April 21, 2019

Colorado Supreme Court: Ballot Initiative Rejected Because it Proposes More than a Single Subject

The Colorado Supreme Court issued its opinion in In the Matter of the Title, Ballot Title, and Submission Clause for 2013-2014 #76: Hayes v. Spalding and Staiert on Monday, June 23, 2014.

Single Subject Violation—Second Subject has an Independent Purpose.

Initiative #76 would repeal existing Colorado Constitution Article XXI in its entirety. Currently, Article XXI sets forth provisions for recalling state and local elected officers. Initiative #76 proposes to comprehensively revamp the recall provisions of Article XXI, for the purpose of altering the manner in which state and local recall elections are triggered and conducted.

Initiative #76 has a second purpose: to establish a new constitutional right to recall non-elected state and local officers. Historically, Colorado law has provided only for the recall of elected officers. The initiative’s second subject has a distinct and separate purpose from its first subject.

The Supreme Court concluded that Initiative #76 proposes more than a single subject, in violation of Colo. Const. art. V, § 1(5.5), because the second subject has a purpose that is not dependent on or necessarily and properly connected to the first. Accordingly, the Court reversed the Title Board’s action. The matter was returned to the Title Board with directions to strike the title and return the initiative to its proponents.

Summary and full case available here.

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