Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

DU panel’s recommendations help legislative committee draft reforms

A Colorado legislative committee has proposed a concurrent resolution that, if approved by voters, would make it easier for citizens to initiate changes to state statutes but harder to amend the state constitution.

The Joint Select Committee on Constitutional Reform announced its recommendations at a news conference at the state Capitol March 6. They include changing state signature requirements to make it easier for voters to initiate statutory ballot measures; protecting such statutes from legislative tinkering; and strengthening the legislature’s ballot language review process.

Lawmakers credited the University of Denver Colorado Constitution Panel with providing the impetus for the committee’s work and the basis for its hearings into the subject.

“DU’s work was crucial to our deliberations,” said Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, chair of the select committee and president pro tem of the state Senate.

The DU panel, a broad based group made up of business and political leaders from across the state, studied constitutional reform last year. The panel found the state’s constitution imbedded with conflicting fiscal requirements, laden with detail and rife with unintended consequences.

Members recommended several solutions, including a constitutional review commission, a more deliberative process for reviewing voter-initiated constitutional amendments and protection for initiated statutes.

Jim Griesemer, chair of the DU panel and dean emeritus of the Daniels College of Business, said the constitution panel met the twin goals of the University’s Strategic Issues Program: to raise awareness of an important state issue and inspire a thoughtful public dialogue over solutions. In past years, the program has impaneled citizens to study state economic and water issues.

“As a private University dedicated to the public good, the University of Denver is happy to have provided the impetus and intellectual capital necessary to move this issue forward,” said Griesemer.

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