You are here

Commissioners Support “Raise the Bar” Amendment

The Fremont County Board of Commissioners has gone on record in support of an amendment to make it more difficult to amend Colorado’s constitution.   A petition drive was launched this summer by a group of government and civic leaders to place a question on Colorado’s November ballot.  “Raise the Bar—Protect Our Constitution” would raise the threshold for voter approval of a constitutional amendment from the current 50 percent plus one vote to 55 percent.

In addition, those who want a constitutional amendment would have to obtain at least 2 percent of the signatures from residents in every one of Colorado’s 35 Senate districts. Currently, both statutory and constitutional amendments can get on the ballot with 5 percent of signatures that can be fully collected along the state’s populous Front Range. That leaves out the voices of people on the Western Slope and the Eastern Plains.

Several supporters note that the U.S. Constitution has just 27 amendments. But the Colorado constitution now has 150, dealing with issues that can and do change.   County Commission Chairman Ed Norden concurred with that view questioning why Colorado voters put such amendments in the Constitution that ban large hog farms and spring bear hunts.

Supporters also point out that trouble occurs when the Constitution gets cluttered with conflicting amendments that, once approved, cannot be readily changed. The most notorious example of this is the constitutional and budgetary clash between the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, which limits Colorado’s revenue and Amendment 23, which requires increased investment in K-12 education. These and other constitutional prescriptions have made a mess of Colorado’s budget and hamstrung lawmakers’ efforts to fulfill their obligations.

In the resolution adopted at their July 12th regular meeting the commissioners noted that there is no incentive to seek a statutory change as opposed to a constitutional amendment since the standard to change both is the same.   The resolution also points out that the ease of amending Colorado's constitution leaves the state vulnerable to out of state special interest groups.   The commissioners adopted the resolution in support of “Raise the Bar” by a unanimous vote.

The Board of Commissioners also approved ratification of their signatures on a letter of support for the Upper Arkansas Water Conservancy District which is pursuing state grant funding to conduct a Phase 2 water study in the Upper Arkansas River drainage basin.   Phase one of the project was initiated several years ago to study the Salida and Buena Vista region.    Phase Two of the water study will focus on Custer and Fremont Counties.   District 1 Commissioner Tim Payne said one of the key pieces in the Phase 2 study will be to examine the possibility of underground water storage by pumping surface water into underground cavities.

In other business at the July 12th meeting the Board of Commissioners:

  • Approved the change of operator and change of name for three quarries in Fremont County operating under conditional use permits.   Martin-Marietta is the new operator of the three quarries which include the Red Canyon Quarry near the Fremont-El Paso County line, the Rocky Mountain Materials Penrose Pit along Highway 120 two miles east of the junction with Highway 115, and the Rocky Mountain Materials Coyote Ridge Quarry along Highway 67 just south of County Road 100;
  • Appointed Bill McDowell of Atmos Energy to the Southern Colorado Economic Development District;
  • Heard an annual report on activities at the John C. Fremont Library in Florence.