Amendment Q - Temporary Location for the State Seat of Government Question

By: KKCO - Email
By: KKCO - Email

MESA COUNTY, Colo. (KKCO) - All registered voters are eligible to vote yes or no on the following amendment.

Shall there be an amendment to section 3 of article VIII of the constitution of the state of Colorado, concerning a process for temporarily moving the seat of government in a disaster emergency that substantially affects the ability of the state government to operate in the city and county of Denver, an in connection therewith, requiring the general assembly to convene in a temporary meeting location designated by the governor and authorizing the general assembly to determine by law a temporary location of the seat of government of the state?

NOTE: Ballot issues referred by the general assembly or any political subdivision are listed by letter, and ballot issues initiated by the people are listed numerically. A ballot issue listed as an “amendment” proposes a change to the Colorado constitution, and a ballot issue listed as a “proposition” proposes a change to the Colorado Revised Statues. A “yes” vote on any ballot issue is a vote in favor of changing current law or existing circumstances, and a “no” vote on any ballot issue is a vote against changing current law or existing circumstances.

Analysis of Amendment Q (Temporary Location for the State Seat of Government) as offered by the 2010 State Ballot Information Booklet or Voter Blue Book.
Amendment Q proposes amending the Colorado Constitution to:
- establish a process for moving the state seat of government to a temporary location during a declared disaster emergency.

Summary and Analysis
Since statehood, the Colorado Constitution has designated Denver as the state seat of government. The legislature is prohibited from moving the seat of government out of Denver unless it refers a constitutional amendment to the voters at a general election. The state constitution requires that an amendment to move the state seat of government be approved by at least two-thirds of those voting on the issue.
Amendment Q creates a process for temporarily moving the seat of government if a disaster emergency affects the ability of state government to operate in Denver. It defines a disaster emergency as the occurrence or imminent threat of widespread or severe damage, injury, illness, or loss of life or property resulting from an epidemic or a natural, man-made, or technological event. For the purpose of addressing such emergencies, it also defines the seat of government as the location of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the state of Colorado. After declaring a disaster emergency, and after consulting with the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Governor may designate a temporary meeting location for the state legislature. The legislature must meet at that location and decide whether to pass a bill designating a temporary location for the seat of government outside of Denver. Such legislation must include a date when the temporary location of the seat of government expires. Amendment Q does not change the process for permanently moving the state seat of government. Currently, 36 other states have created a legal process to temporarily move the state seat of government in an emergency.

Argument For:
1) The state constitution does not provide a process to temporarily relocate the state seat of government — even during a disaster emergency. Amendment Q provides the legal authority for the temporary movement of state government in the event of a declared disaster emergency. It also enables state government officials to plan for and respond to a disaster emergency and continue essential government services without requiring a statewide vote on whether to move the state seat.

Argument Against:
1) The measure may be unnecessary because all three branches of state government have powers under current law and rules to independently manage their operations and address disaster emergencies. For example, legislative rules allow the legislature to meet temporarily in another location in Denver or elsewhere in the state during a Governor-declared disaster emergency. The Governor also has powers to address disasters including ordering evacuations and reassigning state employees.

Estimate of Fiscal Impact:
Amendment Q is not expected to affect state or local government revenue or spending.

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