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Ballot measures breakdown

Colorado residents can register to vote in person all the way up to Election Day.
Photo courtesy of ACLU

Proposition 75: Contribution limits for Colorado elections

by Samantha Register

Proposition 75 proposes amending Colorado’s contribution limits for candidates for state office.

If passed with at least 55 percent of the vote, Proposition 75 would allow candidates to receive contributions that are five times larger than the current limit from their donors but only if another candidate in the race has done one of the following: 1) given $1 million to their own campaign, 2) given $1 million to a committee to support or oppose a candidate in the same race, or 3) coordinated with others to raise over $1 million to committee to support or oppose a candidate in the same race. This amendment would not affect candidates for federal office, like US Congress or the US Senate.

Colorado’s current campaign contribution limits, or the amount of money a candidate can receive from one campaign donor, is currently $1,150 for statewide office, such as Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and State Treasurer, and currently $400 for regional candidates, such as candidates for Colorado House and Colorado Senate, District Attorney, CU Regent, and State Board of Education. However, candidates can currently self-finance, or give as much of their own money as they want to their own campaign.

Notably, Colorado’s current contribution limits are some of the lowest in the country.

Those in favor of the amendment argue that the measure could prevent a wealthy candidate from having an advantage over his or her opponents because of self-financing.

According to the Colorado 2018 State Ballot Information Booklet, those who oppose this measure believe it “further complicates the system without truly addressing financial disparities among candidates.”

The passing of this amendment would give all candidates, including wealthy candidates, more opportunities to raise more money and election spending, which according to Open Secrets reached over $6 billion in 2016.

The passing of Amendment 75 would cost the Colorado Department of State a one-time fee of $15,000 to make modifications to the state’s campaign finance tracking system.

Proposition 73: Increasing p-12 education funding

by LeShaye Williams

Proposition 73 proposes to bring an additional $1.6 billion annually to public schools across the state, for preschool through secondary education, through a graduated tax increase for income earners making more than $150,000 a year starting at 0.37 percent up to 3.62 percent increase for earners making more than $500,000 a year. State corporate tax rates would also be raised from 4.63 percent to 6.0 percent to provide additional funding. Finally, beginning in 2019, the measure would reduce the assessment rate and thereby reduce the property taxes for school district property taxes. The non-residential assessment rate would drop from 29 to 24 percent and the residential assessment rate from 7.2 to 7.0 percent. 

This money would more specifically go toward funding full-day kindergarten programs, special education, English language proficiency programs, preschool programs, and other critical needs a school district is facing. This revenue would be deposited in the Quality Public Education Fund whose goal is to allow the equitable allocation of funds to every school district in Colorado.

Arguments for Proposition 73 include implementing a sustainable funding resource for public education, property tax relief for business property owners, and allowing local school districts to prioritize how the funding is spent in relation to the needs of the community.

Arguments against the proposition include increasing the property tax burden on homeowners, the proposition of a tax increase without guarantee of increased academic achievement, and possible negative impact on the state’s economy from the state income tax rate increase.

Proposition 74: Compensation for reduced property value

by Tara Perticone

Proposition 74 proposes expanding compensation parameters for an individual’s property should any state law or regulation reduce the property value of the property.

The previous circumstances that would result in compensation would be eminent domain:  when the government takes land away from the owner for public use or benefit; if the government damages the property in any way; or if the government doesn’t let the property be used even though the individual still maintains ownership.

According to the 2018 State Ballot Information Booklet, those who argue for the bill state that “for many Coloradans, property is the most significant asset they own,” thus, the owner should be fairly compensated for any loss of value. The booklet also states that currently the coverage only occurs when the property value is almost completely lost.

Those against the bill argue that the proposition could be costly to tax payers and to the government. As stated by the Ballot Information Booklet, “The potential liability for large payouts to private property owners may discourage governments from making decisions that benefit communities and protect vital public resources, such as water, air, and infrastructure.”

Proposition 109: $3.5 billion infrastructure plan

by Abby Wehrman

Proposition 109 is a bill that would authorize the Colorado Department of Transportation to borrow $3.5 billion by selling transportation revenue bonds. The money would be intended for funding the upkeep and development of roads, bridges, and other infrastructure.

If passed, the state must pay back the bonds within 20 years, which would average $260 million a year.

Borrowed money under the proposition may only be used for road and bridge expansion, construction, maintenance, and repair for 66 transportation projects.

Those in favor of  the bill argue  that it would aim to reduce the congestion and traffic in Colorado and improve the deteriorating roads across the state without raising taxes. 

Those against the bill suggest that by borrowing money without creating a new revenue source, funds could be diverted from other state-funded programs, such as education, health care, and routine transportation maintenance.

Proposition 110 opposes this bill altogether and suggests another plan for Colorado infrastructure. If both measures are passed during the election, the bill with the larger sum of “yes” votes will be the one passed in the state legislature. 

If the bill is passed, the maximum state repayment cost is $5.2 billion.

