Colorado Secretary of State’s Office
has disqualified two proposed November ballot initiatives aimed at reining in the oil and gas industry.
In addition to not having enough valid signatures to qualify, one of the measures, Initiative 78, contained several “potentially forged signatures,” according to the Secretary of State’s Office. The questionable petitions have been sent to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office for further investigation.
All of this year’s citizen-driven ballot measures need 98,492 valid signatures from voters to qualify for the ballot.
Initiative 75 aimed to give local governments the authority to regulate oil and gas development, a power largely reserved to the state currently. Initiative 78 would have created mandatory setbacks for oil and gas development of 2,500 feet from occupied structures or “areas of special concern.”
The backers of the two failed initiatives have 30 days from the date of rejection of their petitions to appeal the decision in Denver District Court.
The other seven citizen-driven initiatives that turned in petitions were approved for the November ballot. They are:
• Amendment 69/ColoradoCare
- ColoradoCare would amend the state Constitution to bring a tax-funded health insurance system to Colorado. Everyone not already covered under federal insurance like Medicare would be eligible for coverage, which would include copays for certain services but no deductibles. ColoradoCare would replace private insurance for Coloradans, though those who still want to purchase private insurance (while also paying the tax), would be free to do so.
An independent analysis by Colorado Health Institute estimates that ColoradoCare would bring in $36 billion in its first year and cover 4.4 million people
. It would be run by a board of directors and would likely go into effect in 2019, after a preliminary period where it would charge a tax of .09 percent. When running, it would be funded mainly by a 10 percent income tax, two-thirds of which would be paid by employers, and one-third of which would be paid by employees. The self-employed would pay the full 10 percent tax.
Additionally, ColoradoCare would seek waivers to gain access to federal and state funds that currently flow into the health care system, including Medicaid dollars. There has been widespread bickering over the impacts of Amendment 69, with conservative leaders — and many liberals as well — opposing the ballot question
• Minimum wage
— This Constitutional amendment would raise the minimum wage from $8.31 an hour to $12 by 2020.
• Medical aid in dying
— As the title suggests, this change to the Colorado Revised Statutes would allow a terminally ill, mentally-competent adult to obtain a life-ending prescription. The patient would need to be within six months of death, and would self-administer the lethal dose. There are protections written into the law to ensure the patient is mentally sound, and is freely choosing to die.
• Amending the Constitution
— Interestingly, this Constitutional amendment aims to make it harder to amend the Constitution in the future. First, it would require more signatures to place a measure on the ballot, setting that figure at “at least two percent of the registered electors who reside in each state senate district for the amendment to be placed on the ballot.”
Once on the ballot, the amendment would need to be approved by 55 percent of the votes cast rather than a simple majority.
• Primary/Presidential primary elections
— Try not to get confused by these two initiatives aimed at changing the Colorado Revised Statutes. Initiative 98 would allow unaffiliated voters to vote in a primary without joining a political party. However, the initiative gives political parties a loophole that would still allow them to exclude unaffiliated voters. The parties would be able to forgo a primary election and select all their candidates through an assembly or convention, so long as 75 percent of the party’s state central committee agreed to the move.
Initiative 140, on the other hand, would create a primary election for presidential candidates in Colorado, to be held before the end of March. Unaffiliated voters could participate in the election.
• Tobacco tax
— Initiative 143 would amend the state Constitution to triple the taxes on a pack of cigarettes (taxes would go from 84 cents per pack to $2.59 per pack). Taxes on other tobacco would increase 22 percent. The money collected by the taxes would be used for a variety of programs including smoking cessation, medical research, mental health funding and other causes.