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Thoughts and Experiences from the Mile High City of Denver, Colorado

Amendment 41 Fix Coming...Maybe


The Colorado legislature has been posturing over the fixes to Amendment 41, the new Colorado ethics law that was passed last November. But it may be close to developing a fix for all the problems that this amendment has caused. The problem has been in the Senate. They have had the House bills for a while, but have been sitting on the legislation for over a month. The bill authorizing the five-member panel has been passed by both houses and the House has passed SB-210 that clarifies what is covered in the ban, but it also causes some controversy.

Mainly it sets up conditions in which a charge may be dismissed. In her blog, Representative Morgan Carroll states that SB-210 "MANDATES the dismissal of anyone complaint under Amendment 41 that does not allege (1) breach of the public trust (2) for private gain for money (3) offered for the purpose to influence (4) an official act."

According to Carroll the bill, "...creates many new standards that would make it virtually impossible to ever bring any complaint forward under Amendment, let alone prevail on its merits."

The bill passed by a large margin, but goes back to the Senate because Rep Romanoff pushed through an amendment that would delete any portion of the legislatures plan if the Colorado Supreme Court deems it illegal.

It seems that the legislature is working to find legal work-arounds to this amendment so they can keep accepting the gifts.

For those you don't know, the Amendment 41 prohibits gifts for state and local employees plus their families over $50. The problem is that this has been interpreted as also prohibiting scholarships, inheritances, and personal gifts.

I personally voted against this Amendment. Not that I don't think we need ethics in government, but because this was a constitutional amendment. This type of governance belongs as a statute. Because it was passed as an amendment, it has created a lot of problems and I see many problems and possibly court challenges in the future.

So the legislature is trying to clear it up and the Senate is dragging their feet. If these two bills don't get it done in time, some concerned citizens have gathered enough signatures to place this on the fall ballot.

You can read more at the Denver Post: Amend. 41 endgame may be in sight