Author

Jackie Mitchell

Jackie Mitchell is a state ballot measures staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Denver voters to decide 13 ballot measures on Nov. 2, including 5 citizen initiatives

Thirteen ballot measures are on the ballot in Denver on Nov. 2, 2021. The Denver City Council referred eight of the measures to the ballot. The referrals include five bond measures totaling $450 million proposed by Mayor Michael Hancock. Initiative proponents put five measures on the ballot through signature petition drives. Two of the initiatives, Initiated Ordinances 303 and 304 were proposed by Garrett Flicker, chair of the Denver Republican Party.

Summaries of the 13 measures are below:

Initiated Ordinance 300: Increases the Denver retail marijuana sales tax (1.5% as of 2021) by $7 million annually to fund pandemic research, preparedness, and recovery

Initiated Ordinance 301: Requires voter approval for commercial or residential development on city parklands or lands under conservation easement

Initiated Ordinance 302: Amends the definition of “conservation easement” to apply only to those that have been approved by the Division of Conservation and that have received an income tax credit certificate; requires voter approval for residential or commercial construction on city parklands or property protected by a conservation easement with exceptions for limited construction on conservation easement properties

Initiated Ordinance 303: Bans camping on private property without written permission from the property owner, requires the city to enforce unauthorized camping, and allows the city to establish up to four authorized camping locations on public property with lighting, running water, and restroom facilities to support the homeless population of the city

Initiated Ordinance 304: Lowers the sales and use tax rate in Denver from 4.81% to 4.5% and limits the aggregate sales and use tax in Denver to 4.5%; requires the city to reduce sales and use taxes if Denver voters approve other tax increases to maintain the 4.5% cap

Referred Question 2A: Authorizes Denver to issue $104.04 million in bonds for repairs, improvements, and additions to the Denver Facilities System, such as at the Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and the Denver Zoo

Referred Question 2B: Authorizes Denver to issue $38.6 million in bonds for repairs, improvements, and additions to the Denver Housing and Sheltering System

Referred Question 2C: Authorizes Denver to issue $63.32 million in bonds for repairs, improvements, and additions (such as a new walkway in downtown Denver) to the Denver Transportation and Mobility System

Referred Question 2D: Authorizes $54.07 million in bonds for repairs, improvements, and additions to the Denver Parks and Recreation System

Referred Question 2E: Authorizes Denver to issue $190 million in bonds for repairs, improvements, and additions (such as a new multi-use arena for concerts and sporting events) to the National Western Campus Facilities System

Referred Question 2F: Repeals Ordinance No. 2020-0888, known as the Group Living Ordinance, which amended the Denver Zoning Code and regulations concerning residential care facilities, corrections facilities locations, and the number of unrelated adults who can live together in one house

Referred Question 2G: Transfers the power to appoint the Independent Monitor to The Office of the Independent Monitor, which is responsible for disciplinary investigations concerning the Denver police and sheriff’s departments, from the mayor to the Citizen Oversight Board

Referred Question 2H: Changes the odd-year general election date for Denver from the first Tuesday of May to the first Tuesday in April

Ballots are set to be mailed to Colorado voters beginning on Oct. 8. Ballots must be received by the Denver Elections Division by 7 p.m. on Election Day (Nov. 2). The Elections Division recommends mailing ballots out by Oct. 25 to ensure they will be received by the deadline or dropping them off at one of the 24-hour ballot drop boxes located throughout the city, which opened on Oct. 8. In-person polling places in Denver will begin opening on Oct. 18. Voters in line by 7 p.m. on election day will be able to vote.

In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. and all state capitals, including those outside of the top 100 largest cities. Ballotpedia is also covering all local ballot measures in California.

Denver voters will also see the three statewide initiatives that were certified for the Nov. 2 ballot.

  • Proposition 119 would create an out-of-school education program and increase the marijuana sales tax rate to partially fund the program.
  • Proposition 120 would reduce property tax rates and authorize the state to retain $25 million in revenue above the state’s TABOR spending cap for five years, which it would otherwise be required to refund to taxpayers.
  • Amendment 78 would transfer the power to appropriate custodial funds (state revenue not generated through taxes) from the state treasurer to the state legislature.

