking the people for permission. The statute was challenged in federal court and many of its provisions were found unconstitutional.

In 2014, legislators and special interests again are discussing how to make it tougher for Coloradans to have a voice via their petition rights with House Concurrent Resolution 1002. This latest attack on the citizens’ right to amend the Colorado Constitution would require twice as many signatures as are currently required, and require that signatures be gathered in every congressional district in the state. The stated reason is to “protect” the Constitution. The impact is to make it prohibitive for citizens to exercise their right to initiative and referendum.

The Legislature already has the power to refer measures to voters; indeed, nearly two-thirds of state constitutional amendments have come from the Legislature, not citizen petitions. It seems they don’t oppose amending the constitution at all, but rather just don’t like citizens making the proposals.

How many times must Coloradans say no before legislators leave initiative and referendum alone?

There are reforms that would make the process better. Colorado can make improvements that would encourage citizens to pursue statutory initiatives rather than amending the constitution.

A few ideas include reducing the number of signatures required to propose statutory amendments, making it easier for citizens to sign petitions online, and guaranteeing that measures passed by voters couldn’t be changed by the legislature without a super majority vote or requiring another vote of the people. These types of changes would render statutory petitions easier to propose and also protect citizens from having legislators overrule popular votes.

Initiative and referendum offer a safety valve. It serves to resolve issues when legislators either refuse to act or go too far. The already-daunting process of reaching the ballot by petition is never used when the Legislature acts appropriately. Thus, the volume of issues appearing on the ballot by petition is a measure of legislative effectiveness. More issues on the ballot indicate a less effective legislature.

People have indicated time and again that they support the initiative process and want to have a strong voice in our state’s governance. Legislators owe it to themselves, their oaths of office, the constitution, and their constituents to look internally and correct legislative dysfunction before seeking to deflect blame.

Reject false “reforms” from politicians and special interests that place higher hurdles to citizen participation.

Elena Nunez is the executive director of Colorado Common Cause. Dennis Polhill is a senior fellow at the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver. This article was originally published in the Greeley Tribune and subsequently by Complete Colorado.

A chance to devolve transportation power and money back to the states

 

by Dennis Polhill

December 8, 2013 Denver Post

 

For decades U.S. transportation policy has been stagnant. Because about half of gasoline taxes cycle through Washington, D.C, cost-sharing and benefits in transportation are distorted. A new bill offers a chance to restore the balance.

The Transportation Empowerment Act, introduced by U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R–UT) and Representative Tom Graves (R-GA) gradually would lower the federal gas tax from the current 18.4 cents to 3.7 cents per gallon over 5 years. The legislation also would lift federal restrictions on state Departments of Transportation.

The most recent U.S. Government Accountability Office study of gas tax redistribution among states shows that nearly 5 cents of the federal 18.4 cents per gallon tax paid by Colorado motorists ends up in other states. Keeping Colorado money in Colorado would mean the equivalent of a 5-cent gas tax increase, or nearly $100 million per year in new transportation funding.

Not only would devolving the federal gas tax to the states result in a major boon to Colorado roads and bridges, it also would honor a promise made to the American people more than 50 years ago. In 1956 Congress passed the National Defense Highway Act to construct the Interstate Highway system. The temporary federal gas tax was promised to expire when construction was completed.

For all practical purposes interstate highway construction was finished in 1982. Unfortunately, taxes almost never go away, or get smaller. Nor do government agencies or programs. Coincidentally, 1982 marks the same year roads outside the interstate system became eligible for federal funding. By tripling eligible mileage, the U.S. Department of Transportation used road revenues to fund other things more aggressively. Increasing amounts of gas tax revenue were siphoned to fund non-road programs, and congressional earmarks mushroomed.

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn’s book Breach of Trust documents a common practice. Each member of Congress is rewarded with a $15 million earmark for a chosen project in exchange for his vote to continue the federal gas tax.

Since 2008 federal gas tax revenues have not kept pace with vehicle miles driven and fuel efficiency gains. Rather than diminish the spending, though, Congress has backfilled the funding of transportation with revenue from the general fund.

The irresponsible tactic of accelerating the national debt to fund transportation pork has helped to silence the states on the question as to which states are being enriched at the expense of others.

Congress has created the perception that all states are enriched by federal largess, while Congress uses the money to keep control over any state that might stray into finding innovative solutions.

It is worth noting that the federal government does not own or operate any transportation infrastructure (other than roads in national parks, etc.). Normal roads, highways, streets, airports, and transit stations are owned by states, counties, cities or districts, making the cycling of funds thru D.C. questionable.

The title of the 1956 legislation (National Defense Highway Act) was not a typo. Not only were the roads built in part for national defense purposes, but the title also allowed Congress to sidestep the constitutional prohibition on federal spending for local transportation.

The controversy over federal involvement in transportation arose in the Early Republic. President Jefferson informed Congress on December 2, 1806, that he might support a constitutional amendment to allow federal involvement, but that without an amendment, the federal government had no authority over road-building. At least eight presidents, including Madison, issued no less than 19 vetoes of transportation bills as “unconstitutional.” Monroe’s only veto was of a transportation bill, but he issued two veto messages in an effort to help Congress understand.

If the Transportation Empowerment Act were to pass, most states probably would raise state gas taxes by an amount equal to the federal decrease. Revenue neutrality would yield a significant funding boost to transportation, particularly for states such as Colorado. The net revenue for gas tax money which is raised in the states returning to the states is less than 70 percent. But even that figure does not account for funding delays and the attached strings, nor for redistribution from one state to another.

Citizens who favor more highway funding dollars staying in Colorado should take a close look at the Lee/Graves bill.

Dennis Polhill is senior fellow in public infrastructure at the Independence Institute, a free market think thank in Denver

Colorado’s Petition Process Empowers Citizens

By Dennis Polhill and Elena Nunez February 2013

Coloradans’ constitutional right to initiative and referendum have greatly improved Colorado’s political process. That right must be defended.

These critical tools have enabled we, the people, to debate and adopt policy—even controversial policy—that have allowed us to check the excesses of public officials and provide governmental balance. Though democratic processes are never flawless, after 100 years of experience ¾ from reforming campaign finance rules to imposing term limits ¾ there are good reasons the public favors petition power by a three-to-one margin.

One measure of our success is the deep hostility of many legislators, special interest groups and their lobbyists against the initiative petition process, made clear by the General Assembly’s attempts at “reform.”

In 1996, legislators placed Measure A on the ballot to require constitutional amendments proposed by citizen petition to garner a supermajority of 60 percent in order to pass, while the constitutional amendments legislators placed on the ballot would need only a simple majority. Voters overwhelmingly said “NO!”

In 2008, politicians again voted to “fix” the petition process by requiring constitutional amendments to pass with that same 60 percent supermajority, forcing citizens to collect 20 percent more signatures to qualify for the ballot and imposing an onerous geographic distribution requirement. Coloradans again voted it down.

In 2009, the Legislature struck again, enacting severe restrictions on the petitions through HB 09-1326, this time all on their own, without asking the people for permission. The statute currently is being challenged in federal court and many of its provisions have been suspended until there is a ruling on the case because of the likelihood they will be found unconstitutional.

In 2011, legislators were at it again with Senate Concurrent Resolution 1, trying to amend the constitution to enact that same old 60 percent vote scheme along with other hurdles for petitions. Early in the legislative session, large majorities of both chambers passed slightly different versions, but later couldn’t agree on the details.

As the 2013 legislative session is underway, legislators and special interests again are discussing how to make it tougher for Coloradans to use their petition rights. Recently, TBD Colorado issued a call for “reform” which suggests the same old anti-petition schemes that voters have rejected time and again. The group recommends mandating a 60 percent supermajority to pass constitutional amendments and hiking up the signature requirement to put an issue before voters.

How many times must Coloradans say no before legislators leave our initiative rights alone?

While those advocating a clampdown on petitions claim they seek to protect the constitution, they also propose to create a new, unelected constitutional “review commission” that would have the power to place constitutional amendments on the ballot. Would the commission’s members represent the interests of the people, who have consistently rejected attempts to limit petition rights? Or will it be another vehicle for powerful interests to propose unpopular ideas?

The legislature already has the power to refer measures to voters; indeed, nearly two-thirds of state constitutional amendments have come from the legislature, not citizen petitions. It seems they don’t oppose amending the constitution at all, just allowing citizens to make proposals.

There are reforms that would make the process better. Colorado can make improvements that would encourage citizens to pursue statutory initiatives rather than amending the constitution. Those changes would render statutory petitions easier to propose and also protect citizens from having legislators overrule popular votes.

Reject false “reforms” from politicians and special interests that place higher hurdles to citizen participation.

Dennis Polhill is a senior fellow at the, Independence Institute, a free-market think thank in Denver. Elena Nunez is executive director of Colorado Common Cause.

This article was first published in Colorado Municipal League Magazine and was republished in Complete Colorado http://completecolorado.com/pagetwo/2013/03/09/colorados-petition-process-empowers-citizens-no-wonder-the-political-establishment-dislikes-it-so-much/

This paper is a chapter from The Initiative & Referendum Almanac. You can purchase the book here.

By Dennis Polhill

The effort for I&R in Colorado was started by Dr. Persifor M. Cooke of Denver in the mid-1890s. As secretary and president of the Colorado Direct Legislation League, Cooke and the constitutional lawyer J. Warner Mills of Denver fought for I&R from 1900 until 1910, when Governor John F. Shafroth called a special session of the legislature to consider the issue. The constitutional amendments that were passed provided for initiative, referendum, and recall on both state and local levels.

Coloradans set their state’s record for initiative use the first year it was available, in 1912, by putting 22 initiatives and 6 popular referendums on the ballot. Eight of the initiatives passed and challenges to legislatively approved laws were sustained in 5 of the 6 cases. Among these were laws or amendments establishing an eight-hour work day for workers employed in “underground mines, smelters, mills and coke ovens”; giving women workers an eight-hour day; providing pensions for orphans and for widows with children; establishing juvenile courts in major cities and counties; and granting home rule to cities and towns.

Over the years Colorado voters proved sympathetic to the needs of the aged and infirm, approving initiatives providing for the treatment of mental illness in 1916 and 1920, relief for blind adults in 1918, pensions for the aged and for indigent tuberculosis sufferers in 1936, and increased pensions adjusted for inflation in 1956. Colorado voters also remained friendly to organized labor, approving an initiative statute changing the workmen’s compensation law to benefit employees in 1936 and defeating an employer-backed “Right to Work” initiative in 1958.

In the early 1970s, Coloradans passed environmentalist-backed initiatives to keep the Winter Olympics from being held in their state (1972) and prohibit underground nuclear explosions except with prior voter approval (1974). Richard Lamm, an obscure state legislator when he sponsored the anti-Olympics initiative, gained sufficient prestige from his leadership of this campaign to later win election as governor.

In 1984 Colorado became the first state to pass an initiative banning the use of state funds for abortion (the second was Arkansas, in 1988). Voters approved the measure by a single percentage point. Less controversial and more popular was the 1984 “Motor Voter” initiative, which set up a system of voter registration at driver’s licensing bureaus. This highly successful program increased the number of registered voters in Colorado by 12.4 percent in the 15 months from July 1985 to October 1986.

Hostility to the initiative process by the political establishment manifested itself in the 1976 election with a “No on Everything” campaign that outspent proponents with over 91% of all funds expended. The election was followed by a series of legislative efforts to restrict use of the initiative. Notorious for exceeding the ”reasonable regulation” guideline, Federal Courts have struck down more of Colorado initiative restrictions than any other state. Those most famous are Meyer v. Grant in 1986 and Buckley v. ACLF in 1999 – both went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Colorado is recognized for having spawned the Term Limits movement in 1990. Other states had term limits initiative in 1990 and in previous years. State Senator Terry Considine, frustrated that his peers would not consider his term limits bill, became an activist and drove the term limits law to fruition with a 71% favorable vote. Colorado’s initiative was unique in that it also sought to limit members of Congress. Large numbers of states approved term limits for members of Congress in subsequent elections. Colorado passed additional term limits initiatives in 1994, 1996, and 1998.

Coloradans would have preferred that their elected officials exercise self-restraint with taxation. Tax limit initiatives succeeded in making it to the ballot in 1966, 1972, 1976, 1978, 1986, 1988, 1990, and 1992, but failed at the ballot box until 1992. The 1992 effort sponsored by tax activist Doug Bruce and dubbed the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), helped to revitalize the lagging taxpayer revolt begun in 1978 when Proposition 13 had been approved in California.

Recent use of the initiative peaked in 1992 with 10 initiatives on the ballot. Since 1992, use has been flat with a slight downward trend to 6 in 2000. Average is 8 per 2 year election cycle over the high use decade of the 1990s. Initiatives are blamed for long ballots, yet state issues referred to the ballot by the General Assembly generally equal the number of initiatives. Other issues referred to the ballot by local governments result in several times more referred measures than initiatives.

Statewide Initiative Usage

Number Of Initiatives Number Passed Number Failed Passage Rate
178 64 117 35%

Statewide Initiatives

Year Measure Number Type Subject Matter Description Pass/Fail
1912 1 DA Alcohol Regulation Providing for statewide prohibition. Failed
1912 10 DS Election Reform Amending election laws. Failed
1912 11 DA Initiative and Referendum Providing for the holding of special elections for voting on proposed constitutional amendments and initiated and referred laws. Failed
1912 12 DA Legal Defining contempt of court and providing for trial by jury for contempt in certain cases. Failed
1912 13 DA Utility Regulation Creating a public utilities court with exclusive power to fix and enforce reasonable rates, and for appeal direct to the supreme court from its decision. Failed
1912 14 DS Election Reform Amending election laws, and providing for a “headless ballot”. Passed
1912 15 DA Education Providing wider control of the schools by the people. Failed
1912 16 DA Judicial Reform Providing for juvenile courts in cities and counties of 100,000 population. Passed
1912 17 DS Welfare Mothers’ compensation act and aid to dependent and neglected children. Passed
1912 18 DS Administration of Government Relating to civil service and amending said law. Passed
1912 19 DS Labor Eight-hour law for work in underground mines, smelters, mills and coke ovens. Passed
1912 2 DS Alcohol Regulation Enforcement of prohibition laws by search and seizure. Failed
1912 20 DS Administration of Government Giving state highway commission control of certain funds. Failed
1912 3 DS Labor Women’s eight-hour employment law. Passed
1912 31 DA Bonds Authorizing a bonded indebtedness for public highways. Failed
1912 32 DS Administration of Government Construction of tunnel through James Peak. Failed
1912 4 DS Administration of Government Providing for the regulation of public service corporations. Failed
1912 5 DS Administration of Government Establishing a state fair. Failed
1912 6 DA Alien Rights Providing special funds for the state immigration bureau. Failed
1912 7 DS Initiative and Referendum Reducing costs of publishing constitutional amendments, initiated and referred laws, and publishing arguments for and against. Failed
1912 8 DA Administration of Government Granting home rule to cities and towns. Passed
1912 9 DA Election Reform Providing recall from office. Passed
1914 N/A DA Initiative and Referendum Giving people right to petition governor to call special elections for submitting measures under the initiative and referendum. Failed
1914 N/A DS Legal Permitting probation in criminal cases for minors and first offenders. Failed
1914 N/A DS Administration of Government Providing for codification of laws relating to women and children. Failed
1914 N/A DA Utility Regulation Designating newspapers as public utilities. Failed
1914 N/A DA Judicial Reform Providing for a 3/4 jury verdict in civil cases and permitting women to serve on juries if they desire. Failed
1914 N/A DA Alcohol Regulation Providing for statewide prohibition. Passed
1914 N/A DA Initiative and Referendum Providing that initiated measures rejected by people cannot again be initiated for six years, and if two conflicting measures be adopted at same election, one receiving largest affirmative vote shall prevail. Failed
1914 N/A DS Taxes Increasing state road fund by half mill levy for highway construction. Passed
1916 N/A DS Education Providing for the investment of public school funds in certain securities. Passed
1916 N/A DS Business Regulation Regulating the running of stock at large. Failed
1916 N/A DS Welfare Providing for the care and treatment of insane persons. Passed
1916 N/A DA Alcohol Regulation Declaring beer non-toxicating and providing for its manufacture and sale. Failed
1916 N/A DA Administration of Government Placing state civil service in the constitution. Failed
1916 N/A DS Taxes Abolishment of the state tax commission. Failed
1918 N/A DS Welfare Relief for blind adults. Passed
1918 N/A DA Administration of Government Placing state civil service in the constitution. Passed
1918 N/A DS Alcohol Regulation “Bone-dry” prohibition law. Passed
1920 N/A DS Health/Medical Appropriating $350,000 from the general fund for the establishment o the Psychopathic Hospital and Laboratory. Passed
1920 N/A DA Education Providing additional one mill levy for state educational institutions. Passed
1920 N/A DA Bonds Providing for the construction of the Moffat, Monarch and San Juan tunnels, and bond issue therefore. Failed
1920 N/A DS Business Regulation Relating to the practice of chiropractic, and providing for the regulation and licensing thereof. Failed
1920 N/A DS Administration of Government Creating the County of Limon. Failed
1920 N/A DS Administration of Government Creating the County of Flagler. Failed
1920 N/A DS Labor Fixing hours of employment in city fire departments. Passed
1922 N/A DA Bonds $1.5m bond issue for construction of public highways. Passed
1922 N/A DA Utility Regulation Creating a public utilities commission, prescribing its powers and duties, and defining public utilities. Failed
1922 N/A DA Taxes Giving legislature or people power to exempt certain intangibles from ad valorem taxation, and to impose an income tax in lieu thereof. Failed
1922 N/A DS Business Regulation Concerning experimental operations on human beings and dumb animals. Failed
1922 N/A DS Apportionment/Redistricting Revising apportionment of members of legislature. Failed
1924 N/A DA Administration of Government Establishing the office of state printer and printing building committee. Failed
1926 N/A DA Administration of Government Creating a public utilities commission and prescribing its powers and duties. Failed
1926 N/A DS Taxes Concerning the taxation of petroleum products and registration of motor vehicles, and providing that all such taxes and fees by used exclusively for roads. Failed
1926 N/A DS Business Regulation Amending law to permit dentists licensed in other states to practice in Colorado without examination. Failed
1928 N/A DA Education Providing for the election of a board of education, and for the appointment by said board of a commissioner of education to take place of superintendent of public instruction. Failed
1928 N/A DA Bonds Providing for a $60m bond issue for the construction of highways. Failed
1930 N/A DA Education Providing for the election of a board of education and for the appointment by said board of a commissioner of education to take place of superintendent of public instruction. Failed
1932 N/A DA Taxes Limiting taxation of motor fuel and ad valorem taxation of motor vehicles. Failed
1932 N/A DS Apportionment/Redistricting Reapportionment of members of legislature . Passed
1932 N/A DA Alcohol Regulation Repealing statewide prohibition, subject to national repeal. Passed
1932 N/A DA Taxes Giving legislature power to provide for a limited income tax and a classified personal property tax, to be used for public schools. Failed
1932 N/A DA Taxes Giving legislature power to provide for a graduated income tax for state purposes, abolishing property tax for state purposes, and giving any excess revenue to the public schools. Failed
1934 N/A DA Taxes Concerning the taxation of petroleum products and registration of motor vehicles and providing that such taxes and fees be used exclusively for roads. Passed
1934 N/A DS Business Regulation Imposing license fees on chain stores. Passed
1934 N/A DA Taxes Limiting tax on motor fuel to $.03 per gallon. Failed
1934 N/A DA Taxes Giving people sole power to impose or approve imposition of excise taxes through the initiative and referendum. Failed
1936 N/A DA Taxes Providing for ownership tax on motor vehicles in lieu of ad valorem taxation thereon, and for the distribution thereof. Passed
1936 N/A DS Welfare Providing for public assistance to indigent tubercular residents. Passed
1936 N/A DA Taxes Amending “uniformity clause” of constitution principally by limiting rate to taxation for all purposes to 20 mills in cities and towns of first class, and 15 mills in other divisions. Failed
1936 N/A DA Taxes Amending revenue section of constitution, principally by giving legislature power to provide for an income tax within limitations. Failed
1936 N/A DA Welfare Providing $45 per month old age pensions and designating certain taxes for the payment thereof. Passed
1936 N/A DS Labor Amending workmen’s compensation act to benefit of employee. Passed
1938 N/A DA Business Regulation Relating to the practice of the healing arts, and giving practitioners licensed by the state certain rights in tax supported institutions and power to regulate their own professions. Failed
1938 N/A DA Welfare Repeal of $45 per month old age pension amendment and giving legislature power to provide for pensions. Failed
1938 N/A DS Taxes Repeal of chain stores tax act. Failed
1940 N/A DA Taxes Providing for an income tax; requiring the legislature to levy such income tax at not lower than certain specified rates; and providing that the revenues derived there from shall replace property taxes. Failed
1940 N/A DA Environmental Reform Providing for the conservation of the state’s wildlife resources; limiting the use of game and fish revenues for such purposes; and establishing a Game and Fish Commission. Failed
1940 N/A DS Gaming Establishing a racing commission and legalizing horse and dog racing. Failed
1940 N/A DA Welfare Providing for a guaranteed old age pension of $30 per month to residents of the state over 65 years who qualify. Failed
1940 N/A DA Taxes Providing for an ad valorem tax on all intangible property in the state, and allocating the funds derived there from. Failed
1944 N/A DA Alien Rights Providing that aliens eligible to citizenship may acquire and dispose of real and personal property, and that provision shall be made by law concerning the right of aliens ineligible to citizenship to acquire and dispose of such property. Failed
1944 N/A DA Veteran Affairs Providing for preference to honorably discharged veterans and their widows in the civil service of the state and its political subdivisions. Passed
1944 N/A DS Welfare Appropriating $.5m for the then current biennium and $1.5m annually thereafter for old age pensions. Passed
1948 3 DA Alcohol Regulation Political subdivisions may adopt and thereafter modify or repeal local option proposals prohibiting the sale of alcoholic and fermented malt beverages. Failed
1948 4 DA Welfare Providing for a guaranteed minimum $55 per month old age pension and for the allocation and earmarking of certain moneys and excise taxes to pay the same. Failed
1950 3 DA Administration of Government Concerning civil service and providing for additional exemptions there from of governor’s staff. Failed
1952 4 DA Taxes Providing for a severance tax on certain petroleum products and natural gas. Failed
1952 6 DA Gaming Legalizing slot machines except where prohibited by local ordinance. Failed
1952 N/A DS Labor Making it unlawful for any municipality to employ firemen more than 60 hours a week, with certain exceptions. Failed
1954 8 DA Administration of Government Providing for four-year terms of office for certain County officers. (Art. 14, Sec. 8) Passed
1956 4 DA Apportionment/Redistricting Providing for apportionment of members of the general assembly. Failed
1956 5 DA Welfare Revising the old age pension article; establishing a monthly award of $100 to be adjusted to increased living costs; providing for a stabilization fund of $5 million. Passed
1958 1 DA Labor “Right-to-work” amendment; providing that no person shall be denied the freedom to obtain or retain employment because of membership or non-membership in any labor union or labor organization. Failed
1958 4 DA Gaming Legalizing the conduct of games of chance (limited to bingo, lotto, or raffles) by certain organizations which operate without profit to dues paying members. Passed
1960 3 DA Environmental Reform Creates a wildlife management commission and a department of wildlife conservation. Failed
1960 4 DS Daylight Savings Time Providing for and establishing Daylight Saving Time. Failed
1960 6 DA Taxes Authorizing general assembly to vest in counties, cities and towns, the power to impose a retail sales and use tax for local purposes on tangible personal property, except drugs, and food for off-premises consumption. Failed
1960 7 DA Administration of Government Authorizing governor, with consent of Senate, to appoint administrative officers of certain departments, to be excluded from civil service. Failed
1962 7 DA Apportionment/Redistricting An act providing for the apportionment of the Senate and House of Representatives of the General Assembly. Passed
1962 8 DA Apportionment/Redistricting Providing for reapportionment of the general assembly. Failed
1966 1 DS Daylight Savings Time Providing for Daylight Savings Time in Colorado. Passed
1966 2 DS Death Penalty Abolishing death penalty. Failed
1972 10 DS Utility Regulation An Act to protect the consumer of public utility services by defining just and reasonable rates, by creating an Office of Public Consumer Counsel. Failed
1972 11 DS Business Regulation Establishing a system of compulsory insurance and compensation irrespective of fault for victims of motor vehicle accidents, setting forth the basis for recovery. Failed
1972 6 DA Gaming An act to amend the Constitution to provide for a privately operated lottery, supervised and regulated by the Department of State and granting an exclusive original ten year license to the United States Sweepstakes Corporation. Failed
1972 8 DA Taxes An Act to Amend Art. 10 and 11 to prohibit the state from levying taxes and appropriating or loaning funds for the purpose of aiding or furthering the 1976 Winter Olympic Games. Passed
1972 9 DS Campaign Finance Reform Require that public officials disclose their private interests and that all lobbyists register and file periodic informational statements. Passed
1972 N/A DA Taxes Establishing a maximum limitation of one and one-half percent of the actual value on the annual taxation of property except as permitted by a vote of the qualified electors. Failed
1974 1 DA Administration of Government An act concerning the annexation of property by a County or city and County, and prohibiting the striking off of any territory from a County without first submitting the question to a vote of the qualified electors of the County and city. Passed
1974 10 DA Nuclear weapons/facilities/waste An act to amend the Constitution to establish procedural steps to be complied with prior to the detonation of nuclear explosive devises including voter approval. Passed
1974 2 DS Death Penalty Shall the death penalty be imposed upon persons convicted of Class 1 felonies where certain mitigating circumstances are not present and certain aggravating circumstances are present? Passed
1974 8 DA Education Prohibit the assignment or the transportation of pupils to public educational institutions in order to achieve racial balance of pupils at such institutions. Passed
1974 9 DA Apportionment/Redistricting Reapportioning of legislative districts by a body to be known as the Colorado Reapportionment Commission which shall consist of electors. Passed
1976 1 DA Gaming Authorize conduct of sweepstakes. Passed
1976 10 DA Taxes An Amendment adding a new Sec. 31 to Art. 10 requiring registered electoral approval of all state and local executive or legislative acts which result in new or increased taxes. Failed
1976 2 DA Taxes Classification/taxation of motor vehicles. Passed
1976 3 DA Nuclear weapons/facilities/waste An amendment requiring approval by two thirds of each House of the General Assembly prior to any construction or modification of a nuclear power plant or related facility. Failed
1976 4 DA Administration of Government Exemptions from state personnel systems. Failed
1976 5 DA Administration of Government Compensation of County officials. Failed
1976 6 DA Civil Rights An Act to repeal Sec. 29 of Art. 2 which section provides for equality of rights under the law on account of sex. Failed
1976 7 DS Taxes Exempts food and food products, with certain exceptions, from state sales and use taxes and repeal the food sales tax credit, to require the General Assembly to enact severance taxes and corporate income taxes to offset any revenue lost. Failed
1976 8 DS Environmental Reform Requires a minimum deposit refund value for beverage containers for malt liquor, including beer, and carbonated soft drinks manufactured, distributed, or sold for use in this state. Failed
1976 9 DS Utility Regulation Protects and represents consumers of public utilities services by creating a Department of Public Counselor, and concerning financial disclosures by Public Utilities Commissioners. Failed
1978 1 DA Administration of Government Office of County Commissioner, vacancies. Passed
1978 2 DA Taxes Limiting annual increases in per capita expenditures by the state and its political subdivisions. Failed
1982 1 DA Taxes Property tax assessment. Passed
1982 2 DA Legal An amendment to Authorizing the denial of bail to persons accused of a capital offense when proof is evident or presumption is great. Passed
1982 3 DA Judicial Reform Concerning the membership and appointment of the commission on judicial discipline. Passed
1982 5 DS Environmental Reform Refund on beverage containers. Failed
1982 6 M Nuclear weapons/facilities/waste To bring about the cessation of nuclear weapons component production in Colorado. Failed
1982 7 DS Business Regulation Regulate the sale of wine in grocery stores. Failed
1984 1 DA Administration of Government Appointment of Commissioner of Insurance. Passed
1984 2 DA Election Reform Providing that a person must be a registered elector in order to vote for state elected executive officers. Passed
1984 3 DA Abortion Ban the state funding of abortion. Passed
1984 4 DS Election Reform To provide for additional voter registration of qualified electors applying for a driver’s license. Passed
1984 5 DA Gaming Establish casino gambling in Pueblo. Failed
1986 1 DA Administration of Government Appointments by merit. Failed
1986 2 DA Administration of Government Compensation of County officers. Failed
1986 3 DA Initiative and Referendum Franchises subject to initiative and referendum. Passed
1986 4 DA Taxes Voter approval for tax increases. Failed
1988 1 DA Administration of Government English as official language. Passed
1988 2 DA Election Reform Reimbursement of Recall expenses. Passed
1988 3 DA Administration of Government Legislative session length. Passed
1988 4 DA Labor Concerning maximum eight-hour workday. Passed
1988 5 DA Taxes Property tax exempt non-producing mining claims. Passed
1988 6 DA Taxes Voter approval: increases in tax revenues. Failed
1988 7 DA Abortion Restore funding for abortions. Failed
1988 8 DA Administration of Government Referral of measures to committees. Passed
1990 1 DA Taxes To require voter approval for certain state and local government revenue increases. Failed
1990 2 DA Election Reform Colorado shall conduct a presidential primary election which conforms to political party rules. Passed
1990 4 DA Gaming Legalizing limited gaming. Passed
1990 5 DA Term Limits Term limits for elected officials. State legislature and Congress. 8/8 Passed
1992 1 DA Taxes Voter approval of tax revenue increases. Passed
1992 10 DS Animal Rights Prohibit taking of black bears. Passed
1992 2 DA Civil Rights Repeal local laws passed to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and prevent similar new laws. Passed
1992 3 DA Gaming Limited gaming; surtax. Failed
1992 4 DA Gaming Limited gaming. Failed
1992 5 DA Gaming Limited gaming. Failed
1992 6 DS Education Act for system of educational standards. Failed
1992 7 DA Education Vouchers for school funding. Failed
1992 8 DA Environmental Reform The Great Outdoors Colorado program. Passed
1992 9 DA Gaming Limited gaming. Failed
1994 1 DA Taxes Would place an additional 50 cents per pack tax on the sale of cigarettes by wholesalers. Failed
1994 11 DA Labor Workers compensation benefits. Failed
1994 12 DA Campaign Finance Reform Placed limitations on elected officials compensation; enacted campaign contribution limitations. Failed
1994 13 DA Gaming To allow slot machines without a local vote in Manitou Springs. Failed
1994 15 DA Campaign Finance Reform Establish campaign contributions limits. Failed
1994 16 DA Civil Rights Would allow the control of the promotion of obscenity by the state and any city, town or County to the full extent permitted by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Failed
1994 17 DA Term Limits Term limits on Congress 6/12 and on all localities. Passed
1994 18 DA Administration of Government State medical assistance repayment. Failed
1996 11 DA Taxes Eliminates property tax exemptions of religious and nonprofit organizations. Failed
1996 12 DA Term Limits Term limits on Congress 6/12 and all localities. Passed
1996 13 DA Initiative and Referendum Expands initiative and referendum powers. Failed
1996 14 DA Animal Rights Concerns methods of taking wildlife; prohibits use of leg hold traps. Passed
1996 15 DS Campaign Finance Reform Limiting the amount of campaign contributions to candidate committees. Passed
1996 16 DA Administration of Government Concerns management of state’s trust lands; expands membership of the State Land Board. Passed
1996 17 DA Civil Rights Grants constitutional status to parents’ rights. Failed
1996 18 DA Gaming Allow limited gambling in the city of Trinidad. Failed
1998 11 DS Abortion Would prohibit partial birth abortion Failed
1998 12 DS Abortion Would require parents be notified prior to a physician performed abortion. Passed
1998 13 DA Animal Rights Would establish uniform livestock regulations. Failed
1998 14 DS Animal Rights Establish regulations for commercial hog farms Passed
1998 15 DS Environmental Reform Would regulate water flow meters. Failed
1998 16 DA Education Would require that payments by the Conservation District be made to the Public School Fund and School Districts. Failed
1998 17 DA Education Would establish Income Tax Credit for education expenses. Failed
1998 18 DA Term Limits Self Limit Law. Passed
2000 20 DA Drug Policy Reform Legalizes marijuana for medical purposes. Passed
2000 21 DA Taxes Amends TABOR – creates tax cuts. Failed
2000 22 DS Gun Regulation An initiative amendment to require background checks for guns purchased at gun shows. Passed
2000 23 DA Education Providing Additional K-12 Funding Passed
2000 24 DA Environmental Reform Citizen Growth Initiative. Failed
2000 25 DS Abortion This measure insures the provision of complete and accurate information to allow a woman to make an informed choice as to whether to give birth or to have an abortion. Failed
2001 26 DA Administration of Government Expends $50 million of 2001 tax refund revenues over a period of three years to fund a high-speed monorail. Passed

Colorado Constitution

Article V: Section 1. General assembly – initiative and referendum.
(1) The legislative power of the state shall be vested in the general assembly consisting of a senate and house of representatives, both to be elected by the people, but the people reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and amendments to the constitution and to enact or reject the same at the polls independent of the general assembly and also reserve power at their own option to approve or reject at the polls any act or item, section, or part of any act of the general assembly.
(2) The first power hereby reserved by the people is the initiative, and signatures by registered electors in an amount equal to at least five percent of the total number of votes cast for all candidates for the office of secretary of state at the previous general election shall be required to propose any measure by petition, and every such petition shall include the full text of the measure so proposed. Initiative petitions for state legislation and amendments to the constitution, in such form as may be prescribed pursuant to law, shall be addressed to and filed with the secretary of state at least three months before the general election at which they are to be voted upon.
(3) The second power hereby reserved is the referendum, and it may be ordered, except as to laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, and appropriations for the support and maintenance of the departments of state and state institutions, against any act or item, section, or part of any act of the general assembly, either by a petition signed by registered electors in an amount equal to at least five percent of the total number of votes cast for all candidates for the office of the secretary of state at the previous general election or by the general assembly. Referendum petitions, in such form as may be prescribed pursuant to law, shall be addressed to and filed with the secretary of state not more than ninety days after the final adjournment of the session of the general assembly that passed the bill on which the referendum is demanded. The filing of a referendum petition against any item, section, or part of any act shall not delay the remainder of the act from becoming operative.
(4) The veto power of the governor shall not extend to measures initiated by or referred to the people. All elections on measures initiated by or referred to the people of the state shall be held at the biennial regular general election, and all such measures shall become the law or a part of the constitution, when approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon, and not otherwise, and shall take effect from and after the date of the official declaration of the vote thereon by proclamation of the governor, but not later than thirty days after the vote has been canvassed. This section shall not be construed to deprive the general assembly of the power to enact any measure.
(5) The original draft of the text of proposed initiated constitutional amendments and initiated laws shall be submitted to the legislative research and drafting offices of the general assembly for review and comment. No later than two weeks after submission of the original draft, unless withdrawn by the proponents, the legislative research and drafting offices of the general assembly shall render their comments to the proponents of the proposed measure at a meeting open to the public, which shall be held only after full and timely notice to the public. Such meeting shall be held prior to the fixing of a ballot title. Neither the general assembly nor its committees or agencies shall have any power to require the amendment, modification, or other alteration of the text of any such proposed measure or to establish deadlines for the submission of the original draft of the text of any proposed measure.
(5.5) No measure shall be proposed by petition containing more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title; but if any subject shall be embraced in any measure which shall not be expressed in the title, such measure shall be void only as to so much thereof as shall not be so expressed. If a measure contains more than one subject, such that a ballot title cannot be fixed that clearly expresses a single subject, no title shall be set and the measure shall not be submitted to the people for adoption or rejection at the polls. In such circumstance, however, the measure may be revised and resubmitted for the fixing of a proper title without the necessity of review and comment on the revised measure in accordance with subsection (5) of this section, unless the revisions involve more than the elimination of provisions to achieve a single subject, or unless the official or officials responsible for the fixing of a title determine that the revisions are so substantial that such review and comment is in the public interest. The revision and resubmission of a measure in accordance with this subsection (5.5) shall not operate to alter or extend any filing deadline applicable to the measure.
(6) The petition shall consist of sheets having such general form printed or written at the top thereof as shall be designated or prescribed by the secretary of state; such petition shall be signed by registered electors in their own proper persons only, to which shall be attached the residence address of such person and the date of signing the same. To each of such petitions, which may consist of one or more sheets, shall be attached an affidavit of some registered elector that each signature thereon is the signature of the person whose name it purports to be and that, to the best of the knowledge and belief of the affiant, each of the persons signing said petition was, at the time of signing, a registered elector. Such petition so verified shall be prima facie evidence that the signatures thereon are genuine and true and that the persons signing the same are registered electors.
(7) The secretary of state shall submit all measures initiated by or referred to the people for adoption or rejection at the polls, in compliance with this section. In submitting the same and in all matters pertaining to the form of all petitions, the secretary of state and all other officers shall be guided by the general laws.
(7.3) Before any election at which the voters of the entire state will vote on any initiated or referred constitutional amendment or legislation, the nonpartisan research staff of the general assembly shall cause to be published the text and title of every such measure. Such publication shall be made at least one time in at least one legal publication of general circulation in each county of the state and shall be made at least fifteen days prior to the final date of voter registration for the election. The form and manner of publication shall be as prescribed by law and shall ensure a reasonable opportunity for the voters statewide to become informed about the text and title of each measure.
(7.5) (a) Before any election at which the voters of the entire state will vote on any initiated or referred constitutional amendment or legislation, the nonpartisan research staff of the general assembly shall prepare and make available to the public the following information in the form of a ballot information booklet:
(I) The text and title of each measure to be voted on;
(II) A fair and impartial analysis of each measure, which shall include a summary and the major arguments both for and against the measure, and which may include any other information that would assist understanding the purpose and effect of the measure. Any person may file written comments for consideration by the research staff during the preparation of such analysis.
(b) At least thirty days before the election, the research staff shall cause the ballot information booklet to be distributed to active registered voters statewide.
(c) If any measure to be voted on by the voters of the entire state includes matters arising under section 20 of article X of this constitution, the ballot information booklet shall include the information and the titled notice required by section 20 (3) (b) of article X, and the mailing of such information pursuant to section 20 (3) (b) of article X is not required.
(d) The general assembly shall provide sufficient appropriations for the preparation and distribution of the ballot information booklet pursuant to this subsection (7.5) at no charge to recipients.
(8) The style of all laws adopted by the people through the initiative shall be, “Be it Enacted by the People of the State of Colorado”.
(9) The initiative and referendum powers reserved to the people by this section are hereby further reserved to the registered electors of every city, town, and municipality as to all local, special, and municipal legislation of every character in or for their respective municipalities. The manner of exercising said powers shall be prescribed by general laws; except that cities, towns, and municipalities may provide for the manner of exercising the initiative and referendum powers as to their municipal legislation. Not more than ten percent of the registered electors may be required to order the referendum, nor more than fifteen per cent to propose any measure by the initiative in any city, town, or municipality.
(10) This section of the constitution shall be in all respects self-executing; except that the form of the initiative or referendum petition may be prescribed pursuant to law.

Colorado Statutes

1-40-101 – Legislative declaration.
It is not the intention of this article to limit or abridge in any manner the powers reserved to the people in the initiative and referendum, but rather to properly safeguard, protect, and preserve inviolate for them these modern instrumentalities of democratic government.
As used in this article, unless the context otherwise requires:
(1) “Ballot issue” means a non-recall, citizen-initiated petition or legislatively-referred measure which is authorized by the state constitution, including a question as defined in sections 1-41-102 (3) and 1-41-103 (3), enacted in Senate Bill 93-98.
(2) “Ballot title” means the language which is printed on the ballot which is comprised of the submission clause and the title.
(3) (Deleted by amendment, L. 95, p. 430, § 2, effective May 8, 1995.)
(4) “Draft” means the typewritten proposed text of the initiative which, if passed, becomes the actual language of the constitution or statute, together with language concerning placement of the measure in the constitution or statutes.
(5) (Deleted by amendment, L. 95, p. 431, § 2, effective May 8, 1995.)
(6) “Section” means a bound compilation of initiative forms approved by the secretary of state, which shall include pages that contain the warning required by section 1-40-110 (1), the ballot title, and a copy of the proposed measure; succeeding pages that contain the warning, the ballot title, and ruled lines numbered consecutively for registered electors’ signatures; and a final page that contains the affidavit required by section 1-40-111 (2). Each section shall be consecutively prenumbered by the petitioner prior to circulation.
(7) (Deleted by amendment, L. 95, p. 431, § 2, effective May 8, 1995.)
(8) “Submission clause” means the language which is attached to the title to form a question which can be answered by “yes” or “no”.
(9) (Deleted by amendment, L. 2000, p. 1621, § 3, effective August 2, 2000.)
(10) “Title” means a brief statement that fairly and accurately represents the true intent and meaning of the proposed text of the initiative.
1-40-103 – Applicability of article.
(1) This article shall apply to all state ballot issues that are authorized by the state constitution unless otherwise provided by statute, charter, or ordinance.
(2) The laws pertaining to municipal initiatives, referenda, and referred measures are governed by the provisions of article 11 of title 31, C.R.S.
(3) The laws pertaining to county petitions and referred measures are governed by the provisions of section 30-11-103.5, C.R.S.
(4) The laws pertaining to school district petitions and referred measures are governed by the provisions of section 22-30-104 (4), C.R.S.
1-40-104 – Designated representatives.
At the time of any filing of a draft as provided in this article, the proponents shall designate the names and mailing addresses of two persons who shall represent the proponents in all matters affecting the petition and to whom all notices or information concerning the petition shall be mailed.
1-40-105 – Filing procedure – review and comment – amendments – filing with secretary of state.
(1) The original typewritten draft of every initiative petition for a proposed law or amendment to the state constitution to be enacted by the people, before it is signed by any elector, shall be submitted by the proponents of the petition to the directors of the legislative council and the office of legislative legal services for review and comment. Proponents are encouraged to write such drafts in plain, non-technical language and in a clear and coherent manner using words with common and everyday meaning which are understandable to the average reader. Upon request, any agency in the executive department shall assist in reviewing and preparing comments on the petition. No later than two weeks after the date of submission of the original draft, unless it is withdrawn by the proponents, the directors of the legislative council and the office of legislative legal services, or their designees, shall render their comments to the proponents of the petition concerning the format or contents of the petition at a meeting open to the public. Where appropriate, such comments shall also contain suggested editorial changes to promote compliance with the plain language provisions of this section. Except with the permission of the proponents, the comments shall not be disclosed to any person other than the proponents prior to the public meeting with the proponents of the petition.
(2) After the public meeting but before submission to the secretary of state for title setting, the proponents may amend the petition in response to some or all of the comments of the directors of the legislative council and the office of legislative legal services, or their designees. If any substantial amendment is made to the petition, other than an amendment in direct response to the comments of the directors of the legislative council and the office of legislative legal services, the amended petition shall be resubmitted to the directors for comment in accordance with subsection (1) of this section prior to submittal to the secretary of state as provided in subsection (4) of this section. If the directors have no additional comments concerning the amended petition, they may so notify the proponents in writing, and, in such case, a hearing on the amended petition pursuant to subsection (1) of this section is not required.
(3) To the extent possible, drafts shall be worded with simplicity and clarity and so that the effect of the measure will not be misleading or likely to cause confusion among voters. The draft shall not present the issue to be decided in such manner that a vote for the measure would be a vote against the proposition or viewpoint that the voter believes that he or she is casting a vote for or, conversely, that a vote against the measure would be a vote for a proposition or viewpoint that the voter is against.
(4) After the conference provided in subsections (1) and (2) of this section, a copy of the original typewritten draft submitted to the directors of the legislative council and the office of legislative legal services, a copy of the amended draft with changes highlighted or otherwise indicated, if any amendments were made following the last conference conducted pursuant to subsections (1) and (2) of this section, and an original final draft which gives the final language for printing shall be submitted to the secretary of state without any title, submission clause, or ballot title providing the designation by which the voters shall express their choice for or against the proposed law or constitutional amendment.
1-40-106 – Title board – meetings – titles and submission clause.
(1) For ballot issues, beginning with the first submission of a draft after an election, the secretary of state shall convene a title board consisting of the secretary of state, the attorney general, and the director of the office of legislative legal services or the director’s designee. The title board, by majority vote, shall proceed to designate and fix a proper fair title for each proposed law or constitutional amendment, together with a submission clause, at public meetings to be held at 2 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of each month in which a draft or a motion for reconsideration has been submitted to the secretary of state. To be considered at such meeting, a draft shall be submitted to the secretary of state no later than 3 p.m. on the twelfth day before the meeting at which the draft is to be considered by the title board. The first meeting of the title board shall be held no sooner than the first Wednesday in December after an election, and the last meeting shall be held no later than the third Wednesday in May in the year in which the measure is to be voted on.
(2) (Deleted by amendment, L. 95, p. 432, § 4, effective May 8, 1995.)
(3) (a) (Deleted by amendment, L. 2000, p. 1620, § 1, effective August 2, 2000.)
(b) In setting a title, the title board shall consider the public confusion that might be caused by misleading titles and shall, whenever practicable, avoid titles for which the general understanding of the effect of a “yes” or “no” vote will be unclear. The title for the proposed law or constitutional amendment, which shall correctly and fairly express the true intent and meaning thereof, together with the ballot title and submission clause, shall be completed within two weeks after the first meeting of the title board. Immediately upon completion, the secretary of state shall deliver the same with the original to the parties presenting it, keeping the copy with a record of the action taken thereon. Ballot titles shall be brief, shall not conflict with those selected for any petition previously filed for the same election, and shall be in the form of a question which may be answered “yes” (to vote in favor of the proposed law or constitutional amendment) or “no” (to vote against the proposed law or constitutional amendment) and which shall unambiguously state the principle of the provision sought to be added, amended, or repealed.
1-40-106.5 – Single-subject requirements for initiated measures and referred constitutional amendments – legislative declaration.
(1) The general assembly hereby finds, determines, and declares that:
(a) Section 1 (5.5) of article V and section 2 (3) of article XIX of the state constitution require that every constitutional amendment or law proposed by initiative and every constitutional amendment proposed by the general assembly be limited to a single subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title;
(b) Such provisions were referred by the general assembly to the people for their approval at the 1994 general election pursuant to Senate Concurrent Resolution 93-4;
(c) The language of such provisions was drawn from section 21 of article V of the state constitution, which requires that every bill, except general appropriation bills, shall be limited to a single subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title;
(d) The Colorado supreme court has held that the constitutional single-subject requirement for bills was designed to prevent or inhibit various inappropriate or misleading practices that might otherwise occur, and the intent of the general assembly in referring to the people section 1 (5.5) of article V and section 2 (3) of article XIX was to protect initiated measures and referred constitutional amendments from similar practices;
(e) The practices intended by the general assembly to be inhibited by section 1 (5.5) of article V and section 2 (3) of article XIX are as follows:
(I) To forbid the treatment of incongruous subjects in the same measure, especially the practice of putting together in one measure subjects having no necessary or proper connection, for the purpose of enlisting in support of the measure the advocates of each measure, and thus securing the enactment of measures that could not be carried upon their merits;
(II) To prevent surreptitious measures and apprise the people of the subject of each measure by the title, that is, to prevent surprise and fraud from being practiced upon voters.
(2) It is the intent of the general assembly that section 1 (5.5) of article V and section 2 (3) of article XIX be liberally construed, so as to avert the practices against which they are aimed and, at the same time, to preserve and protect the right of initiative and referendum.
(3) It is further the intent of the general assembly that, in setting titles pursuant to section 1 (5.5) of article V, the initiative title setting review board created in section 1-40-106 should apply judicial decisions construing the constitutional single-subject requirement for bills and should follow the same rules employed by the general assembly in considering titles for bills.
1-40-107 – Rehearing – appeal – fees – signing.
(1) Any person presenting an initiative petition or any registered elector who is not satisfied with a decision of the title board with respect to whether a petition contains more than a single subject pursuant to section 1-40-106.5, or who is not satisfied with the titles and submission clause provided by the title board and who claims that they are unfair or that they do not fairly express the true meaning and intent of the proposed state law or constitutional amendment may file a motion for a rehearing with the secretary of state within seven days after the decision is made or the titles and submission clause are set. The motion for rehearing shall be heard at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the title board; except that, if the title board is unable to complete action on all matters scheduled for that day, consideration of any motion for rehearing may be continued to the next available day, and except that, if the titles and submission clause protested were set at the last meeting in May, the motion shall be heard within forty-eight hours after the motion is filed.
(2) If any person presenting an initiative petition for which a motion for a rehearing is filed, any registered elector who filed a motion for a rehearing pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, or any other registered elector who appeared before the title board in support of or in opposition to a motion for rehearing is not satisfied with the ruling of the title board upon the motion, then the secretary of state shall furnish such person, upon request, a certified copy of the petition with the titles and submission clause of the proposed law or constitutional amendment, together with a certified copy of the motion for rehearing and of the ruling thereon. If filed with the clerk of the supreme court within five days thereafter, the matter shall be disposed of promptly, consistent with the rights of the parties, either affirming the action of the title board or reversing it, in which latter case the court shall remand it with instructions, pointing out where the title board is in error.
(3) The secretary of state shall be allowed a fee which shall be determined and collected pursuant to section 24-21-104 (3), C.R.S., for certifying a record of any proceedings before the title board. The clerk of the supreme court shall receive one-half the ordinary docket fee for docketing any such cause, all of which shall be paid by the parties desiring a review of such proceedings.
(4) No petition for any initiative measure shall be circulated nor any signature thereto have any force or effect which has been signed before the titles and submission clause have been fixed and determined as provided in section 1-40-106 and this section.
(5) In the event a motion for rehearing is filed in accordance with this section, the period for filing a petition in accordance with section 1-40-108 shall not begin until a final decision concerning the motion is rendered by the title board or the Colorado supreme court; except that under no circumstances shall the period for filing a petition be extended beyond three months prior to the election at which the petition is to be voted upon.
(6) (Deleted by amendment, L. 2000, p. 1622, § 5, effective August 2, 2000.)
(7) (Deleted by amendment, L. 95, p. 433, § 5, effective May 8, 1995.)
1-40-108 – Petition – time of filing.
(1) No petition for any ballot issue shall be of any effect unless filed with the secretary of state within six months from the date that the titles and submission clause have been fixed and determined pursuant to the provisions of sections 1-40-106 and 1-40-107 and unless filed with the secretary of state within the time required by the state constitution before the election at which it is to be voted upon. A petition for a ballot issue for the election to be held in November of odd-numbered years shall be filed with the secretary of state within the same time before such odd-year election as is required by the state constitution for issues to be voted on at the general election. All filings under this section must be made by 3 p.m. on the day of filing.
(2) (Deleted by amendment, L. 95, p. 433, § 6, effective May 8, 1995.)
1-40-109 – Signatures required.
(1) No petition for any initiated law or amendment to the state constitution shall be of any force or effect, nor shall the proposed law or amendment to the state constitution be submitted to the people of the state of Colorado for adoption or rejection at the polls, as is by law provided for, unless the petition for the submission of the initiated law or amendment to the state constitution is signed by the number of electors required by the state constitution.
(2) (Deleted by amendment, L. 95, p. 433, § 7, effective May 8, 1995.)
(3) Any person who is a registered elector may sign a petition for any ballot issue for which the elector is eligible to vote.
1-40-110 – Warning – ballot title.
(1) At the top of each page of every initiative or referendum petition section shall be printed, in a form as prescribed by the secretary of state, the following:

“WARNING: IT IS AGAINST THE LAW: For anyone to sign any initiative or referendum petition with any name other than his or her own or to knowingly sign his or her name more than once for the same measure or to knowingly sign a petition when not a registered elector who is eligible to vote on the measure.

