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The Humane Society of the United States urges “no” vote on Colorado Amendment 71

Amendment would strip away voting rights, and disable animal protection efforts

Colorado Amendment 71 aims to transfer power away from voters, making the state more vulnerable to powerful interests, including agribusiness, at the expense of Colorado citizens. The ballot measure would make it virtually impossible for voters to successfully establish constitutional amendments, and The Humane Society of the United States is urging all voters to oppose it.

The HSUS’s president and CEO Wayne Pacelle stated: “Amendment 71 is an attempt by special interests and their political allies to make it practically impossible for citizen organizations to qualify and pass constitutional amendments by ballot initiative. The only entities who will be able to use the process will be corporations and billionaires with virtually limitless resources.  True citizen-backed organizations will be cut out of the process, recognizing that the requirements stipulated in Amendment 71 are so onerous that the process becomes unusable.”

Existing requirements for establishing constitutional amendments are already formidable, and Amendment 71 severely limits the citizen’s initiative process in several ways, including:

•    Requiring a super-majority of 55 percent of voters to approve a proposed amendment.
•    Requiring a minimum number of signatures from all 35 state senate districts to qualify for the ballot.
•    Allowing the repeal of existing constitutional amendments with a simple majority (not even the 55 percent standard called for to pass new measures!).

The campaign finance reports for proponents of the amendment are filled with large donations from special interests. Fossil fuel companies, including the so-called Protecting Colorado’s Environment, Economy and Energy Independence, has donated $2,000,000; Vital for Colorado contributed $600,000 and the Colorado Petroleum Council (American Petroleum Institute) has spent $250,000.

In 1992, Coloradans voted by a margin of 70 to 30 in support of a statutory ballot measure to ban baiting, hound hunting and spring hunting of black bears. Because lawmakers had tried to overturn that enormously popular wildlife protection measure, The HSUS and its coalition partners pursued a constitutional ban on the use of steel-jawed leghold traps and other body-gripping traps for commerce in fur or recreation in 1996 to prevent a similarly unfair legislative attack on the measure. The anti-trapping amendment passed by a margin of 52 to 48. Under the standards included in Amendment 71, it would have failed, even though it passed by tens of thousands of votes. 

Pacelle added, “Why is it fair to elect politicians by a simple majority or even a plurality but require a supermajority standard for certain ballot questions? This is a power grab masquerading as a good government measure.  If you care about opposing animal cruelty and supporting voting rights, vote ‘no’ on Amendment 71.”

Media Contact: Vincenza Previte, vprevite@humanesociety.org, 240-551-9092.