Freedom Updates: October 29, 2003

The Colorado Freedom Report:  A libertarian journal of politics and culture.

The Colorado Freedom

Freedom Updates: October 29, 2003

All Freedom Updates by Ari Armstrong unless otherwise noted.

Petition Rights Amendment
Douglas Bruce reports, "The Petition Rights Amendment and Tax Cut petitions will be available for circulation by volunteer and paid circulators by November 5th. Call 303.753.5050 or email taxcutter*AT* for more information."

Following is some information about the measures.

Citizens for Petition Rights, Please Copy & Distribute
P.O. Box 1776, Arvada, Colorado 80001
Douglas Campbell, Chairman
Petitioners Wanted

(303) 753-5050

THE PROBLEM: Government hostility to petitions
Imposing lengthy, complex, arbitrary barriers to petitions.
Outlawing petitions to most local governments.
Declaring nearly all new laws "emergencies,"
to unfairly block citizen challenges to bad laws.
Abusing petty technicalities to reject petitions.
Wasting tax dollars to oppose petitions.

THE SOLUTION: The Petition Rights Amendment
Provides one page of simple, uniform, clear petition rules.
Allows citizens to petition all local governments.
Limits the new laws exempt from possible petition.
Simplifies the petition signature review process.
Stops misuse of public resources on petition campaigns.

Protect Petitions. Help the Petition Rights Amendment.

Politicians fear petitions, especially those that limit their political power. However, petitions are a safety valve to correct abuses. If politicians act foolishly, or refuse to act, we must be able to protect our freedoms, our families, our finances, and our futures. The right to petition is so important, the Founding Fathers listed it in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. The Petition Rights Amendment shortens ballot titles to reduce the "legalese" that confuses voters. PRA protects petitions from being tied up in court for months on phony "single-subject" claims by opponents. PRA limits petition elections to November only. Politicians keep trying to restrict our rights. They want Big Government to control our lives. We the People can restrain them by supporting PRA to guarantee our constitutional right to petition for the right to vote on needed reforms.

Official Ballot Title of the Petition Rights Amendment: Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning initiative and referendum petitions, and, in connection therewith, changing petition rights and procedures; allowing petitions to be submitted at all levels of government in Colorado; limiting initiative ballot titles to 75 words; changing single-subject requirements and procedures; limiting the annual number of new laws that governments may exclude from possible referendum petitions; establishing standards for review of filed petitions; specifying that petitions may be voted upon at any November election; limiting the use of government resources to comment on a petition; requiring voter approval for future petition laws and rules and for changes to certain voter-approved petitions; and authorizing measures to enforce the amendment?

Blake Blasts Logrolling, Debt Spending
Peter Blake of the Rocky Mountain News wrote an excellent review of the legal case against debt spending through "certificates of certification."

Blake noted the legislature is prohibited by the state's Constitution from putting two issues in a single bill. Nevertheless, Blake reviews, the legislature "passed HB 1256, which authorizes the state to enter into lease-purchase agreements to finance construction of both a high-security prison in Fremont County and new academic buildings at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center at Fitzsimons in Aurora. The prison's cost is $103 million, the medical buildings' $203 million."

Blake writes, "Senate Majority Leader Norma Anderson, R-Lakewood, claims there's no problem. 'The single subject is the COPs,' she argues." In other words, the "single subject" is screwing the taxpayers. But by Anderson's rationale, practically any package of proposals could be grouped within a single bill. Quite obviously 1256 is precisely the sort of package the Constitution intended to prevent.

Blake also notes "certificates of participation" are debt, because they impact the state's credit rating. He concludes, "If the legislature is so hot for more hospital buildings and yet another prison, it should introduce two measures next year, one for each project, and send them to the 2004 ballot." Amen.

Atwood Defends the Poor
Yes, one man can make a difference. The October 27 Rocky Mountain News features a large picture of Frank Atwood holding a sign that reads, "Yes on 200: Repeal Grocery Tax." The accompanying article by Gabrielle Crist reports, "Proponents of repealing the levy argue that it unfairly taxes the poor, while Littleton officials contend that in tough economic times, cities need all the revenue they can get." But isn't it precisely during "tough economic times" that the poor deserve a break? Atwood and his "tri-partisan" group have picked the right issue and the right strategy. Whether they win or loose, they have brought the message of liberty to their community. And they just might win.

McElroy on Rights of the Accused
Wendy McElroy has written the most sensible analysis of rape cases I've seen. She writes, "Either name both parties or neither. This is not merely a matter of balance and accuracy in reporting; it is also to ensure a fair trial. By naming only the accused, news reports can prejudice his court case -- for example, by contaminating the jury pool. By not naming an accuser, the media can benefit her case. Consider one example. When an accused rapist is named, other victims can come forward to add their testimony; when an accuser remains unnamed, witnesses who could discredit her account may be unaware of the proceedings."

Free Trade, Free Juries
In an October 12 letter to the Denver Post, Gary Halpin writes, "Why are governments even involved when I want to trade with someone in a foreign land? True free trade and globalization have and would do more wonders in lower-priced goods and more wealth for all. On the other hand, what the World Trade Organization is doing... is making rules on who we can trade with, what we can trade and how that trade will happen..." In the same issue, David Aitken points out jury nullification has been used to protect free speech (John Peter Zenger case), religious expression (William Penn case), and those who helped free slaves.

"At Large" Congress Reps?
Bennett Rutledge writes in the September 29 Denver Post, "Just draw the district boundaries at the state line, making Colorado a single 'at-large district.' You would not have to worry about any particular interest group packing the [legislative] redistricting committee/commission/panel. You would not have to worry about neighborhoods being cut off from the rest of the community... The only real disadvantage is that with the top seven vote-getters being seated, the Colorado delegation to Washington might look too much like Colorado!" No, there is a much more serious disadvantage. Congressional districts are good for the same reason the electoral college is good in presidential elections: less populated areas are represented. If members of Congress were elected at large, most of them would be from Denver. And that would be a disaster.

Andrews Defends TABOR
In a September 29 letter to the Denver Post, State Senator John Andrews writes, "I strongly support the TABOR Amendment in Colorado's Constitution, contrary to The Denver Post's Sept. 26 headline, 'TABOR needs a fix, says Andrews.' By restraining the growth of government over the past decade, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights has benefited citizens, fostered prosperity and promoted efficiency in public services. It should not be changed. Your story correctly reported that as chairman of the Interim Committee on Fiscal Restraints, I have invited fellow legislators to suggest changes they think are needed in the Gallagher Amendment on property taxes, Amendment 23 on school spending, or TABOR itself. But the headline falsely implied that I favor weakening the TABOR limits on taxes and spending. I do not. I favor fixing Amendment 23 before its faulty fiscal autopilot slams our state budget into a mountainside."

The Colorado Freedom