DO NOT SIGN THIS PETITION UNLESS YOU ARE A REGISTERED ELECTOR AND ELIGIBLE TO VOTE ON THIS MEASURE. TO BE A REGISTERED ELECTOR, YOU MUST BE A CITIZEN OF COLORADO AND REGISTERED TO VOTE.

Before signing this petition, you are encouraged to read the text or the title of the proposed initiative or referred measure.”

(2) The ballot title for the measure shall then be printed on each page following the warning.
1-40-111 – Signatures – affidavits.
(1) Any initiative or referendum petition shall be signed only by registered electors who are eligible to vote on the measure. Each registered elector shall sign his or her own signature and shall print his or her name, the address at which he or she resides, including the street number and name, the city and town, the county, and the date of signing. Each registered elector signing a petition shall be encouraged by the circulator of the petition to sign the petition in ink. In the event a registered elector is physically disabled or is illiterate and wishes to sign the petition, the elector shall sign or make his or her mark in the space so provided. Any person, but not a circulator, may assist the disabled or illiterate elector in completing the remaining information required by this subsection (1). The person providing assistance shall sign his or her name and address and shall state that such assistance was given to the disabled or illiterate elector.
(2) To each petition section shall be attached a signed, notarized, and dated affidavit executed by the registered elector who circulated the petition section, which shall include his or her printed name, the address at which he or she resides, including the street name and number, the city or town, the county, and the date he or she signed the affidavit; that he or she has read and understands the laws governing the circulation of petitions; that he or she was a registered elector at the time the section of the petition was circulated and signed by the listed electors; that he or she circulated the section of the petition; that each signature thereon was affixed in the circulator’s presence; that each signature thereon is the signature of the person whose name it purports to be; that to the best of the circulator’s knowledge and belief each of the persons signing the petition section was, at the time of signing, a registered elector; and that he or she has not paid or will not in the future pay and that he or she believes that no other person has paid or will pay, directly or indirectly, any money or other thing of value to any signer for the purpose of inducing or causing such signer to affix his or her signature to the petition.
The secretary of state shall not accept for filing any section of a petition that does not have attached thereto the notarized affidavit required by this section. Any signature added to a section of a petition after the affidavit has been executed shall be invalid.
1-40-112 – Circulators – requirements.
(1) No section of a petition for any initiative or referendum measure shall be circulated by any person who is not a registered elector and at least eighteen years of age at the time the section is circulated.
(2) (a) All circulators who are not to be paid for circulating petitions concerning ballot issues shall display an identification badge that includes the words “VOLUNTEER CIRCULATOR” in bold-faced type which is clearly legible and the circulator’s name.
(b) All circulators who are to be paid for circulating petitions concerning ballot issues shall display an identification badge that includes the words “PAID CIRCULATOR” in bold-faced type which is clearly legible, the circulator’s name, and the name and telephone number of the individual employing the circulator.
1-40-113 – Form – representatives of signers.
(1) Each section of a petition shall be printed on a form as prescribed by the secretary of state. No petition shall be printed, published, or otherwise circulated unless the form and the first printer’s proof of the petition have been approved by the secretary of state. Each petition section shall designate by name and mailing address two persons who shall represent the signers thereof in all matters affecting the same. The secretary of state shall assure that the petition contains only the matters required by this article and contains no extraneous material. All sections of any petition shall be prenumbered serially, and the circulation of any petition section described by this article other than personally by a circulator is prohibited. Any petition section that fails to conform to the requirements of this article or is circulated in a manner other than that permitted in this article shall be invalid.
(2) Any disassembly of a section of the petition which has the effect of separating the affidavits from the signatures shall render that section of the petition invalid and of no force and effect.
(3) Prior to the time of filing, the persons designated in the petition to represent the signers shall bind the sections of the petition in convenient volumes consisting of one hundred sections of the petition if one hundred or more sections are available or, if less than one hundred sections are available to make a volume, consisting of all sections that are available. Each volume consisting of less than one hundred sections shall be marked on the first page of the volume. However, any volume that contains more or less than one hundred sections, due only to the oversight of the designated representatives of the signers or their staff, shall not result in a finding of insufficiency of signatures therein. Each section of each volume shall include the affidavits required by section 1-40-111 (2), together with the sheets containing the signatures accompanying the same. These bound volumes shall be filed with the secretary of state.
1-40-114 – Petitions – not election materials – no bilingual language requirement.
The general assembly hereby determines that initiative petitions are not election materials or information covered by the federal “Voting Rights Act of 1965”, and therefore are not required to be printed in any language other than English to be circulated in any county in Colorado.
1-40-115 – Ballot – voting – publication.
(1) Measures shall appear upon the official ballot by ballot title only. The measures shall be placed on the ballot in the order in which they were certified to the ballot and as provided in section 1-5-407 (5).
(2) All ballot issues shall be printed on the official ballot in that order, together with their respective letters and numbers prefixed in bold-faced type. Each ballot shall have the following explanation printed one time at the beginning of such ballot issues: “Ballot issues referred by the general assembly or any political subdivision are listed by letter, and ballot issues initiated by the people are listed numerically. A ‘yes’ vote on any ballot issue is a vote in favor of changing current law or existing circumstances, and a ‘no’ vote on any ballot issue is a vote against changing current law or existing circumstances.” Each ballot title shall appear on the official ballot but once and shall be separated from the other ballot titles next to it by heavy black lines and shall be followed by the words “yes” and “no” with blank spaces to the right and opposite the same as follows:

(HERE SHALL APPEAR THE BALLOT TITLE IN FULL)

YES ______ NO ______

(3) A voter desiring to vote for the measure shall make a cross mark (X) in the blank space to the right and opposite the word “yes”; a voter desiring to vote against the measure shall make a cross mark (X) in the blank space to the right and opposite the word “no”; and the votes marked shall be counted accordingly. Any measure approved by the people of the state shall be printed with the acts of the next general assembly.
1-40-116 – Verification – ballot issues – random sampling.
(1) For ballot issues, each section of a petition to which there is attached an affidavit of the registered elector who circulated the petition that each signature thereon is the signature of the person whose name it purports to be and that to the best of the knowledge and belief of the affiant each of the persons signing the petition was at the time of signing a registered elector shall be prima facie evidence that the signatures are genuine and true, that the petitions were circulated in accordance with the provisions of this article, and that the form of the petition is in accordance with this article.
(2) Upon submission of the petition, the secretary of state shall examine each name and signature on the petition. The petition shall not be available to the public for a period of no more than thirty calendar days for the examination. The secretary shall assure that the information required by sections 1-40-110 and 1-40-111 is complete, that the information on each signature line was written by the person making the signature, and that no signatures have been added to any sections of the petition after the affidavit required by section 1-40-111 (2) has been executed.
(3) No signature shall be counted unless the signer is a registered elector and eligible to vote on the measure. A person shall be deemed a registered elector if the person’s name and address appear on the master voting list kept by the secretary of state at the time of signing the section of the petition. In addition, the secretary of state shall not count the signature of any person whose information is not complete or was not completed by the elector or a person qualified to assist the elector. The secretary of state may adopt rules consistent with this subsection (3) for the examination and verification of signatures.
(4) The secretary of state shall verify the signatures on the petition by use of random sampling. The random sample of signatures to be verified shall be drawn so that every signature filed with the secretary of state shall be given an equal opportunity to be included in the sample. The secretary of state is authorized to engage in rule making to establish the appropriate methodology for conducting such random sample. The random sampling shall include an examination of no less than five percent of the signatures, but in no event less than four thousand signatures. If the random sample verification establishes that the number of valid signatures is ninety percent or less of the number of registered eligible electors needed to find the petition sufficient, the petition shall be deemed to be not sufficient. If the random sample verification establishes that the number of valid signatures totals one hundred ten percent or more of the number of required signatures of registered eligible electors, the petition shall be deemed sufficient. If the random sampling shows the number of valid signatures to be more than ninety percent but less than one hundred ten percent of the number of signatures of registered eligible electors needed to declare the petition sufficient, the secretary of state shall order the examination and verification of each signature filed.
1-40-117 – Statement of sufficiency – statewide issues.
(1) After examining the petition, the secretary of state shall issue a statement as to whether a sufficient number of valid signatures appears to have been submitted to certify the petition to the ballot.
(2) If the petition was verified by random sample, the statement shall contain the total number of signatures submitted and whether the number of signatures presumed valid was ninety percent of the required total or less or one hundred ten percent of the required total or more.
(3) (a) If the secretary declares that the petition appears not to have a sufficient number of valid signatures, the statement issued by the secretary shall specify the number of sufficient and insufficient signatures. The secretary shall identify by section number and line number within the section those signatures found to be insufficient and the grounds for the insufficiency. Such information shall be kept on file for public inspection in accordance with section 1-40-118.
(b) In the event the secretary of state issues a statement declaring that a petition, having first been submitted with the required number of signatures, appears not to have a sufficient number of valid signatures, the representatives designated by the proponents pursuant to section 1-40-104 may cure the insufficiency by filing an addendum to the original petition for the purpose of offering such number of additional signatures as will cure the insufficiency. No addendum offered as a cure shall be considered unless the addendum conforms to requirements for petitions outlined in sections 1-40-110, 1-40-111, and 1-40-113, and unless the addendum is filed with the secretary of state within the fifteen-day period after the insufficiency is declared and unless filed with the secretary of state within the time required by the state constitution before the election at which the initiative petition is to be voted on. All filings under this paragraph (b) shall be made by 3 p.m. on the day of filing. Upon submission of a timely filed addendum, the secretary of state shall order the examination and verification of each signature on the addendum. The addendum shall not be available to the public for a period of up to ten calendar days for such examination. After examining the petition, the secretary of state shall, within ten calendar days, issue a statement as to whether the addendum cures the insufficiency found in the original petition.
1-40-118 – Protest.
(1) A protest in writing, under oath, together with three copies thereof, may be filed in the district court for the county in which the petition has been filed by some registered elector, within thirty days after the secretary of state issues a statement as to whether the petition has a sufficient number of valid signatures, which statement shall be issued no later than thirty calendar days after the petition has been filed. If the secretary of state fails to issue a statement within thirty calendar days, the petition shall be deemed sufficient. During the period a petition is being examined by the secretary of state for sufficiency, the petition shall not be available to the public; except that such period shall not exceed thirty calendar days.
(2) If the secretary of state conducted a random sample of the petitions and did not verify each signature, the protest shall specifically allege the defects in the procedure used by the secretary of state in the verification of the petition or the grounds for challenging individual signatures. If the secretary of state verified each name on the petition sections, the protest shall set forth with particularity the grounds of the protest and the signatures protested. No signature may be challenged that is not identified in the protest by section number, line number, name, and reason why the secretary of state is in error. If any party is protesting the finding of the secretary of state regarding the registration of a signer, the protest shall be accompanied by an affidavit of the elector or a copy of the election record of the signer.
(3) (Deleted by amendment, L. 95, p. 436, § 13, effective May 8, 1995.)
(4) The secretary of state shall furnish a requesting protestor with a computer tape or microfiche listing of the names of all registered electors in the state and shall charge a fee which shall be determined and collected pursuant to section 24-21-104 (3), C.R.S., to cover the cost of furnishing the listing.
1-40-119 – Procedure for hearings.
At any hearing held under this article, the party protesting the finding of the secretary of state concerning the sufficiency of signatures shall have the burden of proof. Hearings shall be had as soon as is conveniently possible and shall be concluded within thirty days after the commencement thereof, and the result of such hearings shall be forthwith certified to the designated representatives of the signers and to the protestors of the petition. The hearing shall be subject to the provisions of the Colorado rules of civil procedure. Upon application, the decision of the court shall be reviewed by the Colorado supreme court.
1-40-120 – Filing in federal court.
In case a complaint has been filed with the federal district court on the grounds that a petition is insufficient due to failure to comply with any federal law, rule, or regulation, the petition may be withdrawn by the two persons designated pursuant to section 1-40-104 to represent the signers of the petition and, within fifteen days after the court has issued its order in the matter, may be amended and refiled as an original petition. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the timely filing of a protest to any original petition, including one that has been amended and refiled. No person shall be entitled, pursuant to this section, to amend an amended petition.
1-40-121 – Receiving money to circulate petitions – filing.
(1) The proponents of the petition shall file with the official who receives filings under the “Fair Campaign Practices Act”, article 45 of this title, for the election the name, address, and county of voter registration of all circulators who were paid to circulate any section of the petition, the amount paid per signature, and the total amount paid to each circulator. The filing shall be made at the same time the petition is filed with the secretary of state. Any payment made to circulators is an expenditure under article 45 of this title.
(2) The proponents of the petition shall sign and file monthly reports with the secretary of state, due ten days after the last day of each month in which petitions are circulated on behalf of the proponents by paid circulators. Monthly reports shall set forth the following:
(a) The names of the proponents;
(b) The name and the residential and business addresses of each of the paid circulators;
(c) The name of the proposed ballot measure for which petitions are being circulated by paid circulators; and
(d) The amount of money paid and owed to each paid circulator for petition circulation during the month in question.
1-40-122 – Certification of ballot titles.
(1) The secretary of state, at the time the secretary of state certifies to the county clerk and recorder of each county the names of the candidates for state and district offices for general election, shall also certify to them the ballot titles and numbers of each initiated and referred measure filed in the office of the secretary of state to be voted upon at such election.
(2) Repealed.
1-40-123 – Counting of votes – effective date – conflicting provisions.
The votes on all measures submitted to the people shall be counted and properly entered after the votes for candidates for office cast at the same election are counted and shall be counted, canvassed, and returned and the result determined and certified in the manner provided by law concerning other elections. The secretary of state who has certified the election shall, without delay, make and transmit to the governor a certificate of election. The measure shall take effect from and after the date of the official declaration of the vote by proclamation of the governor, but not later than thirty days after the votes have been canvassed, as provided in section 1 of article V of the state constitution. A majority of the votes cast thereon shall adopt any measure submitted, and, in case of adoption of conflicting provisions, the one that receives the greatest number of affirmative votes shall prevail in all particulars as to which there is a conflict.
1-40-124 – Publication.
(1) (a) In accordance with section 1 (7.3) of article V of the state constitution, the director of research of the legislative council of the general assembly shall cause to be published at least one time in every legal newspaper, as defined in sections 24-70-102 and 24-70-103 (1), C.R.S., compactly and without unnecessary spacing, in not less than eight-point standard type, a true copy of:
(I) The title and text of each constitutional amendment, initiated or referred measure, or part of a measure, to be submitted to the people with the number and form in which the ballot title thereof will be printed in the official ballot; and
(II) The text of each referred or initiated question arising under section 20 of article X of the state constitution, as defined in section 1-41-102 (3), to be submitted to the people with the number and form in which such question will be printed in the official ballot.
(b) The charge for publication shall be at the newspaper’s then effective current lowest bulk comparable or general rate charged. The director of research shall provide all of the legal newspapers either complete slick proofs or mats of the title and text of the proposed constitutional amendment, initiated or referred measure, or part of a measure, and of the text of a referred or initiated question arising under section 20 of article X of the state constitution, as defined in section 1-41-102 (3), at least one week before the publication date.
(2) (Deleted by amendment, L. 95, p. 437, § 18, effective May 8, 1995.)
1-40-124.5 – Ballot information booklet.
(1) The director of research of the legislative council of the general assembly shall prepare a ballot information booklet for any initiated or referred constitutional amendment or legislation, including a question, as defined in section 1-41-102 (3), in accordance with section 1 (7.5) of article V of the state constitution. If it appears that any measure has a significant fiscal impact on the state or any of its political subdivisions, the booklet shall include an estimate of the fiscal impact of such measure, taking into consideration fiscal impact information submitted by the office of state planning and budgeting, the department of local affairs, any proponent, or other interested person. Prior to completion of the booklet, a draft shall be reviewed by the legislative council at a public hearing held after notice. At the hearing, any proponent or other interested person shall be allowed to comment on the accuracy or fairness of the analysis of any ballot issue addressed by the booklet.
(1.5) The executive committee of the legislative council of the general assembly shall be responsible for providing the fiscal information on any ballot issue that must be included in the ballot information booklet pursuant to section 1 (7.5) (c) of article V of the state constitution.
(2) Following completion of the ballot information booklet, the director of research shall arrange for its distribution to every residence of one or more active registered electors in the state. Distribution may be accomplished by such means as the director of research deems appropriate to comply with section 1 (7.5) of article V of the state constitution, including, but not limited to, mailing the ballot information booklet to electors and insertion of the ballot information booklet in newspapers of general circulation in the state. The distribution shall be performed pursuant to a contract or contracts bid and entered into after employing standard competitive bidding practices including, but not limited to, the use of requests for information, requests for proposals, or any other standard vendor selection practices determined to be best suited to selecting an appropriate means of distribution and an appropriate contractor or contractors. The executive director of the department of personnel shall provide such technical advice and assistance regarding bidding procedures as deemed necessary by the director of research.
(3) There is hereby established in the state treasury the ballot information publication and distribution revolving fund. Moneys shall be appropriated to the fund each year by the general assembly in the annual general appropriation act. All interest earned on the investment of moneys in the fund shall be credited to the fund. Moneys in the revolving fund are continuously appropriated to the legislative council of the general assembly to pay the costs of publishing the text and title of each constitutional amendment, initiated or referred measure, or part of a measure, and the text of a referred or initiated question arising under section 20 of article X of the state constitution, as defined in section 1-41-102 (3), in every legal newspaper in the state, as required by section 1-40-124, and the costs of distributing the ballot information booklet, as required by subsection (2) of this section. Any moneys credited to the revolving fund and unexpended at the end of any given fiscal year shall remain in the fund and shall not revert to the general fund.
1-40-125 – Mailing to electors.
(1) The requirements of this section shall apply to any ballot issue involving a local government matter arising under section 20 of article X of the state constitution, as defined in section 1-41-103 (4), for which notice is required to be mailed pursuant to section 20 (3) (b) of article X of the state constitution. A mailing is not required for a ballot issue that does not involve a local government matter arising under section 20 of article X of the state constitution, as defined in section 1-41-103 (4).
(2) Thirty days before a ballot issue election, political subdivisions shall mail at the least cost and as a package where districts with ballot issues overlap, a titled notice or set of notices addressed to “all registered voters” at each address of one or more active registered electors. Except for voter-approved additions, notices shall include only:
(a) The election date, hours, ballot title, text, and local election office address and telephone number;
(b) For proposed district tax or bonded debt increases, the estimated or actual total of district fiscal year spending for the current year and each of the past four years, and the overall percentage and dollar change;
(c) For the first full fiscal year of each proposed political subdivision tax increase, district estimates of the maximum dollar amount of each increase and of district fiscal year spending without the increase;
(d) For proposed district bonded debt, its principal amount and maximum annual and total district repayment cost, and the principal balance of total current district bonded debt and its maximum annual and remaining local district repayment cost;
(e) Two summaries, up to five hundred words each, one for and one against the proposal, of written comments filed with the election officer by thirty days before the election. No summary shall mention names of persons or private groups, nor any endorsements of or resolutions against the proposal. Petition representatives following these rules shall write this summary for their petition. The election officer shall maintain and accurately summarize all other relevant written comments.
(3) The provisions of this section shall not apply to a ballot issue that is subject to the provisions of section 1-40-124.5.
1-40-126 – Explanation of effect of “yes” or “no” vote included in notices provided by mailing or publication.
In any notice to electors provided by the director of research of the legislative council, whether by mailing pursuant to section 1-40-124.5 or publication pursuant to section 1-40-124, there shall be included the following explanation preceding any information about individual ballot issues: “A ‘yes’ vote on any ballot issue is a vote in favor of changing current law or existing circumstances, and a ‘no’ vote on any ballot issue is a vote against changing current law or existing circumstances.”
1-40-130 – Unlawful acts – penalty.
(1) It is unlawful:
(a) For any person willfully and knowingly to circulate or cause to be circulated or sign or procure to be signed any petition bearing the name, device, or motto of any person, organization, association, league, or political party, or purporting in any way to be endorsed, approved, or submitted by any person, organization, association, league, or political party, without the written consent, approval, and authorization of the person, organization, association, league, or political party;
(b) For any person to sign any name other than his or her own to any petition or knowingly to sign his or her name more than once for the same measure at one election;
(c) For any person to knowingly sign any petition who is not a registered elector at the time of signing the same;
(d) For any person to sign any affidavit as circulator without knowing or reasonably believing the statements made in the affidavit to be true;
(e) For any person to certify that an affidavit attached to a petition was subscribed or sworn to before him or her unless it was so subscribed and sworn to before him or her and unless the person so certifying is duly qualified under the laws of this state to administer an oath;
(f) For any officer or person to do willfully, or with another or others conspire, or agree, or confederate to do, any act which hinders, delays, or in any way interferes with the calling, holding, or conducting of any election permitted under the initiative and referendum powers reserved by the people in section 1 of article V of the state constitution or with the registering of electors therefor;
(g) For any officer to do willfully any act which shall confuse or tend to confuse the issues submitted or proposed to be submitted at any election, or refuse to submit any petition in the form presented for submission at any election;
(h) For any officer or person to violate willfully any provision of this article.
(2) Any person, upon conviction of a violation of any provision of this section, shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than one year in the county jail, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
1-40-131 – Tampering with initiative or referendum petition.
Any person who willfully destroys, defaces, mutilates, or suppresses any initiative or referendum petition or who willfully neglects to file or delays the delivery of the initiative or referendum petition or who conceals or removes any initiative or referendum petition from the possession of the person authorized by law to have the custody thereof, or who adds, amends, alters, or in any way changes the information on the petition as provided by the elector, or who aids, counsels, procures, or assists any person in doing any of said acts commits a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished as provided in section 1-13-111. The language in this section shall not preclude a circulator from striking a complete line on the petition if the circulator believes the line to be invalid.
1-40-132 – Enforcement.
(1) The secretary of state is charged with the administration and enforcement of the provisions of this article relating to initiated or referred measures and state constitutional amendments. The secretary of state shall have the authority to promulgate rules as may be necessary to administer and enforce any provision of this article that relates to initiated or referred measures and state constitutional amendments. The secretary of state may conduct a hearing, upon a written complaint by a registered elector, on any alleged violation of the provisions relating to the circulation of a petition, which may include but shall not be limited to the preparation or signing of an affidavit by a circulator. If the secretary of state, after the hearing, has reasonable cause to believe that there has been a violation of the provisions of this article relating to initiated or referred measures and state constitutional amendments, he or she shall notify the attorney general, who may institute a criminal prosecution. If a circulator is found to have violated any provision of this article or is otherwise shown to have made false or misleading statements relating to his or her section of the petition, such section of the petition shall be deemed void.
(2) (Deleted by amendment, L. 95, p. 439, § 22, effective May 8, 1995.)
1-40-133 – Retention of petitions.
After a period of three years from the time of submission of the petitions to the secretary of state, if it is determined that the retention of the petitions is no longer necessary, the secretary of state may destroy the petitions.
1-40-134 – Withdrawal of initiative petition.
The designated representatives of the proponents of an initiative petition may withdraw the petition from consideration as a ballot issue by filing a letter with the secretary of state requesting that the petition not be placed on the ballot. The letter shall be signed and acknowledged by both designated representatives before an officer authorized to take acknowledgments and shall be filed no later than thirty-three days prior to the election at which the initiative is to be voted upon.
31-11-104 – Ordinances – initiative – conflicting measures.
(1) Any proposed ordinance may be submitted to the legislative body of any municipality by filing written notice of the proposed ordinance with the clerk and, within one hundred eighty days after approval of the petition pursuant to section 31-11-106 (1), by filing a petition signed by at least five percent of the registered electors of the city or town on the date of such notice. The proposed ordinance may be adopted without alteration by the legislative body within twenty days following the final determination of petition sufficiency. If vetoed by the mayor, the proposed ordinance may be passed over the mayor’s veto within ten days after the veto. If the proposed ordinance is not adopted by the legislative body, the legislative body shall forthwith publish the proposed ordinance as other ordinances are published and shall refer the proposed ordinance, in the form petitioned for, to the registered electors of the municipality at a regular or special election held not less than sixty days and not more that one hundred fifty days after the final determination of petition sufficiency, unless otherwise required by the state constitution. The ordinance shall not take effect unless a majority of the registered electors voting on the measure at the election vote in favor of the measure.
(2) Alternative ordinances may be submitted at the same election, and, if two or more conflicting measures are approved by the people, the one that receives the greatest number of affirmative votes shall be adopted in all particulars as to which there is a conflict.
31-11-105 – Ordinances – when effective – referendum.
(1) No ordinance passed by the legislative body of any municipality shall take effect before thirty days after its final passage and publication, except an ordinance calling for a special election or necessary to the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, and not then unless the ordinance states in a separate section the reasons why it is necessary and unless it receives the affirmative vote of three-fourths of all the members elected to the legislative body taken by ayes and noes.
(2) Within thirty days after final publication of the ordinance, a referendum petition protesting against the effect of the ordinance or any part thereof may be filed with the clerk. The petition must be signed during the thirty-day period by at least five percent of the registered electors of the municipality registered on the date of final publication.
(3) If a referendum petition is filed, the ordinance or part thereof protested against shall not take effect, and, upon a final determination of petition sufficiency, the legislative body shall promptly reconsider the ordinance. If the petition is declared not sufficient by the clerk or found not sufficient in a protest, the ordinance shall forthwith take effect, unless otherwise provided therein.
(4) If, upon reconsideration, the ordinance or part thereof protested is not repealed, the legislative body shall submit the measure to a vote of the registered electors at a regular or special election held not less than sixty days and not more than one hundred fifty days after the final determination of petition sufficiency, unless otherwise required by the state constitution. The ordinance or part thereof shall not take effect unless a majority of the registered electors voting on the measure at the election vote in favor of the measure.
31-11-106 – Form of petition sections.
(1) Each petition section shall be printed in a form consistent with the requirements of this article. No petition section shall be printed or circulated unless the form and the first printer’s proof of the petition section have first been approved by the clerk. The clerk shall approve or reject the form and the first printer’s proof of the petition no later than five business days following the date on which the clerk received such material. The clerk shall assure that the petition section contains only those elements required by this article and contains no extraneous material. The clerk may reject a petition or a section of a petition on the grounds that the petition or a section of the petition does not propose municipal legislation pursuant to section 1 (9) of article V of the state constitution.
(2) Each petition section shall designate by name and mailing address two persons who shall represent the proponents thereof in all matters affecting the petition and to whom all notices or information concerning the petition shall be mailed.
(3) (a) At the top of each page of every initiative or referendum petition section, the following shall be printed, in a form as prescribed by the clerk:

“WARNING: IT IS AGAINST THE LAW: For anyone to sign any initiative or referendum petition with any name other than his or her own or to knowingly sign his or her name more than once for the same measure or to knowingly sign a petition when not a registered elector who is eligible to vote on the measure.