Measures that can go on the statewide ballot in Colorado during odd years are limited to topics that concern taxes or state fiscal matters arising under TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

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Juneau voters approve sales tax renewal measure

Photo of the city of Juneau, Alaska

Voters in Juneau approved a measure on October 5 that renewed for five years (until June 30, 2027) the city’s 3% sales tax set to expire on July 1, 2022. The measure continued the existing total sales tax rate of 5%. The measure was put on the ballot through a vote of the Juneau Assembly.

With 40% of ballots counted on October 9, the vote was 3,560 (80%) in favor to 885 (20%) against. Official election results are expected to be available on October 19, 2021.

The 3% sales tax revenues will be distributed as follows:

  1. One percent for police, fire, emergency and ambulance services, street maintenance and snow removal, parks and recreation, libraries, and other general purposes;
  2. One percent for roads, drainage, maintaining walls, sidewalks, and stairs, as well as other capital improvements; and
  3. One percent tobe allocated annually by the assembly for capital improvements, an emergency budget reserve, and other general public services.

Voters last renewed the 3% temporary tax in Oct. 2016 in a vote of 76% to 24%. At the same election in 2016, voters rejected a measure 66% to 34% that would have made the 3% sales tax permanent. Juneau Budget Analyst Adrien Speegle estimated the tax generates $30 million per year.



Lawsuit filed seeking to remove Amendment 78 from Colorado’s November ballot

Scott Wasserman of the Bell Policy Center and Summit County Commissioner Tamara Pogue filed a lawsuit in Denver District Court arguing that the Colorado Secretary of State’s office improperly certified Amendment 78 for the ballot. The plaintiffs asked the court to either remove the measure from the ballot or order that votes for the measure not be counted.

Amendment 78 would transfer the power to appropriate custodial funds (state revenue not generated through taxes) from the state treasurer to the state legislature.

Plaintiffs alleged that the amendment is not substantially related to Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) and therefore should not appear on the 2021 ballot. Measures that can go on the ballot during odd years in Colorado are limited to topics that concern taxes or state fiscal matters arising under TABOR. This requirement was added to state law in 1994. The Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) requires voter approval for all new taxes, tax rate increases, extensions of expiring taxes, mill levy increases, valuation for property assessment increases, or tax policy changes resulting in increased tax revenue. TABOR limits the amount of money the state of Colorado can take in and spend. It ties the annual increase for some state revenue to inflation plus the percentage change in state population. Any money collected above this limit is refunded to taxpayers unless the voters allow the state to spend it.

Pogue said, “One of the reasons you can have a ballot initiative on an odd number year is if it is TABOR related. The framers of 78 have tried to make the claim that it is TABOR related, but I don’t think that claim has any merit…They are mistaken, a lot of the funds that I’m concerned about are very separate and already exempt from TABOR.”

Measure sponsor Michael Fields said, “Most of the time general fund money is inside of TABOR so what we’re doing is taking this, putting it into a new fund and allowing the interest to go into the general fund. People in the executive branch, attorney general, and governor and secretary of state have these funds that they can spend how they want without going through the normal process where legislators weigh in from all over the state and there is a public hearing.”

Examples of custodial funds that Amendment 78 would apply to include pension funds and court-approved settlement funds. The measure defines custodial money as money received by the state that (1) originated from a source other than the State of Colorado, (b) was awarded or provided to the state for a particular purpose, and (c) that the state is acting as a custodian or trustee to carry out the purpose for which the funds were provided. The initiative would create the Custodial Fund Transparency Account within the Department of the Treasury. The account would receive all custodial funds and the general assembly would be responsible for appropriating the funds for purposes as specified by law “on an equitable basis for the benefit of the state.” Funds appropriated from the account would be appropriated in a public hearing with opportunities for public comment. Custodial funds, including interest revenue on the funds, would be retained and spent as a voter-approved revenue change and would be exempt from revenue and spending limitations under TABOR.

Amendment 78 is one of three citizen initiatives that were certified for the November 2 ballot in Colorado. Colorado is one of four states—along with Maine, Ohio, and Washington—that allow citizen initiatives in odd-numbered years. Besides the three Colorado initiatives, there is one other citizen initiative certified for the 2021 ballot, an initiative in Maine concerning electric transmission lines.

Since 1992—when TABOR was adopted—through 2020, Colorado voters have decided on 22 statewide ballot measures that would have increased revenue for the state, which required voter approval under TABOR. Six (27%) of the 22 measures were approved, while 16 (73%) were defeated.



