By Dylan Nevergall and Ezra Block
Voting can be stressful and daunting enough on its own, but this particular election there are some extra worries that many of us have. Much of Colorado has a six-page ballot this year, and we wanted to take some of the stress out of making sense of the state-wide ballot initiatives Coloradans will be seeing.
Amendment B would repeal the Gallagher Amendment, which set residential and non-residential property taxes to allow the government to tax property more and tax businesses less. However, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights would still require the state government to seek voter approval to increase taxes. Proponents of the amendment say the repeal would allow for greater funding of schools.
The Amendment has received support from both Democrats and Republicans and by organizations such as the Colorado Education Association and the Colorado Wool Growers Association. It is opposed by State Legislator Dennis Gallagher, who the Gallagher Amendment is named after. It is opposed by five organizations including Colorado Apartment Association and Colorado Rising State Action.
The goal of this amendment is straight-forward. Currently in order for a Colorado charitable organization to receive a charitable gaming license, the organization must be in existence for a period of no less than five years. Amendment C would reduce this time to three years.
“There’s been tremendous change in the acceptance of gaming in Colorado,” said Corky Kyle, executive vice president of the Colorado Charitable Bingo Association. “That has caused some real harm for nonprofits. …this will allow us to reinvent bingo so that we can meet the changing demands of the players. Things have changed, and we need to change with it.”
The Amendment has bipartisan sponsorship and no groups or prominent individuals have come out in formal opposition of Amendment C, though there is an argument made in the Official Blue Book. It reads in part: “Professionalizing bingo-raffle operations undermines their charitable fundraising purpose … by removing the requirement that workers be volunteers and expanding the number of nonprofits that participate, bingo-raffle games become more like for-profit gambling than charitable fundraising.”
The Colorado Votes Act allows 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections as long as they would be 18 by the time of general elections. Amendment 76 will change the phrasing regarding the right to vote in the state constitution, ending this allowance.
Amendment 76 is supported by Republican Colorado State Rep. Patrick Neville and by the organization Citizen Voters, Inc. It is opposed by 31 Democratic state representatives and senators, including Colorado Speaker of the House KC Becker. It is also opposed by organizations such as Student Voice Student Vote and the Campaign for Real Election Protection.
Amendment 77, or The Allow Voters in Central, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek Cities to Expand Authorized Games and Increase Maximum Bets Initiative, would allow voters in the three aforementioned towns, whose income relies heavily on gambling tourism, to vote to increase the maximum single bet allowed for any game beyond the current statewide limit of $100. This amendment would not increase the limit, but simply allow for these towns to remove it and vote to establish a new limit for their individual towns.
Amendment 77 has received bipartisan support from both Colorado Republicans, and the left-wing communications organization ProgressNow Colorado. It is being sponsored by Bruce Brown, former mayor of Cripple Creek, as well as Bill Cadman, former president of the Colorado Senate.
There are no groups or prominent individuals who have come out in formal opposition of the Amendment, though there is an official argument made in the Official Blue Book. It reads in part: “1) Removing bet limits may increase the prevalence and severity of problem gambling. Problem gambling often leads to negative social impacts,” and “2) Expanding casino gambling may negatively impact other communities in Colorado that will no longer have a voice in changes to limits on bets and games. Other cities will not receive any of the tax revenue to help offset the burden created by additional traffic, intoxicated driving, or any problem gambling issues.”
Proposition EE or The Colorado Tobacco and E-Cigarette Tax Increase for Health and Education Programs Measure, would, in the simplest terms, make it so vape products fall under the same tax regulations as other tobacco products, while raising the tax on all tobacco products as well. Taxes would increase to $2.64 per pack by 2027. The revenue from this measure would provide $375 million to public schools over the next three years to offset budget cuts from COVID-19, and go towards paying for greater access to free preschool and benefit specifically rural schools. The measure would also provide $110 million in additional money for smoking and vaping education and cessation programs as well as $35 million for affordable housing and eviction programs over the next three years.
While Proposition EE has gained much support from progressive nonprofits and organizations, there are also progressive detractors, who say this proposition would disproportionately affect Black and Latin communities, while benefiting white rural communities devoid of color. But it has been noted that many rural residents partake in nicotine at a higher rate than the entirety of many urban populations, regardless of specific demographics.