DO NOT SIGN THIS PETITION UNLESS YOU ARE A REGISTERED ELECTOR AND ELIGIBLE TO VOTE ON THIS MEASURE. TO BE A REGISTERED ELECTOR, YOU MUST BE A CITIZEN OF COLORADO AND REGISTERED TO VOTE.

Do not sign this petition unless you have read or have had read to you the proposed initiative or referred measure or the summary in its entirety and understand its meaning.”

(b) A summary of the proposed initiative or ordinance that is the subject of a referendum petition shall be printed following the warning on each page of a petition section. The summary shall be true and impartial and shall not be an argument, or likely to create prejudice, either for or against the measure. The summary shall be prepared by the clerk.
(c) The full text of the proposed initiated measure or ordinance that is the subject of a referendum petition shall be printed following the summary on the first page or pages of the petition section that precede the signature page. Notwithstanding the requirement of paragraph (a) of this subsection (3), if the text of the proposed initiated measure or ordinance requires more than one page of a petition section, the warning and summary need not appear at the top of other than the initial text page.
(d) The signature pages shall consist of the warning and the summary, followed by ruled lines numbered consecutively for registered electors’ signatures. If a petition section contains multiple signature pages, all signature lines shall be numbered consecutively, from the first signature page through the last. The signature pages shall follow the page or pages on which the full text of the proposed initiated measure or ordinance that is the subject of the referendum petition is printed.
(e) (I) Following the signature pages of each petition section, there shall be attached a signed, notarized, and dated affidavit executed by the person who circulated the petition section, which shall include the following:
(A) The affiant’s printed name, the address at which the affiant resides, including the street name and number, the municipality, the county, and the date the affiant signed the affidavit;
(B) That the affiant has read and understands the laws governing the circulation of petition;
(C) That the affiant was eighteen years of age or older at the time the section of the petition was circulated and signed by the listed electors;
(D) That the affiant circulated the section of the petition;
(E) That each signature thereon was affixed in the affiant’s presence;
(F) That each signature thereon is the signature of the person whose name it purports to be;
(G) That, to the best of the affiant’s knowledge and belief, each of the persons signing the petition section was, at the time of signing, a registered elector; and
(H) That the affiant has not paid or will not in the future pay and that the affiant believes that no other person has paid or will pay, directly or indirectly, any money or other thing of value to any signer for the purpose of inducing or causing such signer to affix the signer’s signature to the petition.
(II) The clerk shall not accept for filing any section of a petition that does not have attached thereto the notarized affidavit required by subparagraph (I) of paragraph (e) of this subsection (3). Any disassembly of a section of the petition that has the effect of separating the affidavit from the signature page or pages shall render that section of the petition invalid and of no force and effect.
(III) Any signature added to a section of a petition after the affidavit has been executed shall be invalid.
(4) All sections of any petition shall be prenumbered serially.
(5) Any petition section that fails to conform to the requirements of this article or that is circulated in a manner other than that permitted by this article shall be invalid.
31-11-107 – Circulators – requirements.
The circulation of any petition section other than personally by a circulator is prohibited. No section of a petition for any initiative or referendum measure shall be circulated by any person who is not at least eighteen years of age at the time the section is circulated.
31-11-108 – Signatures.
Any initiative or referendum petition shall be signed only by registered electors who are eligible to vote on the measure. Each registered elector shall sign his or her own signature and shall print his or her name, the address at which he or she resides, including the street number and name, the city or town, the county, and the date of signing. Each registered elector signing a petition shall be encouraged by the circulator of the petition to sign the petition in ink. In the event a registered elector is physically disabled or is illiterate and wishes to sign the petition, the elector shall sign or make his or her mark in the space so provided. Any person, but not a circulator, may assist the disabled or illiterate elector in completing the remaining information required by this section. The person providing assistance shall sign his or her name and address and shall state that such assistance was given to the disabled or illiterate elector.
31-11-109 – Signature verification – statement of sufficiency.
(1) The clerk shall inspect timely filed initiative or referendum petitions and the attached affidavits, and may do so by examining the information on signature lines for patent defects, by comparing the information on signature lines against a list of registered electors provided by the county, or by other reasonable means.
(2) After examining the petition, the clerk shall issue a statement as to whether a sufficient number of valid signatures have been submitted. A copy of the statement shall be mailed to the persons designated as representing the petition proponents pursuant to section 31-11-106 (2).
(3) The statement of sufficiency or insufficiency shall be issued no later than thirty calendar days after the petition has been filed. If the clerk fails to issue a statement within thirty calendar days, the petition shall be deemed sufficient.
31-11-110 – Protest.
(1) Within forty days after an initiative or referendum petition is filed, a protest in writing under oath may be filed in the office of the clerk by any registered elector who resides in the municipality, setting forth specifically the grounds for such protest. The grounds for protest may include, but shall not be limited to, the failure of any portion of a petition or circulator affidavit to meet the requirements of this article. No signature may be challenged that is not identified in the protest by section and line number. The clerk shall forthwith mail a copy of such protest to the persons designated as representing the petition proponents pursuant to section 31-11-106 (2) and to the protester, together with a notice fixing a time for hearing such protest that is not less than five or more than ten days after such notice is mailed.
(2) The county clerk shall furnish a requesting protester with a list of the registered electors in the municipality and shall charge a fee to cover the cost of furnishing the list.
(3) Every hearing shall be held before the clerk with whom such protest is filed. The clerk shall serve as hearing officer unless some other person is designated by the legislative body as the hearing officer, and the testimony in every such hearing shall be under oath. The hearing officer shall have the power to issue subpoenas and compel the attendance of witnesses. The hearing shall be summary and not subject to delay and shall be concluded within sixty days after the petition is filed. No later than five days after the conclusion of the hearing, the hearing officer shall issue a written determination of whether the petition is sufficient or not sufficient. If the hearing officer determines that a petition is not sufficient, the officer shall identify those portions of the petition that are not sufficient and the reasons therefor. The result of the hearing shall be forthwith certified to the protester and to the persons designated as representing the petition proponents pursuant to section 31-11-106 (2). The determination as to petition sufficiency may be reviewed by the district court for the county in which such municipality or portion thereof is located upon application of the protester, the persons designated as representing the petition proponents pursuant to section 31-11-106 (2), or the municipality, but such review shall be had and determined forthwith.
31-11-111 – Initiatives, referenda, and referred measures – ballot titles.
(1) After an election has been ordered pursuant to section 31-11-104 or 31-11-105, the legislative body of the municipality or its designee shall promptly fix a ballot title for each initiative or referendum.
(2) The legislative body of any municipality may, without receipt of any petition, submit any proposed or adopted ordinance or resolution or any question to a vote of the registered electors of the municipality. The legislative body of the municipality or its designee shall fix a ballot title for the referred measure.
(3) In fixing the ballot title, the legislative body or its designee shall consider the public confusion that might be caused by misleading titles and shall, whenever practicable, avoid titles for which the general understanding of the effect of a “yes” or “no” vote would be unclear. The ballot title shall not conflict with those titles selected for any other measure that will appear on the municipal ballot in the same election. The ballot title shall correctly and fairly express the true intent and meaning of the measure.
(4) Any protest concerning a ballot title shall be conducted as provided by local charter, ordinance, or resolution.
31-11-112 – Petitions – not election materials – no bilingual requirement.
The general assembly hereby determines that initiative and referendum petitions are not election materials or information covered by the federal “Voting Rights Act of 1965”, and are therefore not required to be printed in any language other than English in order to be circulated in any municipality in Colorado.
31-11-113 – Receiving money to circulate petitions – filing.
The proponents of the petition shall file with the clerk a report disclosing the amount paid per signature and the total amount paid to each circulator. The filing shall be made at the same time the petition is filed with the clerk. Any payment made to circulators is an expenditure under article 45 of title 1, C.R.S.
31-11-114 – Unlawful acts – penalty.
(1) It is unlawful:
(a) For any person willfully and knowingly to circulate or cause to be circulated or sign or procure to be signed any petition bearing the name, device, or motto of any person, organization, association, league, or political party, or purporting in any way to be endorsed, approved, or submitted by any person, organization, association, league, or political party, without the written consent, approval, and authorization of the person, organization, association, league, or political party;
(b) For any person to sign any name other than his or her own name to any petition or knowingly to sign his or her name more than once for the same measure at one election;
(c) For any person knowingly to sign any petition relating to an initiative or referendum in a municipality who is not a registered elector of that municipality at the time of signing the petition;
(d) For any person to sign any affidavit as circulator without knowing or reasonably believing the statements made in the affidavit to be true;
(e) For any person to certify that an affidavit attached to a petition was subscribed or sworn to before him or her unless it was so subscribed and sworn to before him or her and unless the person so certifying is duly qualified under the laws of this state to administer an oath;
(f) For any officer or person to do willfully, or with another or others conspire, or agree, or confederate to do, any act that hinders, delays, or in any way interferes with the calling, holding, or conducting of any election permitted under the initiative and referendum powers reserved by the people in section 1 of article V of the state constitution or with the registering of electors therefor;
(g) For any officer to do willfully any act that shall confuse or tend to confuse the issues submitted or proposed to be submitted at any election or refuse to submit any petition in the form presented for submission at any election;
(h) For any officer or person to violate willfully any provision of this article.
(2) Any person, upon conviction of a violation of any provision of this section, shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than one year in the county jail, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
31-11-115 – Tampering with initiative or referendum petition.
(1) Any person commits a class 2 misdemeanor who:
(a) Willfully destroys, defaces, mutilates, or suppresses any initiative or referendum petition;
(b) Willfully neglects to file or delays the delivery of the initiative or referendum petition;
(c) Conceals or removes any initiative or referendum petition from the possession of the person authorized by law to have custody of the petition;
(d) Adds, amends, alters, or in any way changes the information on the petition as provided by the elector; or
(e) Aids, counsels, procures, or assists any person in doing any of such acts.
(2) Any person convicted of committing such a misdemeanor shall be punished by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
(3) This section shall not preclude a circulator from striking a complete line on the petition if the circulator believes the line to be invalid.
31-11-116 – Enforcement.
(1) Any person may file with the district attorney an affidavit stating the name of any person who has violated any of the provisions of this article and stating the facts that constitute the alleged offense. Upon the filing of such affidavit, the district attorney shall forthwith investigate, and, if reasonable grounds appear therefor, the district attorney shall prosecute the same.
(2) The attorney general of the state shall have equal power with district attorneys to file information or complaints against any person for violating any provision of this article.
31-11-117 – Retention of petitions.
After a period of three years from the time of submission of the petitions to the clerk, if it is determined that the retention of the petitions is no longer necessary, the clerk may destroy the petitions.
31-11-118 – Powers of clerk and deputy.
(1) Except as otherwise provided in this article, the clerk shall render all interpretations and shall make all initial decisions as to controversies or other matters arising in the operation of this article.
(2) All powers and authority granted to the clerk by this article may be exercised by a deputy clerk in the absence of the clerk or in the event the clerk for any reason is unable to perform the duties of the clerk’s office.

The Basic Steps To Do An Initiative In Colorado
Statutes And Amendments – Direct Initiative Process

Basic Procedures: Proponents must submit the original text of the measure to the directors of the Legislative Council Staff and the Office of Legal Services for review and comment. Proponents must designate two people as those representing the proponents in all matters affecting the petition. Drafts are to be submitted in typewritten form and are to be written in plain, non-technical language, using words with common and everyday meaning understandable to the average reader.

Upon receiving the proposed measure, directors set a date for a public hearing no later than two weeks from the date the measure is filed. The director of the Legislative Council Staff provides proper notice of the date, time, and place for the meeting. Measures accepted as a legal filing are a matter of public record and are available for public distribution.

Comments on proposed initiated measures are prepared by the Legislative Council Staff and the Office of Legislative Legal Services for review during the public hearing. The comments typically contain a summary of the proposal followed by a series of questions concerning the wording, intent, and purpose of the proposal. The Legislative Council Staff and Legislative Legal Services directors may request the assistance of state agencies in preparing the comments. Agencies are required to assist when so requested. Proponents receive the comments prior to the meeting, but the comments are not disclosed to the public before the hearing, except with permission of the proponents.

The public hearing conducted by the Legislative Council Staff and Legislative Legal Services is informal in nature. The purpose of the meeting is to give the public notice that a proposal on a given topic is under consideration and to review the purposes and wording with the proponents so that the proposal states what the proponents want it to state. The comments are intended to help proponents clarify their proposal, but proponents are not required to accept the suggestions made in the comments. The meeting is open to the public and, while persons who may oppose a measure are welcome to attend, no testimony or comments are accepted from anyone other than the proponents. The meeting is tape recorded for the public record.

Following the public hearing, proponents may submit the measure to the Secretary of State who chairs the Ballot Title Setting Board. The ballot title, submission clause, and summary are established by a board consisting of the Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and the director of the Office of Legislative Legal Services.

The Ballot Title Setting Board usually completes its work on the ballot title, submission clause, and summary at its first meeting. If the board is unable to complete action on all of its agenda, motions for rehearing may be continued until the board’s next meeting.

If a proponent or any registered elector claims that a ballot title, submission clause, or summary is unfair or does not fairly express the meaning of a proposal, that person may request a rehearing by the Ballot Title Setting Board. Such request must be made within seven days after the title and summary are set.

Such rehearing will be held at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the board. If the board is unable to complete action on the request for rehearing, consideration of the request may be continued until the next available day, except that if the request was to be heard on the last meeting date in May, it must be heard within 48 hours after the motion is filed.

An appeal for change in the ballot title, submission clause, and summary may be made to the Colorado Supreme Court, pursuant to Section 1-40-107 (2) and (5), C.R.S.

Once the ballot title, submission clause, and summary are established, petitions may then be circulated throughout the state to obtain the required number of signatures.

Date Initiative language can be submitted to state for November 2002: Can be submitted anytime after the first Wednesday in December of 2000.

Signatures are tied to vote of which office: Secretary of State

Next Secretary of State election: 2002

Votes cast for Secretary of State in last election: 1,611,420 (Note: Although Secretary of States are normally elected every four years, a vacancy was filled in 2000.)

Net number of signatures required: 5% of votes cast for Secretary of State in last election, for both statutes and amendments. (80,571 signatures)

Distribution Requirement: None

Circulation period: 6 months

Do circulators have to be residents: No

Date when signatures are due for certification: The petition must be filed within 6 months from when the final language is set by the Title Board and no later than 3 months before a statewide election. (August 5, 2002 for the November 2002 ballot.)

Signature verification process: The Secretary of State verifies signatures by a random sample procedure. Not less than five percent of the signatures, and in no event fewer than 4,000 signatures, are to be verified. If the sample indicates that the number of valid signatures is 90 percent or less of the required total, the petition is deemed to have insufficient signatures. If the valid signatures are found to be 110 percent or more of number required, the petition is deemed sufficient. However, if the number of valid signatures is found to be over 90 percent but less than 110 percent of the required number, the law requires that each signature on the petition be verified.

Single-subject restriction: Yes

Legislative tampering: The Legislature can repeal and amend an initiative statute passed by the voters.

General Comments: If the Ballot Title Setting Board finds that more than one subject is contained in a proposal, the proponents are permitted to change the measure. If the changes by the proponents involve only the removal of language to achieve a single subject, another review and comment hearing with the Office of Legislative Legal Services and the Legislative Council Staff may not be required. However, if the board finds that revisions are so substantial that another hearing is in the public interest, another review and comment hearing may be required.

If a proposal is revised and resubmitted to the board, a ballot title can be set or the title board can conclude that the proposal still contains more than one subject. In the event of a dispute over the single subject rule, the board can set the title without including reference to the provisions it thought was in violation of the rule. The constitution provides that, if there is any part of a proposal not clearly expressed in the ballot title, that part is to be considered void.

This paper is a chapter from The Initiative & Referendum Almanac. You can purchase the book here.

By Dennis Polhill and Kim Garrett(i)

One of the first instances of the discussion of women’s suffrage was in 1776 when Abigail Adams wrote to her husband, John Adams, asking him to include women in the Declaration of Independences’ wording. John writes back with humor, stating that he understands Abigail’s views but to Abigail’s dismay, the document states, “all men are created equal.” Upset with this wording, Abigail confides in many colleagues that this lack of including women in the Declaration might be something that needed to be taken directly to the people. However, it wasn’t until the mid 1800s that women’s suffrage became a dominant issue again.

Wyoming was the pioneer equal suffrage state when its first legislative council, after its organization as a territory in 1869, passed a bill providing that women should have the same rights as men to vote and hold office. When Wyoming was granted statehood in 1890, equal suffrage was part of its constitution – before any other state had given women the right to vote. Utah followed in 1896. From 1906 to 1920, thirteen states voted on women suffrage ballot measures, both initiatives and legislative referendum; Oregon (1906 by initiative/failed), Oregon (1908 by initiative/failed), Oklahoma and Oregon (1910 by initiative/failed), California (1911 by legislative referendum/passed), Arizona and Oregon (1912 by initiative/passed), Kansas (1912 by legislative referendum/passed), Nevada and Montana (1913 by legislative referendum/passed), Ohio, Nebraska, Missouri (1914 by initiative/failed), New York (1917 by legislative referendum/passed), Michigan, South Dakota and Oklahoma (1918 by legislative referendum/passed) (ii).

In both Arizona and Oregon the battle for equal suffrage was long and strong. For nearly fifteen years Arizona women worked without success to get their territorial legislature to confer full suffrage upon them. Nor were they successful in their efforts to get a woman suffrage clause included in the constitution when Arizona was granted statehood. A bill creating a women’s suffrage amendment to the constitution was introduced in the first legislature of the new state but lost by one vote in the Senate – although it passed in the House. The women then turned to the people, and in less than two months time succeeded in collecting the signatures necessary to place an initiative on the ballot granting women suffrage. The measure went to the voters in 1912 and won by 7,240 votes.

In Oregon, equal suffrage initiatives lost in 1906 and 1908. In 1910 suffragists tried a different approach: an initiative giving only female taxpayers the right to vote, a compromise that was rejected at the ballot box by a three to one margin. Finally, in 1912, suffragists led by Abigail Scott Duniway won their long struggle. An initiative they placed on the ballot for women’s suffrage passed – 61,265 in favor to 57,104 against.

One of the reasons the battle for equal suffrage was so difficult was the link between the women’s suffrage movement and the prohibition movement. The Women’s Crusade of 1873 and the organization of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union in 1874 (WCTU), which pioneered the movement for equal suffrage, strongly advocated prohibition. The Ohio WCTU, for example, circulated a speech by Anna Howard Shaw entitled “Influence versus Power,” which defined women’s suffrage as an important weapon in the fight for prohibition. Brewers and distillers, believing that all suffragists favored prohibition, opposed women’s suffrage vehemently and in 1911 created the National Association Opposed to Woman Suffrage (NAOWS). NAOWS was instrumental in delaying Congress from passing a women’s suffrage amendment (iii).

In 1912 Theodore Roosevelt’s Progressive Party adopted a women’s suffrage plank – a major breakthrough. In the summer of 1913, suffragists presented U.S. Senators with 200,000 signatures in support of a constitutional amendment establishing women’s suffrage – but they refused to act. They also began to speak out through hunger strikes, picketing the White House, and other forms of civil disobedience.

On March 2, 1914, U.S. Senator John Shafroth of Colorado introduced a constitutional amendment that would grant all states I&R to achieve suffrage. The “Shafroth Amendment” would have advanced both I&R and the women’s suffrage issue by empowering the people to decide within their own state. Although the amendment failed in Congress, it helped the initiative and referendum process gain public credibility as a method of dealing with these types of issues.

In 1914 and 1915, both houses of Congress again rejected women’s suffrage amendments. Finally, in 1918, President Woodrow Wilson changed his position and gave his support to a women’s suffrage amendment. His support helped get the amendment through the House, but not the Senate. Then in 1919, President Wilson once again urged passage of a women’s suffrage amendment and fifteen days after the House passed the amendment, the Senate passed it as well. The 19th Amendment became part of the U.S. Constitution in 1920 – just 14 months after Congress sent it to the states for ratification.

Carrie Chapman Catt summarized the women’s suffrage effort when she said, “[t]o get the word ‘male’ in effect out of the Constitution cost the women of the country fifty-two years of pauseless campaign… During that time they were forced to conduct fifty-six [initiative] referenda campaigns to male voters; 480 campaigns to get legislatures to submit suffrage amendments to voters; 47 campaigns to get state constitutional conventions to write woman suffrage into state constitutions; 277 campaigns to get state party conventions to include woman suffrage planks in party platforms, 30 campaigns to get presidential party conventions to adopt women’s suffrage planks into party platforms, and 19 campaigns with 19 successive Congresses.”

As Catt points out, the relationship between women’s suffrage and I&R is not trivial. When momentum began to lag, I&R appeared on the horizon to instill the suffragists with new hope, inspiration, and energy. However, even though most of the women’s suffrage initiatives were defeated at the ballot box, their presence raised the awareness of the issue and helped lead the way to the 19th Amendment.

Women’s Suffrage Initiatives (I) and Legislative Referendum (LR)

State Year Description Type Pass/Fail
OR 1906 To extend suffrage to women. I Failed
OR 1908 To extend suffrage to women. I Failed
OK 1910 To authorize women to vote under the same circumstances/conditions as men. I Failed
OR 1910 To extend suffrage to female taxpayers. I Failed
CA 1911 To extend suffrage to women. LR Passed
AZ 1912 To extend suffrage to women. I Passed
KS 1912 To extend suffrage to women. LR Passed
OR 1912 To extend suffrage to women. I Passed
MT 1913 To extend suffrage to women. LR Passed
NV 1913 To extend suffrage to women. LR Passed
OH 1914 To extend suffrage to women. I Failed
NE 1914 To extend suffrage to women. I Failed
MO 1914 To provide that females shall have the same right to vote at all elections within the state as males. I Failed
NY 1917 To extend suffrage to women. LR Passed
MI 1918 To extend suffrage to women. LR Passed
OK 1918 To extend suffrage to women. LR Passed
SD 1918 To extend suffrage to women. LR Passed

i. Dennis Polhill is the Chairman of the Initiative & Referendum Institute. Kim Garrett is a research assistant for the Institute and a student at the University of Denver.
ii. McDonagh, Eileen L. and H. Douglas Price (1984). “Woman Suffrage in the Progressive Era: Patterns of Opposition and Support in Referenda Voting, 1910-1920,” in The American Political Science Review 79 (3).
iii. McDonagh, Eileen L. and H. Douglas Price (1984). “Woman Suffrage in the Progressive Era: Patterns of Opposition and Support in Referenda Voting, 1910-1920,” in The American Political Science Review 79 (3), and Schmidt, David D. (1989). Citizen Lawmakers: The Ballot Initiative Revolution. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press; Connors, Arthur (1917). “ Direct Legislation in 1916,” in The American Political Science Review 11 (1).

This paper is a chapter from The Initiative & Referendum Almanac. You can purchase the book here.

By Dennis Polhill

National referendums are a regular event among the world’s democracies. With four national elections per year Switzerland has held approximately half of the 800 national referendums in world history.

One application of national referendums has been in exercising the “self determination” of a people. A referendum unified fragmented Italian states into a nation. Norway separated from Sweden in 1905 via national referendum. Only “five major democracies have never had a national referendum: India, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, and the United States.” In recent years Israel and the Netherlands have seriously contemplated the idea of a national referendum to advance intractable issues.

The demise of the Soviet Union was a byproduct of the largest national referendum in world history; the Soviet Union’s first and last referendum. To advance his reforms Mikhail Gorbachev sought popular support by proposing the March 17, 1991 All-Union referendum. The All-Union Referendum would reaffirm the Union Treaty of 1922 that created the Soviet Union. The referendum opened a floodgate. The 15 Republics did not conform. Some redrafted the language; several added questions to the ballot; others declared their independence and still others boycotted the event. Although the All-Union Referendum passed overwhelmingly, periphery events turned out to be more relevant than the specific outcome. The Soviet Republics had discovered a way to articulate their frustration with central control and busily went about acting as independent states.

But has the national referendum process been abused?

The prospect of manipulation of a national referendum is real. Gorbachev directed the military to manage the election in Republics that boycotted the All-Union Referendum with the result that voter turn out approximated the local ethnic Russian population.

Hitler used national referendums to withdraw Germany from the League of Nations in 1933 and to consolidate his powers in 1934. The ability of the Nazi propaganda machine to insure the desired result is well known. This problem with referred measures was well expressed when Benito Mussolini said, “Give me the right to nominate and you can vote for whomever you please.” The control of the language and what questions appear on ballots is not a minor detail. A recent example is the election held in April 2002 in Pakistan. President Musharraf clearly manipulated the wording of the referendum in order to ensure he was reelected to another five year term as President of Pakistan.

So what about national I&R in the United States?

If I&R has been a means for dealing with the conflicts at the state level, why not resolve similar national conflicts with national I&R? Lincoln is said to have proposed a national vote to reconcile slavery. There have been 3 major efforts in the U.S. for national I&R: the Progressive movement (prior to 1920), the anti-war movement (during both World Wars I and II), and the environmental movement (during the 1970s).

