Posts Tagged Colorado Constitution

All Parts of the Constitution Are Equal

But some are more equal than others.

I’ll be writing a lot about SCR-001 in the next few days and weeks.  It’s an attempt to make it harder to amend the state Constitution, and the way it’s written, its target is TABOR.

The giveaway is the provision concerning repeal thresholds.  Here are those provisions:

  1. It will take 50% to pass this amendment
  2. It will take 60% to pass amendments in the future
  3. It will take 50% to repeal amendments passed before 2013
  4. Except for this amendment, which it will take 60% to repeal

Got that?  If something was passed with 60%, it takes 60% to repeal.  If something was passed with 50%, it takes 50% to repeal.  Except for this amendment itself, which takes 50% to pass and 60% to repeal.

Under the Colorado Constitution, not all portions of the Constitution would be subject to the same rules.  Some parts of the Constitution would be more equal than others.

As nearly as I can tell, this is without parallel in the United States.  I made a quick review of the 50 state constitutions this evening and their amendment processes.  None of them has different thresholds for different parts of themselves.

Massachusetts, in provisions that only a lawyer, or a Puritan, or a Purtian lawyer, could love, does restrict the subject matter than initiative-based amendments can address, but doesn’t set separate thresholds, and doesn’t separate merely by date.

Mississippi does say that certain sections of its constitution can’t be amended by initiative, including:

(a) For the proposal, modification or repeal of any portion of the Bill of Rights of this Constitution;

(b) To amend or repeal any law or any provision of the Constitution relating to the Mississippi Public Employees’ Retirement System;

(c) To amend or repeal the constitutional guarantee that the right of any person to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in any labor union or organization; or

(d) To modify the initiative process for proposing amendments to this Constitution.

And Florida does have a 2/3 requirement for raising or initiating new taxes or fees.

But as far as I can tell, that’s it.  While the initiative and referendum process varies significantly from state to state, states use subject matter, not the manner of adoption, as the standard for whether or not it’s subject to repeal.  And they don’t set different thresholds for those sections, they just say that it has to come from a referred measure or in a state constitutional convention, and can’t be addressed by initiative.

Colorado, by adopting this idea, would be unique in the country in this regard.

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