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What Happened to Amendment 54

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In 2008, Amendment 54 narrowly passed by a single percentage point, as voters hoped to minimize undue influence in politics by barring campaign contributions from no-bid state contractors, their families, and members of boards of directors. But yesterday the Colorado Supreme Court shot down the amendment in a 4-1 decision, stating it was overly broad and “so incomplete or riddled with omissions that it cannot be salvag[ed]” (via The Denver Post). Among the problems, the amendment wrongly defined labor unions as no-bid contractors, limiting their political contributions. The amendment also disproportionately impacted no-bid contractors and their families by prohibiting political contributions for two years following a government contract. The amendment had been supported by the libertarian-minded Independence Institute and was sold to voters as a way to guard against corruption, writes The Colorado Independent. “The authors of Amendment 54 tried to silence political speakers they don’t like, but they ran into a little roadblock called the First Amendment, and, fortunately for all of us, they have failed,” says Mark Grueskin, an attorney who represented some of the plaintiffs in the case, in a news release. The Grand Junction Sentinel essentially agrees in an editorial that hails the decision as “the latest in a string of defeats for those wanting to decree who can and cannot engage in political speech.”

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