U.S. District Court Judge Phillip Brimmer has ruled in favor of a conservative think-tank, saying that the Colorado statute which barred citizen sponsored ballot-proposal sponsors from paying petition signature gatherers per signature was an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.
The law forbids petition circulators from receiving more than 20 percent of their pay on a per-signature basis. Caldara, of the Independence Institute, and another plaintiff, marijuana proponent Mason Tvert, alleged that this statue was created to create barriers in the petition gathering process to eliminate ballot initiatives that were unpopular with elected officials. The prime example of such successful initiatives is the citizen-sponsored tax reform, TABOR.
The judge granted the plaintiffs’ preliminary injunction request, and the plaintiffs are now free to pay petition circulators by the signature. The defendant, Secretary of State Bernie Buescher, has said that the law was created as a response to the alleged fraud in signature-gathering in 2008.
Caldara sued, contending that HB09-1326 makes signature gathering more expensive and threatens an anti- health-care-reform initiative he’s trying to get on the November ballot. The complaint resulted in a three-day trial. Caldara sought an emergency suspension of the law.
The Independence Institute is sponsoring a ballot initiative against federal health-care reform in Colorado. Tvert wishes to circulate a petition calling for a general election referendum on further loosening marijuana laws in Colorado.