An early advocate for national I&R was U.S. Senator and former Colorado Governor John Shafroth. The Shafroth Amendment was proposed as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1914. It would have given the people of every state I&R for determining women’s suffrage. When 8% of voters signed a petition, the issue would be determined by a majority vote at the next state election. Mounting pressure eventually forced Congress to deal with the issue. Had it become law, the Shafroth Amendment might very well have expedited resolution of women’s suffrage. Perhaps more importantly, it would have set a precedent as a means of addressing other difficult national issues.

When the U.S. entered World War I, isolationists and pacifists called for a national referendum, arguing that only the people should decide whether to go to war. Advocates proposed an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (also called the Peace Referendum) that would have required a nationwide popular vote to go to war, unless the U.S. was attacked or invaded. A similar movement emerged during World War II but was never approved by Congress.

After World War II, the use of the statewide initiative process declined and was largely forgotten by many activists until it was rediscovered in the 1970s by the environmental movement. Coincident with rediscovery of state I&R, was a renewed interest in national I&R. Senator Abourezk (D-SD) introduced the National Voter Initiative Amendment in 1977.

The NVIA would have taken an issue to nationwide vote, when 3% of voters in at least 10 states signed a petition. A majority of voters nationwide would decide the issue. The difference between the Shafroth and the Abourezk approaches merit elaboration. Shafroth empowered the people of the states, acknowledging that the Federal government is a collection of state governments. Abourezk did not account for the division of powers between Federal and State governments itemized in the U.S. Constitution or provide a means of addressing state issues. Shafroth did not provide a means for directly resolving national concerns. A well-designed system of national I&R should do both: work within the bounds of the constitution and provide a means for addressing issues reserved to the respective Federal and State levels.

National I&R Proposals

There have been two distinct approaches to obtaining a national I&R process in the United States. One is working through the states and the other is by getting Congress to pass an amendment establishing the initiative process.

In the states, several organizations, like USPIRG, have worked hard to generate support for a national I&R process. In addition to the “PIRGs”, another organization, “Philadelphia Two” has been working to establish a national initiative process. Former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel heads the group. Though their approach is somewhat controversial (basically to set up an “electoral trust” that is not accountable to the government), they are working hard to build support for a national initiative process.

At the Congressional level, between 1895 and 1943, 108 proposals to amend the U.S. Constitution by adding national I&R were submitted. Seven would have created a general I&R, that would have allowed for consideration of any issue. The others created I&R for specific issues only or that had issue-specific prohibitions. For example, Abourezk would not permit the declaring of war, calling up troops, or amending the constitution and would permit statutory modifications by Congress with a two-thirds majority or simple majority after two years. Implementation of national I&R is more complicated in the U.S. than in other nations due to the unique Constitutional division of responsibilities between the Federal and State governments. In most countries, governments are centralized to either a greater or lesser extent. Other variations of national I&R that have been proposed in the U.S. include:

  • The first proposal for national I&R was in 1895 by Populist Party U.S. Senator William Peffer from Kansas. It provided for a national vote on an issue when 20% of voters nationwide or 20% of state legislatures requested it.
  • In 1907 U.S. Representative Elmer Lincoln Fulton from Oklahoma suggested that 8% of the voters in each of 15 states could put either a constitutional amendment or statute proposal to a national vote or that 5% of the voters in each of 15 states or their state legislatures could challenge a statute passed by Congress.
  • In 1911 Senator Bristow from Kansas proposed that the Initiative be used to reign in the court. Any law held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court would go to a vote of the people. This was the first proposal for using I&R as the method by which to reconcile conflicts between the equal branches of the Federal government.
  • Socialist Party U.S. Representative Victor Berger of Wisconsin introduced the most radical proposal ever. It would have abolished the Presidency, the Senate and the Supreme Court. Five percent of the voters in three-fourths of the state could propose a law or challenge a law passed by Congress.
  • U.S. Senator Bob La Follette from Wisconsin in 1916 proposed a non-binding national advisory referendum that would be held when 1% of the voters in 25 states petitioned.
  • The National approach would require some percentage (usually in the range of 3%) of voters nationwide to sign a petition. Because elections are managed by the states and there are no national voter rolls or other election systems, leaving states out of the process would require changes in election management.
  • Nullification advocates in the 1980s and 1990s suggested that Federal statutes should go to a nationwide vote when 10% of the voters in 1/3 of the states sign a petition challenging it. Nullification proposals were in reaction to “unfunded mandates” and directives imposed upon the states by Congress. A nullification mechanism would effectively be a national application of the referendum petition or challenge petition.

The State Approach to National I&R

The question of national I&R in the U.S. is not whether it will be. Rather, the question is when it will be and what form it will have. When the Confederate States wrote their constitution, they substantially replicated the constitution they had lived under for over 70 years. Perhaps the most substantial variation cured a significant structural flaw in the U.S. Constitution: how Amendments are proposed for ratification. Recognizing that a constitution is the delegation of consent to govern and, therefore, a limitation on government, and acknowledging Congress’ inherent conflict of interest, the authority of Congress to draft proposed amendments was revoked. A proposed amendment would go to ratification when 25% of the states passed resolutions supporting the same proposal. This, in fact, is what the Founders had intended with Article V; but their intent was subsequently subverted by Congress.

The “State Approach” may be the best form for National I&R. The “State Approach” would permit a number of states (25%) to agree either by state initiative petition and vote or by state legislature resolution, that a question should be addressed nationally. When a number of states concur, the Federal statute (simple majority) or constitution (3/4 majority) is changed. Obviously, over-reaching Federal statutes could be stricken by the same means.

The “State Approach” acknowledges the respective constitutional roles of the State and Federal governments. It provides a means for addressing both state and national issues. It can cure both actions of omission and acts of commission by Congress and by individual state legislatures. It utilizes the existing election management systems of the states. It answers the problem of Congressional conflict of interest. It can deal with both Federal statutory or constitutional problems. It acknowledges the sovereignty of the people at every level. It might be a viable means for resolving conflicts between the equal branches of the Federal government or deadlocked Federal legislation. The fear of majoritarian abuse of I&R is reduced. National issues are resolved gradually via ongoing public debate and incremental approval by the states. A critical part of the Constitution is restored to the functionality intended by the Founders.

The “State Approach” also offers a practical means of implementation and can be achieved gradually by increasing the number of states with I&R until critical mass is reached. Critical mass is when the numbers of states with I&R is sufficient to press the issue nationally.

Summary

National I&R in the U.S. would offer a mechanism to address national issues that partisan politics or Congressional inherent conflict of interest prohibits a solution. Several attempts have been made in Congress and in the states – but to no avail. However, as citizens enlarge their participation in their government, it appears inevitable that the U.S. will find a way to exercise this fundamental right in the near future.

© 2007 Initiative & Referendum Institute

USC School of Law

Los Angeles CA 90089-0071

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill
Does the Initiative process enhance or diminish representative government?

In Colorado, citizens have the power to bring their idea before voters by using a petition. If a number of citizens agree by signing the petition, the idea goes to the ballot. Legislators dislike the Initiative process because they see it as infringing on their monopoly authority to legislate.

Opponents of citizen participation masterfully exaggerate difficulties with the Initiative process in order to compound false perceptions about the extent of the problems. Some problems are even caused by or augmented by their actions or inactions.

They claim petitions have caused “clutter” in the Colorado Constitution. But only 42 Initiated Amendments have been approved in the 94 year history of the process. Over the same period legislators have amended the Constitution 69 times (62 percent).

Next they claim “many” statutory measures end up in the Colorado Constitution. Some measures must be constitutional. Therefore, “many” being a portion of 42, probably means about a dozen. Distributed over 94 years, a dozen is “not very many.”

Because initiated statutes are approved by voters 41 percent of the time (versus 33 percent for initiated constitutional amendments), ample incentive exists for issue advocates to go statutory. The counterbalancing disincentive is the risk of legislative tampering. That is, when there is a risk that legislators will tamper, initiative proponents are forced to go constitutional as a protection. Many of these “few” issues would have gone the statutory route, if a reasonable protection against tampering existed.

Like a magician, they distract Coloradans from the truth by comparing the Colorado with the U.S. Constitution. This is a rouse; the two documents are not comparable. The Federal government does not manage elections, local governments (which Colorado has 2710 of 61 different types), private corporations, and much more. State constitutions typically restate the Bill or Rights and sometimes enlarge the list. Colorado’s Bill of Rights has 30 Articles. Colorado is comfortably in the midrange of state constitutions. The longest by word-count is Alabama (6 times Colorado’s) and the shortest is Vermont (1/6th of Colorado’s). Colorado is also near the center in number of amendments.

Colorado ballot titles are the longest and most difficult to read of any state. In addition titles on referred measures are much shorter than initiated measures. Legislators could easily require shorter or more readable titles; or even offer two titles (short and long) to help voters.

Only 10 percent of Colorado governments (272 out of 2710) now have petitions. In 1910 the Initiative was reserved to every unit of government. Counties and districts did not exercise legislative authority in 1910, so it did not matter much either way then. When the legislature delegated legislative authority to these governments, they failed to account for the fact that the Initiative was a power citizens “reserved themselves” in the Colorado Constitution. Thus, they delegated more than the constitution allowed them to delegate.

The last Referendum Petition to appear before Colorado votes was in 1932. A tax had been imposed margarine to protection the dairy industry from competition. It was challenged by Referendum Petition and defeated by voters. Referendum Petitions challenge a legislated law with two exceptions. Appropriations bills and threats to public health and safety are exempt from a Referendum Petition challenge. After 1932 the Safety Clause was contrived to disenfranchise citizens from their Referendum power and was attached to virtually every bill declaring the bill essential for the immediate protection of the public health and safety.

The Colorado Supreme Court has intentionally misinterpreted the 1994 Single Subject rule in order to insert itself as another stumbling block in the Initiative process.

The Colorado Legislature has the power (but not the will) to correct any or all of the above difficulties. That they do not, illustrates hostility toward the Initiative process; an unwillingness to uphold the Colorado Constitution or to abide by their oath of office; and a disrespect for the people who elect them to office. However Amendment 38, which will appear on the November ballot, seeks to correct several of these problems that the legislature won’t address.

The Initiative process gives the people a voice when legislators fail to hear their constituents. It helps representative government do a better job.

Learn more about this subject in the newly released, Issue Paper Protecting the People’s Voice: Identifying the Obstacles to Colorado’s Initiative and Referendum Process.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill, Melissa Moses

It could be argued that government under Soviet communism was less hypocritical than America’s. The Soviets made no pretense about democracy, representation, accountability, competitive elections or open government. Citizen participation was mandatory for show. Lack of election alternatives was irrelevant. Besides, the ruling elite knew what was best.  Nothing could be gained by inviting the involvement of foolish and uninformed citizens. Americans are openly critical of arrogant Soviet rulers contempt toward their people. The unstated inference is that we know better. We have figured out this self-government thing and others would be wise to copy our example.

Is that so?

Turnover in the British House of Lords, appointed for life, has exceeded that of the U.S. Congress for most of the twentieth century. When Congressional turnover shot from 2% to 7% in 1994, it was labeled a revolution. Congressional elections typically have no more than a couple dozen of 435 House of Representatives seats in play. The power of incumbency combined with the conspiracy by the two dominant political parties to minimize their respective election risk through gerrymandering has resulted in the near-elimination of contested elections. If there is no threat of defeat, if there is no contest between candidates or ideas, is there an election?

Less studied, but equally troublesome are Colorado elections.  Every election cycle about 25% of the 100 General Assembly seats are uncontested by one of the two major parties.  Over 55% of the remaining races are won in landslides.  Only about a dozen races are seriously contested.

Colorado now has over 2,162 governments, each with an elected board and each with taxing and regulatory authority.  The distribution is 63 counties, 269 cities, 176 school districts, and 1,654 special districts (water, sewer, parks, recreation, fire protection and more).  There are 192 governments in Arapahoe County; 159 in Jefferson County.  The number of new governments grew last year by 69.

Though serving on a small district board may be a thankless task and recognition of one’s civic contributions may be deserved, some actions raise questions about motives. When an election date or location is obscure, fewer people vote. Although districts could conduct elections in November, when voter turnout is highest, they conduct elections that produce minimal voting. How difficult is it for someone to manipulate the election outcome? Their only legal obligation is to post a legal notice in a local newspaper. When there are not enough candidates to fill the vacancies, elections are cancelled.  Although November elections are less expensive, because costs are shared among many governments, other dates are typically used. A Jefferson County district with a $200,000 budget, increased its taxing authority to $164 million per year.  Another successfully opted-out of term limits by a vote of 10 to 4. How likely were these outcomes, except via secret elections?

The General Assembly, outraged at abuses of the initiative process, is currently considering numerous methods to throttle it. The November 2000 ballot had 12 statewide issues: six initiative petitions and six referred by the General Assembly. In 1998, there were eight initiatives and three referred; in 1996: eight initiated and four referred; in 1994: eight initiated and three referred; and, in 1992: 10 initiated and three referred. During the past five election cycles, voters approved 14 of 40 initiative petitions (35%) and 12 of 19 referrals (63%).

Though these numbers are not extreme, several 1990s initiatives were seen by politicians as personal insults. Tax limits said, We dont like what you are doing with our money.  Campaign spending limits said, We have concerns about how elections are financed. Term limits said, Dont stay forever. To the career politician, could anything be more insulting, more disrespectful, more unappreciative, more abusive?

In addition to the 12 statewide ballot issues on the 2000 ballot, at least 297 governments placed 537 measures on ballots, seven of which were initiative petitions (1.3%) and 530 of which were referred (98.7%). Of the 530, 328 were tax, debt or spending increases (62%) and 115 were attempts to opt out of term limits (22%).

What alien force has paralyzed our leaders to cease being influenced by the mere will of their constituents? Long ballots are primarily caused by the refusal of elected officials to abide by limits set by the people. Politicians falsely blame long ballots on petitions so that they may work to murder the messenger.

Dennis Polhill is a Senior Fellow and Melissa Moses is a Research Associate at the Independence Institute, a government reform think tank in Golden, http://i2i.org.

This article, from the Independence Institute staff, fellows and research network, is offered for your use at no charge. Independence Feature Syndicate articles are published for educational purposes only, and the authors speak for themselves. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.
Please send comments to Editorial Coordinator, Independence Institute, 14142 Denver West Pkwy., suite 185, Golden, CO 80401 Phone 303-279-6536 (fax) 303-279-4176 (email)webmngr@i2i.org

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill

Most Colorado legislators will violate their oath of office soon after swearing it on January 10, 2001. The legislators will knowingly subvert the state Constitution’s provision which allows citizens to call for a vote on new laws passed by the legislature.

The oath reads, I, (name) solemnly swear that I will uphold the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Colorado, and I will faithfully discharge the duties of my office to the best of my knowledge and ability, so help me God.

The authority to legislate is delegated to the general assembly. The delegation is limited, not absolute. Citizens are empowered to override legislative decisions. (Colo. Const., art. V, sec. 1.) The mechanism is the “referendum petition.” If enough signatures are gathered to challenge a new legislative statute, then the voters have a chance to approve or disapprove the statute at the next general election.

Colorados lack of recent referendum petitions is not the product of citizen contentment. Rather, it is Constitutional subversion by elected officials. The Colorado Constitution reads, The second power hereby reserved [to the people] is the referendum, and it may be ordered, except as to laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety. In other words, the citizens get to vote on everything, if they want to, except for emergency legislation. But the definition of emergency has changed drastically.

Colorado’s most recent “referendum petition” in 1932 proved to be a humiliation to the legislature. The referendum challenged a 50% tax increase on oleomargarine and the tax increase was defeated with 62%.

Legislators determined to correct the problem and invented the safety clause. Mere citizens would no longer interfere with the legislator’s fine work–work such as imposing extortionate taxes on margarine in order to protect dairy farmers from competition.

Thus, the “safety clause” has appeared on nearly every piece of legislation since 1932. It reads, The general assembly hereby finds, determines, and declares that this act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety.

The safety clause is supposed to be used only for real emergencies–such as a law banning fires during an especially dry summer. But in practice, the “safety” clause serves only one purpose: to deny citizens their reserved power to challenge laws. In other words, to subvert the Colorado Constitution.

In response to criticism from Douglas Bruce and other citizen activists, legislative leadership in January 1997 declared new procedures for Use of Safety Clause. They publicly trumpeted their statesmanship: the safety clause no longer will appear automatically.

Well, maybe the “safety” clause is not automatic, but it’s still used very, very frequently, for bill that have nothing to do with emergencies of the sort that should prevent the public from being able to vote on whether to retain the law.

Indeed, Coloradans would be alarmed to learn that the legislature thinks there were 426 statewide emergencies just in the year 2000. Some of the safety-threatening-emergencies dealt with by the legislature since the 1997 promise to stop abusing the safety clause include: the ratio of electrical journeymen to apprentices, travel expenses for juries, regulation of notaries, pet care, prohibition of cruising, art in juvenile facilities, recouping license plate mailing costs, oil and gas commission personnel, and male mammography.

It’s true that abuse of the safety clause has declined. The clause was once universal, and now appears in about 59% of bill. Abuse of the safety clause tends to be higher in the year after an election, and declines by about ten points in election years. The State Senate misuses the safety clause more frequently than does the House.

Although more and more legislators are informed about this abuse and refuse to use the safety clause on their own bills, there is a complicity factor. The abuse is so rampant, that honest legislators must not object to the safety clause abuse by their peers. Otherwise, the conscientious legislators would be ostracized as extremists.

There is new leadership in both the Senate and the House this year, so perhaps the new leaders can implement some constructive changes.  Reforms might include: prohibition of safety clause use, except in genuine emergencies; separate roll call vote to attach a safety clause to a bill; requiring a statement of the exact supposed emergency and its injurious consequences; requiring supermajority approval to add a safety clause.

These reforms would make it much harder for legislators to prevent people from voting on whether to retain new laws. For the legislature ever to override the “reserved power of the people is a serious matter. Continued misuse would merit removal of this authority entrusted to legislators. Many legislators take their oath seriously. Let’s hope the changes of the 2000 election bring more responsible behavior.

Dennis Polhill is a Senior Fellow with the Independence Institute, a government reform think tank in Golden, http://i2i.org.

This article, from the Independence Institute staff, fellows and research network, is offered for your use at no charge. Independence Feature Syndicate articles are published for educational purposes only, and the authors speak for themselves. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.
Please send comments to Editorial Coordinator, Independence Institute, 14142 Denver West Pkwy., suite 185, Golden, CO 80401 Phone 303-279-6536 (fax) 303-279-4176 (email)webmngr@i2i.org

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill

Every two years the State of Colorado accuses hundreds of thousands of its citizens of violating election laws. This accusation is implicitly made when signatures on initiative petitions are ruled invalid by the Secretary of State.Yet no one is fined or imprisoned for their crimes.

These criminals are not pursued because the State’s mission is to frustrate petitions, not to enforce the law.  Besides, persecuting thousands of everyday citizens for exercising their fundamental right to petition would not stand up in any fair Court or in the court of public opinion.

A complex maze of rules and laws has been installed to make petitioning more difficult.  Some politicians themselves have fallen victim to the abstract and arbitrary procedures by failing to satisfy the increasingly restrictive ballot access requirements.

It is now more difficult to exercise one’s petition right in Colorado than one’s voting right.  The legitimacy of mail in ballots is attested by the signature of the lone voter.  That same voter, to exercise the petition right, must similarly attest his own signature under the identical penalties of law.  But in addition, the petition circulator attests the signature and then the notary attests the circulator, and finally all are ascertained by the State.

Outrageous examples are abundant:  William is disqualified because he signed as Bill; another is disqualified because the name has too many characters for the computer; an entire petition is invalidated because the notary made an error in the date.  Famous Coloradoans have been invalidated — including a Speaker of the State House of Representatives and the Nuggets’ coach. Colorado has been embarrassed on the national stage more than any other state. Twice the U.S. Supreme Court has invalidated legislative attempts to limit petition rights.  Badge, circulator reporting, black ink signatures and blue petition book requirements are gone, thanks to the Supreme Court’s protection of the First Amendment right to petition.

Interestingly, the petition only gives people the right to vote. Evidently petition opponents subscribe to the Benito Mussolini philosophy of government, “Give me the right to nominate and you can vote for whomever you please.”

Elected representatives seem comfortable infringing on the Constitution and ignoring their oath of office.  In Article V of the Colorado Constitution the people delegate the authority to legislate to the General Assembly, but “reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and amendments.”  The petition is not a right that the political establishment can issue and rescind or throttle and unleash.  It is a “Reserved Power.”  The General Assembly’s authority cannot go beyond enabling and facilitating the process.

Historically, issue opponents carried the burden of challenging signature validity.  This is because the Constitution defines a signature as “prima facia evidence,” meaning that it is presumed valid until proven otherwise. But the legislature changed this, and made a law requiring that the Secretary of State check signatures.

Technicalities benefit opponents as long as an idea can be defeated by denying people the vote.  It is Colorado’s rigid, drop-dead requirements that cause controversy over technicalities.  The signature controversy would disappear, if there were reasonable cure and carry-over provisions.  The purpose of a petition is to demonstrate public interest. Does public interest subside if the petition is one signature short or one day late?

Expect continued attacks on the Initiative process, like this year’s Senate Bill. This bill would impose geographic distribution on petitions; the state would be divided into four zones, and petitions would need a certain number of signatures from each zone. The stated goal is to prevent Denver from imposing unpopular ideas on rural areas.

Though meritorious in intent, the proposed solution cannot succeed. First, this mechanism does not give veto power to rural areas.  Instead it adds another technicality.  Second, geographic distributions have previously been proposed and defeated.  Third, no one has proposed geographic distributions for legislative bills.  Fourth, if it is a good idea, it should also apply to elected officials?  Should the election of the Governor not count, if not popular enough in some area?  Fifth, petition defenders will bring an expensive legal challenge for restricting the process.  Sixth, geographic discrimination suggests that there is also a need for quotas on the basis of race, gender, party affiliation, physical disability, affluence, intellect, and more.

Dennis Polhill wrote this article for the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank in Golden, www.i2i.org.

This article, from the Independence Institute staff, fellows and research network, is offered for your use at no charge. Independence Feature Syndicate articles are published for educational purposes only, and the authors speak for themselves. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.

Please send comments to Editorial Coordinator, Independence Institute, 14142 Denver West Pkwy., suite 185, Golden, CO 80401 Phone 303-279-6536 (fax) 303-279-4176 (email) webmngr@i2i.org

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill, Chris Baker

Great strides in the evolution of human existence are rare. One of those great strides occurred 223 years ago this month. Thomas Jefferson, the 33 year old delegate from Virginia to the Second Continental Congress put goose-quill to paper and etched words that will stand for all of eternity.to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed

Perhaps an older author would have lacked the boldness to so directly challenge conventional thought. For centuries kings had the power to dictate ones fate at the snap of his fingers. No one had proposed the opposite: that the people were sovereign, hereditary kings were not.

The foundation principle upon which all democracy must be built, people-sovereignty, has become soundly entrenched in America. In Europe, Fascists declared democracy outmoded and obsolete for government in the twentieth century, vesting all power in their dictators. The Communists were more subtle and promised to restore democratic principles as soon as their benevolent dictator has adequately provided for the needs of all.

But in the U.S. when political systems broke down in the 1890s and government became the instrument by which privilege was issued to influential special interests, new political systems were invented that enlarged the principles of people-sovereignty, giving operational definition to ideals expressed by Jefferson, Madison and other Founders.

The right of citizens to directly propose and implement laws was included in the package. Other reforms, which were neither conceived nor implemented by politicians or political parties, included secret ballots, printed ballots, primary elections, and direct elections of U.S. Senators.

The right of citizen initiative formalized the petition rights drafted into the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by James Madison. The Initiative empowered citizens to propose laws to the ballot that legislators refused to address.

The self-confidence, pride and passion that motivates officials to first run for office sometimes becomes their enemy once elected. They are so committed to do civic good, that the notions of accountability and checks-and-balances seem to them unnecessary, if not insulting. Not surprisingly, instead of supporting petition rights, their actions frustrate and complicate the process, overlooking the fact that petitions are utilized only when the legislative process fails.

Sadly, many politicians claim that the exercise of votes by sovereign citizens are somehow more influenced by special interests than is the legislative process. Their words sound strangely reminiscent of King George III when he banned town meetings in the American Colonies to better regulate the government.

In 1992 Coloradoans grew tired of the free spending of their tax dollars by politicians, citizens used the initiative petition to propose the Taxpayers Bill of Rights which imposed limits. Not surprisingly, many in the ruling political establishment shrilly claimed that Colorado would collapse into economic chaos. Seven years later it is clear that alarmist assertions were clearly not accurate and it is more likely that TABOR contributed to Colorado having one of the strongest economies in the nation.

University of California Professor John Matsusaka performed extensive multiple regression analysis to conclude that states with petition rights have taxes that are 4% below the national average. This equates to $332 more disposable income annually for a family of four. Matsusaka also found that initiative states tended toward decentralization of spending decisions and there was less use of taxation as a tool for redistribution of wealth.

The initiative process does not always lead to less spending. Matsusaka found that the desire of politicians to tax and spend in the 1990s was reversed in the 1930s. Initiative states more rapidly responded to the will of the people by accelerating spending programs.

If the initiative process gives the people more of what they want, then isnt that the essence of democracy? Who among us is so astute that his views should be dictated to others? It would be wise for enlightened legislators to invest more thinking in the meaning of the message than in attacking the messenger and subverting the peoples sovereignty.

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Dennis Polhill is a Senior Fellow and Chris Baker is a Research Associate at the Independence Institute, a free-market think tank in Golden, http://i2i.org.

