Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Personhood to pot: Initiative petitions due at Secretary of State's office today

On Colorado Day, August 1, we celebrated fifty reasons why Colorado is the greatest state in the country. Today we're celebrating another one (although many politicians would dispute its benefits): the citizen initiative process, which allows residents to land measures on the statewide ballot, right alongside those put there by elected representtives.

Over the years, citizen initiatives have been responsible for some of this state's most vilified laws (1992's Tabor, or the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights) and most celebrated (Tabor, too).

This afternoon at 3 p.m. marks the deadline for filing an initiative petition with the Secretary of State's office for the 2012 General Election -- and there are plenty of petitions still out there, including another attempt to define personhood and a measure that would allow undocumented immigrants to get driver's licenses.

According to Article V, Section 1(2) of the Colorado Constitution, the number of signatures required for a statewide initiative petition is "at least 5 percent of the total number of votes cast for all candidates for the office of secretary of state at the previous general election." Since the total number of votes cast for that office in the November 2, 2010 election -- when Scott Gessler beat Bernie Buescher -- was 1,722,096, the signature requirement for statewide initiative petitions and statewide referendum petitions this round is 86,105. (It was 76,047 for 2007-2010.) And that's 86,105 signatures that are deemed legit.

So far, the only citizen initiative that's officially cleared all hurdles and made the November ballot is Amendment 64, the measure pushed by Mason Tvert regarding the use and regulation of marijuana, which has considerable support in this state.

And while other petitions might arrive at the Secretary of State's office by this afternoon's deadline, don't expect any more on marijuana -- although at this time last year, there were at least four competing proposals...and a lot of hot air pushing them.

Click to read our post "Happy Colorado Day: Here are 50 reasons you should be glad you live here."

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun