Advance Colorado sues state over First Amendment violations

FILE - An overhead view of the Senate chambers as lawmakers try to wrap up the session in the State Capitol in this file photograph taken Monday, June 15, 2020, in Denver.(David Zalubowski | AP)
Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 3:21 PM MDT

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - A group with Advance Colorado is suing the state of Colorado.

Former U.S. senator Hank Brown and three county commissioners, including Mesa County Commissioner Cody Davis, joined a lawsuit to end the practice of unconstitutional compelled speech on citizen-initiated measures.

The group claimed the state allegedly violated Coloradans First Amendment rights through language used in HB 21-1321.

The bill, according to Advance Colorado, forced state mandated language into the title of the bill.

Michael Fields, the president of Advance Colorado, said the language being pushed in the ballot by the state is trying to influence voters.

“If you’re cutting taxes it [the bill] says it has to come from education, higher education, and health care.” Fields said. “This has never been done before, the sponsor of the bill basically said we don’t like the fact they keep cutting taxes, so we want to put this language on to try to influence the vote.”

Fields said the tax cuts are slated to come from Tabor refunds and not from the state’s education or health care money.

“When somebody gets a ballot and the government sends it out, they basically trust the government is being honest with them but that’s not the case.” Fields said.

Fields says by allowing the state to have this language on the bill it makes it harder for citizen initiatives like this one to cut taxes.