Time to reform the state constitution?

CRIPPLE CREEK — A group of influential civic leaders has decided to ask voters in 2014 to set up a commission to reform the state constitution.

Colorado’s Future formed in 2009 to figure out what to do with the Colorado constitution, which dictates how the state collects and spends money in sometimes conflicting ways.

The group in the past has pushed for ballot questions that would make it harder to amend the constitution in the future. But now, it has switched strategies in order to amend troublesome chapters that are already in the constitution.

“We’re going to go for the tough one. We’re going to go for the fix,” said Brenda Morrison, a member of Colorado’s Future, in a presentation Friday to Action 22, a group of Southwest Colorado county leaders.

The ballot initiative would not target any specific part of the constitution. Instead, it would set up a panel of people who would meet every decade or so to recommend changes to the voters.

The specifics have not been decided yet, including how the panel would be appointed, what its power would be or even what it would be named.

The most often-criticized parts of the constitution include the Gallagher Amendment, which limits residential property taxes but can burden businesses; the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which limits taxes and requires refunds if the state collects too much; and Amendment 23, which forces spending on K-12 schools to increase with the inflation rate.

The Legislature considered a constitutional reform commission in 2010, but the idea fell two votes shy of the two-thirds majority it needed in the Senate.

This time, Colorado’s Future is open to the idea of a citizen petition campaign that would bypass the Legislature.

Colorado’s Future includes prominent Republicans and Democrats who are not serving in elected office. The chairman is Bob Tointon, president of Phelps-Tointon, Inc., a construction firm.

joeh@cortezjournal.com