Proposition 113 is a national proposition which has to pass not just in this state, but has to be adopted in 270 electoral college votes worth of states, in order to be effective. If Proposition 113 passes, Colorado will give all nine of its electoral votes to the candidate who wins the national popular vote.
The proposition was supported by Democratic state Sen. Rhonda Fields and opposed by Republican Sen. Cory Gardner. The proposition is supported by 28 organizations including FairVote Action Fund and the Colorado Citizens Project. It is opposed by 14 organizations including the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Corporation and the Colorado Union of Taxpayers. It is also opposed by 16 county commission boards and city councils.
If Amendment 114 passes, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission will be required to develop a plan to reintroduce and manage gray wolf populations to protect areas by the end of 2023. The amendment is intended to replicate the success of reintroducing gray wolves in Yellowstone National Park and prevent environmental degradation caused by overgrazing deer and moose. The amendment is supported by Dave Parsons, a former member of the Mexican Wolf Recovery Program, and by organizations such as the Global Indigenous Council and the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. It is opposed by Utah State Rep. Logan Wilde and by organizations such as Colorado Wool Growers Association and the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.
If voters approve this measure, doctors and clinics in Colorado would be banned from performing abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy, except when there’s an immediate risk to the mother’s life. This does not include exceptions for instances of rape or incest. This proposition would also inflict a fine or even suspension of medical licenses for the offending physicians, unless they can provide sufficient proof that the procedure is in fact life-saving. These types of abortions are only about 1.3% of all procedures and often are a result of parents receiving a life-altering diagnosis about the fetus.
Proposition 115 is supported by a number of Colorado anti-abortion organizations, including Pikes Peak Citizens for Life and Due Date Too Late.
The proposition is opposed by over a dozen Colorado nonprofits including Cobalt and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 18. Opponents believe the language in Proposition 115 purposely obfuscates its intentions and harmful side effects.
Proposition 116 would reduce income tax for individuals and corporations from 4.63% to 4.55%.
Proponents of the proposition include the Republican Party of Colorado as well as Republican State Senator Jerry Sonnenberg. “Small business owners all over Colorado are feeling the pain of these shutdowns, and their incomes have suffered as a result,” said Sonnenberg, “and across the board income tax rate reduction will allow these business owners and their employees to keep and spend more of their own money. State government doesn’t need to increase its already bloated budget.”
The numerous opponents of Proposition 116 state numerous reasons for voting no. They say the results would include state budget cuts of over $150 million per year, indefinitely, and that large businesses and people with incomes over $500,000 per year would receive 70% of the benefit from the tax reduction while ordinary Coloradans would only have their taxes cut by an average of $37 per year. Opponents of the proposition include Democracy for America and Colorado Children’s Campaign.
If Proposition 117 passes, the state government will require voter approval for any government business which is projected to generate more than $100 million in its first five years of operation. It is supported by the Republican Party of Colorado and by organizations such as the Americans for Tax Reform and Colorado Rising State Action. It is opposed by organizations such as the Earthworks Action Fund and Protect Colorado’s Recovery.
Proposition 118 covers up to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave funded through a payroll tax paid by employers and employees in an even split. An additional four weeks of leave would be allocated for pregnancy or childbirth complications. Under Proposition 118, employers could not take any actions against employees for requesting or using paid leave covered by the proposition, provided they have been on the job for at least 180 days. Companies with fewer than 10 employees would be exempt from the premium.
Proposition 118 has been endorsed by Colorado Families First and AARPCO Committee. It is being opposed formally by Not Now Colorado, who say the burden of the premiums required would be too much to bear for Colorado companies in recovery from the strain of the ongoing pandemic. Not Now Colorado does not address that these premiums would not be charged until Jan 1, 2023, and the benefits would not begin for employees until Jan 1, 2024. And Not Now also focuses on the effect it may have on the businesses, rather than the employees who would also pay 50% of the premiums out of their paycheck, and who the proposition is intended to protect.
Proposition 118 has been formally endorsed by over a dozen Colorado nonprofits including ProgressNow Colorado and Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado.