Amendment B: Repeal the Gallagher Amendment
Enacted in 1982, the Gallagher Amendment artificially limits residential property tax collections to no more than 45 percent of the total property tax collected. Residential property values have skyrocketed in recent decades, but due to Gallagher mandates, the property tax has stayed the same, meaning state revenue hasn’t kept pace, leading to severe shortfalls for local public schools, their charter school counterparts and municipal police, fire and other services.
If Gallagher is repealed, property tax assessment rates will remain exactly the same as they are now. State and local governments can only increase assessment rates with voter approval.
The Gallagher Amendment is outdated and causes unintended and often unfortunate consequences. For example, if voters choose not to repeal the amendment, high-end homeowners in wealthy neighborhoods will get a tax cut next year, while small businesses and farmers would pay a larger share of property taxes.
Today, due to Gallagher, small businesses are taxed at a rate four times higher than residential property owners. Gallagher also penalizes rural and low-income communities that lack significant commercial tax bases.
Vote Yes on Amendment B
Amendment C: Charitable gaming
This measure would allow for-profit companies to organize nonskilled gambling games of chance for nonprofits. Professionalizing bingo and raffle operations undermines their charitable fundraising purpose. By removing the requirement that workers be volunteers and expanding the number of nonprofits that can and will market games of chance, bingo and raffle games become more like for-profit gambling than charitable fundraising.
Vote No on Amendment C
Amendment 76: Citizenship qualification of voters
This measure seeks to amend the Colorado Constitution to specify that “only a citizen” of the United States rather than “every citizen” of the United States can vote in Colorado elections. While such a change might seem trivial, the unintended consequences of Amendment 76 are not. It dissuades immigrant-turned-naturalized citizens from voting because the amendment’s language is both exclusive and confusing.
In addition, this measure would likely overturn a House of Representatives bill enacted last year that allows 17-year-olds to vote in primaries as long as they turn 18 before the general election. It would also curtail efforts by some school districts to promote civic engagement by allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to cast ballots in school board elections in order to increase their comfort and interest in participating in our democracy after they graduate.
The measure has no impact on voting requirements related to residency and registration. It does not change current election law that excludes noncitizens from voting. Colorado already has one of the most secure election systems in the nation. Ultimately, the measure seeks to solve a problem that does not exist, would result in voter confusion about state and local elections and could disenfranchise voters.
Vote No on Amendment 76
Proposition EE: Tobacco and e-cigarette tax increase for health and education programs
Colorado teen nicotine vaping rates are among the highest in America, while the state has one of the lowest tax rates for tobacco products in the nation, and no tax on vaping products. It’s time we do something about it.
Earlier this year, the Colorado Legislature enacted a law to raise taxes on both cigarettes and vaping products. The new law takes effect only if voters approve Prop EE, because all tax increases must be approved by voters.
This measure would tax all nicotine products — including vaping. The cigarette tax would also increase by up to 9 cents per cigarette.
Higher taxes on cigarettes, tobacco products and vaping products will decrease consumption — and the additional funding will go toward preschool, health care and tobacco cessation and prevention initiatives throughout Colorado.
Vote Yes on Prop EE
Amendment 77: Would allow gambling towns — and not the state — to regulate gambling
Amendment 77 would take away much state oversight of gambling operations, and instead empower voters in just three Colorado communities — Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek — to do pretty much as they please, including expanding the number of casinos, raising betting limits, and adding new casino games — even digital and web-based games that are not yet invented.
In the recent past, Colorado voters have added sports gambling, increased the maximum individual bet from $5 to $100, and expanded casino hours. Enough is enough.
This amendment provides no funds to help people who get addicted to gambling, even though there is clear evidence that for a small but significant number of people, gambling increases their propensity for substance abuse, crime and suicide.
This measure would let the foxes guard the chicken coop.
Vote No on Amendment 77
Proposition 113: Approve Colorado’s national popular vote law
So far, 15 states, including Colorado, have endorsed awarding all their electoral votes to the candidate who receives the most popular votes nationwide, once enough states pass measures. In this case, participating states must represent more than half of all the electoral votes before the measure activates.
Every vote for president should count — and count the same. Currently, all attention is paid to the 10 or so battleground states, while the majority of those living in the other 40 states are mostly ignored. It is in Colorado’s best interest to remove the antiquated Electoral College system. It gives unequal weight to states with low populations and ignores city centers — something the founders didn’t anticipate when they created the Electoral College system more than two centuries ago.
Electing future presidents by a national popular vote means that every person’s vote counts equally. It advances the democratic principle of one person, one vote. It will encourage candidates to campaign nationally, not just in the handful of competitive swing states.
