Friday, June 15, 2018

Flood of Initiatives Trying to Get to Colorado Ballot

Colorado in recent years has been attempting to limit the volume of initiatives going to ballot, especially changes in the state constitution. In 2016, voters passed Amendment 71, which requires a super majority for constitutional amendments (55%) and signatures to be collected throughout the state. The latter requirement was ruled unconstitutional. But, Amendment 71 has not slowed a mass of initiatives from being filed or heading to signature efforts (98,492 required in 2018).

More than 150 initiatives were filed in 2018, and as of June 1, the legislature put six constitutional amendments on the ballot and at least six more, including several constitutional amendments, are seeking signatures.

Most of the initiatives in circulation are statutory to avoid the new constitutional rule of super majority. Proponents assume future legislatures that might have majorities opposed to the initiative will be reluctant to repeal or modify it due to voter majorities have passed it. Only two of the legislative initiatives are important and have significant support. They will create commissions to design new congressional and state legislative seats post the U.S. Census (Amendments Y and Z).

None of these proposals may collect sufficient signatures. Items of important and early observations:

  • Reapportionment legislative referrals good chance of passage. Well financed, broad support. Parties seem quiet (Amendments Y and Z constitutional).
  • Bonds for transportation, sales tax increases. Denver Chamber leads a civic consortium, but already has significant opposition in El Paso County (Initiative 158 statutory). Competing measure to use existing revenue for roads (Caldera’s Fix Our Damn Roads, Initiative 167 statutory).
  • Complex income/property tax charge for more K-12 money. Early opposition due to complexity. Similar measure lost huge three years ago (Amendment 93 constitutional).
  • Limits on growth. Very controversial, major opposition (not in circulation as of June 1). Proponents quiet as opposition money is assembled.
  • Severance tax for various causes (not in circulation yet) and minimum distance for drilling (Initiative 97 statutory). Major opposition from gas and oil. Minimum support from Democrats.
  • Taking of property for public use (Initiative 108 constitutional). Opposed by most local government and economic interests.
  • Anti-sanctuary laws for immigration (Initiative 169 constitutional). Very controversial topic in governor’s election.

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