Court Challenge Filed to Colorado Petition Law

Tue, Mar 16 2010 by Paul Jacob

Today, Colorado’s Independence Institute and a group of citizens involved in various initiative petition campaigns in the state filed suit in federal court seeking to overturn a state law that imposes new rules and restrictions on initiative petitions. The law was passed last year by a large, bipartisan majority of legislators.

Citizens in Charge Foundation has been working with those who brought the legal challenge. One plaintiff, Dennis Polhill, is a member of Citizens in Charge’s board of directors.

In recent years, Colorado’s governance has become something of a ping-pong match between legislators and the voters. In 2008, the legislature passed a bill that was later vetoed by Governor Ritter as too restrictive. That same year, legislators put a constitutional amendment, Referendum O, on the ballot. Ref O would have raised the petition requirement for constitutional amendments and moved the deadline up, but voters defeated the measure.

Now a group of voters has challenged the latest initiative-restricting legislative scheme, which was passed in 2009 as House Bill 1326 and, this time, signed by Governor Ritter. Citizens in Charge Foundation’s 2010 Report Card blamed this new Colorado law for lowering the state’s grade from a B+ to a C+ on the openness and accessibility of its initiative and referendum process.

The federal court case is Independence Institute, Jon Caldara, Dennis Polhill, Jessica Corry, Mason Tvert, Russell Haas, Douglas Campbell and Louis Schroeder, plaintiffs, v. Bernie Buescher, in his official capacity as Colorado Secretary of State, defendant.

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