• 06/24/2024

    A Ballot Book & A New Constitution 

    June 8, 2024
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    Election season is in full swing, and it’s not just candidates and campaigns fighting for your support in November. It includes many lobbies and their ballot initiatives as well. 

    Vox Efx, Wikicommons

    It's rumored that the November 5 ballot in Colorado will be book-thick due to the overwhelming number of issues coming before Centennial State voters. Ballot initiatives can hit the ballot one of two ways: The People or the General Assembly. 

    The People

    If the people craft an amendment, get it through the Title Board, and gather enough signatures, then their initiative will be included on the ballot. 

    Two such populist ballot initiatives have already qualified, with many still in the signature gathering stage.

    • Abortion Access and Funding (Constitutional Amendment): Amends the state’s constitution to enshrine abortion into law, and removes a constitutional ban that prevents state money from going to abortion services. Because this measure is adding text to the constitution, it will need at least 55% to pass.
    • Property Tax Cap: A proposed cap on property taxes that kicks in whenever property tax revenues are expected to grow faster than 4% per year for the entire state. Critics of the cap are concerned about inequities as property tax rates vary from city to city and county to county.

    Many other groups are still gathering signatures for a wide range of initiatives.” For example, there are three proposed Constitutional Amendments focused on preserving caucus and banning ranked choice voting and jungle primaries. Learn more at ColoradoCounts.com, and be sure to sign the petitions so that Colorado voters can decide how we want our elections administered — rather than billionaire special interests. 

    The Legislature

    In addition to the people’s initiatives, there are also seven referred by lawmakers during the last legislative session, which are summarized here below from CPR reporting and the Bill Text on the Colorado General Assembly website.

    • Changes to Election Deadlines (Constitutional Amendment): This constitutional amendment, requiring 55% to pass, designates earlier deadlines for various election activities to give the Secretary of State and county clerks more time to finalize the ballots. There are tradeoffs, including that the People will now have less time to collect signatures. 
    • Removing the Same-Sex Marriage Ban (Constitutional Amendment): The initiative would strike a portion of the state constitution that reads: “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.” Because the measure removes, rather than adds, to the state constitution, it only needs a simple majority of voter support.
    • No Bail for First Degree Murder Defendants (Constitutional Amendment): Requiring 55% to pass, this constitutional amendment would make first degree murder suspects ineligible for bail. This change stems from an unintended consequence of Colorado’s repeal of the death penalty in 2020, which states that only people charged with ‘capital offenses’ can be denied bail — and first degree murder no longer meets that criteria.
    • New Judicial Discipline Board (Constitutional Amendment): Following a string of judicial scandals, this amendment establishes a new independent judicial discipline board, made up of judges, attorneys and members of the public. Requiring 55% to pass, the referred constitutional measure cleared the legislature nearly unanimously.
    • New Tax on Guns & Ammo: A 6.5% excise tax on gun and ammunition sales, to be paid by gun dealers, gun manufacturers, and ammunition vendors (and likely passed through to customers). The money raised by the tax would supposedly fund behavioral health and gun violence prevention.
    • TABOR Exemption for Sports Betting: Asks voters to let the Colorado government keep and spend all of the tax revenue it collects from sports betting, originally estimated to yield about $29 million each year. State economists now believe the 10% tax will bring in significantly more than that in coming years, and state officials are addicted to spending.

    There will likely be additional measures following the signature deadline in August. Colorado voters need to pay attention this election season and vote their values, or we may have a whole new state constitution soon. 

    Either way, this year’s ballot is going to be a beast. 

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    Ashe Epp

    Ashe Epp is a local writer and a Colorado Free Press contributor. You can find more from Ashe at linktr.ee/asheinamerica.
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