Colorado state supreme court strikes down Initiative 16

Colorado's highest court has ruled a ballot initiative that could impact ranchers is unconstitutional. 

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled 7-0 Monday Initiative 16 violates the state's constitution.

In its opinion, the court said the proposed ballot measure violates the state's single-subject rule. The court ruled Initiative 16 contains at least two subjects. 

Initiative 16 proposed two amend Colorado's criminal animal cruelty statutes by ending exemptions for livestock, create a safe harbor for the slaughter of livestock with various conditions and expand the definition of "sexual act with an animal" as it pertains to animal cruelty. 

Justice William Hood delivered the opinion of the court. He wrote in the 20-page opinion ending exemptions for livestock in cruelty statutes and expanding the definition of "sexual act with an animal" are separate subjects. 

"Although the central theme of the initiative is incorporating livestock into the animal cruelty statutes, redefining “sexual act with an animal” strays into a second subject by addressing the bodily integrity of all animals, not just livestock," Hood wrote. "Because these subjects are not necessarily and properly connected, there is the potential for the very kind of voter surprise against which the single-subject requirement seeks to guard—here, voters might not understand that what is nominally a livestock initiative also affects the care of all animals, or vice versa." 

The Colorado Title Board ruled Initiative 16 contained a single subject although two of its three members said it was "close" during an appeal of their decision, according to the court's ruling. The decision by the state supreme court reverses that decision. 

As a result, Initiative 16 will not appear on the 2022 ballot. 

Nebraska's Supreme Court struck down a marijuana-related ballot petition for similar a similar reason last year.