Oil and gas give big to Amendment 71

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SMELINDO
  • SMelindo
Raise the Bar, the campaign aimed at making it more difficult to amend the state constitution, has now raised $4.1 million, largely from groups connected to the oil and gas industry, Colorado Secretary of State records reveal. I wrote about the initiative in this week's issue. 

Making it more difficult to amend the state constitution is an idea that has widespread bipartisan support, because the process is so easy — relative to other states that allow citizens to ask for such changes — that Colorado can end up as the target of national special interest groups looking to test out new laws. The state constitution also has many laws that, in practice, contradict one another, making governing the state a challenge.

However, the Raise the Bar initiative also has bipartisan opposition from groups that say that it makes the process much too difficult. Interestingly, if the initiative passes, it may hit progressive causes more heavily, due to a new trend in political campaigns. 

One group that does support raising the bar, is the oil and gas industry. It's no secret why. This year, grassroots groups tried to petition several initiatives onto the Colorado ballot that, if passed, would have created more control over the industry, and allowed for local governments to reign in fracking or ban it outright. Making it more difficult to get such measures on the ballot might protect the energy industry from having to fight such battles in the future. 

In its latest filing, Raise the Bar has a $250,000 donation from the Colorado Petroleum Council (American Petroleum Institute), a $100,000 donation from Whiting Petroleum Corp., and another $1 million from Protecting Colorado's Environment, Economy, and Energy Independence. The latter group, which was formed to fight those failed ballot measures aimed at controlling the oil and gas industry, has given a total of $2 million to the campaign. 

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