Jerry Kopel

By Jerry Kopel

August 1st has come and gone, without too much "celebration" of the birthdate of the "centennial state". But is Colorado really the "Centennial State"? Not according to President Ulysses S. Grant, who in his proclamation of August 1st, 1876 wrote that Colorado became a state in the year "of the independence of the United States of America the one hundred and first."

Grant was right. If you start counting from July 4th, 1776, the hundredth year ended July 3d, 1876 and Colorado became a state during the one hundred and first year.

Grant's proclamation isn't in the statute books anymore. It was taken out sometime during the 19th century. It is long, with lots of commas and few periods. It was a document not worth memorizing. But there were a few gems as to what had to be in the constitution, and here they are:

(1) perfect toleration of religious sentiment shall be secured, and no inhabitant ... shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship.

(2) (the people of Colorado) do agree and declare that they forever disdain all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States.

(3) the lands belonging to citizens of the United States residing without the said state shall never be taxed higher than the lands belonging to residents thereof, and that no taxes shall be imposed by the state on lands or property therein belonging to or which may hereafter be purchased by the United States.

Grant ended his proclamation by stating that Colorado had done all things required by Congress to become a state and "I have herewith set my hand and have caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Washington this first day of August, in the year of our Lord, 1876, and of the independence of the United States of America the one hundred and first."

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When you get that "Blue Book" in the mail from the state legislature, hang on to it if you want a document that contains the ballot issues you'll vote on in November. Colorado will stop paying every "legal" newspaper in the state to print the ballot language. The reason is obvious: To save money.

Not every paper will lose out. Big dailies will likely be paid because of large circulation. At least one paper in each of the 64 counties will print the ballot issue language. Which one or ones will be determined by the Legislative Council director of research and it may take the form of a separate insert inside the paper.

The amount paid to newspapers will be decided by the legislature's present leadership.

Some papers will be glad and some papers will be mad. Chief sponsors of HB 1142 are Rep. Keith King and Sen. Mark Hillman.

In the House the measure passed 50 to 14, all 14 "no" votes coming from Democrats. In the Senate the vote was 35 to 0.

(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House)

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