6:40 pm - Thursday September 21, 2017

CNC story for June 10, 2014 Parking Lot Petition Season is Here, Should You Sign?‏

“Think before you ink” may sound like a slogan discouraging people from getting a tattoo, but it’s a campaign asking Coloradans to consider a decision that’s equally as permanent.

This summer there are about 140 ballot initiatives floating around on clipboards in the parking lots of big-box stores around the state. While many are well-intentioned, some are concerned about the research and intent behind them. Ron Teck, intergovernmental operations officer for El Paso County, has observed the impact of citizen initiatives for several years.

“Unfortunately, a lot of voters get caught up in the emotion of an issue,” explains Teck. “Proponents will get a signature that promises to do one thing, when in reality it might do that one thing and create a whole lot of other havoc.”

Once initiatives become part of the state Constitution, Teck says it’s nearly impossible for the legislature to then go in and “clean up” the measures. The number of signatures required to place a citizen initiative on the ballot in Colorado is equal to five percent of the votes cast for the office of Secretary of State in the prior election. This year, that amounts to just over 86,000.

This year there are initiatives that could impact fracking, education, and others crucial issues. Teck is most concerned about a measure called the Doctrine of Public Trust. He says while supporters argue the initiative proposes more citizen control over the water supply, it could have a negative impact.

“It would create absolute havoc in our state’s economy,” says Teck, “but it sounds very nice to say, ‘You know, the people of the state should have some say in the control of the water,’ without really understanding the ramifications of it.”

According to Teck, prior initiatives that ultimately had negative consequences include the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and the 1982 tax assessment that now makes business property owners pay up to three times as much as their residential counterparts.

More information on the citizen’s initiative process can be found on page six of this document from the League of Woman Voters of Colorado.

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