Colorado legislature refers amendment to ballot to designate judges to newly created 23rd judicial district court

The Colorado State Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the November 2022 ballot to designate judges to serve in a new 23rd Judicial District when the new district takes effect in 2025.

In 2020, the Colorado State Legislature passed and Governor Jared Polis (D) signed House Bill 1026, which was designed to remove Douglas, Elbert and Lincoln counties from the 18th judicial district and create a new 23rd judicial district for those counties, effective Jan. 7, 2025. Under the bill, the 23rd district was set to include eight judges, while the 18th district was set to have seven judges removed, meaning the total number of district court judges in the state was set to increase by one.

Colorado has had 22 judicial districts since 1964. District courts in Colorado are trial courts of general jurisdiction that handle civil, criminal, and probate cases. The 18th Judicial District court was established in 1964 to serve Arapahoe and Douglas counties. Twenty days after the district was established, Elbert County was added to the district. In 1969, Lincoln County was added to the district. As of 2022, the 18th judicial district was comprised of 24 judges and one chief judge.

The constitutional amendment would require the governor, by November 30, 2024, to designate judges from the 18th judicial district to serve in the newly created 23rd judicial district. Judges would be required to establish residence in the 23rd district by Jan. 7, 2025.

To refer the constitutional amendment to the ballot in Colorado, a two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote was required in both chambers of the state legislature.

The amendment was introduced as House Concurrent Resolution 22-1005. It was approved in the House on April 18, 2022, by a vote of 60-2. The amendment was passed unanimously by the Senate on April 26, 2022.

In 2022, Colorado voters will also decide an initiative to reduce the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%.

A total of 105 measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Colorado during even-numbered election years during the 20-year period between 2000 through 2020. Of the 105 measures, 48 were approved (45.71%) and 57 were defeated (54.29%). From 2000 through 2020, the number of measures on the even-year ballot ranged from 3 to 14.

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