Proposition 110: $6 Billion Dollar Infrastructure Plan

by Abby Wehrman

Proposition 110 is a bill that would authorize the Colorado Department of Transportation to fund $6 billion worth of infrastructure projects gained by raising state taxes and permitting the state to borrow up to $6 billion by selling transportation revenue bonds.

The additional tax revenue would be divvied up 45 percent to CDOT state transportation projects, 40 percent for local government projects, and 15 percent for multimodal projects.

To fund the projects, the state would raise the state sales and use tax from 2.9 percent to 3.52 percent, which would raise an estimated $767 million in the first year in effect.  This state sales tax would be in effect for 20 years.

If  passed, the state must pay back the bonds within 20 years,  which would average $470 million a year.

Those in favor of this measure argue that the proposition could modernize Colorado’s roads effectively with a new revenue stream without taking from the state budget.

Those against the motion argue that the raised sales tax could disproportionately affect the lower class who typically are the most affected with raised sales taxes. 

Proposition 109 states a different infrastructure plan. If both measures are passed during the election, the bill with the larger sum of “yes” votes will be the one passed on to state legislature.

Amendment A: Slavery exception removal

by Amanda Blackman

Colorado Amendment A proposes removing the exception to slavery for criminals.

As of right now, the Colorado Constitution allows for the involuntary servitude of convicted criminals in prison, specifically saying, “There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”

The amendment would remove the specific words “except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,” which would officially ban all aspects slavery in the state of Colorado.

Those who argue in favor for the measure suggest it would eliminate slavery unequivocally in the state.

Those against argue “the change could result in legal uncertainty around current prisoner work practices in the state,” according to Colorado Public Radio.

Amendment X: Industrial Hemp definition

by Taelar Johansen

Amendment X proposes amending the Colorado Constitution to remove the definition of “industrial hemp” from the constitution and instead use the same definition from federal law or state statute.

The definition was added to the constitution through Amendment 64, which made cannabis legal for recreational use in 2012. Industrial hemp is a member of the cannabis family but only has trace amounts of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannot cause psychosomatic effects.   The marijuana flower sold for recreational use is not the same plant and cannot be used as hemp  or vice versa. 

According to the 2018 State Ballot Information Booklet, Colorado is the leading provider of industrial hemp in the country.

Those who support the amendment suggest that the removal of the definition could help the hemp industry to remain competitive with other states as the laws change throughout the country.

Those who oppose the passing of Amendment X postulate that because the definition of hemp was added to the constitution through the initiative process, a change to the federal definition of hemp may no longer reflect what the voters originally intended.

Amendment V: Reducing age to serve in state legislature

by Samantha Register

Amendment V proposes reducing the age requirement to serve in the Colorado state legislature from 25 to 21.

According to the State Ballot Information Booklet, those in favor of Amendment V argue that “excluding 21-to-24 year-olds from seeking election to the state legislature is an unnecessary restriction… Voters  can judge whether a candidate possesses the maturity, ability, and competence to hold political office.

Those who oppose Amendment V argue, according to the State Information Booklet, that “the current age requirement strikes an appropriate balance between youth and experience…lack of experience could hinder a young legislator’s ability to represent his or her constitutions effectively.”

Amendment V is a measure that would have no impact on state or local government revenue or spending.

Amendment W: Election ballot format change

by Sarah McLaughlin

Amendment W proposes changing the language on the ballots so that Colorado Supreme Court justice and judge retention questions are only listed once by each court type.   

The current law requires that county clerks each write a separate retention question on the ballot for each judge or justice who are currently standing for retention. 

Justices and judges stand for retention at the end of their terms. A retention election asks voters whether justices and judges should remain in office for another term. Justices and judges do not face an opponent; however, they will keep their position if the majority of voters vote “yes” on the ballot.   

Those who argue in favor of Amendment W suggest that shortening the ballot will make the ballot more concise and reader-friendly for voters.   

The argument against Amendment W argues that the change may risk confusing voters by leaving voters uncertain about whether they are casting votes in a multicandidate election or casting votes for each individual justice or judge.

Amendment Z: State legislative redistricting

by Samantha Register

Amendment Z would replace the Colorado Reapportionment Commission, the state organization in charge of drawing new state legislative district maps, with the Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission, which would have 12 members with four democrats, four republicans, and four unaffiliated members.

State legislative districts in Colorado are redrawn every 10 years after the US Census. 

Commissioners for the proposed commission may not have run for state office within the last five years, or been a lobbyist, elected public official, or elected party official within the last three years.

The Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court would appoint a panel of three recently retired judges to select applicants for commissioner. The panel must have different members than the commission proposed by Amendment Y.

Members of the commission would create redistricting maps to be approved by the state legislature and must consider public comments in the approval process. The Colorado Supreme Court would approve final maps.

Those who support this measure argue that it reduces the role of partisanship in redistricting and provides “prioritizing factors” to give the commission specific guidelines about how to approach legislative maps.

Those who oppose Amendment Z argue that having unelected commissioners reduces accountability, the selection process is too complicated, and the measure “outlines criteria that may be difficult to apply in an objective manner.”

