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Citizen rights group examines the consequences of a Colorado initiative bill passed in 2009

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January 26, 2011

By Kyle Maichle

DENVER, Colorado: Two Colorado initiative proponents who fought to get an amendment on the 2010 ballot are facing a bigger fight over provisions in the state's initiative laws.[1]

Jon Caldara and Linda Gorman were both proponents of Amendment 63.[1] The amendment would have established the right to privately contract for health care in Colorado.[1] The proponents of the amendment are facing lawsuits over allegations that 50 circulators could have committed fraud while gathering signatures to qualify the amendment.[1] The fraud allegations were based on the circulator's affidavit not properly filled out on the petitions.[1]

Currently, a provision exists in House Bill 1326 that allows initiative proponents to be sued and held liable over any wrongdoing committed by others during a campaign[1]. A federal court is expected to decide if the provision would be overturned.[1] In 2010, a federal judge barred Colorado from enforcing two provisions in HB 1326. Those provisions included paying circulators per the signature along with a ban out-of-state petition circulators.[1] The bill was approved in 2009 with bi-partisan support in the General Assembly.[1]

The Citizens in Charge Foundation argued that House Bill 1326 is "the biggest single legislative attack on statewide petition rights in modern history."[1] The argument is based on other states reversing bans on out-of-state circulators and pay-per-signature.[1][2] The citizen's rights group said that the risk of violating constitutional rights "didn’t stop this bi-partisan legislative attack."[1]

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