Colorado Supreme Court Opinions
June 12, 2006
No. 04SC816. Colorado General Assembly v. Owens, Colorado Governor.
Constitutional Law—Separation of Powers—Legislative Encroachment on Executive—Governor’s Item Veto Power.
The Supreme Court exercises its authority under C.A.R. 50 to review Colorado General Assembly v. Owens, No. 03CV3700 (Denver Dist.Ct., Sept. 29, 2004). This case concerns the Governor’s line item vetoes of definitional headnotes in two General Appropriations Bills, also known as the "long" bills, and the Governor’s line item veto of an appropriation in a separate substantive bill. The trial court upheld the Governor’s line item vetoes in the two long bills, but rejected the Governor’s line item veto of the appropriation provision in a substantive bill.
The Supreme Court affirms the judgment of the trial court, although it differs somewhat in its analysis. The Supreme Courts rejects the trial court’s conclusion that the long bill headnotes were properly vetoed by the Governor because they are "items" within the meaning of article IV, § 12, of the Colorado Constitution. However, the Court agrees with the trial court’s alternative holding that by adopting the headnotes, the legislature intruded into the executive branch’s responsibility to administer the laws and violated the separation of powers doctrine established in article III of the Colorado Constitution. Likewise, the Court agrees with the ruling that the Governor cannot veto an appropriation in a substantive bill, unless he vetoes the entire bill. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
No. 05SA205. Central Colorado Water Concervancy District in Adams, Larimer, Morgan, and Weld Counties: Harmony Ditch Company v. Ground Water Management Subdistrict of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District.
Water Law—Application for Approval—CRS § 37-92-305(8).
The Harmony Ditch Company ("Harmony") and various other opposers appealed directly to the Supreme Court for review of the water court’s decree approving an application for an augmentation plan for approximately 1,000 wells in the South Platte River Basin. The application was filed by the Ground Water Management Subdistrict of the Central Colorado Water Conservancy District.
The water court approved the application and, in its decree, imposed a duty of curtailment on the state engineer in the language of CRS § 37-92-305(8). Harmony assigned error to the water court’s failure to construe the language of the statute and include in the decree that curtailment of out-of-priority diversions is authorized only when the augmentation plan is not being operated in compliance with the other terms and conditions of the decree.
The Supreme Court affirms, holding that: (1) CRS § 37-92-305(8) specifies what a water court decree must demand of the state engineer; and (2) the water court complied with the statute’s mandate by imposing a duty of curtailment on the state engineer in the precise terms of the statute. The judgment of the water court is affirmed.
No. 06SA20. In the Matter of the Title and Ballot Title and Submission Clause for 2005–2006 #55: Ganzales-Estay v. Lamm.
Amendment 1 of the Colorado Constitution—
Petitioner Ganzales-Estay brought an original proceeding to review the action of the Title Board in fixing a title and a ballot title and submission clause for Initiative #55 for the 2006 general election. Initiative #55 seeks to prohibit the State of Colorado, as well as all cities, counties, and political subdivisions thereof, from providing any non-emergency services to persons who are not otherwise lawfully present in the United States.
Petitioner argued that the Title Board lacked jurisdiction to set the title for Initiative #55, on the basis that it contains multiple subjects, in violation of article V, § 1(5.5), of the Colorado Constitution. The Supreme Court concludes that Initiative #55 violates the single-subject prohibition. Initiative #55 presents at least two unrelated and incongruous purposes: (1) decreasing taxpayer expenditures contributing to the welfare of individuals not lawfully present in Colorado; and (2) restricting access to administrative services. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reverses the action by the Title Board.
Colorado Supreme Court Opinions