From The Colorado Statesman: By Tamra Ward The days of playing “20 questions” with petition circulators about the fiscal facts of a proposed ballot initiative are coming to a close thanks to a landmark law Gov. Hickenlooper signed into law this week. House Bill 1057, which passed with solid bipartisan support, will give voters a clear and unbiased fiscal impact statement on the petition form, allowing Coloradans access to critically important data as they consider if they will sign their names in support.
This new law was a shining example of cooperation and collaboration across party lines in a legislative year that was marked by some sharp disputes, and special thanks are due to our prime sponsors Rep. Lois Court and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg as well as the leadership in both chambers. We are also especially grateful to the governor who made this bill a key pillar in his legislative agenda and made special mention of it in the State of the State message in January.
Why such a groundswell of support, including the backing of more than three dozen business, civic and local and county government groups? Because it’s basic common sense and rooted in a fixture of the legislative process. Colorado law requires that every bill that has an impact on the state budget have a fiscal note to allow legislators and the governor to have a fully informed position. In the same way, House Bill 1057 requires the very same information to be given to prospective petition signers with the nonpartisan Legislative Council creating a fiscal impact statement for any measure that receives a title from the state Title Board.
In Colorado, we value the direct access to the ballot that the initiative system provides. As we empower citizens to make laws, we must also empower voters with the unbiased, transparent information they need and deserve. In every aspect of our lives, whether in business or in our household budgets, we weigh costs and benefits. We carefully scrutinize potential investments — in a car, appliance or a home — for their true value. Ballot initiatives, which can affect the entire state and often alter our State Constitution, require no less scrutiny. Basic fiscal information is foundational to that consideration.
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