DENVER - Citizens who want to pass ballot initiatives would face a new set of rules under a bill pushed by Legislative leaders.
House Speaker Terrance Carroll's bill would require companies that gather petition signatures to register with the secretary of state and get training.
Carroll showed a video Tuesday of a 14-year-old girl circulating petitions for last year's Amendment 49.
She had said her boss told her to lie about her age, and she was paid 75 cents per signature.
A different person provided a notarized signature to the secretary of state to claim credit for collecting the signatures.
That's fraud, Carroll said.
It's an open secret that nearly any group with enough money can put a question on the ballot, said Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, a Democrat.
"We should not accept that Colorado law is for sale," Buescher said.
Carroll's House Bill 1326 makes a long list of changes to petition campaigns.
The bill would allow residents to sue campaigns if they suspect fraud in petitions.
It allows paid petition-gatherers but forbids them to be paid per signature.
It lets the secretary of state throw out signatures if the circulators don't follow the rules.
And it tightens deadlines on petition campaigns.
The bill passed the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on 10-0 vote Tuesday.
Rep. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, worried the bill might violate the First Amendment right to petition the government, because it requires campaigns to pay for petition training.
"Even requiring training could have a chilling effect on that constitutional right," Lambert said.
Despite Lambert's worries, there are few objections to the bill so far, and even Lambert voted for it in the end.
No one testified against the bill Tuesday, and the top Republicans in the House and Senate have signed on as co-sponsors.