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Colorado Expansion of Initiative Rights, Initiative 38 (2006)

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The Colorado Expansion of Initiative Rights Initiative, also known as Initiative 38, was on the November 7, 2006 ballot in Colorado as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was defeated.

The measure would have expanded the ability of citizens to propose laws and modified the laws governing the initiative process in Colorado. It also would have limited so-called legislative tampering, the ability of governing bodies to change, enact, or repeal citizen-initiated measures. Additionally, it would have limited the number of measures the Colorado General Assembly could exempt from the state's veto referendum process.[1]

Election results

Colorado Initiative 38 (2006)
Defeatedd No1,027,55069.24%
Yes 456,468 30.67%

Election results via:Colorado Secretary of State Elections Department

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1][2]

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 Colorado government; 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 on at any November election; limiting the use of government resources to discuss 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.[3]

Summary and analysis

The Colorado Legislative Council is charged with providing a summary and analysis of each measure on the Colorado ballot. ("The state constitution requires that the nonpartisan research staff of the General Assembly prepare these analyses and distribute them in a ballot information booklet to registered voter households.")

To describe Amendment 38, they said:

The Colorado Constitution currently provides two ways for citizens to propose changes to state, city, or town laws. In both processes, citizens collect a certain number of signatures on a petition to place a law change on the ballot. For one process, citizens propose a change that becomes law if voters approve it. For the second process, citizens challenge a law approved by elected officials. A challenged law takes effect only if voters approve it.

Amendment 38 expands the ability of citizens to propose and challenge laws at all levels of state and local government, including school districts, counties, special districts, authorities, and other special purpose government entities. Amendment 38 also changes existing procedures for placing a measure on the ballot by petition and applies them to all levels of government. Amendment 38 does not affect measures that governing bodies refer to voters. Tables 1 through 3 summarize differences between current procedures and the proposal. While the tables reflect local procedures in state law, procedures may vary under city or town charters or by local ordinance.

Fiscal impact

See also: Fiscal impact statement

The fiscal estimate provided by the Colorado Legislative Council said:

State spending and revenue. Amendment 38 is expected to increase the number of statewide ballot petitions by two in each even-numbered year and eight in each odd-numbered year. Currently, the state budgets for eight petitions in an even year and two in an odd year. Costs will increase due to a greater number of petitions, and because state courts must review ballot disputes within newly established deadlines. Costs will decrease to approve each petition because signatures will only be counted and not verified. Overall, state spending will increase by $119,000 annually in even-numbered years and $269,000 in odd-numbered years. Amendment 38 also imposes a $3,000 fine for certain offenses related to government officials discussing pending ballot issues, which may increase fine revenue to the state. Total fine revenue has not been quantified.
Local government spending. Local governments without a petition process will be required to establish such a process, incurring administrative and computer programming costs. Local governments may experience an increase in the number of petitions received. Costs will depend upon the number of petitions filed.



The committee supporting the amendment was "Yes on 38."

Arguments in favor

Supporters argued that Amendment 38 would make local elected officials more responsive to constituents by extending the petition process to all state and local governments. They said it would encourage citizen reforms to improve government, and that such proposals would be subjected to months of public debate leading up to an election, encouraging voter interest and participation.

In addition, they argued that Amendment 38 would streamline petition procedures, making the petition process more workable for proponents and more helpful to voters.

Proponents said Amendment 38 would require governing bodies to respect the decisions of voters on ballot measures by requiring a vote of the people before changing that voter-approved policy.[4]


Total campaign cash Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $12,452
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $2,171,418

$12,452 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "yes" vote on Amendment 38.[5]

Amendment 38 had four donors. They were:

Donor Amount
Voter Information Network $10,400
Colorado Term Limits Coalition $498
Jerome J. Roach $250
James Marvin $50



Groups opposing the measure included:

  • Coloradans For Responsible Reform 2006
  • Hospitality Issue PACt
  • Colorado Springs Vote No On 38
  • the Bell Ballot Action Fund
  • People For The American Way Voters Alliance of Colorado.

Arguments against

Opponents argued that Amendment 38 would weaken representative government. Citizens elect representatives to consider all points of view on issues, to make policy decisions, and to change those decisions when necessary. Under Amendment 38, they feared, more laws might be enacted that have not received sufficient refinement.

They argued further that Amendment 38 would encourage abuse of the petition process by eliminating safeguards, such as limiting the ability of election officials to check petition signatures and shortening the time for protesting signatures. They warned that a sound petition process should include sufficient checks and balances.

Opponents also expressed concern that Amendment 38 might result in voters having to decide an increasing number of complex policy issues with less analysis than they have today.

Opponents worried that Amendment 38 would limit governments' ability to respond to changing circumstances or emergencies, since unless specifically provided in the law, lawmakers cannot amend any law adopted by voters through the petition process.[4]


$2,171,418 was contributed to the campaign in favor of a "no" vote on Amendment 38. $1,109,517 was contributed just to defeat Amendment 38; the remaining funds opposing Amendment 38 were spent by committees that also campaigned on behalf of other 2006 Colorado ballot measures. Because of the way records are kept in Colorado, it is not possible to definitely say how much of that approximately $1 million was spent just on campaign activities directed against Amendment 38.[6]

Total campaign cash Campaign Finance Ballotpedia.png
Category:Ballot measure endorsements Support: $12,452
Circle thumbs down.png Opposition: $2,171,418

Donors of $50,000 and over were:

Donor Amount
Colorado Restaurant Association $449,239
Colorado Association of Realtors $255,499
National Restaurant Association $173,000
Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce $105,923
Outback Steakhouse $60,000
Colorado Association of Home Builders $50,000
National Education Association $50,000
Tim Gill $50,000

See also

List of measures

External links

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