DENVER The House overwhelmingly voted Friday to put a question on the ballot that would make it harder to amend the state constitution.
That means the first question on the 2012 ballot probably will ask Coloradans to raise the number of votes needed to approve future constitutional amendments.
The 52-12 vote for Senate Concurrent Resolution 1 easily cleared the two-thirds majority needed for passage. Two Democrats and 10 Republicans voted against it.
It was a hard-core conservative, Rep. Spencer Swalm, R-Centennial, who provided the most forceful argument for the proposal Friday.
The founders of the United States did not want direct democracy and set up a system to cool the voters passions, Swalm said.
What we see going on in the Colorado Constitution is a perfect example of this ratcheting back and forth from one extreme to the other, Swalm said. What we get are these political passions that boil up and arent cooled the way our Founding Fathers imagined.
Colorados constitution includes amendments to limit property taxes, limit government revenue and require greater spending on schools, in addition to miscellaneous provisions about odor control at hog farms and a ban on nuclear detonations.
But other conservative Republicans argued against the resolution, saying the people have a sacred right to bypass the Legislature and amend the constitution.
We need to recognize the level of freedom and liberty we have allowed people to access this document, said Rep. Chris Holbert, R-Parker.
SCR 1 does three basic things:
b It raises the number of votes required to approve a new amendment to 60 percent of the votes cast but keeps the number at 50 percent to repeal an old amendment.
b It requires petition signatures for citizen initiatives to be gathered in all seven congressional districts.
b And it offers protection to voter-approved changes to ordinary laws that dont go in the constitution. The Legislature would not be able to change a voter-approved law for the first three years after it passed unless it could muster a 60 percent majority.
The original version of SCR 1 required a two-thirds majority to change a voter-approved law, but the House lowered the number. The change will require approval from the Senate, which already passed the resolution last week on a 25-9 vote.
Both of Southwest Colorados representatives, Republicans J. Paul Brown of Ignacio and Don Coram of Montrose, voted yes.