Florida Realtors suspends initiative campaign after making compromise deal with state legislators

On Sept. 7, 2021, Floridians for Housing, a ballot initiative committee sponsored by the Florida Realtors, said they were suspending their campaign. The initiative would have created state and local government housing trust funds to “address affordable housing access and availability, including funding of programs addressing new construction, down payment and closing cost assistance, rehabilitation, and financing for affordable housing development.”

According to campaign finance reports covering information through Aug. 31, the Florida Realtors had contributed $13 million to the committee. The committee reported $2.75 million in expenditures. As of Sept. 8, the Florida Division of Elections website said the group had submitted 65,018 valid signatures. To qualify for the ballot, sponsors would have needed to submit 891,589 valid signatures by Feb. 1, 2022.

Florida Realtors President Cheryl Lambert said that the campaign would work with legislative leaders on laws to address affordable housing instead of the ballot initiative. Lambert said, “The legislative leadership has committed to working with us to find significant, immediate solutions to Florida’s workforce housing crisis. This crisis cannot wait. Every day, we hear about workers who are bearing the brunt of the pandemic who can’t afford a home. This approach will help bring homeownership within reach of Floridians much faster.”

Senate President Wilton Simpson (R) and House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R) said, “We commend the decision by the Florida Realtors to suspend their ballot initiative. As we have seen in recent months, the housing market is extremely fluid, and fluctuates based on a variety of factors, which are outside of the Legislature’s control. Constitutional amendments, while instrumental in defining the ideals of the framework of our state government, do not provide the flexibility needed to respond to the ever-changing housing situation in Florida. Legislative solutions derived from the input and expertise of the entire coalition of stakeholders and experts who work on housing-related issues remain the best way to address housing challenges that impact families across our state.”

Committee meetings ahead of the 2022 legislative session were set to begin on Sept. 20, 2021. The legislative session was set to begin on Jan. 11 and run through March 11, 2022.

Ballotpedia is tracking 24 potential initiatives targeting Florida’s 2022 ballot. As of Sept. 8, seven of the initiative campaigns had zero valid signatures submitted. For the other 17 campaigns, the number of valid signatures on file ranged from two at the least, to 9,347 at the most, collected by Florida Voters in Charge, sponsors of an initiative to expand casino gaming in Florida.

Proposed measures are reviewed by the state attorney general and state supreme court after proponents collect 25% of the required signatures across the state in each of one-half of the state’s congressional districts (222,898 signatures for 2022 ballot measures). After these preliminary signatures have been collected, the secretary of state must submit the proposal to the Florida Attorney General and the Financial Impact Estimating Conference (FIEC). The attorney general is required to petition the Florida Supreme Court for an advisory opinion on the measure’s compliance with the single-subject rule, the appropriateness of the title and summary, and whether or not the measure “is facially valid under the United States Constitution.” To qualify for the ballot, sponsors must submit 891,589 valid signatures, which must be verified by election officials by Feb. 1, 2022. Signatures equaling at least 8% of the district-wide vote in the last presidential election must be collected from at least half (14) of the state’s congressional districts.

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Colorado voters to decide on three initiatives on November 2

The Colorado Secretary of State announced on August 31 that Initiative 19 concerning custodial funds qualified for the ballot, which means voters will decide three statewide initiatives on November 2, 2021.

Initiative 19 would transfer the power to appropriate custodial funds from the state treasurer to the state legislature. Custodial funds are state revenue not generated through taxes, such as pension funds and court-approved settlement funds. The measure defines custodial money as money received by the state that (1) originated from a source other than the State of Colorado, (b) was awarded or provided to the state for a particular purpose, and (c) that the state is acting as a custodian or trustee to carry out the purpose for which the funds were provided.

The initiative would create the Custodial Fund Transparency Account within the Department of the Treasury. The account would receive all custodial funds and the general assembly would be responsible for appropriating the funds for purposes as specified by law “on an equitable basis for the benefit of the state.” Funds appropriated from the account would be appropriated in a public hearing with opportunities for public comment. Custodial funds, including interest revenue on the funds, would be retained and spent as a voter-approved revenue change and would be exempt from revenue and spending limitations under TABOR.

The Committee for Spending Transparency is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. Michael Fields, Executive Director of Colorado Rising Action, is the initiative’s sponsor and the registered agent for the committee. The committee reported $1.275 million in contributions from Unite for Colorado.

