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Independence Institute

Since 1985, II has provided research resulting in changes in law and policy. We put our ideas into action through litigation, coalition building, ballot initiatives, new media and investigative reporting. We fight for freedom on paper, in the statehouse, in the media, and on the ballot.

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Local Government Project

Class

Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy 

Beneficiaries

Description

Our Local Government Project connects liberty activities and free market minded individuals to the over 4,000 local boards, committee and commissions with seats at the table that do not require running for office.

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Evidence of Program's Success

Four training sessions for Coloradans interested in serving their communities were held in 2017, resulting in 30 placements on a local board or commission. More than 35 groups were addressed by our project lead, reaching approximately 200 people.

Political Law Center

Class

Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy 

Beneficiaries

General population

Description

Our newest center, the Political Law Center, does much more than litigate. It streamlines all of our legal activities including legislative drafting, ballot initiatives, campaign finance, open records, regulatory intervention, and strategic litigation under the wise counsel of attorney Shayne Madsen. We are the first state-based think tank to roll out this second generation legal strategy.

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Evidence of Program's Success

MAJOR SUCCESSES/ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Before expanding our commitment to the Political Law Center, Coloradans have already enjoyed major successes under the Independence Institute's strategic legal efforts:
EDUCATIONAL CHOICE
The Independence Institute was actively involved in the passage of the 1993 Charter Schools Act, the 2003 Colorado school voucher program (later struck down by the Colorado Supreme Court), and the Douglas County Choice Scholarship Program (currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court).
PUC INTERVENTION HEARINGS
The Independence Institute became the first state-based think tank to successfully lead a group of ratepayers who petitioned for standing to intervene in hearings before the Public Utilities Commission.
HISTORIC 'STAY' ON THE CLEAN POWER PLAN
We joined three other State Policy Network think tanks and the Competitive Enterprise Institute in a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency and were granted an historic "stay" by the United States Supreme Court, halting the controversial Clean Power Plan.
TEACHERS' UNION TRANSPARENCY
Of 145 proposed initiatives filed with the Colorado Secretary of State's office in 2014, only three made it to the ballot, and only one of these three initiatives passed: Proposition 104, led by the Independence Institute. We dedicated significant resources to the hard-won battle, which opened union negotiations with school districts to the public.
PROTECTING SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS
The focus of our Second Amendment work includes repealing changes to the state's gun restrictions that require new background checks for private firearm sales in Colorado, and a ban on ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds. After joining with Colorado sheriffs in their case before the U.S. District Court of Colorado and then the federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, our legal battle against the 2013 Bloomberg anti-gun laws continues. In a major win, the plaintiffs are free to initiate a new case. The plaintiffs' attorneys, including Independence Institute's David Kopel, are already at work planning the new case. We are currently in the research and planning stage for another lawsuit, which will conform to the Tenth Circuit's new rules on standing.
UPDATE THE OPEN RECORDS LAW
Throughout the 2017 Legislative Session, we worked with a diverse group of stakeholders to increase accessibility to government records. With the passage of Senate Bill 40, Colorado law now requires database information to be supplied in its native format. The ability for the requester to easily sort the information in multiple ways will hold governing entities to a much higher level of transparency.

Constitution Policy Center

Class

Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy 

Beneficiaries

General Public

Description

The Constitution Policy Center combines careful, objective scholarship into the original understanding of the Constitution with advocacy for human freedom under law. It produces books, issue papers, articles, and legal briefs reporting the results of its research. Since 2010, the Center has had enormous influence on constitutional law cases and commentary, but also on policy makers and grass roots activists. For example, the Center's research findings galvanized the massive and growing "Article V" movement to restore constitutional limits on the federal government.

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Evidence of Program's Success

Over the four years, Rob Natelson's publications have been cited by U.S. Supreme Court justices more than 16 times in four separate cases. He has become generally recognized as the country's leading legal expert on Article V of the U.S. Constitution. The grassroots and state legislative movement for a convention of states is largely attributable to his work.

He also has become recognized as the leading expert on the Constitution's Necessary and Proper Clause, and in 2012 the Supreme Court adopted his interpretation of the Clause. He also played a role in the Supreme Court striking down the ACA's Medicaid mandate and invalidating several "recess appointments." He has become a sought-after speaker both in Colorado and nationally.

Fiscal Policy Center

Class

Public, Society Benefit 

Beneficiaries

General Public

Description

The goal of the Fiscal Policy Center is to find a balance between taxation and liberty. The Center has led efforts that have kept tax rates down, brought Colorado to accept a flat income tax system, and privatized government services including that of the transit agency in Denver.

Fiscal Policy Center Scholars have twice published the Citizen's Budget, a 150+ page book with recommendations for policy reforms and minor adjustments that would save the state over a billion dollars. The Citizen's Budget is distributed in print to elected officials and interested citizens and is also available on the Independence Institute's website (www.i2i.org).