This article, from the Independence Institute staff, fellows and research network, is offered for your use at no charge. Independence Feature Syndicate articles are published for educational purposes only, and the authors speak for themselves. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.
Please send comments to Editorial Coordinator, Independence Institute, 14142 Denver West Pkwy., suite 185, Golden, CO 80401 Phone 303-279-6536 (fax) 303-279-4176 (email)webmngr@i2i.org

Feudal rulers have always preferred dutiful servants. Things have not been the same since Magna Carta in 1215 first guaranteed the right to petition about grievances. The nuisance of citizen involvement in their government was further enlarged in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects the petition and other free speech rights. Petition rights were formalized in the Colorado Constitution in 1910 as Initiative and Referendum. The Legislatures displeasure with petitions is demonstrated by its parade of attacks.

The current attack is House Concurrent Resolution 1998-1004. HCR-1004 will frustrate petitions for amending the Colorado Constitution, by increasing the signature requirement by 20%. HCR-1004 masquerades as reform by reducing the signature requirement for citizen initiated statutes, and protecting citizen-initiated statutes from legislative tampering for 2 years (unless 2/3 of the Legislature wants to tamper with the statute, in which case tampering would be allowed).

HCR-1004 is founded on several false beliefs:

One: There are too many initiatives. “Too many” is subjective. One is too many, for someone who disagrees with the idea of citizens controlling the government. All petitions are offensive to politicians, because the initiative process is an alternative method used only when the Legislature does not act. Petition use increases when legislative bodies are out of touch. The already difficult Colorado procedures insure that over 90% of petitions fail to reach the ballot. Should the voice of the people be further restricted or should the Legislature do more to respond to the peoples critical needs?

Two: There are too many amendments to the Colorado Constitution. Who should say what is “too many”? The low pass rate for proposed constitutional amendments suggests that voters are rightfully cautious about citizen initiatives. Elections work. Only 36 of 113 (32%) on the ballot in 86 years have passed. On the other hand the Legislature has originated 62 amendments. Since 1962 over 70% of amendments to the Colorado Constitution have originated in the Legislature. Because HCR-1004 does not seek to limit the Legislature, it fails in its alleged objective of reducing excess constitutional amendments.

Three: Many constitutional amendments should be statutes. This is true for a few, but not “many.” There have been only 36. Over half are indisputably constitutional, because they deal with governmental structure: home rule, recall petitions, judicial reform, reapportionment, number of legislative seats, annexation votes, and term limits. Probably half of the remainder are properly placed in the Constitution. Thus, a maximum of 9 issues would have been potential candidates for statutory instead of constitutional initiatives.

The authority to legislate is delegated to the Legislature by the sovereign people of Colorado. In so delegating, the people “reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and amendments” by petition. The legislature has no duty or authority to subvert petitions. In fact the legislature is entrusted to protect, defend, and enlarge the process. As the Colorado Supreme Court explained, “the general assembly is vested with power, subject to limitation(and) is divested of all discretionary authority(and) may not make any other limitation than that provided in the constitution” (Yenter v. Baker, 1952).

In another case, the state court affirmed the importance of the petition right: “The initiative power reserved by the people is to be liberally construed to allow the greatest possible exercise of this valuable right.” (Glendale v. Buchanan, 1978).

Improvement must begin by recognizing that direct initiatives deal effectively with “conflict of interest” issuesissues where the legislature is reluctant to act because the issues involve restrictions of legislators power. Valuable public service can be provided by reforming procedures that encourage abuse. In particular, citizen initiatives are a good way to cure problems that the government has created in the initiative process itself. These include: excessively long and confusing titles, unnecessary delays in assigning ballot numbers, inconsistent court rulings in both time delays and substance, subversion of referendum petitions, arbitrary signature invalidation, technicalities, unreasonable cure methods and periods, dysfunctional recall petition procedures, and prejudicial blue book (citizen election guide) drafting.

Initiatives are an essential part of the system of check and balances in our state Constitution. The legislature, instead of treating initiatives like a nuisance, ought to honor them, and enact reforms to simplify the process.

Dennis Polhill is a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute, a free-market think-tank located in Golden, Colorado. http://i2i.org

This article, from the Independence Institute staff, fellows and research network, is offered for your use at no charge. Independence Feature Syndicate articles are published for educational purposes only, and the authors speak for themselves. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.
Please send comments to Editorial Coordinator, Independence Institute, 14142 Denver West Pkwy., suite 185, Golden, CO 80401 Phone 303-279-6536 (fax) 303-279-4176 (email)webmngr@i2i.org

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill

Life would be so much more pleasant for Colorado elected officials if they could somehow figure out how to be representatives of the people. Their failure to act on various popular ideas, viewed by them as repugnant, proves their reluctance to represent. The legislature’s most recent display of contempt is SCR-2, which will appear as a referendum on the November ballot. If passed, this proposal would practically derail citizen initiatives by requiring them to pass by a vote of 60% instead of the current 51%.

Tax limitations first made it to the Colorado ballot by citizen initiative in 1966. Subsequent tax initiatives were defeated in 1972, 1976, 1978, 1986, 1988, and 1990, before passing in 1992. The Colorado legislature failed to comprehend or to respond to the unsubtle message of the people. Had tax reform been enacted, it is unlikely that the voters would have passed the 1992 measure. The fact that the people would not approve tax limitations in the first eight attempts over 26 years suggests not only that the people are very cautious, discrete, and responsible in approving initiatives, but that they would prefer for legislators to deal responsibly with issues.

Colorado elected officials were offended again by the term limits issue. When term limits were proposed into the Colorado Senate in 1988 by Terry Considine, only three other Senators could find their way to support the bill. Considine became the proponent of a citizen initiative and succeeded in getting term limits on the ballot in 1990.

The initiative is the process by which a citizen may propose a law to the voters by circulating petitions. Not only did the people approve term limits by 71% but the issue took on a life of its own sweeping the nation. The Republican Revolution of 1994 used term limits as its anchor issue in the Contract with America.

The reaction of the Colorado legislature has been to attack both the message and the messenger: Term limits and tax limits are a bad idea. The citizens are uninformed and incapable of making prudent judgments. The initiative process is being abused by extremists who must be stopped. The initiative process, in spite of repeated court rulings against the actions of the State of Colorado as blatant violations of constitutional rights, continues to be attacked by the legislature. In a 1988 unanimous ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court against the state of Colorado prohibition of paid circulators was stricken. The court stated The concept that government may restrict the speech of some elements of our society in order to enhance the relative voice of others is wholly foreign to the First Amendment. A 1994 U.S. district court used similar reasoning to strike down Colorado s requirements for circulator badges, black ink signatures , and blue ink petitions. The fact that the initiative is a “reserved power” in the Colorado Constitution and is not a right bestowed by the legislature, has done little to deter legislative infringement.

The initiative process is the most pure representation of popular will that exists today. By definition, it is philosophically neutral. It cannot lean to the left or to the right. It can be abused only to the extent that moneyed interests wish to influence an election outcome via campaign. Because it is far more difficult and expensive for the moneyed interests to influence a statewide election than to influence the legislature, they oppose the initiative process. These moneyed interest are the natural allies of the entrenched career politician. Together they represent a powerful, controlling, ruling elite. They look down and patronize the masses with their insider clichs, “those who are organized win and those who are not organized pay the bill.

To keep the masses divided they have tricked the people into believing that the political battle is between the left and the right. They allege that all that is needed is for a few more of the correct label to join in the fray. The peasants dutifully fight the good battle. One side or the other wins the election, but not in sufficient numbers. The truth is that the political battle is as it has always been. It is the people versus the rulers.

Instead of choking the initiative process, like the legislature is trying to do with SCR-2, it should view it as a tool to sense and to measure the will of the people. With a fresh outlook the legislature would find that the ballot can be used to their benefit by diffusing hot issues, by dismissing conflict of interest issues, by sensing the pulse of the people on marginal issues, and by forcing themselves to act on critical issues. The right to petition will not die. Why not be in tune with the people?
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Dennis Polhill is a Senior Fellow with the Independence Institute.

This article, from the Independence Institute staff, fellows and research network, is offered for your use at no charge. Independence Feature Syndicate articles are published for educational purposes only, and the authors speak for themselves. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.
Please send comments to Editorial Coordinator, Independence Institute, 14142 Denver West Pkwy., suite 185, Golden, CO 80401 Phone 303-279-6536 (fax) 303-279-4176 (email) webmngr@i2i.org

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Copyright 2000 II

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill

It is about power. Power over the people. If the people have more power, then there must be less for elected officials and those who influence them. Conversely, if elected officials and their minions wish to have more power, then they must take power from the people.

In the 1995 general session of the state legislature, a resolution was passed to overhaul the initiative process. SCR-2 was originally worded to make it harder for constitutional amendments and easier for statutes to access the ballot by initiative. However, SCR-2 was hijacked via amendment and steered away from its original intent to improve the initiative process, Senator Ray Powers withdrew his name as the prime sponsor and voted against it. Normally, when a sponsor does this, his peers respect his wish and the bill dies. But the desire for power knows no bounds in the hearts of Colorado’s elected officials.

The legislature voted to put SCR-2 on the ballot in the next statewide election in November 1996. It would amend the Colorado Constitution with a simple majority so that all future amendments require a 60% super majority.

The evidence shows that the people are extremely responsible and discreet in exercising their right to vote. Only 33 of the 106 citizen initiated amendments have passed since the right of petition was formalized in Colorado in 1910 with the Initiative and Referendum process. In contrast 60 of 109 referred amendments were approved over the same time period. It is inconsistent for the legislature to argue that there are too many amendments. What they mean is that there are too many citizen initiated amendments. When one is in the business of power, even one citizen initiative is one too many. In the 84 years that the people have had the right to petition in Colorado, only 14 of the 106 amendments would have passed had the 60% rule been in place. In all likelihood the moneyed interests, who find it more convenient and less expensive to influence the legislature would pour money into opposition campaigns. This would force the pass rate to be even less than the 14 in 106. They may claim that the right to petition is still alive, but for all practical purposes it would be gone.

SCR-2 goes even further. It gives the legislature the authority to change citizen initiated statutes after 4 years. Current practice is that citizen initiated statutes are regarded as above legislated statutes. Thus, they are rarely and reluctantly changed. SCR-2 would give the legislature license to dabble, further infringing on the people’s right of petition.

The legislature’s disdain for petitions has a long history and is well known. The process is further restricted nearly every year. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously against the State of Colorado for such infringement in 1988.

The right of referendum has been co-opted since 1932. Once the legislature passes a law the people have the right to petition to put the law to a vote of the people, except when there is a statewide emergency. So, the legislature simply declares every law they pass to be an emergency.

Aside from the abusive conduct of the legislature there are a few compelling reasons to preserve the right of petition. The mere prospect of its use encourages better legislation. It provides a degree of accountability of legislators and a mechanism to deal with the conflict of interest and hot potato issues. Voter interest, competence and participation increases. At least four independent studies have found that voter turnout is about 10% higher when issues are on the ballot. It is a right that belongs to the people and for which the Founding Fathers pledged “our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”

It has always been and always will be that those who control power want to preserve it and want more. This has been the struggle of humanity since we first stood upright. Those who dislike the rights of petition are elected officials, political parties, and established special interests (big money, big business, and big labor.)

As the Declaration of Independence states, “A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a Free People.” Keep these words in mind the next time you vote for your state legislator. Term limits on state legislators take effect in 1998. Can we wait until 1998, or shall we fix the legislature in 1996?

Dennis Polhill is a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute, a think tank in Golden Colorado.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill, Nathan Pawlicki
The tax spenders (politicians, lobbyists, and special interest groups) claim that Colorado has a budget crisis. They say the $150 million shortfall in the $15.2 billion State budget can be remedied only with more taxpayer money. This same budget was $6.3 billion in 1992 and $3.4 billion in 1984.

Referendum C would retain an estimated $3.7 billion in constitutionally required taxpayer refunds over the next 5 years to cover the $150 million shortfall. The extra revenue would be used for new programs or to grow existing programs.

As if addressing Colorado, President Calvin Coolidge said, “Nothing is easier than the expenditure of public money. It doesn’t appear to belong to anyone. The temptation is overwhelming to bestow it on somebody.” The process of “bestowing” is fun and beneficial to politicians. Interest groups reward them in subsequent elections. In other words, it is natural for politicians to focus on the revenue side. When Ref-C fails, perhaps politicians will look elsewhere. Washington State did.

In 2002, Democrat Washington Governor Gary Locke faced closing a budget gap of over $2.7 billion, a 15 percent shortfall. The historic budgeting process of adding taxpayer money to cover inflation was a nonstarter.

Director Marty Brown of the Office of Financial Management asked, “Why aren’t we asking the right questions? Why are we so focused on the cuts and not on the keeps?” Indeed! It was this creative and iconoclastic thought that helped Washington State to emerge from the wilderness.

By asking the right question Washington was able to focus on maximizing results. This helped to validate the missions of respective departments rather than accepting the assumption that everything being done should forever continue. “Outcome Budgeting” is one of many budgeting methodologies. Unfortunately these methodologies are theoretical abstractions because virtually all government budgeting merely adds more taxpayer money to the last budget. Without a “budget crisis” there would be no “political will” to exercise fiscal discipline.

Governor Locke’s staff designed five key questions for the budget process: “Is the real problem short or long term?; How much are citizens willing to spend?; What results do citizens want for their money?; How much will the state spend to produce each of these results?; How best can that money be spent to achieve each of the core results?” These spawned a challenge list and detailed purchasing plans.

Ten “Results Team” leaders divided up the 1300 state functions, assisting department heads with the process. Fiscal pressure yielded creative cooperation. Spending in one area can contribute to outcomes elsewhere. The higher education team used some of its funds to pay for better K-12 education, to better prepare its incoming students and reduce its funding of remedial programs. Two teams jointly brought forth increased effort to protect water quality.

The budget would be painful. It eliminated health insurance for 60,000; limited Medicaid coverage; and ended 2,500 state jobs. Cost of living increases for state employees were frozen, university tuition would increase, 1,200 low risk felons would be released from prison and several small programs would be shut down.

The Tacoma News Tribune reported, “Few Washingtonians will find much to like about the brutal state spending plan. But as ugly as the result was, there’s a lot to like about the way Locke and his staff arrived at it, using a new process that forced hard choices about the core priorities of state government.”

“Core Priorities” is the foundation principle. By passing TABOR, Colorado voters stated that their government was big enough. Voters left to legislators the tough task of debating and deciding “core priorities.” Because spending is more fun and focusing on “core priorities” is hard work, legislators have put Ref-C on the ballot. Ref-C essentially asks Colorado to validate the 1992 TABOR decision, “Are you really sure you want fiscal discipline in state government?”

Without a “budget crisis,” Washington State would not have implemented “Outcome Budgeting” and would not have saved its 6 million taxpayers from a $2.7 billion budget debacle. Perhaps Colorado’s $150 million “budget crisis” is too small to spark interest in budgeting reform or to motivate political leaders to have a serious look at “core priorities” or to focus on the spending side.

Why wait for a “budget crisis?” Nothing precludes forward thinking political leaders from exercising innovative action in the absence of a true “budget crisis,” except their will to do so.

Dennis Polhill is a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute

Nathan Pawlicki is a former Independence Institute intern and a graduate student at Regis College.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill
What is wrong with this picture?

Traffic congestion is the worst ever and is worsening. Congestion imposes costs that exceed the cost to eliminate it. Half of the gas tax goes to the Federal government, which neither owns nor operates any highways, railroads, airports or transit facilities. Congress increasingly uses transportation revenues for non-transportation purposes and imposes rules that make it difficult for states to solve problems.

One could conclude that Congress wishes to damage both the mobility and economic well-being of America. Instead, Congress’ motivation is merely a quenchless thirst for more power, control, and self-gratification.

It is said “spending to politicians is like drugs to addicts.” There may be no better proof than Federal Transportation legislation. Even though there is no longer a national transportation policy, taxpayers spend $40 billion per year to fund it.

The Federal government was slow to involve itself in transportation, because the U.S. Constitution clearly identified “internal improvements” as outside Federal domain enumerated in Article 1, Section 8. At least nine presidents issued no less than 20 vetoes of transportation legislation as “unconstitutional.” The importance of mobility to the outcome of World War II provided the rationale for ignoring the Constitutional limitation.

The Federal gas tax, implemented in 1956, would finance construction of the 40,000 mile “National Defense Highway System.” Scheduled to expire in 1972, the tax was repeatedly extended and increased. The prohibition against Congress designating specific projects in transportation bills ended in 1982, coincidently (or not) the same year Interstate construction was finished. Reagan vetoed the bill because it contained 152 “earmarks.”

The current reauthorization was debated for over 2 years as Congress contemplated the amount of pork and the extent to inhibit state leadership in transportation. The prospect of a Bush veto was a beacon of hope for those wishful of enlightened or less damaging policy.

The veto threat ended talk of a tax increase and reduced spending to $286.4 billion. H.R.-3 passed both houses with veto-proof margins, increasing “earmarks” to 6,371. Freshman Oklahoma U.S. Senator, Tom Coburn, in his book “Breach of Trust” writes about his tenure as a U.S. Representative during the 1998 reauthorization, “Representative Largent accused the Transportation Committee of trying to buy his vote. Largent said the committee asked him where he wanted to spend $15 million in his district. A disgusted Largent said, ‘My vote is not for sale.'”

This practice continues and explains the bipartisan veto-proof majorities in both houses. It also explains the coincidence that four of Colorado’s seven U.S. House Districts are “earmarked” for $16 million each. Committee members and leadership receive more “earmarks.” This is why Alaska’s per capita “take” is over 10 times that of second place, Washington State. The 92 percent return of taxes to Colorado is an improvement. It means Colorado taxpayers lose only about $350 million.

The behavior of Congress has become so outrageous that scholars from both the left and the right now advocate that the Federal gas tax should be delegated to the states. In a recent lecture, Anthony Downs of the Brookings Institution suggested, “It is time to seriously look at the possibility that we need to devolve all transportation funding out of Washington.”

Congress prefers more power, control and ego-gratification, not less. The reauthorization had included the creation of the Transportation Finance Corporation. Fortunately the Bush-veto threat helped to kill TFC. TFC would have used the gas tax to finance debt for more spending. As with the slippery slope of earmarks, the concept would have begun small at $30 billion. Taken to the extreme the $40 billion annual revenue might eventually add another trillion to the national debt, rapidly nearing $8 trillion. TFC spending would serve as an obstacle to devolving the tax to the states. To the extent that debt is wise, the decision is better-made by the respective states.

There is no example in history of a corrupt political institution reforming itself. At Runnymede, under threat of death King John reluctantly signed Magna Carta. Amazingly tolerant of Congressional abuses, citizens patiently await reform. Understandably fearful of being denied their states’ rightful funds, state legislators are cowed. Yet hope for leadership persists. In 2003 Colorado overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan resolution (97-3) asking that the Federal gas tax be devolved. Arizona passed a similar resolution in 2004. How outrageous does Congressional behavior have to be before this corruption ends?

Abe Lincoln wisely commented, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill, Alex Schroeder
If one could put $100 in the bank and get back $4000, one would be a fool to not do it. A $10 million prize offered by a St. Louis group has stimulated $400 million in research and development since 1996. Equally important, the X-Prize accomplished in eight years what NASA considered impossible. The contest motivated Burt Rutan to build the world’s first privately funded spacecraft. Space Ship One went into space for the third time on October 4, 2004 to win the X-Prize.

Since X-Prize inception, twenty-four teams strove to be first to send three passengers to a 100 km altitude twice in two weeks. These privately-funded competitors have changed the perception of space. By reducing the cost of access, the X-Prize promises to open the door to many new space industries. In addition to tourism, we may soon see faster computer chips, perfect ball bearings, and time-release insulin manufactured in the zero gravity of space. Even more exciting possibilities are likely.

The concept of “inducement” prizes illustrated by the X-Prize is not new. In fact, prizes contributed significantly to the framework of early aviation. The most notable example is the prize that inspired Charles Lindbergh’s famous 1927 Atlantic crossing.

In 1714 the British Parliament sponsored a prize to solve the problem of calculating longitude. Isaac Newton proclaimed, “It is the only problem that ever made my head ache.” John Harrison, an English peasant, solved the longitudinal positioning puzzle by making advances in physics.

The effectiveness of inducement prizes is being noticed. The National Academy of Engineers was commissioned by Congress in 1999 to study the use of prizes to complement existing systems of contracts and grants. The commission recommended implementing inducement prizes for federal research. The Defense Department reacted with the DARPA Grand Challenge. The Challenge is designed to advance automated vehicle technology that may one day save the lives of military personnel. NASA’s Centennial Challenges Program will offer several “inducement” prizes.

Aerospace success with prizes is the tip of the iceberg. Prizes have proven to be useful due to their many inherent advantages. The astonishing leverage demonstrated in both dollars and time cannot be ignored. Additionally the X-Prize has served to demonstrate the viability of space markets. Twenty-four-teams-competing for the Prize shows that many believe in the future of space. X-Prize moved mental attitudes from “whether” to “when;” from doubt to certainty.

Prizes efficiently fund research and development because they automatically back the “winner,” rather than having to choose between contestants early in the process, as research grant awards must. In addition teams that do not win the prize may hold the technology that prevails in the market. The “Betamax” was first to the market, but VHS came to dominate the video tape market due to superior technology. It is evident by John Harrison’s successful quest for the Longitude Prize and shows that inducement prizes succeed partly because of non-traditional thinking. Harrison’s resume could not match Newton’s, but Harrison solved a question that stumped one of the world’s greatest intellects.

The ability to attract public attention can be another important benefit of inducement prizes. The public interest gained by X-Prize has helped to change public attitudes about space. The notion that space access should be a monopoly controlled by government has collapsed. Richard Branson of Virgin Atlantic Airlines has contracted to purchase five space vehicles from Rutan for $100 million to be delivered by 2007. Similarly, within three years following Lindbergh’s flight, the number of airports in the United States doubled and airline passengers increased by 3000%.

Considering the enormous benefits of inducement prizes, the fact that they were largely forgotten for half a century is surprising. Modern famous prizes are more of the Nobel Prize kind. These are known as “recognition” prizes, because they recognize an after-the-fact occurrence. They award accomplishment, but do nothing to set the agenda. Inducement prizes focus great thinkers on problems that need solving and reward their achievement.

Many great creative geniuses await the challenge. Inducement prizes can provide the needed incentive to solve the worlds many waiting problems in energy, transportation, resources, and medicine. It is within our grasp to improve the quality of life for people everywhere. All that is needed are more aggressive efforts to employ the leverage that inducement prizes offer.

For more information read Independence Institute Issue Paper: Application and Administration of Inducement Prizes at http://i2i.org/articles/IP_11_2004.pdf.

Alex Schroeder is a graduate student at the Colorado School of Mines and works with the Colorado Energy Research Institute.

Dennis Polhill is a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill
The wealth Americans enjoy depends upon the efficient movement of goods and services.

When the Pennsylvania Turnpike opened between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, trip time halved. Suppliers suddenly had twice as many people to sell to. Consumers had twice as many purchasing options. Efficient transportation yielded benefits to both suppliers and consumers.

The same benefits accrue at the micro-level, proportionately smaller in scale. A new traffic signal that hastens traffic flow produces economic benefits. Similarly, one that hinders more than hastens, cause economic damage.

America’s transportation system is the envy of the world. Yet, managers have failed to keep pace with growth. The inevitable result, growing traffic congestion, imposes economic cost many times greater than the cost to eliminate it.

Users seem paradoxical in their willingness to pay for better service and in their simultaneous resistance to higher taxes. This apparent conflict frustrates political leaders who fail to recognize the consistency in the paradox. A coherent new policy has yet to crystallize.

Scholars from both the political left and right have been in agreement for at least two decades that transportation must move to market-based financing. Resistance to change is centered in the most powerful of special interest groups: the political class. Empowerment of markets or consumers means less power for politicians.

The Federal gas tax, scheduled to expire in 1972, was introduced in 1956 to finance construction of the Interstate Highway system. The Federal tax is currently at $0.184 per gallon. State taxes range from Georgia’s $0.075 to Wisconsin’s $0.321 with Colorado at $0.22.

This generates 40 billion Federal dollars annually and most of this money eventually finds its way back to the states in some form. There are no federally-owned highways, airports, railroads or transit systems. Colorado gets about 1.275%, but about 1/3 is diverted.

Since completion of interstate highway construction in 1982, Congress has turned the Federal gas tax into the nation’s most outrageous pork program. Reagan vetoed the 1982 transportation bill because it contained 10 earmarks. Historically, specific project designations in federal legislation were prohibited. There are currently 3,248 earmarks.

Colorado gasoline taxes fund the Highway User Trust Fund. HUTF revenues are shared between CDOT and nearly 400 Colorado local governments with roads. Three intractable trends are shrinking HUTF revenues: fuel economy, inflation, and diversion. Their combined effect may exceed 5% per year. This halves the HUTF every 15 years. The politician who advocates doubling taxes will have a short career. A different finance system is inevitable. The challenge is to conceive one that works better than the gas tax.

Gas tax user fees have two fatal flaws. Centralization of funds creates a target for special interest groups and political interests. More significantly, paying at the pump conveys the perception that system-use is free, causing a tragedy of the commons. That is, disproportionate numbers try to use the system at the same time, rush hour, resulting in system failure known as traffic congestion. This, in turn, motivates infrastructure to be unnecessarily enlarged. A close look at traffic count data reveals that the most congested roads are capable of moving twice as many vehicles.

Electronic toll collection has made tollbooths obsolete and facilitates variable tolls. ETC eliminates tollbooth accidents and reduces collection costs. Variable tolls vary with demand insuring that a lane is never congested. Never-congested lanes move more vehicles during peak periods than do congested lanes. Moving traffic consumes less fuel per mile traveled, reducing emissions. Excess revenue generation is a signal that more infrastructure may be needed and provides a funding source.

Prior to 1956 Eisenhower, who favored tolls and McDonald, his highway chief, who favored the gas tax, struggled to decide the future of transportation finance. The gas tax accelerated rapid development of a four million mile roadway network. A finance system that helps operate and maintain the existing system is now appropriate for the future.