Michael Fields said, “I think [Initiative 19 was] relevant this year because of all the COVID money the governor spent, the money he’s getting from companies to hire staff and the settlements coming into the AG’s office. The legislature should be deciding how to spend that. There is always extra money in there, and it sits in the bank for a very long time, gathering interest. Millions get spent how they want.”

The secretary of state used a random sampling to project that, of the 195,911 signatures submitted by proponents, 135,601 were valid. To qualify, 124,632 signatures needed to be valid. Since the measure proposes to amend the state constitution, signatures from two percent of the registered voters from each of the state’s 35 senate districts were also required.

Measures that can go on the ballot during odd years in Colorado are limited to topics that concern taxes or state fiscal matters arising under TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (Section 20 of Article X of the Colorado Constitution). This requirement was added to state law in 1994.

Measures that can go on odd-year election ballots include

  1. measures proposing new taxes,
  2. tax increases,
  3. an extension of taxes,
  4. tax policy changes resulting in a net tax revenue gain,
  5. changes to revenue or fiscal obligations,
  6. delays in voting on ballot issues, and
  7. approval for the state to retain and spend state revenues that otherwise would be refunded for exceeding an estimate included in the ballot information booklet.

The last time an initiative appeared on an odd-year ballot in Colorado was in 2013. The measure, which was defeated, would have changed Colorado’s flat personal income tax rate to a graduated income rate with increased rates.

The deadline to submit signatures for initiatives targeting the November 2021 ballot was Aug. 2. Campaigns for two other initiatives submitted signatures by that deadline. Both were certified for the ballot: the Creation of Out-of-School Education Program and Marijuana Sales Tax Increase Initiative (#25) and the Reduce Property Tax Rates and Retain $25 Million in TABOR Surplus Revenue Initiative (#27). Colorado Rising Action also sponsored Initiative 27.

According to campaign finance reports covering information through July 28, 2021, committees supporting the three measures raised a combined total of $3.31 million. Unite for Colorado gave 100% of the funds—a total of $2.15 million—raised by Cut Property Taxes (supporting Initiative 25) and The Committee for Spending Transparency (supporting Initiative 19). Learning Opportunities for Colorado’s Kids (LEAP 4 Co), which is backing Initiative #25, raised $1.61 million from Gary Community Investment Company ($948,250) and Ready Colorado ($200,000). The deadline for the next scheduled reports is September 7, 2021

From 2016 through 2020, successful initiative petition drives in Colorado cost an average of about $850,000, ranging from volunteer efforts to $2.2 million.

In 2020, eight initiatives appeared on the ballot in Colorado. Campaigns supporting the measures received an average of $3.36 million in support contributions and $2.49 million in opposition contributions. Campaigns supporting and opposing the eight initiatives on the 2020 ballot reported a combined total of $46.8 million in contributions.



Colorado initiative to reduce property tax assessment rates and allow the state to retain $25 million in revenue above the state’s TABOR spending cap for five years qualifies for 2021 ballot

The initiative would reduce, beginning on January 1, 2022, the residential and non-residential property tax rates. The residential property tax assessment rate would be reduced from 7.15% to 6.5% and the non-residential property tax assessment rate would be reduced from 29% to 26.4%. To offset the state’s reduced property tax revenue, the state would be authorized to retain and spend $25 million in revenue above the state’s TABOR spending cap for five years, which it would otherwise be required to refund to taxpayers. The retained revenue would be used to replace revenue lost due to the property tax assessment rate reduction and to reimburse local government entities for lost revenue due to homestead exemptions given to qualifying seniors and disabled veterans.

Sponsors submitted 192,562 signatures and 138,567 were projected to be valid based on a random sample check of 5% of the submitted signatures. To qualify, 124,632 signatures needed to be valid.

Cut Property Taxes registered as an issue committee to support the initiative. The committee reported $875,000 in contributions from Unite for Colorado. The committee reported expenditures totaling $868,950. The committee paid $868,728 to Victors Canvassing for signature gathering.