Vote Yes on Prop 113 (This endorsement was incorrect in the Indy’s print edition. The Indy regrets the error.)
Proposition 114: Reintroduce gray wolves in Colorado
This proposition would require that Colorado create a plan to reintroduce and manage gray wolves on designated lands west of the Continental Divide by the end of 2023. The measure mandates that the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission hold statewide hearings to obtain public comment and to pay fair compensation for livestock losses caused by gray wolves.
Gray wolves are large predatory canines that live in packs. Up until four decades ago, such wolves were found throughout the Rocky Mountain West. Because of human activities, including widespread hunting and trapping, these wolves are no longer in our state.
This carefully written measure would allow Colorado to join other states in helping bring back the gray wolf, once an apex species in our state.
Vote Yes on Prop 114
Proposition 115: Ban abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy
This is yet another intentionally confusing attempt to control people’s bodies — especially women. It criminalizes doctors and nurses who help terminate a pregnancy after 154 days of gestation, except when an abortion is required to save the life of the parent. A No vote ensures protection of individual liberties.
Restricting access to abortion limits a person’s right to autonomy and interferes with the patient-doctor relationship. The choice to end a pregnancy is a serious and difficult decision, and people who are pregnant should be the ones making that choice — no one else. The measure does NOT include exceptions for risks to the parent’s health or for those who have been victims of rape or incest. It also provides no exceptions for the detection of serious fetal abnormalities, forcing a person to carry a nonviable pregnancy to term. Everyone is capable of making decisions regarding their life, future and health. No interference from state government is required, needed or appreciated.
Proposition 115 joins a long list of failed abortion bans across the country. Others, just like this one, are unconstitutional, unpopular and unnecessary. Similar proposals in Colorado to curb abortion rights were defeated in 2008, 2010 and 2014. This one must fail too.
Vote No on Prop 115
Proposition 116: State income tax rate reduction
Proposition 116 would permanently lower Colorado’s income tax rate to 4.55 percent from 4.63 percent. That’s not trivial; it would compound the impact of significant budget cuts the Legislature has already made to education, transportation, health care and other state services as a result of the current COVID-caused economic crisis.
Additional loss of state revenue will lead to layoffs and reduce critical state services, further hurting Colorado’s economy and quality of life. Now is not the time to reduce state revenue further.
If passed, state revenue would fall by more than $158 million in 2020-21 and nearly $170 million in 2021-22. That’s not chump change. It means less money for transportation, for infrastructure, for parks.
And most of the measure’s benefits go to wealthy taxpayers and corporations. About 75 percent of taxpayers would receive a tax cut of less than $50 per year. Comparatively, those with incomes more than $500,000, representing less than 2 percent of taxpayers, would receive more than half of the total tax savings.
Vote No on Prop 116
Proposition 117: Voter approval requirement for new enterprise funds that exceed $20 million a year average during their first five years of operation
In Colorado, taxes fund general government operations, while fees are collected only from the users of a particular government program to defray the cost of operating that specific program. Locally the Pikes Peak Highway is an enterprise fund. It is still controlled by City Council, but it is self-supporting and collects fees to cover the cost of maintaining the road up America’s Mountain.
If this measure passes, formation of all new statewide enterprise funds expected to exceed a profit average of just $20 million a year during their first five years of operation must be approved by voters in an even-year election. This would mean that in the future, self-supporting enterprises such as the Colorado Lottery, Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s hunting and fishing permits and user fees, and the Petroleum Storage Tank Fund, would have needed to go on the ballot in an even-number year before the state could launch them, greatly slowing the process and increasing the cost and difficulty of establishing future enterprises.
Enterprises shift the burden of paying for government-provided services from all taxpayers to the people who use and benefit from them. For many government initiatives, enterprises make sense. The proponents of this measure haven’t made a case that the current program hasn’t worked well.
Vote No on Prop 117
Proposition 118: Paid family and medical leave insurance
This measure would allow employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for their own or an immediate family member’s serious health condition, to care for a new child or when a family member is called to active duty military service. The measure, managed by the Colorado Department of Labor, would be self-funded by a tax paid equally by employees and employers. Small businesses with fewer than 10 employees are exempt from paying their share of the tax, but their employees will still be covered. The self-employed can opt in or out of this program, as can local governments and employers with private plans.
Most employees will need to take leave for personal reasons at some point in their careers, and Proposition 118 allows them to do so with financial support and job protection. It also protects employers who will no longer need to pay the wages of an employee who needs to take time off due to a major surgery or to bond with their newborn child.
Vote Yes on Prop 118