(Bent County, CO) -- I know you've heard it before and you might've uttered the phrase in frustration a time or two. "There Ought to Be a Law." As citizens of Colorado you can start the process to see that happen. Yes, that's right, your law.
Let's talk about how it all begins
Those ballot initiatives or questions you see on the ballot started as someone's desire to change something. If you're a news nerd like me, perhaps you know or have already been on the Colorado General Assembly site or the Colorado Secretary of State's site.
According to the General Assembly's site, here's how it's done or at least started.
The process for placing a statewide initiative on the ballot is governed by the Colorado Constitution (Article V, Section 1) and state law (Articles 40 and 41 of Title 1, Colorado Revised Statute). The Secretary of State and the Legislative Council have adopted rules to implement certain provisions of the constitution and state law, and the Colorado Supreme Court has decided cases relating to the initiative process that interpret the constitution and state law.
Now, the steps to get your question on the ballot so that voters can vote on it.
Step 2. Review and Comment Meeting
Step 3. Submission of Revised Proposals
Step 4. Filing with Secretary of State
Step 5. Title Setting
Step 8. Appeals of Title Board Decisions
Step 9. Signature Gathering
Step 11. Verification of Signatures
Step 13. Placement on Ballot
Ok, it's important to note before we go any further that if you have had that "there ought to be a law" moment and want to act on it, you only have until April 5th of 2024 at 3 pm if you want have it appear on the 2024 ballot.
You will need a lot of signatures on your petition, those signatures will need to be verified by the Colorado Secretary of State's office.
It's a long process. I've heard it can be frustrating too. But imagine the power you have as a regular Joe citizen to give Colorado voters the chance to vote on your proposed law or change to one.
Make sure you choose the title of your initiative carefully. You might remember a few years back when a controversial ballot question was tossed out because it was deemed to be confusing with two subjects in the title. The trick is to keep it simple.
If you just want to watch the process of what might be on your November ballot right now there's a chance to do that. You can listen to initiative filing hearings live from this link.
Some of the upcoming hearings this month (January 2024) will be:
Determination of Property Taxes
School Choice in K-12 Education
Valuation for Assessments
Parental Consent for Health Care Treatment of a Child
Parental Notification of Gender Incongruence
Parental Rights Concerning Public Education Records
Maybe this has been helpful to you, maybe not. In any case, I just had to share and wanted you to know.
My mom raised me to read and be informed about my world. She taught me it was my responsibility to participate in civic affairs and learn about the politics of local, regional, state, and our nation. She felt so strongly about that in 1985 that she ran for Mayor of Tulsa, our hometown. She filed as an Independent candidate and was the first woman to do so ever in the history of Tulsa. She didn't win but she did do something. Because it had largely been only a two-party system in the past, people just didn't know that anyone, literally anyone could have the dream to be mayor and file as an Independent candidate.
Here's the campaign flyer that we pounded the pavement to leave with voters. "People need a choice, and it might not be the Republican or the Democrat."
Mom was ahead of her time.