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Colorado federal judge hears arguments to overturn paid petition circulator restrictions

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May 14, 2010

By Kyle Maichle

DENVER, Colorado: A federal judge on May 13, 2010, heard arguments in a lawsuit filed by the head of a Colorado think tank seeking to overturn the state's 2009 law on restricting paid petition circulators at the federal courthouse in Denver[1].

Jon Caldara, who leads the Independence Institute, filed suit on claims that the state's ban on paid petition circulators increases the costs of gathering signatures for initiative campaigns. Caldara also said that the law could threaten his group's chances of getting a ballot measure qualified on the November 2nd ballot with the state's petition deadline looming. Caldara is pushing for a statewide ballot measure that would allow citizens in Colorado to be exempt from the individual mandate to purchase health insurance in the federal health care reform law[1].

In 2009, the Colorado General Assembly passed on a bi-partisan fashion restrictions to petition circulators from being paid by the signature to only twenty percent of their total salary[1]. David Lane, an attorney representing The Independence Institute claimed that the law violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on the basis of restricting freedom of speech[1]. Colorado House Speaker Terrance Carroll who was an advocate for the law told The Denver Post: "the idea (of the law) is to provide more protections to the citizens of Colorado, so that when someone comes to them with a petition, those signatures aren't being gathered in a fraudulent manner."[1]

The next hearing in the case is scheduled for May 28, 2010[1]. There has been no indication if the judge presiding in the case will make a decision. Colorado's deadlines for turning in initiative petitions is July 12, 2010 for state statutes and August 1, 2010 for constitutional amendments[2].

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