Many voters bristle when it comes time to complete the ballot measures on election cards. The measures can be confusing and require voters to work to make informed decisions.
But ballot measures are among the most important decisions voters can make – determining tax rates, overruling lawmakers in Denver and establishing policy on matters large and small.
This year, voters will determine whether the state should prohibit abortion after 22 weeks of pregnancy, whether to lower the state income tax rate and whether to reintroduce gray wolves on the Western Slope.
Referred measures are placed on the ballot by the Colorado General Assembly. Initiated measures are placed on the ballot by citizens who have completed a signature-gathering process.
Measures that amend the Colorado Constitution are “amendments.” Measures that amend state law are “propositions.”
Amendments and propositions followed by an alphabetical letter are referred by the Colorado General Assembly. Amendments and propositions followed by a number are referred by citizens.
Here’s a summary of measures voters will decide Nov. 3:
Amendment B: Repeal the Gallagher AmendmentA Yes vote for Amendment B would repeal the Gallagher Amendment to the Colorado Constitution. The Gallagher Amendment currently requires residential property taxes to equal 45% of the total share of property taxes and nonresidential property taxes to equal 55%.
In Colorado, home prices have risen faster than those of nonresidential property. That has led the tax assessment rate for homes to drop over time, and homeowners often see lower property tax bills after each two-year reassessment.
When the Gallagher Amendment was adopted in 1982, 21% of the value of a home was taxed. The current tax assessment rate for residential property is 7.15%.
Small districts such as local fire departments are seeing lower revenues because their property tax base mostly is made up of homes.
Amendment C: Conduct of Charitable GamingA Yes vote for Amendment C changes the state constitutional requirements making it easier for organizations, usually nonprofits and churches, to obtain a charitable bingo-raffle gaming license. Nonprofits must be in existence for five years before they can get a bingo-raffle license. Amendment C could cut that to three years.
Amendment C is the only ballot measure that requires more than a simple majority to pass. It requires a 55% Yes vote to pass.
Amendment 76: Citizenship Qualification of VotersA Yes vote for Amendment 76 would amend the Constitution to state that only a citizen of the United States who is 18 years of age can vote. The measure would end Colorado’s constitutional right for 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections if they will turn 18 before the subsequent general election.
Amendment 77: Casino Betting LimitsA Yes vote for Amendment 77 would allow the towns of Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek to set the maximum allowable single bet limit to any amount and to expand the games they provide.
No mention is made about the effect of this amendment on Southwest Colorado’s tribal casinos, but past legal interpretations have found any loosening of state law on gaming for the Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek casinos also applies to the tribal casinos.
Proposition EE: Taxes on Nicotine ProductsA Yes vote for Proposition EE would raise taxes by up to $294 million annually by imposing a tax on nicotine liquids, e-cigarettes and other vaping products that is equal to the state tax on traditional tobacco products. The tax would be phased in incrementally.
The new taxes would fund preschool programs, rural schools, K-12 education, affordable housing and rental assistance, eviction legal assistance, health care programs, general state spending and tobacco education programs.
Proposition 113: National Popular VoteA Yes vote on Proposition 113 would support Colorado joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, which would give the state’s nine Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote.
If Colorado becomes a member of the NPVIC and if the compact goes into effect, Colorado will give all nine of its Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate winning the most votes nationwide, the winner of the national popular vote. Currently, Colorado’s nine Electoral College votes go to the presidential candidate receiving the most votes in Colorado.
The compact would go into effect only if states representing 270 Electoral College votes adopt it. Currently, 14 states and Washington, D.C. – 187 Electoral College votes total – have passed legislation to join the compact.
Proposition 114: Reintroduction of Gray WolvesA Yes vote for Proposition 114 would require Colorado Parks and Wildlife to create a plan to reintroduce and manage the gray wolf on certain designated lands west of the Continental Divide by the end of 2023. The last gray wolves in Colorado were killed about 1940. The gray wolf is classified as an endangered species except in Minnesota, where it is classified as a threatened species.
Proposition 115: Prohibiting Abortion after 22 weeksA Yes vote on Proposition 115 would ban abortions in Colorado after a fetus reaches 22 weeks of gestational age.
As of 2020, Colorado does not limit the gestational age at which an abortion can be performed. This initiative would prohibit abortions after a fetus reaches 22 weeks gestational age as calculated from the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period. Gestational age would be determined by the physician performing the abortion.
Under the initiative, abortions after 22 weeks would be lawful if the physician believes it is immediately necessary to save the life of the pregnant woman.
Proposition 116: State Income Tax ReductionA Yes vote on Proposition 116 would decrease the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55% for individuals, estates, trusts and “C” corporations.
Before 1987, Colorado’s individual income tax rates were graduated, meaning those with higher incomes paid higher taxes, and those with lower incomes paid less in taxes. The Colorado individual income tax rate has been a flat tax rate since 1987. The flat tax was 5% from 1987 to 1998. It was lowered to 4.75% in 1999. The rate has been 4.63% since 2000.
Proposition 117: Voter Approval of Some State EnterprisesA Yes vote for Proposition 117 would support requiring voter approval of new state enterprises if projected or actual revenue from fees and surcharges to support the enterprise is greater than $100 million in its first five years.
Enterprises were established through the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, often called TABOR, a 1992 state constitutional amendment. Enterprises are government-owned businesses that provide goods or services for a fee or surcharge that is paid for by the individuals or entities that purchase the goods or services.
Proposition 118: Paid Family and Medical Leave InsuranceA Yes vote for Proposition 118 supports establishing a family and medical leave program in Colorado. The program would provide 12 weeks, and in some cases up to 16 weeks, of paid leave. The maximum benefit would be $1,100 per week.
The program would be funded through a payroll tax paid for by employees and employers in a 50-50 split. For the first two years of the program, 2023 and 2024, the premiums paid would be 0.9% of the employee’s wage – 0.45% paid by the employer and 0.45% paid by the employee. Employers could choose to pay a larger percentage of the cost up to 100%.
Businesses with fewer than 10 employees would be exempt . Sole proprietors could opt in to the program. Premiums under the program would begin on Jan. 1, 2023, if the measure is approved.