Monday, January 31, 2011

Rep Court seeks clarification on ballot issues in Colorado’s ‘Blue Book’

Voters who have always wondered how issues come to appear on their ballots may now have an answer under a measure approved by the House Friday.

“Let’s give them some information about where these ballot measures come from,” said Rep. Lois Court, D-Denver, sponsor of House Bill 1035. The measure adds language to the Blue Book—an official publication produced by the legislature’s Legislative Council, containing ballot language and arguments for and against ballot measures—that would provide voters some background, including the origins of a particular ballot issue.

Court said she heard repeatedly from constituents as she walked door-to-door campaigning this fall, asking how ballot issues land on the ballot. They wanted to know “how these got here, and why they are on the ballot,” said Court.

Referred measures come from the legislature and must garner a two-thirds majority vote in both houses to appear on the ballot. Initiatives, on the other hand, appear on the ballot after proponents gather a required number of signatures from registered voters. Under HB1035, the distinction between the two would be explained, in writing, before each measure, in the Blue Book.

Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers spoke in favor of Court’s measure but one Republican, Rep. Jim Kerr, R-Littleton, said he had reservations about the added language and would not be supporting it, citing information overload.

“This information is available to someone that wants to do a little work, a little research,” said Kerr. “People should be informed, and the Blue Book helps with that, but sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper.”

Supporting the measure, Rep. Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs, said that while he’s not a fan of making the Blue Book longer or more complicated, including the explanations is a great idea.

“This is not intuitive information,” said Waller. “It’s information that needs to be there because if it wasn’t there, you wouldn’t know that it’s information that you need to know. “

Court said she is siding with the voters and that lawmakers should indulges them with the information they are asking for.

“I think our constituents deserve to know this information,” said Court.

HB1035 is now scheduled for a final, recorded vote today before it makes its way over to the Senate for consideration.

Via – Colorado News Agency

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