2020 Ballot Issues

Here are the eleven ballot issues that will appear on your ballot. As appropriate I have put my personal recommendation and additional resources to help your decision below.

Go to this website to read the Blue Books for 2020 (In English and Spanish) which will provide voters with the text, title, and a fair and impartial analysis of each initiated or referred constitutional amendment, law, or question on the ballot.

Amendment 76: Amends the Colorado Constitution to state that “only a citizen” of the U.S. can vote in federal, state, and local elections, instead of the existing language that says “every citizen” of the U.S. can vote.

My Recommendation: No
Why? This is already the case, and legal interpretations of this say it will keep 17 years olds from voting in primaries and caucuses when they will be old enough to vote in the General Election.

Amendment 77: Allows voters in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek to vote to expand allowed gaming types and bet limits

My Recommendation: Coming
Why? Waiting on additional information.

Proposition 113: Joins Colorado into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, awarding Colorado’s electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote

My Recommendation: Yes
Why? Every person’s vote should count equally, just like we elect every other elected position in the country.
Resources:
National Popular Vote Explained

Proposition 114: Reintroduces gray wolves on public lands

My Recommendation: Yes
Why?
As recently as 150 years ago, the gray wolf existed throughout the western contiguous United States as a keystone species. In 1915, Congress passed a law that provided for the extermination of wolves on federal lands, even in national parks. By the 1920s, gray wolves were scarce. ESA-related actions have led to the restoration of roughly 6,000 wolves in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oregon and Washington, as of 2016. However, recent lobbying efforts have attempted to remove the gray wolf from the protections of the ESA, putting them at risk of losing the progress made to restore them to their natural habitats. Wolf restoration in western Colorado is especially significant when considered on a continental scale. There is no other region in the world where one can restore a large carnivore species across such a sweeping continental landscape.
Resources:
https://www.wolfactionfund.com/restoration-efforts

Proposition 115: Prohibits abortion after 22 weeks gestational age

My Recommendation: No
Why?
Every pregnancy is unique and no one can possibly know another person’s circumstances. But Prop 115 does not allow for any complexity — even when there are risks to the woman’s health or she learns there is a lethal fetal diagnosis. The initiative’s writers even said they want to force a woman who has been raped to carry her pregnancy to term. Proposition 115 is an intentionally confusing initiative being pushed by many of the same politicians and groups who have repeatedly tried to ban abortion outright in Colorado. We know decisions around pregnancy are best made by a woman and her family, in consultation with her doctors and in accordance with her faith.
Resources:
https://voteno115.com/facts/

Proposition 116: Decreases the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55%

My Recommendation: No
Why?
Because of TABOR’s restriction on taxing higher income at higher rates, Proposition 116 ends up being a big giveaway to the richest 1% of Coloradans at the expense of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for schools and other public services that are already facing billions in cuts. Because the workers who earn the highest incomes are disproportionately white, while workers who earn low incomes are disproportionately Black and Latino, Prop 116 will also worsen existing barriers to racial equity in Colorado’s tax code. Finally, because Colorado voters must approve any increases in tax rates, Prop 116 is a permanent tax cut.
Resources:
https://coloradosun.com/2020/09/04/proposition-116-politics-taxes-legislature-opinion/

Proposition 117: Requires voter approval of new enterprises that are exempt from TABOR if their revenue is greater than $50 million within its first five years

My Recommendation: No
Why?
While TABOR prohibits the legislature from increasing tax rates without voter approval, one of the few tools it does allow lawmakers to use is the ability to create enterprises to administer fee-based programs. An enterprise is essentially a government-run business funded by fees and is required to get less than 10% of its annual revenue from state and government grants. Enterprises also have the authority to issue bonds. Importantly enterprises are not included in the revenue subject to TABOR’s cap on revenue during good economic times.

Fees have been used to pay for transportation projects, wildlife conservation, and health care, among other investments. In a state with extreme limitations on fiscal policy, Prop 117 will remove one of the last tools in the budget toolbox for lawmakers.

Because Colorado will face many challenges in the years to come, that will require legislators to use their own limited powers to generate revenue, and because those powers are themselves already limited, further limits will only end up reducing investments in public services during a time we can ill afford to do so.

Proposition 118: Establishes a program for paid medical and family leave

My Recommendation: Yes
Why? Eighty percent of Coloradans don’t have access to paid family and medical leave. They can’t afford to take time off work to care for a newborn baby or a seriously ill loved one. Eight states, including Oregon, Washington, and Connecticut, have passed similar paid family and medical leave programs. These programs have had lower than expected costs, increased employee retention, and have boosted morale.
Resouces:
https://www.voteyeson118.com/learn-more

Amendment B: Repeals the Gallagher Amendment of 1982, which limited the residential and non-residential property tax assessment rates so that residential property taxes amounted to 45% of the total share of state property taxes, and non-residential property taxes amounted to 55% of the total share of state property taxes

My Recommendation: Yes
Why? This year, a large bipartisan majority of our Colorado state legislature referred Amendment B to the voters. If passed, Amendment B will freeze property tax assessment rates at current levels. It will also ensure that hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for schools, libraries, fire protection districts and other services are protected. Additionally, Amendment B will very appropriately remove this tax policy from our state constitution.

Our communities are about to deal with some of the most painful cuts in most of our lives, and a failure to repeal Gallagher will make those cuts substantially worse.

The excellent resources below really are helpful in trying to understand how the Gallagher amendment works.
Background: In 1982, Colorado voters added an amendment to the constitution that placed a limit on the rate that determines how much of the value of a piece of residential property is subject to local property taxes (there is no statewide property tax in Colorado). The constitutional amendment, commonly known as the Gallagher Amendment, requires the state to set this rate annually so no more than 45% of statewide property tax collections come from residential property. That rate changes depending on property values and is currently 7.15%. Conversely, the assessment rate for non-residential property is fixed at 29%.

Because residential property values have risen dramatically since the 1980s, the residential assessment rate has steadily fallen over the years. This has created a problem for school districts and other local governments who rely on property taxes to fund services our communities rely on.
Resources:
Video: The Gallagher Amendment Explained
Video: How the Gallagher Amendment effects Fire Protection Districts

Amendment C: Requires charitable organizations to have existed for three years before obtaining a charitable gaming license instead of five years; allows charitable organizations to hire managers and operators of gaming activities so long as they are not paid more than the minimum wage

My Recommendation: Yes
Why?
Frankly, none of the laws concerning charitable gaming licenses belongs in the state constitution. This would remove language from the constitution and put it into statute where it belongs.

Proposition EE: Increases taxes on tobacco, creates a new tax on nicotine products such as e-cigarettes; dedicates funds to education and health programs

My Recommendation: Yes
Why?
This year the Colorado legislature referred this measure to the ballot. Colorado has some of the highest youth nicotine and vaping rates in the nation. Revenues would initially be used for smoking cessation and healthcare. Additionally, this money would be used to shore up public school funding, then switch to preschool funding beginning July 1st, 2023.