Douglas Bruce

Douglas Bruce

Re: "Colorado must draw a line between 'tax' and 'fee,' " Jan. 6.

As TABOR's author, I fought many traps our foes set for us. We went down their rabbit trail of theoretical debates ... twice.

The 1988 TABOR covered "fees" that yearly increase above inflation. Foes used examples like library card fees increasing 10%, which may be a quarter. "We can't vote all the time" on trivial sums.

The 1990 fight allowed increases rounded up to the next dollar. Same result. We can't set a limit — say, $50 million — on a fee increase; they will simply increase 50 fees $40 million each. They will also increase licenses, permits, etc.

In 1992, we switched "fee v. tax " details for revenue spending limits. The Establishment took OUR bait. The issue was our right to vote at all, and we won. Set the agenda and frame the issue, and you win the debate.

Our foes then violated TABOR for 28 years, by saying road and bridge "fees" are for "enterprises," though they clearly violate the definition. Ditto hospital provider fees, the Dirty Dozen in 2009, and dozens more.

Our corrupt courts will "interpret" a fee any way their paymasters say, just as they say multi-year borrowing with interest is not "debt," but "certificates of participation." Judges take a new phrase, then defer to legislators to define it. Don't enter their rabbit hole of saying there is a "loophole" in TABOR; there isn't. This is pure power politics.

Voters must again control the agenda in 2020. I read the Petition Rights Amendment (PetitionRights.com). Its backers get it. We are about to lose our First Amendment right to petition; trusting folks can't see it coming. The Fifteen Facts report is a real eye-opener!

The PRA protects people power from corrupt courts and lying politicians. With PRA, conservatives can petition to voters yearly, at state and local governments. The process is simpler, and entries fewer. Establishment types will be on defense, trying to react to our agenda. If they face five state and local issues every November, they will usually lose.

The sign-up sheet offers circulators $1 per entry. Assign the money to your favorite charity or group. 20 people collecting 15 signers hourly and working 20 hours each, is $6,000 weekly or $25,000 monthly. The target, 190,000 state entries, has zoomed from the 98,000 target in 2018. It will be out of reach forever if not stopped in 2020.

PRA will allow not only tax and debt petitions, but school choice, guns, property rights, recall reform, judges, and a dozen other items on our list. The Founding Fathers would tell you it all starts with the First Amendment right to petition. I'm getting excited just thinking about the frontiers of freedom we can reach together.

TABOR was a win, but it isn't being enforced. Only changing the system will put citizens back in control of government. As TABOR's author, I freely concede PRA is more important, more powerful than TABOR.

All liberty lovers should visit PetitionRights.com and commit to 40+ hours in February, getting signatures and recruiting others. I know the chief advocate, Natalie Menten, to be diligent and dependable. She's politically solid and has her conservative values straight.

Trust me; I'm NOT from the government and I'm here to help you.

Douglas Bruce, of Colorado Springs, authored the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, enacted by Colorado voters in the state constitution in 1992.

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