The Colorado Supreme Court will allow two out-of-school learning ballot initiatives proposed for the 2020 ballot will continue forward without a rehearing in accordance with state law.
Designated representatives Juliet Sebold and Monica R. Colbert proposed eight ballot initiatives to create an Expanded Learning Opportunities Agency with different funding mechanisms. The state’s Title Board, which advances proposals to the petition-circulating phase upon determination that the ballot initiative covers a single subject, found in April 2019 that initiatives 74 and 75 covered multiple subjects.
Subsequently, at a rehearing, the Title Board reversed its decision and set titles for the two ballot measures.
Kenneth Nova, a Boulder resident, asked the Title Board for a another rehearing, which the Title Board declined to do, citing that only one rehearing is allowed per law. Nova then appealed to the state Supreme Court.
“This prohibition on holding a second rehearing proceeding before the Title Board regarding a proposed initiative is consistent with the ‘stringent time restraints [that] are placed on the proponents and opponents of initiatives, as well as on the Title Board’,” wrote Justice Melissa Hart for the majority.
She added that the process of directing further appeals in the title setting process to the Supreme Court is “quite reasonable.”
The court dismissed Nova’s contention that because the Title Board did not set a title until the rehearing, he should be entitled to a another rehearing to lodge his objection.
Hart wrote that this logic could result in never-ending hearings to tweak title language. “It is not hard to imagine the gamesmanship that could result if a group of objectors wanted to keep a proposed initiative away from the voters,” she explained.
The decision was 4-3, with Justices Richard L. Gabriel, Carlos A. Samour Jr. and Chief Justice Nathan B. Coats dissenting.
Gabriel, writing for the minority, stated that the issue involved whether a person could request a rehearing as a consequence of the Title Board granting another party’s rehearing request and reaching a different decision.
“Petitioner contends that a party aggrieved by such a change of course should have the opportunity to move for a rehearing,” he wrote. “I agree with that.”