Court to weigh objection to PAUSE initiative

Ag groups think state agency should not have approved current form


The Colorado Supreme Court has accepted a motion put forth by several objectors from agricultural groups across the state to review the legality of Initiative 16, originally known as Protect Animals from Unnecessary Suffering and Exploitation (PAUSE). The objectors argue that Initiative 16 violated the constitutional single-subject requirement by including numerous changes to law in one initiative.

According to the court petition filed April 14, “along with changes to animal treatment laws contained in Title 18:a, the initiative includes (1) specification of lifespans for different species of animals and a requirement that they not be slaughtered until they have lived at least one-quarter of those time periods; (2) a politically charged redefinition of `sexual act with an animal’; (3) whether the Board violated the statutory ‘clear ballot title’ requirement by including in the title political catch phrases such as ‘cruelty to animals’ (two times) and ‘animal cruelty’ (two times); and (4) the unnecessarily graphic description of the elements of the redefined ‘sexual act with an animal.’”

Local ranch owner Michael Hudson, a 52-year old Elizabeth-based retired Marine Corps lieutenant colonel, is concerned about how the passing of Initiative 16 might impact his ranch.

“As written, it would have a dramatic negative effect on all ranch operations and ultimately be counterproductive to what they are trying to achieve,” said Hudson.

“Extending animal rights to livestock is admirable and most of us care deeply for our animals, but this proposed solution prohibits artificial fertilization, which will increase both costs and the number of animals raised.”

Hudson believes the proposed natural lifespan clause would harm ranchers.

“The arbitrary determination that animals must be raised to one-fourth of their ‘natural lifespan’ will more than double the time the animals must be fed and consequently more than double the amount of livestock kept on ranches and feed lots ­— all without changing their ultimate purpose,” said Hudson. “This would put my small, multi-species and ethically raised operation out of business, and I would imagine all the larger ranches would simply transfer their animals out of state for processing.”

Elbert County Commissioner Chris Richardson said he hopes the state’s high court will see flaws in the initiative.

“I hope the court will recognize that the title of Initiative 16 is misleading, that it has inflammatory language, and that it contains more than one subject matter,” said Richardson.

Commissioner Grant Thayer questions the validity of the initiative, saying it spans three separate issues and the title is misleading.

Opening briefs are due to the court on May 4. The proponents of Initiative 16, Alexander Sage and Brent Johannes, did not respond to requests for comment.

To read the full petition, visit


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