The statewide ballot for Colorado is set. This past week, Secretary of State Jena Griswold officially certified the state's ballot for the Nov. 8, 2022, election. In addition to the candidates for state and local offices, Colorado voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on six voter-initiated ballot measures (in a prior post, we detailed the process by which initiatives reach the ballot) and five measures referred to the ballot by the state legislature.
Historically, Colorado ballot initiatives have given voters the chance to register their opinions on topics as diverse as marijuana, women's rights, annexation of property by cities and counties, and state revenue and spending. So, along with the names of candidates for over 150 state and local races, Coloradans will see on their ballots the following newly named propositions:
State-Wide, Voter-Initiated Ballot Initiatives:
- Proposition 121, State Income Tax Rate Reduction: Voting "yes" on this proposition means supporting a decrease of Colorado's state income tax from 4.55% to 4.40%. Republican state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg and libertarian Independence Institute's Jon Caldara, who filed this proposition, also led a successful campaign to decrease the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55% last year. Organizations in support include Coloradans for Civil Liberties, Colorado Rising Action, Defend Colorado and the Independence Institute. The opposition is led by Scott Wasserman, president of the Bell Policy Center and the Bell Action Network.
- Proposition 122, Access to Natural Medicine: A "yes" vote on this question backs the establishment of legal and regulated access to "natural medicines," defined as dimethyltryptamine, ibogaine, certain forms of mescaline, peyote, psilocybin and psilocyn for adults over the age of 21. This proposition would decriminalize the personal use of these natural medicines, such as mushrooms, and create state-licensed "healing centers" where eligible participants can purchase, consume and experience the effects of natural medicines under the supervision of a facilitator. This was one of several proposed natural medicines measures, but it was the only one to make it on the ballot. Natural Medicine Colorado, which has reported nearly $3 million in contributions, is sponsoring the initiative. Just over 99% of those contributions have come from New Approach PAC.
- Proposition 123, Dedicated State Income Tax Revenue for Affordable Housing Programs: Voting "yes" on this proposition endorses the allocation of roughly $300 million a year of state tax revenue (the equivalent of 0.1% of state income tax) to affordable housing programs, including financing programs that reduce rent, purchasing land for affordable housing developments, debt financing for housing builders and supporting people experiencing homelessness. The measure does not raise taxes but rather allocates money for these programs out of the TABOR refund pool. Coloradans for Affordable Housing Now is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. The campaign's main backer, Gary Community Ventures, is led by former gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston and has raised nearly $4 million.
- Proposition 124, Concerning Liquor Licenses: A "yes" vote indicates approval for increasing the number of liquor stores one person or business can operate from three to eight immediately, then to 13 in 2027, 20 in 2032, and entirely removing the limit in 2037. Coloradans for Consumer Choice and Retail Fairness, the campaign behind this proposition, has raised over $2.6 million thus far.
- Proposition 125, Sales of Alcohol Beverages: Supporting this proposition facilitates the sale of wine at grocery stores and convenience stores. Wine in Grocery Stores, the campaign supporting Propositions 125 and 126, has raised $11.4 million through donors such as DoorDash, Instacart, Target, Albertsons Safeway and Kroger.
- Proposition 126, Third-Party Delivery of Alcohol Beverages: A "yes" vote supports allowing third parties (like Uber Eats and DoorDash) to deliver alcoholic beverages in Colorado. Keeping Colorado Local is leading the campaign in opposition to the three alcohol initiatives: Propositions 124, 125 and 126. The committee has raised nearly half a million dollars thus far, and donors include the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association and the local Boulder liquor store Hazel's Beverage World.
State-Wide Issues Referred by the State Legislature
- Amendment D, New 23rd Judicial District Judges: A "yes" vote here endorses directing the governor to designate judges from the 18th Judicial District to serve in the newly-created 23rd Judicial District. As this provision would amend the state constitution, it must receive 55% of the vote to pass. Supporters include state Sens. Rhonda Fields (D) and Bob Gardner (R) and state Reps. Mike Weissman (D) and and Kevin Van Winkle (R).