Tolls are inevitable. Enlightened political leadership will work to educate the general public of the benefits by strategically located demonstration projects. As dependence on the gas tax decreases, those revenues can be reassigned to local governments to help address their funding shortfalls.

Dennis Polhill is a former City Public Works Manager, a Consulting Transportation Engineer and a Senior Fellow with the Independence Institute.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill

RTD’s FasTracks boondoggle is about much more than wasting billions of taxpayer dollars and the implementation of destructive policies. It is about increasing government control over people and redistribution of wealth. The damage caused by similar authoritarian policies has resulted in death and impoverishment for millions.

Philosopher Thomas Sowell notes, “…(leftists)… love to say things like, ‘We’re just asking everyone to pay their fair share.’ But government is not about asking. It is about telling. The difference is fundamental. It is the difference between making love and being raped, between working for a living and being a slave.” Joseph Sobran adds, “Today, wanting someone else’s money is called ‘need,’ wanting to keep your own money is called ‘greed,’ and ‘compassion’ is when politicians arrange the transfer.” Using words to mean other-than-their-meaning is demagoguery and serves to muddle the search for truth. Demagogues resort to spin when facts fail to support their biases. Coercive charity is not charity; it is Taliban-style tyranny. Morality has no merit when force replaces “free will.”

Socialism in all its forms is a failed philosophy. After Marx authored the Communist Manifesto in 1848, civilization was drawn hypnotically to Socialisms’ seductive false promises of plenty: “from each according to his ability; to each according to his need.” Abraham Lincoln countered with yet-to-be-proven wisdom, “the poor cannot be made rich by making the rich poor.” But Lincoln’s assertion was hypothetical and lacked empirical evidence that would eventually follow. All of the world’s nations gravitated to Socialism over the subsequent century. Because the United States drifted more slowly, it became an island of wealth and prosperity; an aberration to the abject poverty that humans had suffered in perpetuity.

Had Lenin lived, the twentieth century might have ended differently. Only 5 years after the Russian Revolution he recognized Socialism’s failings and advocated a return to “limited capitalism.” Later that year a stroke denied Lenin the opportunity to act on his revelation.

Lenin’s successor lacked the courage and strength to avert peril. Socialism requires conformity. Stalin dealt with the nonconformists. In “Poisonous Power,” psychologist June Stephenson estimates that Stalin was responsible for 50 million deaths.

Another version of Socialism surfaced with Adolf Hitler’s, National Socialism. He said, “Let them own land and factories as much as they please. The decisive factor is that the State is supreme over them regardless of whether they are owners or workers. All that is unessential; our socialism goes far deeper. It establishes a relationship of the individual to the State, the national community. Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings.”

Hitler’s preaching motivated fellow-Austrian and economics professor, Friedrich Hayek to confronted Socialist dogma in “Road to Serfdom.” Hayek pointed out that all forms of Socialism lead to authoritarian tyranny. Hayek elaborated, “Whoever talks about potential plenty (under socialism) is either dishonest or does not know what he is talking about. Yet it is this false hope as much as anything, which drives us along the road to planning.”

The second half of the twentieth century ratified the views of Lincoln, Lenin and Hayek. Korea and Germany serve as indisputable proof. In each case a pre-existing nation was divided with each part pursuing the opposite ideological path. With identical history, geography, culture, climate, customs, language, and ethnicity, Socialism resulted in every form of injury and imposition upon the respective populations; conversely Capitalism resulted in wealth, abundance, freedom and opportunity. Other examples provide corroboration: Eastern versus Western Europe; Red China versus the Asian Tigers; and the Post-Soviet-Union performance of its various pieces. Not a single feature of Socialism can be offered as superior. Therefore, discussions about a middle ground, or trade-offs, or optimizing, are rather futile.

The experience of the twentieth century proves that no version of Socialism works. Ongoing experimentation serves no constructive purpose. Because a mixture that is half-poison and half non-poison is still poison, there is no yet-to-be-discovered third way. A hybrid system that is part Socialism and part Capitalism cannot save this failed ideology. Alternative labels, such as “progressive” or “liberal” merely distract bystanders from gaining understanding.

The significant wealth in American society works to hide the injury done by Socialist institutions, such as RTD. Competition can and will improve regulatory-protected, tax-subsidized, State-controlled monopolies in education, transportation, and Social Security. When these institutions are de-socialized, decentralized and de-bureaucratized, Americans will be freer, wealthier and better served.

The future is clearly in the direction away from Socialism and toward more individual freedom and more individual empowerment.

(c)2004
The Independence Institute
13952 Denver West Parkway, Suite 400
Golden, CO 80401
303-279-6536
www.independenceinstitute.org

INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a non-profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank. It is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS. Its public policy research focuses on economic growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and Constitutional rights.

JON CALDARA is the President of the Independence Institute.

DENNIS POLHILL is a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute.

NOTHING WRITTEN here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute
or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.

PERMISSION TO REPRINT this paper in whole or in part is hereby granted provided full credit is given to the Independence Institute.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill, Orogdol Sanjaasuren

The 20th century gave witness to a Titanic ideological struggle between collectivism and property rights. The 1990s closed the century with dramatic events symbolizing the victory of freedom over tyranny. The Berlin Wall sought to contain East Germany’s population. Its fall in November 1989 signified colossal economic and political change. Every week another dictatorial regime fell. The Soviet Union ceased to exist on March 17, 1991. Newly Independent States (NIS) rushed to draft constitutions enumerating individual rights comparable to those of Western nations. But the declaration of rights and freedoms was insufficient to yield instant affluence. These NIS would suffer tragically, while struggling to make their economies serve their people. Collectivism had destroyed the fundamentals: property rights, rule of law, work ethic and incentives. In their place were oppressive regulations, burdensome taxes, and proliferation of black markets, graft and corruption. Some would suffer more than others. The differences are a product of political courage, wisdom and leadership. The comparative experiences of the NIS offer valuable lessons.

In little more than a decade after disintegration of the Soviet Union, Estonia has become one of the most economically free nations in the world. The Heritage Foundation 2004 Index of Economic Freedom rates the nations of the world and gives Estonia an index of 1.76 that ranks it as 6th behind Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Luxembourg and Ireland. The United States is ranked tenth. Estonia’s 1.4 million people enjoy a GDP/capita of $4,984. By contrast, the economies of other NIS, Moldova and Mongolia produce only $678/capita and $430/capita and are now known as the most impoverished nations in Europe and Asia respectively. By what means did Estonia create so much wealth: 7.3 times that of Moldova and 11.5 times that of Mongolia?

Estonian Prime Minister during six of these transition years, Mart Laar, credits three fundamentals: (1) “There can be no market economy and democracy without laws, clear property rights, and a functioning justice system;” (2) “be decisive about reforms and stick to them despite the short-term pain they bring;” (3) change the culture of socialism so that people think for themselves to make decision and take responsibility. Estonia became a free trade zone in 1992, abolishing all import tariffs. Also in 1992 all subsidies, support, and cheap loans to businesses were stopped, forcing them either “to die or to begin working efficiently.” With tax reform, “we had to make clear that if somebody works more and earns more, he will not be punished.” Taxes were decreased sharply and a flat tax was instituted. There is no tax on corporate income that is reinvested. “We realized quickly the danger of extensive reliance on aid” and adopted a “Trade, not aid” policy in 1993.

While the Heritage Foundation rates the Economic Freedom of the world’s nations annually, the Fraser Institute and the National Center for Policy Analysis rate the comparative Economic Freedom of the American states and Canadian provinces. Even though these 60 sub-national governments equally enjoy some beneficial fundamentals, such as the rule of law, the differences are significant. For example, the top rated state scored an index of 8.2, while the 50th ranked state scored only 5.7. This translates to a wealth difference of $7,391/capita. A differential of 0.1 in the index represents a $295/capita wealth difference. Greater wealth is a magnet for both new jobs and new talent.

Colorado is tied for first place ranking with Delaware, South Dakota and Tennessee. However, the other three states are improving faster than Colorado. Unless Colorado commits to more aggressive policies favoring economic freedom, it will fall to 4th place or worse next year.

The structure of the index should not dictate Colorado policy. But, it may provide clues about where to improve. The index is composed of 10 variables that are combined into 3 areas that are then combined to yield the overall index. The three areas are: Size of Government; Takings and Discriminatory Taxation; and Labor Market Freedom. Colorado ranks among the top 5 states in all areas except “Takings and Discriminatory Taxation”, where Colorado comes in 15th. “Taxes that have a discriminatory impact and bear little reference to services received infringe on economic freedom.”

Some Colorado taxes are used disproportionately to redistribute wealth, rather than to recover the costs of government services from those who use them. Fewer taxes, lower taxes and less regulation would help create jobs and add to the wealth and freedom of Colorado citizens.

Communist politicians know something that American politicians have yet to grasp: governments must get smaller.

(c) 2004
The Independence Institute
14142 Denver West Parkway, Suite 185
Golden, CO 80401
303-279-6536
www.independenceinstitute.org

INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a non-profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank. It is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS. Its public policy research focuses on economic growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and Constitutional rights.

JON CALDARA is the President of the Independence Institute.

DENNIS POLHILL is a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute.

OROGDOL SANJAASUREN is a visiting scholar from Mongolia studying free market economics in the United States.

NOTHING WRITTEN here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.

PERMISSION TO REPRINT this paper in whole or in part is hereby granted provided full credit is given to the Independence Institute.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill, Tiffany Dovey

Anyone who’s ever had the misfortune of traveling on I-25, or rather, of
sitting in the parking lot otherwise known as Interstate-25, knows that as
you head from downtown to the Tech Center things go from bad to worse.
T-REX will add capacity. But, will the improvements increase mobility?

Before T-REX, three traffic lanes in each direction served I-25 through
the Tech Center. T-REX improvements add one traffic lane and light rail in
each direction for $1.7 billion. The November 1999 election authorized
rail on the condition that at least 60% of the cost be borne by the
Federal government. The highway portion is financed by debt called
Transportation Revenue Anticipation Notes (TRANS). By exhausting future
revenues for immediate projects, Colorado’s ability to address future
transportation needs has been hampered.

Will Tyrannosaurus Rex, the dinosaur predator, gobble up gridlock or feast
on taxpayers?

Colorado’s Highway Users Tax Fund gets 22 cents per gallon of gasoline to
finance the state’s 85,412 roadway miles. Another 18.4 cents goes to the
Federal government to finance Interstate highway construction. Since
completion of construction over a decade ago, Congress has used the funds
for items increasingly unrelated to the stated purpose. The remainder,
about 62%, eventually finds its way back to Colorado, but with strings.
Penalties are assigned for failure to adhere to Federal mandates, like the
$50,000,000 against Colorado for not lowering DUI blood alcohol limits to
0.08 percent.

Fuel economy and diversion of funds to projects that do not significantly
enhance mobility increasingly erode the ability of the gasoline tax to
finance transportation. HUTF strength will probably diminish by one-half
to three-quarters over the next 20 years. Politicians who advocate
comparable increases will quickly be out of office. What to do?

Is there an alternative to tax increases? Gas tax dependence should be
phased out and replaced with a better, more market-oriented user fee:
tolls. Because construction of the interstate system is finished, enormous
resource transfers between states is unneeded. The Federal gas tax can be
quickly and significantly reduced or reassigned to the states.

Rush hour traffic jams prove that the system has more value at some times
and flat rate tolls are inadequate. Variable rate tolls are effective at
allocating the scarce resource of available capacity. Before T-REX,
traffic counts show that 43% of the capacity was unused. The most
congested road in Colorado could have served nearly twice as many
vehicles. Adding one lane to three lanes increases capacity by 33%.
Because most light rail users are former bus riders, light rail does not
significantly help congestion. Given that I-25 traffic increases 2.6
percent per annum, growth will consume most of the new capacity before
T-REX opens.

How can variable tolls help? By making the new lane a restricted lane it
can be shared by high occupancy vehicles (HOV), bus rapid transit (BRT)
and others willing to pay a toll (thus, the term “high occupancy toll” or
HOT lane). As demand on the system changes, a variable toll rate is
displayed on a message board, allowing drivers to weigh the urgency of
their travel against the current toll. Varying the toll with demand,
insures that the road never becomes congested.

Tolls are a better user-fee than the gas tax because individuals
experience the cost for service at the time benefits are delivered. Under
the collectivist gasoline tax users who consume more of the system gain
disproportionate benefits at the expense of others. This phenomenon, known
as the “tragedy of the commons,” is avoided with variable tolls.

“Let Those Who Receive the Benefits Pay the Costs,” Independence Institute
Issue Paper 13-99 by Stephen R. Mueller and Dennis Polhill exhaustively
evaluated 22 possible configurations for I-25. The scenario being
constructed in T-REX would generate about $600 million after operating
expenses, if the new lane were a HOT lane.

By using the power of the market, congestion-free, free-flow travel is
also available to both carpoolers and single occupant drivers.

So, what are the options? Colorado can either proceed accepting that the
corridor will soon return to gridlock, or the new lane can be changed to a
restricted lane before it is opened. The restricted lane insures that
corridor users benefit because they will forever have a free-flow travel
option; Colorado gains a windfall of millions of dollars; and the corridor
benefits by moving more people more efficiently. Only in the political
world could this decision be tough.

Is the political control of transportation more important than allowing
users choice and providing higher service at lower cost?

###
Copyright 2003 The Independence Institute

INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a non-profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank.
It is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax
exemption from the IRS. Its public policy research focuses on economic
growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and
Constitutional rights.

JON CALDARA is President of the Institute.

Dennis Polhill is a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute. Tiffany
Dovey is a graduate of the University of Washington and a summer intern at
the Independence Institute. This opinion editorial is a summary of a more
extensive discussion in Issue Backgrounder, soon to be posted on our
website IndependenceInstitute.org.

NOTHING WRITTEN here is to be construed as necessarily representing the
views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any
election or legislative action.

PERMISSION TO REPRINT this paper in whole or in part is hereby granted
provided full credit is given to the Independence Institute.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill

As the possibility of a strike grew nearer, stronger threats against the Regional Transportation District union were made: contracts with private companies might weaken discipline, or break the unruly union. RTD union members missed an opportunity to declare independence. The RTD Board lost an opportunity to increase service and lower cost.

As demand for transit declined after WW II, privately owned trolleys became privately owned buses, and later turned into publicly owned buses. Enjoying the coercive power of government taxation and regulation, publicly owned bus systems passed laws prohibiting competition. Hundreds of sole proprietor suppliers, many racial minority entrepreneurs, were forced out of business to benefit government monopoly. This happened in Denver along with every other major city in the United States during the 1960s.

In spite of the controls, demand for transit continued to decline, requiring that the initially small tax subsidies regularly increase to the point that the average bus-user now pays less than one fourth of the cost of a trip. The nature of the service is that some smart guys in big offices decide where and when the buses will run and where and when they will stop for passengers. Users merely need to shape their lives to fit the schedule. To sustain non-competition, when a route is canceled, customers on these routes are prohibited from having service from any other provider. This Soviet-style command-and-control approach elevates costs and minimizes service.

In 1989, the Florida State legislature inadvertently decriminalized transit competition. Within months independent providers proliferated. To end the evil trend, corrective legislation was quickly passed and the criminals (again mostly racial minorities) were restrained and their vehicles impounded.

These service providers are called “jitneys.” Jitney is the same name used for providers prior to government monopoly. Jitney vehicles can be any size, but generally they are vans that run on semi-fixed routes and semi-fixed schedules. Consumers simply wave an arm to get a lift or to get off.

A 1992 Federal Transit Administration study captured some interesting facts. In Miami an estimated 400 jitney vehicles carried an average of 46,000 passenger-trips per day, approximately 25% of Metrobus ridership. Jitney fares were comparable to Metrobus fares at one dollar, but obviously enjoyed no tax subsidy. Thus, the one-dollar jitney fare covered all jitney costs.

About half of jitney-riders were former bus riders, amounting to about 12% loss in fare box revenue to Metrobus. But the other half were not former bus riders, meaning that close to 20,000 fewer automobiles were on the roads, decreasing traffic congestion and trip times, increasing mobility and decreasing auto-related air pollution.

Jitneys interfere less with normal traffic flow and do not cause excessive damage to pavement structures, as opposed to lumbering oversized, mostly-empty buses. For customers, route and schedule flexibility result in faster service, shorter waits, faster trips and delivery closer to destinations. Centrally controlled fixed-route, fixed-schedule transit can never match jitney service.

During the 1982 strike, carpooling caused traffic counts to go down slightly. Mobility is best measured by speeds. Fewer total vehicles and no buses interfering with traffic flow yielded a noticeable improvement in mobility.

A decentralized problem cannot be solved with a strategy of centralization. Both traffic congestion and mobility are decentralized problems.

A strike would have empowered both RTD and its union to depart from the norm. The union could have demanded a contract with more freedom for its drivers to suggest routes and/or stops, as well as the opportunity for small groups to separate from RTD to service specified routes as independent operators.

Odds are good that 2000 drivers have more knowledge of consumer needs than the smart guys in big offices. If so, then the consumer-friendliness of jitney services would be further enhanced.

By using jitneys temporarily during a strike, RTD would have had the opportunity to elevate service without increasing costs, simply by temporarily lifting the regulatory prohibition. As has happened in the past, leadership might also have come from the General Assembly as a directive to experiment with jitneys.

Lacking the opportunities offered by a strike, perhaps RTD and its union can cooperate to test the workability of a Miami-style system. In a willing community, RTD drivers should be free to provide independent service to that community. Obviously, RTD would waive regulatory prohibitions in that community. If jitneys work well in one area, other areas can be tried. With jitneys RTDs biggest problem might be figuring out how to consume $500 million every year.

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Copyright 2003
Independence Institute

INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a non-profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank. It is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS. Its public policy research focuses on economic growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and Constitutional rights.

JON CALDARA is President of the Institute.

DENNIS POLHILL is a Senior Fellow at the Institute.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES on this subject can be found at: www.i2i.org

NOTHING WRITTEN here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.

PERMISSION TO REPRINT this paper in whole or in part is hereby granted provided full credit is given to the Independence Institute.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill

The cost of traffic congestion exceeds the cost to eliminate it.

An ongoing project of the Texas Transportation Institute estimates traffic congestion annually. TTI calculated the cost to the U.S. economy at $68 billion in 2000. Because the cost is growing faster than the population, congestion is making Americans worse off. This is more than enough money to add an additional lane to every interstate highway in the United States in each direction. Less extreme proposals could instantly eliminate all traffic congestion. The reason traffic congestion exists is political.

Americans are patient and tolerant. We trust elected officials to be honest, conscientious and diligent; generally, they are. The time grows closer when tolerance for traffic congestion will cease. Perhaps the many failed tax measures in the November 2002 election are a sign of how thin patience is growing. To fix traffic congestion, systemic and political problems must be attacked at their roots.

First, transportation finance is collectivized. Taxes are put into a big pot so smart guys can do the right project in the right place at the right time. The theory sounds good, but the Soviet model has failed miserably in every trial. Expecting a different result is a triumph of hope over experience. Wise public policy recognizes this failing and seeks to decentralize by employing market-driven incentives.

Second, because the bosses of the smart guys are politicians, transportation inevitably becomes politicized. Colorado politicians have determined that nearly 60% of Denver-metro transportation funding over the next 20 years will go to transit. This outlay is expected to increase transit’s market share from 1.53% to 2.23% of total trips. This policy means that traffic congestion and mobility will become much worse. The politicization of transportation leads to the misapplication of limited resources.

Third, the Transportation Industrial Complex, the contractors, consultants, suppliers and bureaucrats, whose unchallenged survival hinges on sustaining the status quo, resists change. Combined with the demagoguery of special interest groups and government agencies, not bound by service or truth, this Complex Plus makes up a formidable political force.

Fourth, some interests intend harm. Injury to consumers, taxation, mobility, environment and economy are “collateral damage” to their mission. Ray Barnhart, former head of the Federal Highway Administration, reflected recently on his 1991 recommendation to President Bush to veto Federal transportation legislation, “if ISTEA becomes law politics, not engineering principles will determine. Congress has given official standing (to groups) not interested in transportation per se, but rather in gaining control of transportation programs in order to require a social agenda.”

There is hope! Reform comes as a byproduct of catastrophe. “A transportation crisis is brewing. Commerce will snarl, costing billions,” said the November 27, 2002 Kiplinger Letter. By 2009 there will be a “12% slower average road speed and about a 10% increase in the average delay.”

Tax subsidies to institutions yield bigger, more bureaucratic, less accountable, and less efficient institutions. Conversely, subsidies to individuals, when appropriate, empower consumers, and create accountability, choice, market growth, competition, lower prices, and innovation. Proof is in the success of the food stamp and G.I. Bill programs.

When groups such as the Progressive Policy Institute, an arm of the Democratic Leadership Council of the Democratic Party, begin to suggest that, “Our nation’s surface transportation system is broken” and fixes must “harness market forces,” then a convergence of thought has begun. If the contemplative elements of both the left and right concur, but the politicians continue to refuse to lead, then is this because solution might diminish their importance?

Certainly, when projects like converting the I-25 High Occupancy Vehicle lanes to High Occupancy Toll lanes (mandated in 1999 by Andrews’ Senate Bill 88) would do no injury, while relieving some traffic congestion and raising revenue, are stalled for years by governments, their true agenda is revealed. Is the stalling-benefit that RTD and the Federal Transit Administration perceive, that a cheap and functional method of solving traffic congestion without tax increases might jeopardize their goal of more taxes and bigger bureaucracies?

Government monopoly of transportation is failing. The sooner this failure is recognized, the sooner leaders can implement innovative systems to increase mobility, job growth, and commercial viability. Those who seek to diminish mobility, strive for the impossible and the undesirable.

The “transportation choice” movement has started. As the term “transportation choice” becomes part of the lexicon, intelligent debate over how to implement and balance the wide variety of alternative possibilities will commence. Let the debate over “transportation choice” begin.

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Copyright 2003
The Independence Institute

INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a non-profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank. It is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS. Its public policy research focuses on economic growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and Constitutional rights.

JON CALDARA is President of the Institute.

DENNIS POLHILL is a Senior Fellow at the Independence Institute.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES on this subject can be found at: http://www.i2i.org

NOTHING WRITTEN here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.

PERMISSION TO REPRINT this paper in whole or in part is hereby granted provided full credit is given to the Independence Institute.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill

The Founders wrote in the Declaration of Independence, “whenever any form of government becomes destructive, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.” Since 1990 Americans have sought to “alter” an out-of-control government by imposing new limits: term limits.

Other limits proposed include tax and expenditure limits, balanced budget limits, campaign finance limits and others. Forty-one state Constitutions prohibit omnibus bills. Omnibus bills, also called “Christmas Tree” bills, are those that append unrelated provisions (read: payoffs) in order to attract enough votes to pass. They offer a little something for everyone, but end up authorizing things that lack merit — bad public policy. Omnibus bills make virtually everyone worse off, except politicians. Acknowledging this flaw, the original Confederate constitution, with comparatively few departures from the U.S. Constitution, prohibited omnibus bills. If omnibus prohibition or term limits or other ideas are worthy, by what mechanism are they to be achieved? “Alter” infers a means for achieving alteration, short of revolution or creating an entirely new document.

A written constitution defines the structure of government and specifies the limits under which it may operate, partially in the form of enumerated individual rights. That is, we the people delegate limited powers to be governed by. Laws are conformity agreements between all citizens negotiated by representatives. Constitution limits government. Statutes are the rules for the people.

Thus, legitimacy is ascertained by who a Constitutions owner is; irrespective of the quality contained within, who controls the amendment process? If a government controls the amendment process, then the government owns the document, not the sovereign people. This problem is evident in fledgling democracies all over the world. They draft Constitutions, copying provisions of others, but rarely come to grips with the notion that the people are sovereign, not the state.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution addresses the amendment process. Three-quarters of the states must agree to ratify a proposed amendment. The control question hinges on drafting proposed amendments. Most familiar is drafting proposed amendments in Congress, because all 27 amendments originated via this path. Congress can effectively draft the proposal when there is a national consensus and no conflict of interest. However, limits on Congressional power, such as term limits, are conflicts of interest. Like a first-grader setting his own bedtime, Congress is paralyzed.

Aware of the problem, the Founders included a second path for drafting proposals: “two-thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments.” Since 1787 there have been about 400 applications from 49 states, including Colorado. Congress has neglected to define the rules that would either convene or govern a convention. After all, Congress would lose power if a convention occurred. Constitutional scholars are divided over interpreting the 400 convention applications and it is likely that someone will file suit to clarify the situation. Is it proper that Congress may frustrate efforts to set Congressional limits merely because Congress has neglected to set the rules? Should dereliction of duty be rewarded by empowerment?

Interestingly, the widely supported proposals for new limits originate from the left, the right and the center, suggesting a very broad and growing awareness of the need for new Congressional limits.

Some defend Congressman Tancredos betrayal of his word with “unilateral disarmament.” Meaning: with seniority Colorado will more effectively rip off other states using the corrupt omnibus system. For Colorado to win, other states must lose. This reasoning was rejected overwhelmingly in 1990 when Colorado became the first and only state to impose term limits on its Congressional delegation. Sixteen other states agreed in 1992. Colorado reaffirmed statewide support for Congressional term limits in 1994, 1996, and 1998.

Now the politicians hope that interest in term limits has faded. The statewide 65:35 vote against lifting District Attorney term limits proves otherwise. A Rocky Mountain News poll in mid-October discovered 62% support for term limits, virtually the same level as the 1990s. Support for term limits will not fade merely because politicians declare it so, or because they deceptively delete part of the Colorado Constitution under a false ballot title, or because they fail to exercise leadership and are unresponsive or lack accountability.

Did voters send Tom Strickland a term limits message when he appeared on the ballot as the only one of five U.S. Senate candidates who did not support term limits? Pundits and pollsters have thus far failed to offer an explanation for Allards surprise victory.

