Driving in Jefferson County the other day I noticed a bumper sticker "Yes on l2, No on A" which, when translated, urged a "yes" vote on Bruce Amendment l2 and a "no" vote on Referendum A (Senate Concurrent Resolution 93-4) otherwise known as the "single-subject" constitutional amendment.
Since supporters of Amendment l2 appear adamant in opposing the legislative-sponsored constitutional amendment, it might be worthwhile to explore whether their fears are justified.
SCR 93-4 was sponsored by Sen. Ray Powers and House Speaker Chuck Berry, with 59 other House members and 29 other Senators as co-sponsors. It amends Article 5 dealing with initiatives and Article l9 dealing with legislative amendments to the constitution. The purpose is to provide that measures submitted for a ballot vote shall "contain one subject clearly expressed in its title."
Then in l994, the Legislature passed HB 94-l080 by Berry and R. Powers to further explain the reasons for the constitutional amendment. Here are the practices intended to be inhibited, written in statutory verbiage:
l. "To forbid the treatment of incongruous subjects in the same measure, especially the practice of putting together in one measure subjects having no necessary or proper connection, for the purpose of enlisting in support of the measure the advocates of each measure, and thus securing the enactment of measures that could not be carried upon their merits.
2. "To prevent surreptitious measures and apprise the people of the subject of each measure by the title, that is, to prevent surprise and fraud from being practiced upon voters."
The new law states: "The language (of the constitutional amendment) was drawn from section 2l of Article 5 of the state constitution, which requires that every bill, except general appropriations bills, shall be limited to a single subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title." This new law doesn't go into effect unless and until SCR 93-4 is approved by the voters on Nov. 8,l994.
Does Mr. Bruce have anything to fear from its passage ? As to initiatives dealing with amending or enacting state statutes, the answer is "yes". As to constitutional amendments placed on the ballot through the state legislature, the answer is "probably yes". As to constitutional amendments proposed by initiative, such as the many-subject Amendment l of l992 or the many-subject Amendment l2 of l994, the answer is "no".
We have a good example of why the answer to the last question is "no" by looking at the constitutional amendment of Sen. MaryAnne Tebedo, which was adopted in l992 and provided that limited gambling could not come into an area, even if passed by a constitutional amendment, without the affirmative election vote by residents of the location involved.
On the ballot for November l994 is the Manitou Springs casino constitutional amendment which could bring casino gambling to Manitou Springs without a vote, by simply stating in the amendment: "Limited Gaming in the City of Manitou Springs shall be lawful and exempt from all provisions of Section 9 (6) of Article l8..." The exemption reference, of course, is to the Tebedo language.
So passing a constitutional amendment to prohibit an activity cannot stop a future constitutional amendment being exempt from the prohibition. All Mr. Bruce has to do in his next multi-subject constitutional amendment is to state "Any item in this amendment shall be exempt from the provisions of subsection (5.5) of Section 1 of Article 5."
Does that make SCR 93-4 not worth passing? It is worth passing, because it effectively limits multi-subject statutes from the ballot and makes it difficult for a legislator to explain why he or she should try to get around such a prohibition on a constitutional amendment proposed by the legislature.
As to a future Bruce Amendment l2, it should be more difficult for him to explain why he is exempting a measure from language adopted by a vote of the people, but he can do it if he so chooses.
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Leo Jenkins died in July at age 61. He only served one term in the legislature as a Democrat and member of the House for Fremont and Pueblo counties, l987 and l988.
Rep. Jenkins defeated Bob Kirscht in l986 and lost in a narrow defeat to Steve Arveschoug in l988 by a vote of l0,555 to l0,657.
I didn't know what to expect of Leo when he was first elected. His background was prisons: Director of the Colorado Pre-Parole Release Center, warden of Indiana State Prison, deputy secretary of the Kansas Dept. of Corrections.
What I found was a charming individual , unpretentious, low-key. For those who read this, but had never met him, I'd suggest "think of Gary Cooper" and you would be pretty close. He wasn't very talkative, but when he did add to the debate, you listened, because he thought about what he was going to say, and it would make sense.
Leo only served two years, but he was a model legislator in that he never had a problem voting his conscience, and if he gave his word to you, he kept it.
Leo was appointed to the State Parole Board after leaving the legislature and that was where he was serving at the time of his death.
Jerry Kopel writes a column for the Statesman based on 22 years past experience as a state legislator.
Copyright 2015 Jerry Kopel & David Kopel