Proposition 111: Limiting payday loan charges

by Amanda Blackman

Colorado Proposition 111 would impose limits on interest rates and fees on short-term loans. The bill would lower the interest rate on these loans—commonly referred to as payday loans—to a yearly rate of 36 percent. Additionally, the measure proposes eliminating current fees and finance charges that borrowers take on with payday loans.

According to the 2018 State Ballot Information Booklet, the current fees for payday loans are 20 percent on the first $300, an additional 7.5 percent for any amount over $300, a $30 monthly maintenance fee, and annual interest rates of 45 percent. The average annual percentage rate for payday loans is 129 percent when taking fees, charges, and interest rates into account.  In 2016, payday loans taken out by 207,000 individuals totaled $166 million and collectively incurred $50 million in extra loan costs.

The proposition also states that any payday loan lender must be physically located in the state of Colorado and cannot offer higher cost loans to residents.

The supporters of this proposition argue that the current law allows for lenders to target low-income individuals and trap them in a cycle of debt.

Opponents argue that fees and charges act as collateral for lenders, and that the amendment could eliminate the payday loan business in Colorado.

Proposition 112: Increase in setbacks for oil and gas projects

by Tara Perticone

If passed, Proposition 112 would increase the distance oil and gas development projects, such as hydraulic fracturing (fracking), exploration, drilling, production, and the processing of oil and natural gas, to at least 2,500 feet from vulnerable areas. These areas include  playgrounds, public parks, water sources, and buildings that are occupied. This does not apply to federal land, such as national forests, wildlife refuges, and military lodging.

Currently, the law states that oil and gas wells and production facilities must be at least 500 feet from a home or other occupied building and 1,000 feet from high-occupancy buildings, such as schools, correctional facilities, health care buildings, and neighborhoods with at least 22 buildings.

  According to the Ballot Information Booklet, supporters of Proposition 112 argue that “oil and natural gas operations may adversely impact public health, safety, and the environment.” Some who live close to those zones have reported to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that they have developed respiratory symptoms and nausea. The Ballot Information Booklet also suggests that noise, traffic, dust, and odors are increased in the areas where these operations take place. 

Opponents of Proposition 112 argue that it could eliminate new oil and natural gas developments on almost all non-federal land in Colorado. They argue that reducing the industry that generated an estimated $10.9 billion in production value in 2017 could result in “loss of jobs, lower payments to mineral owners, and reduced tax revenue that is used for local schools and other governmental services and programs,” according to the booklet.

Amendment Y: Congressional redistricting

by Samantha Register

Amendment Y would create the Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission, comprised of four democrats, four republicans, and four unaffiliated members, to approve new Colorado congressional district maps after the 2020 census.

The new maps themselves would be drawn by nonpartisan legislative staff and must receive final approval from the Colorado Supreme Court.  The state legislature is currently tasked with redrawing congressional districts.

In other states, such as North Carolina, state legislators have been accused of “gerrymandering,” using their authority in drawing congressional districts to give the majority party an advantage over the other party in congressional elections, thus maintaining control for decades. The process tends to favor incumbents and make districts less competitive.

Amendment Y would allow the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court to create a panel of three recently retired judges from the Colorado Supreme Court or Circuit Court of Appeals judges to select commissioners.

The panel would select two members affiliated with the Democratic Party, two affiliated with the Republican Party, and two members unaffiliated with any political party. Colorado legislative leaders would select the remaining six members and also select two democrats, two republicans, and two unaffiliated members.

To be eligible to serve on the redistricting commission, candidates may not have run for federal office within the last five years, or been a lobbyist, elected public official, or elected party official within the last three years.

The commission is meant to reflect Colorado’s “racial, ethnic, gender, and geographic diversity” and must include members from each congressional district.

Colorado currently has seven US congressional districts and could possibly have more after the 2020 census.

According to the Colorado 2018 State Ballot Information Booklet, those in favor of Amendment Y argue that the measure “limits the role of partisan politics in the congressional redistricting process” and makes the process more transparent and structured.

Opponents argue that the redistricting commissions are “not accountable to voters in Colorado,” “half of the members are determined by random choice,” and “the measure outlines criteria that may be difficult to apply in an objective manner.”

Amendment Y requires 55 percent of the vote to pass. The passage of the measure would cost almost $700,000 by FY 2021-2022.

 

Where to vote

Tivoli Building:
Can vote in person or drop off ballot.
Days open: Oct.22–26, 10 a.m.–6p.m.
Oct 27, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.
Oct. 29–Nov. 2, 10 a.m–6 p.m,
Nov. 3, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.,

Nov. 5, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Nov 6, (Election Day) 7 a.m.–7 p.m.

Devnver Elections Division: 200 W 14 Ave:
24-hour ballot drop-off box

Denver Human Services: 1200 N Federal Blvd:
24-hour ballot drop-off box

Registration Deadlines:
By mail or online: Oct. 29
In person: Election Day (Nov. 6)

 

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