BILL SUMMARY for HB09-1326
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON STATE, VETERANS, & MILITARY AFFAIRS
|Votes: View--> ||Action Taken: |
|Moved an amendment to the printed bill, page 11, l|
Moved to refer House Bill 09-1326 to the Committee
The committee was called to order. A quorum was present.
01:45 PM -- House Bill 09-1326
Speaker Carroll T. and Representative Court, prime sponsors, presented House Bill 09-1326, concerning the integrity of the statewide citizen-initiated petition process. Speaker Carroll provided background on the need for the legislation, and introduced a film regarding the initiative petition signature-gathering process. Representative Carroll then discussed the content of the film as it pertains to House Bill 09-1326, and explained the effect of each of the bill's provisions.
Speaker Carroll continued to explain the effect of the bill's provisions. Representative Court then continued with the explanation of the bill's provisions. Discussion ensued regarding the effect of certain provisions in the bill on the free speech rights of petition circulators.
Discussion continued regarding the free speech ramifications of certain provisions in the bill. Discussion ensued regarding another provision in the bill pertaining to how petition circulators are paid, and its impact on petition fraud. Discussion followed regarding the definition of "circulator" in the bill, and the treatment of volunteer petition circulators by the legislation.
Discussion continued regarding signature gathering by volunteer initiative petition circulators, and the potential for providing a mechanism to fund training required by the bill for volunteer petition circulators. Representative Court responded to questions regarding the potential for including short titles of ballot issues on the ballot itself. Speaker Carroll responded to questions regarding the coalition that participated in the crafting of House Bill 09-1326.
The following persons testified regarding House Bill 09-1326:
02:25 PM -- Mr. Bernie Buescher, Secretary of State, testified in favor of the bill. Secretary Buescher weighed in on the constitutional issues raised by the bill, and the need to balance individual rights with the potential for fraud in the petition process. Mr. Buescher also addressed Representative Lambert's concerns about the restrictive nature of fees and training required for petition circulators by the bill. Secretary Buescher then proposed a pair of amendments to the bill, and addressed further potential constitutional issues raised by the bill. Secretary Buescher responded to questions regarding privacy issues associated with allowing copying of initiative petitions by the public, and the practicality of allowing petition signers to remove their signatures from petitions upon request.
Discussion ensued regarding the constitutionality of cancelling out petition signatures based on impropriety on the part of a petition circulator. Discussion returned to the ability to create a mechanism for covering the costs of training for petition circulators.
02:38 PM -- Mr. Pat Hamill, representing Colorado Concern and the Denver Chamber of Commerce, testified in favor of House Bill 09-1326. Mr. Hamill discussed the need to establish public trust in the legislative process, and explained how the bill will establish integrity in the process.
02:41 PM -- Mr. Phil Hayes, representing the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), testified in favor of the bill. Mr. Hayes discussed incidents of potential fraud in the initiative petition process that occurred during the 2008 election cycle, and the need to regulate the petition signature-gathering process. Mr. Hayes addressed concerns raised over a provision in the bill that requires training of petition circulators, and discussed the need for the training requirement. Mr. Hayes also discussed the need for organizations sponsoring initiatives to better police the process by which petition circulators are vetted. Discussion ensued regarding the AFL-CIO's position on the secret ballot.
02:48 PM -- Ms. Lynne Mason, representing the Colorado Education Association, testified in favor of House Bill 09-1326, and discussed the reasons for the association's support for the bill.
02:50 PM -- Mr. Mark Grueskin, representing Citizens for Integrity, testified in favor of the bill. Mr. Grueskin discussed the prevalence of fraud in the petition signature-gathering process. Committee members received a packet of information pertaining to petition circulation (Attachment A). Mr. Grueskin recounted incidents of potential impropriety associated with petition signature gathering during the 2008 election cycle, and explained how House Bill 09-1326 will rectify these types of situations.
Mr. Grueskin continued to discuss improprieties in petition signature-gathering during the 2008 election cycle. Mr. Grueskin explained how changing the compensation basis for signature gatherers will help to combat fraud. Mr. Grueskin also addressed certain constitutional issues discussed previously, and explained the need for the training for signature gatherers required by House Bill 09-1326. Mr. Grueskin explained the purpose of a provision in the bill that requires petition circulators to be present during the protest phase of the petition process. Mr. Grueskin then discussed provisions in the bill that regulate the participation of notaries public in the initiative petition process.
Mr. Grueskin addressed the attorney fee requirements for the protest process contained in House Bill 09-1326, and the provision in the bill that allows a petition signer to have his or her signature removed from the petition. Mr. Grueskin responded to questions regarding the treatment of petition circulator residency requirements by the courts. Mr. Grueskin responded to further questions regarding recovery of attorney fees under the bill based on fraud in petition signature gathering, and the covering of business entities by this provision. Discussion ensued regarding privacy concerns associated with petitions becoming public documents.
Discussion ensued regarding the bill's treatment of the initiative petition protest process, and the nullification of signatures under the bill.
03:25 PM -- Ms. Amy Pitlik, representing Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, testified in support of House Bill 09-1326. Ms. Pitlik discussed the restoration of integrity in the petition process by the bill.
03:27 PM -- Ms. Marijo Rymer, representing The Arc of Colorado, testified in favor of the bill. Ms. Rymer explained her support for a provision in the bill that requires clarification that a petition changes either the state constitution or state statutes. Ms. Rymer discussed a lack of knowledge on the part of the public regarding the definition of "elector," and expressed support for petition circulator training requirements in the bill. Ms. Rymer also supported inclusion of short titles for ballot issues on the ballot.
03:35 PM -- Ms. Peg Ackerman, representing the Colorado County Clerks Association, testified regarding House Bill 09-1326 from a neutral position. Ms. Ackerman expressed support for a provision in the bill that requires withdrawal of an initiative by proponents prior to ballot printings, and suggested requiring the inclusion of certain language in ballots.
03:38 PM -- Ms. Christine Watson, representing the League of Women Voters, testified in support of the bill. Ms. Watson discussed the need to elevate standards for the initiative petition process, and the need for training for petition circulators. Ms. Watson expressed concerns over the potential impact of regulation of notaries by the bill on volunteer organizations, and expressed support for the constitutional/statutory clarification language in the bill. Ms. Watson then urged the legislature to require initiative proponents to answer questions put to them during the initiative review process.
03:43 PM -- Mr. David Sanger, representing the American Federation of Teachers in Colorado, testified in support of House Bill 09-1326. Mr. Sanger expressed support for certain components in the bill.
03:44 PM -- Mr. Harvie Branscomb of Carbondale, representing himself, testified regarding the bill. Mr. Branscomb discussed the expedited process associated with the bill's introduction, and raised potential issues associated with the provision in the bill allowing petition signers to subsequently remove their signatures from the petition. Mr. Branscomb also raised potential issues with language that allows participation by out-of-state petition circulators in petition protest hearings by telephone, and discussed the potential for including ballot issue short titles on ballots. Discussion ensued regarding Mr. Branscomb's objection pertaining to protest hearing participation, and the ability of petition circulators from rural areas to receive training.
Discussion ensued regarding potential amendments to the bill.
Discussion ensued regarding a potential language inconsistency in House Bill 09-1326, and the difference between an initiative and a referendum. Representative Lambert listed several potential amendments to the bill going forward. Discussion ensued on these potential amendments. Discussion returned to the need for a balance between free expression and the policing of fraud. Further amendments were suggested for second reading of the bill, including the potential for including a legislative declaration in the bill.
|TIME: || 04:02:48 PM|
|MOTION:||Moved to refer House Bill 09-1326 to the Committee on Appropriations with favorable recommendation. The motion passed on a 10-0-1 roll call vote.|
Final YES: 10 NO: 0 EXC: 1 ABS: 0 FINAL ACTION: PASS