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The initiative process is complex and lengthy, but if proponents pay particular attention to the requirements they can accomplish the process within a reasonable time period.
This summary outlines the various steps in the initiative process including the requirements for preparing and qualifying initiatives.
This document provides a general overview of the initiative process and is not a guide for petition entity licensing or circulator training. For more detailed information please review Article V, Section 1 of the Colorado Constitution, Articles 40 and 41 of Title 1, C.R.S., and Election Rule 15. Petition entities should review the training guide for petition entity representatives and circulators.
1. Preparation and drafting
Any person interested in placing a constitutional amendment or statutory proposition on the statewide ballot must first draft the measure’s initial language. The persons who wish to propose an amendment or proposition are referred to as "proponents."
When writing the initial language, please keep in mind your targeted audience. It is best to use plain, non-technical language, and words with common and everyday meaning understandable to the average reader.
2. Review and comment meeting
When the proponents complete their typewritten draft, they must submit the text to the Legislative Council Staff.
When proponents submit their typewritten draft to Legislative Council, they must also entitle two designated representatives who will represent the proponents in all matters affecting the petition. Designated representatives are often the proponents themselves. When entitling the designated representatives, proponents must list the representatives’ names, mailing addresses, email addresses, telephone numbers, and fax numbers.
For more information about the specific responsibilities of designated representatives, please review the Summary of Designated Representative Responsabilities.
Proposals may be submitted in person, by mail, fax, or e‑mail to:
Mike Mauer, Director
Colorado Legislative Council Staff
State Capitol Building
Denver, Colorado 80203
Upon receipt of the draft language, the Council Staff will assign a number to the proposed initiative for tracking purposes.
Additionally, Council Staff will schedule a public review and comment hearing two weeks from the filing date. At the hearing, Council Staff will review the initiative’s language to ensure that the measure accomplishes the proponents’ goal. The meeting also gives public notice that a proposal is under consideration.
The Office of Legislative Legal Services and Legislative Council Staff prepare written comments of each proposal prior to the review and comment hearing and make the comments available on the Legislative Council website.
For more information, please see Article V, Section 1(5) of the Colorado Constitution and section 1‑40‑105, C.R.S.
3. Opportunity to amend proposal
Following the review and comment hearing, proponents may amend the proposed initiative before submission to the Secretary of State. Amendments may be based on some or all of the comments made at the review and comment meeting.
If substantial amendments to the proposed initiative are made, proponents must submit a new draft of the measure to the Council Staff for a review and comment hearing. If the changes are in direct response to substantive questions and comments raised in the review and comment hearing, proponents do not need to resubmit the initiative to Council Staff.
4. Filing the text with the Secretary of State
After the review and comment hearing, and once any necessary amendments have been made, the proponents may file with the Secretary of State.
The following documents must be submitted to the Secretary of State:
1) The original typewritten draft submitted for a review and comment hearing;
2) The amended draft with changes highlighted; and
3) The original final typewritten draft which has the final language for printing of the proposed initiative.
Documents submitted to the Secretary of State must include the number assigned by Legislative Council and must clearly indicate the draft version (i.e. original draft, final draft, etc.)
If no changes were made to the text after the review and comment hearing, proponents must submit the final text along with a letter from the Legislative Council Staff stating that an additional review and comment meeting is not necessary.
At the time of filing, all aforementioned designated representative information must be included. Proposals are filed with:
Wayne W. Williams
Secretary of State
1700 Broadway, Suite 200
Denver, Colorado 80290
Phone: 303-894-2200, ext. 6307
For additional information, see sections 1-40-104 and 1-40-105(4), C.R.S.
5. Ballot title & Title Board hearing
After a measure has been filed with the Secretary of State, the Initiative Title Setting Review Board (Title Board) will hold a public hearing.
The Title Board is comprised of designated officials from Legislative Council, the Attorney General's Office, and the Secretary of State's Office.