No bill, except general appropriation bills, shall be passed containing more than one subject, which shall be clearly expressed in its title; but if any subject shall be embraced in any act which shall not be expressed in the title, such act shall be void only as to so much thereof as shall not be so expressed.
Entire article added, effective August 1, 1876, see L. 1877, p. 40.
I. GENERAL CONSIDERATION.
C.J.S. See 82 C.J.S., Statutes, §§ 203-205, 207-209, 212- 216. Law reviews. For comment on Armstrong v. Crissey & Fowler Lumber Co. appearing below, see 1 Rocky Mt. L. Rev. 63 (1928). For article, "Adoption by Reference in Municipal Ordinances", see 22 Rocky Mt. L. Rev. 69 (1949). For comment on Sullivan v. Siegal appearing below, see 29 Dicta 268 (1952). For article, "Legislative Procedure in Colorado", see 26 Rocky Mt. L. Rev. 386 (1954). Purpose of this provision is to prevent surprise and deception through legislation pertaining to one subject under a title relating to another. But it would be unreasonable as well as dangerous to require that each and every specific branch or subdivision of the general subject of an act be enumerated by its title. Edwards v. Denver R. G. R. R., 13 Colo. 59, 21 P. 1011 (1889); In re Breene, 14 Colo. 401, 24 P. 3 (1890); California Co. v. State, 141 Colo. 288, 348 P.2d 382 (1959), appeal dismissed, 364 U.S. 285, 81 S. Ct. 42, 5 L. Ed.2d 37, rehearing denied, 364 U.S. 897, 81 S. Ct. 219, 5 L. Ed.2d 191 (1960); People ex rel. Dunbar v. Gilpin Inv. Co., 177 Colo. 132, 493 P.2d 359 (1972).
The object of this constitutional provision is twofold. It is to prevent surreptitious legislation, the insertion of enactments in bills which were not indicated by their titles, and to forbid the treatment of incongruous subjects in the same act. It never was intended to prevent the general assembly from treating all the various branches of the same general subject in one law, or from inserting in a single act all the legislation germane to its principal subject. People ex rel. Kellogg v. Fleming, 7 Colo. 230, 3 P. 70 (1883); Geer v. Bd. of Comm'rs, 97 F. 435 (8th Cir. 1899).
It is important to bear in mind the evils sought to be corrected by this provision, including the practice of putting together in one bill subjects having no necessary or proper connection, for the purpose of enlisting in support of such bill the advocates of each measure, and thus securing the enactment of measures that could not be carried upon their merits. Catron v. Bd. of Comm'rs, 18 Colo. 553, 33 P. 513 (1893).
One object is to prevent surprise and fraud from being practiced upon legislators, and to apprise the people of the subjects of legislation by the titles of the bills, so that they might have an opportunity to be heard by petition or otherwise. When each proposed act is confined to a single subject and that subject is clearly expressed in the title, those interested are put upon inquiry when legislation is proposed affecting such subject, without its being necessary for them to examine every bill for the purpose of seeing that nothing objectionable is coiled up within the folds of the measure. Catron v. Bd. of Comm'rs, 18 Colo. 553, 33 P. 513 (1893).
The requirement that a bill be limited to a single subject makes each legislative proposal depend upon its own merits for passage. It also enables the governor to consider each single subject of legislation separately in determining whether to exercise veto power. In re House Bill No. 1353, 738 P.2d 371 (Colo. 1987).
This section is mandatory. People ex rel. Kellogg v. Fleming, 7 Colo. 230, 3 P. 70 (1883); In re Breene, 14 Colo. 401, 24 P. 3 (1890); Bd. of Comm'rs v. Trowbridge, 42 Colo. 449, 95 P. 554 (1908); Watrous v. Golden Chamber of Commerce, 121 Colo. 521, 218 P.2d 498 (1950). But section should be liberally construed, so as to avert the evils against which it is aimed, and at the same time avoid unnecessarily obstructing legislation. In re Breene, 14 Colo. 401, 24 P. 3 (1890).
This provision was not designed to hinder or obstruct legislation, but to prevent its having this effect it must have a reasonable and liberal construction. When so construed, it is neither unreasonable nor difficult to comply with it. Catron v. Bd. of Comm'rs, 18 Colo. 553, 33 P. 513 (1893); Colo. Crim. Justice Reform Coalition v. Ortiz, 121 P.3d 288 (Colo. App. 2005).
Section is not applicable to amendments to constitution. People ex rel. Moore v. Perkins, 56 Colo. 17, 137 P. 55, 1914D Ann. Cas. 1154 (1913). Or charter amendments. This section has no application to charter amendments made by municipalities pursuant to art. XX, Colo. Const. Hoper v. City & County of Denver, 173 Colo. 390, 479 P.2d 967 (1971). Or city ordinances. This provision of the constitution does not apply to city ordinances. Scanlon v. City of Denver, 38 Colo. 401, 88 P. 156 (1906). This section does not apply to codification of statutes. The usual constitutional limitation on the enactment of new laws, and the repeal or amendment of existing laws, is not applicable and does not generally prevail in the matter of legislation enacting an official code or compilation or revision of the existing general law. The constitution does not place a limitation upon the matter of the general revision of statutes or a codification thereof. In re Interrogatories of House of Representatives, 127 Colo. 160, 254 P.2d 853 (1953).