Gift ban left open to interpretation
Some students are wondering whether their scholarships will be in jeopardy after a ruling from the Colorado Supreme Court reversed a lower court’s injunction of Amendment 41.
The amendment, entitled “Ethics in Government,” eliminates the potential for private gain because of a person’s position in the government. It applies to employees of legislative and executive branches, public officers, employees of state agencies and public institutes of higher education, independent contractors of the state and local government officials.
A lower court had placed an injunction on the gift ban portion of the amendment, which the Supreme Court recently reversed. The court released its opinion reversing the ruling on Feb. 25.
Several plaintiffs attempted to challenge Section 3 of Amendment 41, a constitutional change adopted by Colorado voters in 2006.
Section 3, which places a gift ban on state employees so they nor their spouses and children may receive a gift valued more than $50, has been particularly controversial. The plaintiffs filed a suit in the Denver District Court that challenged the constitutionality of the gift ban portion of the amendment.
The plaintiffs argued that the language in section three is overbroad and vague, making it difficult to interpret.
Backers of the amendment said it was intended to bar private gifts to public officials as an ethics measure.
The Colorado Supreme Court reversed the injunction, ruling that the challenge was not ripe because the ethics commission was not yet in existence and, therefore, the district court did not have jurisdiction to issue the injunction.
Sophomore Pamela Mayer, a French and international affairs major, could have potentially been directly affected by Amendment 41 when she applied for the Boettcher Scholarship, a prestigious merit-based scholarship available to graduating high school seniors in Colorado.
Mayer, whose father works for the Sheridan School District in Englewood, Colo., graduated from high school in 2007.
“I did not get chosen to receive the Boettcher but if I had, I would have been under scrutiny to determine whether I got it or not,” Mayer said. “My whole family was shocked when we learned that the amendment could have affected me from receiving the scholarship.”
Mayer said the Sheridan School District did not even notify her father of the possible ramifications of the amendment.
“We heard it from a friend,” Mayer said.
CU communication graduate Bethany Pruett said she feels similarly.
“I don’t see any reason why children of state employees shouldn’t receive scholarships,” Pruett said. “Why should they be punished because their parents work for the state?”
Pruett said she wonders what the origin of Amendment 41 is.
“What prompted its creation?” Pruett said. “It’s absolutely absurd.”
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Heather Koski at firstname.lastname@example.org.