Arrogant politicians should be cautious in their contempt for term limits. How likely is it that Americas political establishment can continue to succeed in denying the peoples will? We, the people, patiently, but eagerly, await political leaders who will provide the kind of government we wish. The longer they dawdle, the more this is a measure of power and control without merit, and an indication of the need for possible further limitations to be placed on the politicians.

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Copyright 2002, Independence Institute

INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a non-profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank. It is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS. Its public policy research focuses on economic growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and Constitutional rights.

JON CALDARA is President of the Institute.

DENNIS POLHILL is a SENIOR FELLOW with the Independence Institute.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES on this subject can be found at: www.i2i.org

NOTHING WRITTEN here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.

PERMISSION TO REPRINT this paper in whole or in part is hereby granted provided full credit is given to the Independence Institute.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill

Professional politicians hate term limits. Their actions in 2002 reveal how much.

Voters know that term limits are most needed for the U.S. Congress. Colorado’s 1990 term limits initiative spawned nationwide clamor, because it included Congressional Term Limits. By 1994 twenty-three states, all but New Hampshire by citizen initiative, had term-limited their state’s Congressional delegation. In 1995 the U.S. Supreme Court said that Congressional Term Limits required a U.S. Constitutional Amendment. Also in 1995, the Republican controlled Congress proved by its hypocritical and manipulative handling of their “Contract with America” that Republican politicians are no more supportive of term limits than Democrat politicians and that politicians of all flavors must be forced if the will of the people was to be implemented. This is the genesis of Colorado’s “Congressional Term Limits Amendment” approved 1996.

Knowing that politicians would resist, the CTLA instructed all elected officials to do all in their power to achieve Congressional Term Limits, stated the exact language of the U.S. Constitutional Amendment, and implemented a means to inform voters about the actions of their elected officials. The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that elected officials could not be held accountable by this mechanism. The United States Supreme Court also ruled the enforcement mechanism to be unconstitutional in a case from another state.

The Colorado Supreme Court may have declared CTLA as a whole to be unconstitutional, but the statements it contains that term limits are the will of the people, can neither be overruled nor should they be ignored or deleted.
Yet not a single Colorado state or federal legislator has made any effort to follow CTLA’ s term limit instructions. Their refusal-to-act displays a high level of arrogance and contempt toward their constituents.

State legislator term limits swept out dozens of lifelong politicians in 1998 replacing hundreds of years of myopic Capitol dome experience with hundreds of years of experience of many kinds from the outside world. Legislation is no worse than before and occasional glimmers of innovative policy leadership fuel hope. But politicians are still politicians and though many of the newcomers might not have had the opportunity to serve for decades, they exhibit no more loyalty for term limits than their careerist predecessors. That politicians should stay in office forever is sheer dictatorial reasoning. Such reasoning is blatantly undemocratic and has been long-settled by the pro-term limits votes of 1990, 1994, 1996, and 1998.

In the 2002 legislative session, legislators decided that the CTLA was an “Obsolete Provision.” This will appear on the November ballot as Referred Measure “D.” During the last week of the session it cleared both Houses unanimously in a week. Duped legislators have expressed remorse for having been deceived. Had there been opportunity for public testimony, two-thirds votes would have been unlikely. The House Sponsor had to be convinced that deletion of CTLA was included in obsolete provisions and initially promised to take aggressive actions to stop it.

Generally the deletion of obsolete provisions is reserved for truly obsolete items; things that have fulfilled their purpose. When the Denver Post commented about Measure “D,” they wrote about items that had been obsolete since 1902, but failed to mention the 1996 initiative. If there is any question about obsolescence, then that information should be made known to the public. To do otherwise is deception. An honest title would be “Deletion of Congressional Term Limits.”

Supposedly there is a long list of obsolete items waiting to be deleted. If this is true then, why is a 1996 initiative at the top of the list? There must be a hidden agenda.

The Blue Book’s (voter information guide) reputation of objectivity is in jeopardy. Staff refused to allow any information to go to voters about the CTLA. Complaints are adjudicated by a committee of legislators; is there a little conflict of interest in this process?

The misguided attempt to delete the CTLA exposes the need for numerous legislative reforms: deceptive titles should be banned; limits should be installed on the last weeks of the legislative session; who controls legislature output deserves a look, since legislators evidently do not; Blue Book information that goes to voters is suspect; a mandatory mechanism of insuring testimony from informed parties is needed. Obfuscations aid those who wish to manipulate election outcomes, but injure the search for truth.

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Copyright 2002, Independence Institute

INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a non-profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank. It is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS. Its public policy research focuses on economic growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and Constitutional rights.

JON CALDARA is President of the Institute.

DENNIS POLHILL is a Senior Fellow with the Independence Institute .

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES on this subject can be found at: www.i2i.org

NOTHING WRITTEN here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.

PERMISSION TO REPRINT this paper in whole or in part is hereby granted provided full credit is given to the Independence Institute.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill, Scott Barton

Traffic congestion is getting worse and transit is not helping.

Analysis of 2000 Census data by Randall OToole of the Thoreau Institute (www.ti.org) reveals that Americans are turning away from transit and increasingly using automobiles to satisfy their mobility needs.  Between 1990 and 2000, passenger-miles traveled by car increased 30% nationwide, while transit increased only 16.1%.  This means that the $70 billion spent on new transit systems did nothing to help traffic congestion.

In Denver, highway use increased 39 times more than transit use.  If the current plan to divert nearly 60% of transportation funding to transit over the next 20 years is not reconsidered, mobility in Colorado will suffer greatly.

Nationwide, transit continues to carry a small portion of all trips.  On average, transit carries 2% of all urban travel.  In Denver, transit commands 1.4% of the market, and only 4.3% of all commuters.

Transits greatest benefits are for commuters, but auto use by commuters has outpaced transit.  Nationally, the number of commuters riding transit to work declined.  However, the number of American jobs has grown by 13 million, an increase of 11%.  These new commuters are not using transit to get to work, which means transit isnt relieving rush-hour congestion.  Flextime and telecommuting that cost taxpayers nothing yield more traffic congestion relief than the massive expenditures for transit.

Despite low performance, transit is well funded.  In the last nine years, transit agencies nationwide have spent $70 billion dollars on capital projects and $186 billion for operating expenses, but collected only $72 billion in fares.  Thus, transit seems doomed to never ending dependence on heavy taxpayer subsidies.

Transit advocates point to the amount of non-user based fees spent for auto travel, as logic that others should pay their travel.  In 2000, roads and transit received subsidies of $22.4 billion and $23.5 billion respectively.  But passenger-miles traveled on transit are about one percent as much as by auto.  Therefore, subsidies per passenger-mile are one hundred times greater for transit than for auto users!

Moreover, transit worker productivity has declined as much as 19% since 1990.  This decrease in output is primarily the result of diminishing transit use.  As transit agencies gain more funding, taxpayers and users get less for their dollars.

Despite the apparent failure of transit in general, one type shines through as a clear loser: light rail.  In 2000, light rail used 10.9% of capital funding, but carried only 2.8 % of transit riders.  Thats 2.8% of transits 2.5%, or 0.07% of all trips.

Over the last decade, the trend is even more apparent.  Since 1992, transit agencies have spent twice as much on rail as buses, yet buses continue to carry the vast majority of transit trips.  Even though transit agencies throw money at light rail, it remains an inconsequential part of transit service.

Rail also under-performs at the fare box.  The average bus fare is 77 cents, but the average light rail fare is 57 cents.  Does this mean that light rail fares must be lower to attract users or that agencies have exaggerated ridership?  In either case, light rail’s low fares and high expenses result in the need for greater subsidies.  Light rail requires 2.5 times as much subsidy as buses per user and 250 times as much as autos.

Light rail fails because it cannot be targeted to a particular type of urban area.  In high-density cities like New York, Chicago, and Boston, heavy-rail and commuter-rail systems work more efficiently than light rail, and buses work better everywhere else.

With the release of Census data, there isnt much for transit advocates to celebrate.  Transit continues to occupy an extremely small role and even where transit has grown, its numbers are dwarfed by the growth in highway use.  Transit is grossly over funded and hugely subsidized, even as worker productivity declines.

Over the last 2 decades virtually every aspect of American society has been pressed to provide more service at less cost.  The 2000 Census reveals that transit is isolated from this trend.  Transit agencies spend disproportionate and shocking amounts of money on obsolete technologies like light rail, without realizing that the current central-control approach is incapable of significantly helping to solve transportation problems.

The sooner policy makers come to grips with the difficult and unfortunate reality of failing transit, the sooner policies that improve mobility and reduce costs can be embraced.

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Copyright 2002, Independence Institute

INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a non-profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank. It is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS. Its public policy research focuses on economic growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and Constitutional rights.

JON CALDARA is President of the Institute.

DENNIS POLHILL is a Senior Fellow at the Institute.

SCOTT BARTON is a summer intern at the Institute.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES on this subject can be found at:  www.i2i.org/centers/transportation

NOTHING WRITTEN here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.

PERMISSION TO REPRINT this paper in whole or in part is hereby granted provided full credit is given to the Independence Institute.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill

Ozone is a known cancer-causing agent. It also causes lung irritation and difficulty in breathing, especially among the very young, elderly, and those with respiratory ailments. Ozone is an unstable form or oxygen. Light rail trains generate ozone. Is there a problem?

In the atmosphere oxygen usually travels in pares of two oxygen atoms together. Chemists refer to oxygen in this form as 02. We need this type of oxygen to breathe and survive.

But sometimes nature gets confused and oxygen appears with three oxygen atoms together. This is ozone: 03; and it can kill people.

Ozone is best known for its environmentally beneficial characteristics. In the upper atmosphere it absorbs cosmic radiation, protecting humans on earth from the effects of the sun. Without the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere skin cancer rates would increase.

In the lower atmosphere ozone is a problem. Denver became a US EPA “non-attainment area” in 1978 when the ozone limit of 0.12 was exceeded. The Denver area has not exceeded the limit since 1988, and was re-designated as “attainment” on October 11, 2001. Colorado would again come under the punitive “non-attainment” rules if weather patters join with man-generated ozone to exceed the air quality limit.

Experts are generally unaware of the sources and behavior of lower atmosphere ozone. They just know that they dont want it around. Large amounts of ozone are generated by electrical storms, but it seems to dissipate quickly. Ozone is also one of the byproducts of automobile operation. Nitrous oxides combine with hydrocarbons, both auto emissions, in the presence of sunlight to yield ozone. Automobiles produce ozone indirectly when conditions are conducive. LRT produces ozone directly and constantly.

Ozone is produced in electric motors when arcing occurs. Arcing is a continuous process within these motors. Higher voltages and higher power demands yield more arcing and in turn, more ozone. Because LRT is powered by electric motors, some environmental assessment of potential affects is warranted. This question was raised in 1994 in Independence Institute issue paper: “Stop That Train” – by Mueller and Polhill.

Lets see how much has been learned in 8 years. Certainly a government concerned with the public well-being, as RTD is, can provide a factual reply. When contacted about this, RTDs Environmental Manager was unable to offer any information whatsoever or name anyone else at RTD or at any other agency with the knowledge to defuse the question.

No expert or other knowledgeable individuals or reports on outdoor ozone could be found at either the US EPA or the Federal Transit Administration. However, there was a study in Southern California of ozone generation by LRT in 1992. It was conducted by the South Coast Air Quality Management District and concluded that one 350 person light rail train produced as much ozone as 8,000 passenger cars and added 0.04 parts per million per train per hour to the ambient air along the light rail corridor. Clearly these numbers understate the problem on the basis of people moved and demonstrate a non-trivial environmental cost of LRT. None of RTDs Environmental Impact Statements has made mention of ozone as a potential problem. The fact that nearly everyone, including those who should know the most, seems oblivious should raise a red flag.

Normalizing the numbers reveals that ozone generated by light rail is at least 50 to 100 times higher than ozone generation by automobiles per person moved.

Denvers “non-attainment” limit for ozone concentrations is 0.12 ppm. Exceeding this limit at any single location carries the threat of loss of Federal funding. EPA sets environmental limits by risk assessment. In theory the 0.12 ppm limit is the level at which one person per million will die. However, not all people are affected the same. One person might contract lung cancer at the .04 ppm level and another might not contract it at all, even when exposed to a much higher level.

Higher concentrations also have more dire health implications. The human body can tolerate a low level of ozone. But once the threshold is exceeded, then the deleterious effects are compounded and magnified. That is, the problems are not arithmetically proportional. If one person per million will die at 0.12 ppm, then at 0.24 ppm more than 2 people will die. It might be 10 or 100 people or more.

Thus, two or three trains per hour in one direction could cause an ozone violation or impose substantial long-term health problems upon some individuals exposed.

RTD apologists have adopted the ostrich philosophy: “Burying your head makes all problems disappear.” Until the ozone questions are answered and to protect the health and safety of innocent citizens, all development near LRT should be prohibited and existing property owners should be warned. Though there may not yet be enough information to warrant evacuation, it is logically inconsistent to conclude that no evaluation is needed.

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Copyright 2002, Independence Institute

INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a non-profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank. It is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS. Its public policy research focuses on economic growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and Constitutional rights.

JON CALDARA is President of the Institute.

DENNIS POLHILL is a Senior Fellow the Independence Institute

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES on this subject can be found at: www.i2i.org

NOTHING WRITTEN here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.

PERMISSION TO REPRINT this paper in whole or in part is hereby granted provided full credit is given to the Independence Institute.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill

As a fundamental rule of negotiation and basic courtesy, it is counterproductive to offend ones adversary when first introduced. The predictably defensive reaction among government managers ostracizes the word “privatization” to the lexicon of words rarely spoken in government circles, throttling an open and honest discussion of “privatization” as a tool for governments to improve efficiency. Ambiguous semantics do not help, but hinder the process of making government more efficient and effective.

When intended as an umbrella term encompassing all forms of improving government efficiency, the word “privatization” fails. Are the myriad of management tools, including zero-based budgeting, performance budgeting, leadership-effectiveness skills, management-by-objectives, organizational development, quality circles, and so on, subsets of privatization? If managements efficiency tools were located under the “privatization umbrella,” would they then be called “privatization” when the same management tools are applied in the private sector? How can something private be privatized? Maybe competivized or efficiencyized would be a more accurate term.

Use of the word “privatization” does not help to clarify and focus the debate. Alternate, more precise and less confrontational words would help advance the “privatization” cause.

Government Reinvention

Most private-sector entities are under enormous competitive pressures that cannot be replicated in government. Governments fundamentally perform monopoly functions. Competition is the core motivating force that yields more service for less money than governments can achieve. When competitive forces are unleashed in various quasi-private entities, significant efficiencies emerge. In a study of deregulated “natural monopolies,” the Brookings Institution found on average that deregulation of airlines (1977), trucking (1980), railroads (1980), natural gas (1984), and long distance telephone (1984) yielded lower costs to consumers of 13 percent after two years, 22 percent after five years, and 40 percent after 10 years in inflation-adjusted dollars. These efficiencies are hardly trivial and add several hundred dollars per year to every familys wealth.

Governments have been found manufacturing furniture, selling hearing aids, consulting on international contracts, manufacturing lifeboats, performing photogrammetric flights, operating grocery stores, providing Internet services, and much more. Most people, including most politicians and government managers, would concede that these are not proper government functions. Because this group of examples exploits the tax exemption, tax subsidy, regulatory exemption, and liability exemption advantages of governments to compete unfairly against privately owned taxpaying businesses, it is referred to as “unfair government competition.”

Honest government managers are sometimes blindly trapped into committing similar abuses by their dedication to implementing efficiency. What should the manager of a government-owned asphalt plant do when he learns that 20 percent more product can be produced (the same notion applies to smaller examples, like use of dump trucks, street sweepers, and car washes)? If he fails to produce the excess product, then unit cost of the remainder output is inflated. If he uses the product wastefully, then no efficiency is gained. If he sells it on the market, he enters into competition with private suppliers, potentially injuring the market and causing unit costs to escalate for others at a subsidy expense to his government. What to do? Excess-capacity is a signal to government managers. Any internal function with excess production capacity is a function with inflated internal unit costs requiring internal cross-subsidization. Thus, divesting the function and purchasing the units externally would capture efficiencies. Governments must invent new salary structures, incentives, and bonus systems that reward managers for capturing efficiencies.

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Copyright 2002, Independence Institute

INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a non-profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank. It is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS. Its public policy research focuses on economic growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and Constitutional rights.

JON CALDARA is President of the Institute.

DENNIS POLHILL, a Senior Fellow with the Independence Institute, wrote this article, which was originally published in the March 2002 edition of Privatization Watch.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES on this subject can be found at: http://independenceinstitute.org/

NOTHING WRITTEN here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.

PERMISSION TO REPRINT this paper in whole or in part is hereby granted provided full credit is given to the Independence Institute.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill

The clamor over Congressman Bob Schaffers announcement to honor his pledge to serve only three terms in the U.S. House is deafening. One might conclude that integrity among Congressmen is rare.

Schaffer is lambasted by Democrat Party leaders for making the promise and by Republican Party leaders for honoring it.  Perhaps both groups can learn about character and principle from Bob. The attacks are reminiscent of those against Honest John Shafroth, 18th governor and foremost political reformer in Colorado history.

Honest John was first elected as a Republican to the U.S House in 1894 to oust the Populists. The Populist movement peaked here in 1892, capturing the governorship and 39 of 100 legislative seats. Their crowning achievement was making Colorado the first state to grant Womens Suffrage. Shafroth was a supporter of suffrage and worked tirelessly on its behalf in his later years as Colorados first elected U.S. Senator.

In 1896, John helped establish the Silver Republican Party in Colorado and won re-election as a fusion candidate with 89.2%. Fusion, no longer allowed, is a mechanism that allows various political parties to name the same candidate, combining their votes. Fusion is outlawed in all but two states to protect the two major political parties from competition. Shafroth won as a fusion Silver Republican/Democrat/Populist candidate again in 1898 and 1900. Ballot box stuffing, bribery, intimidation and other frauds occurred frequently among all parties. After his 1902 election, opponents accused Shafroth supporters of fraudulently influencing his election. He resigned his seat in Congress and was immediately labeled Honest John.

Special interests and party machine politics maintained a chokehold in Colorado, manipulating events to insure that reforms never came. The Democratic machines plan was to shuffle Honest John to the Colorado Supreme Court where his ideas could do little harm. Though he did not attend as a declared candidate, a backstabbing, machine-controlled convention inadvertently resulted in his nomination for governor in 1908. With one-and-a-half parties working against his election, his reputation as a principled politician helped yield a 52.3% victory.

He began administrative reforms immediately, declaring economy in the expenditure of money the fundamental principle of good government. Shafroth banned state lobbying; purged duplicate university programs; required daily turnover of bureaucratic fees; reduced meal expenses for state employees; terminated corrupt bureaucrats; and vetoed pork barrel road, agriculture, arts, school and charity legislation.

Party leaders, newspapers and friends pressured Honest John to renege on eight campaign promises: direct election of U.S. Senators, direct primary elections, voter registration, eliminating straight ticket voting, banking reform, reforming the civil service and railway commissions, and implementing initiative and referendum laws.  With one-and-a-half parties again working against Honest John, hope for change was scant.  Shafroth called a special session for August 9, prior to the November 1910 election.  Fearing voter retribution, the General Assembly reluctantly referred initiative and referendum procedures to the ballot. The amendment passed with 75.7% voting yes. Honest John labeled it the modern Magna Carta and the greatest piece of legislation since the constitution of the state. John was re-elected in 1910 and by the time he left office in 1912, all eight promises had been achieved.

Perpetual presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan spawned a short-lived Shafroth for President movement within the Democratic Party in 1912, which ended when Shafroth quickly endorsed Woodrow Wilson. Honest John chose to exercise the new direct primary law by standing for U.S. Senate as a Democrat. Because the U.S. Constitution had not yet been amended to allow direct election of Senators, incumbents and candidates for the General Assembly were asked to pledge, I hereby declare to the people of Colorado, as well as the people of my legislative district, that during my term of office, I will always vote for the U.S. Senator in Congress who has received the highest number of the peoples votes for that office at the general election next preceding the election of a senator in Congress, without regard to my individual preferences. The pledges were maintained at the office of the Secretary of State.

Honest Bob Schaffer is an honest man serving in a dishonest institution. The clamor serves as testimony to his integrity and the uniqueness of integrity in politics. Bobs actions bring focus upon the flaws and deficiencies of his lessers. The American people have stated repeatedly their wish for ending corruption in Congress. Punishment of Bob or Colorado by the corrupt ones for having principle is disturbingly likely, but that does not prove that there is no hope for less corruption. Bob Schaffers critics need to take a hard look inside themselves. Honest Bob sets a high standard for his peers and his successors. As Honest Bob ascends the pedestal of statesmanship, we, the people, thank you, Bob, for being Honest Bob.

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Copyright 2002, Independence Institute

INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a non-profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank. It is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS. Its public policy research focuses on economic growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and Constitutional rights.

JON CALDARA is President of the Institute.

DENNIS POLHILL is a Senior Fellow with the Independence Institute.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES on this subject can be found at:

http://independenceinstitute.org/

NOTHING WRITTEN here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.

PERMISSION TO REPRINT this paper in whole or in part is hereby granted provided full credit is given to the Independence Institute.

Opinion Editorial

By Dennis Polhill

The failed monorail proposal contained interesting aspects, one of them being the absurdity of its discussion as a viable proposal.  Voters wisely recognized the dubious and speculative nature of the exaggerated technological and economic claims.  Even if the monorail could have worked at any price, then how would this massive capital outlay ever do anything to address traffic congestion?  To succeed, the monorail would have to absorb all future as well as some of the pre-existing trip demand.  When expectations transcend the unlikely and range to the impossible, advocates engage in delusional fantasy.

The November 2001 election was friendly to most ballot measures across the nation.  Odd-year elections typically do not address many issues.  Nationwide there were four statewide initiatives and 29 referred measures in five states.  Thirty-one of the 33 passed.  The only other item to fail was a referred measure that would have allowed Washington state funds to be invested in the stock market.  It received eight percent more yes votes than did the monorail.  The Colorado monorail might arguably have been the 2001 elections stupidest idea in America.

Die-hard supporters hold firm in their view of monorails viability.  If its viable, they should not be deprived of the opportunity to profit by offering this service in the free market.  The fact that advocates opted for the awkward, slow, inefficient and maddening politics of a government-sponsored project suggests that they do not truly believe its viability.

Non-viable projects require the coercive force of government to extract support from unwilling taxpayers.  Therefore, all capital-intensive proposals brought for a vote should be suspect.  The current orgy of collectivist coercion threatens the very foundation of self-government, free markets and freedom.  Well intended, but unenlightened, zealots seek to impose their view of a better life upon all.  Provided privately, the monorail would empower every individual to choose whether its benefits were worth the outlay.  This is how good decisions are made: at the grocery store; when going to dinner, plays or movies; in buying cars, houses or vacations.  Choice is the American way.

Yet there is no shortage of ideas unabashedly requiring coercive imposition: sports stadiums, convention centers, light rail, T-REX, and monorail.  The reasoning is always the same.  The huge cost is small if imposed on large numbers of people.  The first bite of the monorail apple would cost each person in Colorado only $19.  Its assumed that people will not perceive the next bite, which is to be 80 times bigger.  Instead of doing its critical tasks well, government is intruding into all forms of activities, subverting rather than augmenting markets.

James Buchanan earned the 1986 Nobel Prize in Economics for the development of Public Choice Theory.  The theory asserts that the behavior of political actors is predictable on economic grounds.  That is, special interests succeed most when benefits are concentrated and costs are distributed widely. After being defunded by statewide vote of the people in 1993, the Colorado Tourism Board was refunded in 1999 by the state legislature.  Legislators are effectively powerless when confronted with enormous pro-spend testimony and minimal anti-spend testimony.  It is not economically rational for citizens to incur the time, expense and hassle to testify against special-interest legislation when their individual cost is small.

An Independence Institute Issue Paper by Dr. Barry Fagin, “Who Testifies and Why <http://independenceinstitute.org/Publications/IP/PoliticsandGovernment/WhoTestifiesAndWhy.htm> discovered that before the Colorado Senate Finance Committee chances are 96% that a witness is a beneficiary.  Another study finds that before the U.S. Congress, witnesses favor more spending 145 to 1 and senior legislators are more inclined to support special interests.

Because parasitic interest groups prefer a more favorable audience, the ballot is their instrument of last resort.  Indeed, monorail advocates were rejected by the legislature prior to their decision to go to the ballot.

Spending money frivolously is a right each individual enjoys.  There are as many ways to do it as there are personalities.  People work hard and save in order to maximize this right.  Its exercise relieves stress and enriches.  Intellect and individualism become more pronounced.  Outlays offer new business opportunities and elevate the wealth of other individuals.

But extended to the collective, frivolous expenditure is not a right.  It is collectivist tyranny.  To the minority being imposed upon, the fact that the frivolous spending decision was made by either 51 or 99 percent is cold comfort.  To preserve freedom and choice, Americans must learn that many government transportation proposals are boondoggles that consume more resources than they create.

Under the collectivist abuse model, each free person is impoverished ever so slightly each time a non-viable activity is funded.  It is the torturous death by one thousand cuts.  All Americans owe it to themselves and to their grandchildren to give deep and serious consideration to the implications of offering support to collectivist endeavors.

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Copyright 2001, Independence Institute

INDEPENDENCE INSTITUTE is a non-profit, non-partisan Colorado think tank. It is governed by a statewide board of trustees and holds a 501(c)(3) tax exemption from the IRS. Its public policy research focuses on economic growth, education reform, local government effectiveness, and Constitutional rights.

JON CALDARA is President of the Institute.

DENNIS POLHILL is a Senior Fellow with the Independence Institute.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES on this subject can be found at:

http://independenceinstitute.org/

NOTHING WRITTEN here is to be construed as necessarily representing the views of the Independence Institute or as an attempt to influence any election or legislative action.

PERMISSION TO REPRINT this paper in whole or in part is hereby granted provided full credit is given to the Independence Institute.

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