- Amendment E, Extend Homestead Exemption to Gold Star Spouses: Voting "yes" on this issue supports extending the property tax exemption currently for qualifying senior and disabled veterans to the surviving spouses of U.S. service members who died in the line of duty or passed away from service-related injuries or disease. As this provision would amend the state constitution, it must receive 55% of the vote to pass. Supporters include state Sens. Jeff Bridges (D) and Paul Lundeen (R) and state Reps. Tim Geitner (R) and Cathy Kipp (D).
- Amendment F, Charitable Gaming Constitutional Amendment: Backing this question supports repealing the current ban on paying managers and operators of charitable gaming activities and decreasing, from 5 years to 3 years, the time an organization must exist before obtaining a charitable gaming license. For purposes of regulations after 2024, it would delegate to the state legislature to decide how long an organization must exist before obtaining such a license. As this provision would amend the state constitution, it too must receive 55% of the vote to pass. Supporters include state Sens. Robert Rodriguez (D) and Jim Smallwood (R), state Reps. David Ortiz (D)and Perry Will (R), and the Colorado Charitable Bingo Association.
- Proposition FF, Healthy Meals for all Public School Students: A "yes" vote on this measure supports creating a program to provide free, healthy lunches to all public school students. The program would be funded by capping tax deductions for individuals with annual adjusted gross incomes over $300,000 to provide grants to participating schools to purchase Colorado-grown, -raised or -processed products and cover wages for those employees preparing and serving the meals. Healthy School Meals for All Colorado Students and Hunger Free Colorado are leading the campaign in support of the measure. Supporters include state Sen. Rhonda Fields (D) and numerous education organizations throughout the state. State Rep. Richard Holtorf (R) opposes the measure.
- Proposition GG, Amount of Tax Owed for Initiatives: Voting "yes" on this proposition supports a requirement that ballot initiatives that change state income tax rates include a table showing the average change for taxpayers based on income. Coloradans for Ballot Transparency is leading the campaign in support of the measure. Supporters include state Sens. Dominick Moreno (D) and Brittany Pettersen (D) and state Reps. Chris Kennedy (D) and Mike Weissman (D). Michael Fields, president of the Advance Colorado Institute, is leading the opposition.
In addition to the statewide measure, voters are also likely to encounter local initiatives on their ballots. For example, Denver residents will also be asked how they feel about:
- Initiative Ordinance 305, No Eviction Without Representation: Whether landlords should be taxed ($75 per rental unit, per year) to establish a free legal advice and defense program for renters facing eviction in Denver.
- Initiative Ordinance 306, Waste No More: Whether Denver should require apartments and condo buildings to offer recycling and composting services to residents. The ordinance also applies to nonresidential buildings contributing to food waste, such as restaurants and sports arenas.
- Initiative Ordinance 307, Denver Deserves Sidewalks: Whether to establish a program funded by an annual fee paid by property owners whereby Denver would take responsibility for sidewalk installation and maintenance, replacing the current system where property owners are responsible.
- Referred Question 2I, the Denver Public Library Tax: Whether property taxes should be increased (roughly $50 per year for the average Denver homeowner) in order to expand public library branch hours, grow collections of books and other media, improve resources for patrons, and increase pay for staff.
- Referred Question 2J, Lifting TABOR Limits on the Climate Tax: Whether to allow Denver to keep the revenue collected from the voter-approved 2020 sales tax increase and utilize it, as approved by voters, to fund climate action initiatives.
- Referred Question 2K, Lifting TABOR Limits on Homeless Resolution Tax: Whether to allow Denver to keep the revenue collected from the voter-approved 2020 sales tax increase and utilize it, as approved by voters, to fund efforts to combat homelessness.
- Referred Question 2L, Denver Ballot Modernization: Whether the following measures should be instituted with regard to the way Denver handles elections: (1) installing a "single subject" requirement for ballot initiatives; (2) moving up deadlines by which candidates have to be certified for the ballot; (3) delegating to the clerk and recorder the way titles of initiatives, referendums, and recalls are set; and (4) changing ballot question wording to be governed by city ordinance rather than by the charter.
Colorado ballots will be mailed to registered voters from Oct. 17–21.
But it is not too late to register to vote. Through Oct. 31, Coloradans can register to vote at GoVoteColorado.gov. And after that, individuals can register in person until 7 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 8, 2022.
Over 400 drop boxes and 350 voting centers will be available for voters by Oct. 24. More information about locations, opening dates and hours can be found at GoVoteColorado.gov.
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