Coloradans will have the chance to vote on Amendment 71 this November, which would make it significantly more difficult to amend the state’s constitution.
If passed, the Raise the Bar initiative would require signatures from all of Colorado’s 35 state senate districts to place a measure on the ballot. In addition, measures would need a 55 percent vote to pass, rather than the simple majority currently required.
Proponents of Amendment 71 say the initiative process is too easy, and that the state’s constitution is cluttered as a result.
In recent weeks, however, many public interest groups have come out against Raise the Bar. On Thursday, some of them gathered in front of the capitol building to urge Coloradans to vote no on Amendment 71.
Rudy Gonzalez of Servicios de La Raza, an organization that advocates for the Latino community, spoke about some the unintended consequences Amendment 71 could have. He argued that because much of the Latino population is concentrated in the state’s urban districts, the requirement to collect signatures from all over the state could impede their ability to make their voices heard.
Colorado State Rep. Joe Salazar (D-Thornton) pointed out that Amendment 71 is funded primarily by the oil and gas industry, which has been a cause for concern for environmental groups like Conservation Colorado. He called the measure a “trojan horse, a big shiny object meant to lure you in to giving up your power. And hidden inside are big oil, big business, and big special interests.”
Lizzy Stephan of New Era Colorado, which urges young people to be more politically active, also encouraged voting no on 71. She said the measure would simply make the initiative process more expensive, and would impede grassroots efforts to make change while “the wealthiest industries and individuals will become gatekeepers to our constitution.”
Sam Gilchrist of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) said that while he does think the state should examine its initiative process, 71 raises the bar too high. He told the crowd that the requirements are so “expensive and cumbersome” that even those proposing the amendment couldn’t meet their own threshold.
State Sen. Irene Aguilar (D-Denver) and members from ProgressNow Colorado, Conservation Colorado, Generation Latino, Mi Familia Vota, Common Cause, and others were present at the event as well.