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Hickenlooper Supports Effot To Make It Harder To Change Colorado's Constitution

DENVER (CBS4) - There's a push to make it harder to change Colorado's constitution and the initiative is even getting support from Gov. John Hickenlooper.

From regulations of hogs to qualifications of a county coroner, the nature and number of amendments to the Colorado constitution may surprise many. While the U.S. Constitution has been amended just 27 times, the Colorado Constitution has more than 150 amendments, with some of them conflicting and even unconstitutional now.


Colorado and U.S. Constitutions
The Colorado and U.S. constitutions (credit: CBS)

"Colorado's constitution needs to be protected," Hickenlooper said at a news conference on Wednesday.

Hickenlooper is part of a bipartisan coalition pushing for an amendment that would make it more difficult to amend the constitution. Instead of a simple majority, 55 percent approval would be needed to pass an amendment.

Gov. Hickenlooper on Tuesday (credit: CBS)

While the number of signatures needed to make the ballot doesn't change, under the Raise the Bar initiative signatures would be needed from every part of the state, not just Denver.

"I want the voices of people in my community heard. I want an initiative that they will eventually vote on to reflect their interests and their values," said Rep. Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City.

Supporters say the idea for the initiative came out of meetings held with thousands of Coloradans across the state.

"There was no significant difference between the vote in Colorado Springs than Boulder -- two very different communities politically and otherwise," said Dan Ritchie, former University of Denver chancellor.

Colorado Constitution
(credit: CBS)

But there is also bipartisan opposition from the right-leaning Independence Institute and the left-leaning Common Cause.

"The problem is this proposal will make it impossible for grassroots organizations to put measures forward," Elena Nunez with Common Cause said. "Only the wealthiest special interests will be able to put measures before voters. So it's not going to give a greater voice to rural Colorado, it's going to diminish the voice of citizens across the state."

Because the ballot measure requires signatures from every Senate district, opponents say one district could kill an initiative.

There are two types of citizen initiatives. One changes the constitution, the other changes law. It's the same process to get on the ballot. But if the law changed, the Legislature can later revise it, for example if there are conflicting court rulings, unlike the constitution, where changes are fixed.

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