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Evidence of Program's Success

The Independence Institute provided the research necessary for the passage of: TABOR, Colorado's flat tax, and privatization of RTD routes.

Health Care Policy Center

Class

Health Care 

Beneficiaries

General Public

Description

Established in 2002, the Health Care Policy Center's focus on public policy that safeguards consumers' ability to determine their own choices about their own health care and the care of their families. HCPC fights the expansion of government directed health care that infringes upon individual choice. Director Linda Gorman has earned a reputation as one of the nation's leading experts in free market health care issues.

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Evidence of Program's Success

The Independence Institute has helped shape and promote Colorado's Consumer Directed Attendant Support which allows families the freedom to manage their home health care service providers.

Policy Center Director Linda Gorman, Ph.D. was appointed to the Colorado Blue Ribbon Commission for Healthcare Reform where she co-authored one of the Commission's minority reports.

Colorado Liberty Project

Class

Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy 

Beneficiaries

Adults
General Public
Hispanics

Description

The goal of the Independence Institute's Liberty Project is to educate Coloradans about the basic principles of liberty using our network of media outlets. To engage citizens in policy on the state and national issues, the Independence Institute hosts a weekly 30-minute public affairs television show, Devils Advocate with Jon Caldara that airs on Colorado Public Television. Our scholars write opinion editorials which are featured on CompleteColorado, one of the most visited news aggregating websites that headlines news from around the state. The Liberty Project also aims to reach Coloradans through our staff's radio shows, including the Jon Caldara Show on 630 KHOW on Sunday evenings, the Amy Oliver Show on 1310 KFKA on weekday mornings, and our Spanish language radio show, The Raaki Garcia Show on 1150 AM every Tuesday and Thursday.

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Evidence of Program's Success

The Independence Institute is the go-to source in the state of Colorado for the free market perspective. Our scholars are regularly called on by the media, legislators, and civic groups to provide comment and testimony.

The Independence Institute hosts a weekly 30 minute public affairs television show on Colorado Public Broadcasting Station Channel 12, reaching 44,000 Coloradans per week.

Our staff and senior fellows also wrote more than 110 Opinion Editorials.

Energy and Environmental Policy Center

Class

Environment 

Beneficiaries

General Public

Description

The Independence Institute's Energy Policy Center provides balance in energy issues.

It is our strong belief that the choice of energy resources should come from the demands of the free market, and not from the preferences of policymakers, lobbyists, or special interest groups.

The goal of the Energy Policy Center is to promote a free market in energy production, where no protections, subsidies, or regulations result in energy winners and losers. We advocate that government remain neutral, which then encourages a level playing field. That is the best way to ensure that consumers reap the benefits of a healthy energy market - competition, lower prices, and more options.

We promote free market energy and conservation policies based on economic freedom, property rights and limited government.

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Evidence of Program's Success

The Energy Policy Center promotes least cost - most reliable sources of energy. Center experts provide testimony at the legislature and work with other organizations to advocate for the consumer.

The research conducted by the Energy Policy Center led to:
* A full-blown audit of the Governor's Office of Energy
* An audit of the Public Utilities Commission
* Exposure of the Abound Solar bankruptcy and fraud invesitigations

Education Policy Center

Class

Education 

Beneficiaries

Children and Youth (infants - 19 years)
Disabled
Ethnic/Racial Minorities -- Other Specified Group
Families
General Public

Description

The Education Policy Center advances K-12 public policy that empowers parents with the freedom to choose the most beneficial form of education for their children, fosters the development of effective delivery and support systems that enhance student learning, and provides accountability for the productive use of taxpayer dollars directed to education.

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Evidence of Program's Success

The work of Independence Institute's Education Policy Center has led to:
* Charter Schools
* School choice/open enrollment
* School report cards
* Legislation that requires greater school district financial transparency
* Douglas County Choice Scholarship Program, first locally enacted private school choice program
* One of a kind School Choice for Kids website in both English and Spanish to help parents find quality schools to meet the needs of their children

Second Amendment Policy Center

Class

Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Female Adults
General Public
Outdoor Recreationists
Physically Disabled

Description

The Second Amendment Project, under the direction of Dave Kopel, studies the legal precedents, news and opinions in Colorado and the United States to provide the Constitutional perspective on topics ranging from legal reform to gun rights.

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Evidence of Program's Success

The Second Amendment Project Director David Kopel provides research and expert testimony for the state legislature and has been called upon to testify before the U.S. Senate on Second Amendment legislation.

Kopel's work has helped:
* Pass licensed concealed hand gun carry laws
* Pass concealed carry on college campus
* Protect Second Amendment Rights of Coloradans and citizens across the nation
* Kopel's Amicus Briefs have been cited by the U.S. Supreme Court
* In addition to testifying before the Colorado Legislature, Kopel has also testified before the U.S. Senate and the U.S. Congress

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