The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States determines that “The powers not delegated to the United States by the constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” From that starting point, it is interesting to study how the people of each state have delegated all the other powers, whatever they might be, within their respective state.
Article V, Section 1 of the Colorado Constitution starts with a paragraph that briefly delegates lawmaking authority to the General Assembly and then makes clear that the people also reserved for themselves “…the power to propose laws and amendments to the constitution and to enact or reject the same at the polls independent of the general assembly and also reserve the power at their own option to approve or reject at the polls any act or item, section, or part of any act or the general assembly.” Article V, Section 1 continues for two pages describing the lawmaking and constitution-amending authorities that the people of Colorado reserved for themselves in 1876 and still have today.
In Colorado, the state legislature considers hundreds of bills each year. Some of those bills pass through the legislative process and become law, others fail in that process and do not become law. And, in Colorado, the people may propose laws through the initiative process.
In Colorado, with 2/3 support from both chambers, the state legislature can refer to the people (voters specifically) proposed amendments to the Colorado Constitution. And, in Colorado, the people may propose amendments to the state constitution through the initiative process.
In Colorado, the state legislature can and does make new laws, but it does not have the authority to amend the state Constitution. Meanwhile, the people of Colorado can make new laws, amend, or repeal any existing state law, and they can amend their state Constitution. They reserved those powers to themselves in 1876. However, many people who live in Colorado today might never have considered the implications of the Tenth Amendment and how the people of Colorado chose to delegate power in 1876.
If you’d like more information about the Colorado Initiative Process, then please visit the website of the Colorado Secretary of State at:
If you have questions about the Colorado Initiative Process, please direct questions to the office of the Colorado Secretary of State. If you have questions of a legal nature, then please consult with an attorney.