DENVER – The Colorado Supreme Court unanimously struck down an upcoming ballot measure, Initiative 16, that would have changed meat processing operations in the state. The court said the measure violated the single-subject rule in the Colorado Constitution.
If the measure had been on the 2022 ballot and passed, livestock and fish could have been added to Colorado’s animal cruelty law. The initiative also set out to define a natural lifespan of 20 years for cows, 15 years for pigs and sheep, 10 years for turkeys, eight years for chickens and six years for ducks and rabbits.
The new law also wanted to change what constitutes a “sexual act with an animal,” which included practices used in breeding and animal husbandry.
“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,” the court said in its ruling. “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.”
Several state agricultural associations applauded the court of taking this stand.
“Initiative 16 was one of the most radical ballot initiatives this state has ever seen,” the Colorado Farm Bureau said in a statement. “Had it passed, it would have ended animal agriculture, rodeos, dog shows and much more. This sends a strong message to the supporters of this measure that multiple subjects and inflammatory language will not be accepted. The coalition will continue to monitor any new initiatives filed by the proponents of this measure.”
The decision by the Colorado Supreme court stated that in order for Initiative 16 to move forward in the future it would have to refile its measure.
On its website, the Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, who was also part of the opposition, said Colorado livestock production puts more than $5 billion into the state’s economy and supports more than 150,000 jobs.