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Owens Threatens Special Session on Illegal Immigration

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Gov. Bill Owens today threatened to call a special legislative session to address illegal immigration after the Colorado Supreme Court shot down a proposed ballot measure because of problems with the wording. According to The Denver Channel:

Gov. Bill Owens, considering a request by Republican lawmakers, said Tuesday that he will call a special session if the Colorado Supreme Court does not reverse its decision and put on the November ballot an initiative that would deny most state services to illegal immigrants. Attorney General John Suthers also said will ask the Colorado Supreme Court to reconsider its decision.

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“Yesterday, our State Supreme Court ignored years of legal precedent and decided that the public should not have a say in one of the most important public policy debates of our time. In my opinion, the court’s decision was inconsistent, it was inappropriate, and yes, I even believe it was arrogant,” Owens said.

On Monday, the state Supreme Court disqualified the proposal, saying it addressed more than one topic, a violation of the state constitution. Suthers and Owens said the court previously had accepted a similar measure.

Though I won’t claim any legal expertise here, I don’t necessarily agree with the court’s decision; from what I understand there may be some precedent for the court to have acted differently in the past, and perhaps the measure should have been allowed to continue. However, I absolutely do not think it is justified for Owens to call a special session if the Colorado Supreme Court doesn’t change its ruling, and here’s why:

It isn’t the legislature’s job to clean up after failed initiative attempts.

The whole idea of this subverts the point of a citizen initiative. The initiative process allows citizens to try to get a measure on the ballot through their own efforts. The legislature shouldn’t be the backup plan, there to save the day if the efforts of a citizen group fail. If Owens thought the legislature should convene for a special session to address illegal immigration, he should have called the session for that reason alone (nevermind that several bills concerning illegal immigration were already discussed in the general session, several of which passed and were signed by Owens).

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The governor, whoever it is, shouldn’t be allowed to bully the legislature into addressing an issue because a ballot measure failed. That’s not the way the process is supposed to work.

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