Colorado Supreme Court Denies Cert In Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition V. Joe Ortiz Et. Al.

DENVER – The Colorado Supreme Court announced today, in an en banc decision, to deny certiorari in Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition vs. Joe Ortiz et. al., 05 SC 370, allowing the Colorado Court of Appeals decision to stand, which upheld the constitutionality of HB 03-1256.

In 2003, the Colorado General Assembly enacted HB 03-1256, authorizing the state to enter into lease-purchase agreements to provide the funding mechanism for a new high custody correctional facility (CSP II) and new buildings for the medical school for the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center at Fitzsimons.

“Today’s decision will enable the Department of Corrections and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center to proceed with the construction of badly needed projects,” said Attorney General Suthers. “The decision also helps clarify the authority of the state to use lease purchase financing for future projects.”
The Plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the statute on two grounds: 1) that it violates the provisions of the TABOR amendment by allowing the General Assembly to create multiple-fiscal year obligations of the state and 2) that it violates the single subject rule for two unrelated construction projects of the state which constitute two separate subjects.

The Court of Appeals, however, ruled that the statute did not violate TABOR because the General Assembly is not issuing any debt of the state, and every payment under the lease purchase agreement has to be approved on an annual basis by the General Assembly. The Court found that this statute does not pledge revenues for future years and does not create a legally enforceable obligation of the state in the future.

The Court further found that the statute did not violate the single subject rule because the purpose of the statute is to authorize a funding mechanism for construction of certain state facilities. Although the bill authorizes funding for two projects, they are both properly connected through the same type of financing procedure.

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