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John Flerlage

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TBD Colorado and the State Constitution

Posted: 03/29/2012 3:51 pm

Regional meetings of the Governor's TBD Colorado program begin next month. The TBD Board expects to "develop pragmatic, realistic solutions and consensus on big issues facing Colorado." The Board states that "TBD Colorado will focus on important issues in the state including," education (both P-12 and higher education), health, transportation, state budget, and state workforce.

The biggest issue facing Colorado and the key to addressing the important issues listed above is the resolution of the conflicts within the state constitution. The interaction between TABOR, the Gallagher Amendment, and Amendment 23 ensure that the legislature cannot efficiently invest in education, healthcare, energy, and infrastructure and formulate fair tax policy. We must have a constitutional convention to resolve these conflicts.

Our constitution allows the Colorado legislature only to call for a constitutional convention. Two-thirds of the legislators must approve. With the temperatures we are experiencing both within the air and in politics, waiting for that cold day to happen seems pointless. Since any citizen initiated ballot initiative must be single subject, we must find another way to fix the constitution.

Here is a process that will ensure Colorado a constitutional convention (CC) by 2015. The process will require two steps. First, pass an initiative allowing the people to call a CC. This initiative could be modeled after articles in many other state constitutions that require a periodic referendum (every 10, 16 or 20 years) of the people as to whether a CC shall be called. The second step would be a second intiative calling for the CC. Both would be placed on the ballot in 2014. The legislature would approve the logistical details of the CC in the 2015 session. The CC would be held before the end of that year.

I encourage the TBD Board to remember Thomas Jefferson's words written in 1816, "... let us provide in our constitution for its revision at stated periods... Each generation is as independent as the one preceding, as that was of all which had gone before," and recommend a call for a constitutional convention.