An interesting idea

the Vail Daily Editorial Board

Colorado’s constitution is a rather unwieldy beast, in large part because the document is relatively easy to amend. This fall, altering the state constitution may get a little harder if we’re able to vote on what’s now called the Raise the Bar initiative.

Ballot initiatives, especially those that may change the way our government works, can have a hard time earning public interest in election years dominated by candidates for any number of offices. But the Raise the Bar effort is intriguing, particularly in that it would allow residents of rural areas to have a voice in what ends up on the fall ballot.

As the system works now, people who want to amend the Constitution need to gather the required number of petition signatures to get an issue on the fall ballot, then earn a bare majority of the vote for passage.

Given that most of the state’s population lives between Fort Collins and Pueblo, a group needs only to send people up and down the Interstate 25 corridor between those cities to get enough signatures to earn a place on the ballot.

Raise the Bar would change that and would require anyone pushing a constitutional amendment to get signatures from each of the state’s 35 State Senate districts. According to plan proponent Reeves Brown, that requirement would account for roughly 70 percent of the total required to get on the ballot.

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Most signatures could still come from the Front Range, but getting on the ballot would require amendment-backers to spread out to Grand Junction, Durango, Steamboat Springs and, probably, Vail, Avon or Eagle.

Beyond the requirement to earn the interest of people around the state, Raise the Bar would also require a 55 percent majority of voters to pass a new amendment to the state constitution.

Those seem to be worthy ideas. There’s a very high bar to amending the U.S. Constitution, which is why it’s only been amended 27 times since 1789.

Colorado’s constitution has been amended dozens of times since 1876, with subjects ranging from term limits for elected officials to eliminating the spring bear hunt.

That’s goofy, friends.

The Raise the Bar initiative is still in the hands of the state office responsible for setting the title and language of ballot measures. If it lands on the fall ballot, it will probably face some stiff opposition. But the idea seems to have some merit, especially for those of us who live more than a ZIP code or two away from Interstate 25.

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