petitionThe tell-tale sign that campaign season is officially upon us is when those obnoxious petition hawks flock to the grocery store parking lots in droves, to annoyingly peck at us for our signatures on some sad and raggedy sheets of paper.

We remember when petitions were treated more like democracy in action to affect the state’s constitution. The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights fondly springs to mind.

Now days it’s more or less to declare support or opposition to the latest random fads in social awareness, without benefit of any real facts such as, how much will this boondoggle cost?

A State House committee on Monday took the first step towards making this a reality by passing a bill on a 6-5 vote requiring fiscal impact estimates on citizen petitions. The research director of the general assembly’s legislative council would determine the cost estimate, with input from the petition’s supporters.

The measure still has a long way to go — required passage through a second committee before final House approval — while a companion bill in the Senate makes its way through the process.

We should point out that the House and Senate versions have bipartisan support, sponsored by Republican Rep. Brian DelGrosso of Loveland and Democratic Rep. Louis Court of Denver, Republican Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling and Democratic Sen. Mary Hodge of Brighton.

However, according to the AP, unnamed “detractors say that process would make it more expensive to print petitions to gather signatures.”

Granted, if a petition to ban energy development were authored by us, it would run a little long:

“This petition asserts that we the undersigned want the state to ban all fossil fuel production, and we don’t care that it will cost the state’s economy $40 billion a year leaving us too broke to pay for things like roads. We don’t believe in fossil fuels, therefore we don’t need any stinking roads. We have abandoned our cars in the parking lot of King Soopers to show our support for this constitutional amendment.”

But seriously, activists are printing petitions off their computers. A half-dozen more words to write out a price tag won’t break the ink bank.

We expect the real opposition is not the cost of the ink or the paper on which the petition is printed, but in revealing the price taxpayers will pay for expensive schemes of dubious merit.