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Markwell v. Cooke.

2021 CO 17. No. 20SC585. Separation of Powers—Colo. Const. Art. V, § 22—Reading Requirement—Judiciary’s Prerogative and Responsibility to Discern Compliance with Constitutional Provision.

March 15, 2021

Colorado Constitution article V, § 22 provides that “[e]very bill shall be read by title when introduced, and at length on two different days in each house.” In this case, the Supreme Court was asked to decide whether uploading a bill to multiple computers and using automated software to simultaneously give voice to different portions of the bill at a speed of about 650 words per minute complies with this reading requirement. While there are different methods of compliance, the Court agreed with the district court’s determination that the unintelligible sounds produced by the computers on the Senate floor on March 11, 2019, did not fulfill the reading requirement. However, it was not within the district court’s domain to dictate the form or manner by which the legislature may comply with the reading requirement. In doing so, the district court trespassed upon the separation-of-powers tenet essential to our constitutional system of government. Accordingly, the judgment was affirmed in part and reversed in part.

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