Michael Fields of Colorado Rising Action sponsored the measure. Fields said, “What’s been happening over the last few years is a huge rise in home values, the assessment rates that people got are a lot higher than they used to be. Our houses are worth more, but that doesn’t mean you have more money in your pocket to be able to pay for the property taxes. Seeing the strain this could put on seniors and people on fixed incomes, we wanted to make a move to lower property taxes. Most years, we fund that but some years we don’t. We wanted to give them an incentive. That whole thing is $150 million so this is only $25 million that the legislation could keep instead and spend on Homestead which would help those disabled veterans and seniors. The government will have more money next year than this year because of the high assessment rates. If values go up more than ten percent which might happen, nine percent means the government gets more but it slows the growth.”

Elliot Goldbaum of the Colorado Fiscal Institute opposes the measure. Goldbaum said, “The only people who are going to get a tax cut from this are those who own property which is about 40 percent of the state. It is not a significant number of people, but at the same time there are a lot of millionaires and billionaires who own very expensive property who are going to get a very large tax cut. The property tax benefit that is already in the constitution gets funded every year, regardless if this gets passed or not. I think it is deceptive that this was put into the ballot measure language, and we actually sued to get it taken out of the ballot measure language. We were unsuccessful, but we will be letting all of the voters know that voting for this doesn’t do anything to make sure older Coloradans and disabled veterans get that property tax benefit.”

The deadline to submit signatures for initiatives targeting the November 2021 ballot was Aug. 2. Campaigns for two other initiatives submitted signatures by that deadline: the Custodial Fund Appropriations Initiative (#19) and the Creation of Out-of-School Education Program and Marijuana Sales Tax Increase Initiative (#25). Initiative 25 was certified on Aug. 25.

From 2016 through 2020, successful initiative petition drives cost an average of about $850,000, ranging from volunteer efforts to $2.2 million.

Measures that can go on the statewide ballot in Colorado during odd years are limited to topics that concern taxes or state fiscal matters arising under TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (Section 20 of Article X of the Colorado Constitution). This requirement was added to state law in 1994.

Measures that can go on odd-year election ballots include measures proposing new taxes, tax increases, an extension of taxes, tax policy changes resulting in a net tax revenue gain, changes to revenue or fiscal obligations, delays in voting on ballot issues, and approval for the state to retain and spend state revenues that otherwise would be refunded for exceeding an estimate included in the ballot information booklet.

The last time an initiative appeared on an odd-year ballot in Colorado was in 2013. The measure, which was defeated, would have changed Colorado’s flat personal income tax rate to a graduated income rate with increased rates. At least $10.4 million was raised in support of the initiative.

In 2020, eight initiatives appeared on the ballot in Colorado. Campaigns supporting the measures received an average of $3.36 million in support contributions and $2.49 million in opposition contributions. Campaigns supporting and opposing the eight initiatives on the 2020 ballot reported a combined total of $46.8 million in contributions.

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Gaming compact between Florida and Seminole Tribe goes into effect; opponents file lawsuits in state and federal court

Florida entered into a gaming compact with the Seminole Tribe of Florida in April 2021 that gave the Tribe the exclusive ability to conduct sports betting in the state. Under the compact, the tribe may conduct sports betting and is required to share revenue with the state of Florida for the next 30 years, until 2051. The revenue sharing guarantee was set to be $2.5 billion over the first five years, with expected revenue for the state totaling $6 billion by 2030. Under the compact, sports betting was set to be available online and at pari-mutuel facilities to anyone in the state and would be “deemed at all times to be exclusively conducted by the tribe at its facilities” where the sportsbooks and servers are located. The compact was deemed approved, and the Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs published it in the Federal Register on August 11, 2021.

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) passed by the United States Congress in 1988 allowed tribes to establish casino gambling on tribal land and permitted states to form compacts with tribes to regulate gaming. The IGRA requires that any gaming activities provided for through gaming compacts between Indian tribes and state governments occur only on Indian lands, defined as “all lands within the limits of any Indian reservation.” Florida’s 2021 compact with the Seminole Tribe contains a severability clause, providing that, “[i]f at any time the Tribe is not legally permitted to offer Sports Betting to Patrons physically located in the State but not on Indian lands,” then the rest of the compact would remain in effect, meaning sports betting would then be available only on tribal lands.

On July 2, 2021, West Flagler Associates (Magic City Casino) and Bonita Springs Poker Room filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida Tallahassee Division against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), alleging that the compact would illegally allow online sports betting from any location in the state. In the lawsuit, plaintiffs wrote, “‘Deeming’ the bet to have been placed on Indian lands because the servers are located there contradicts decades of well-established precedent interpreting applicable federal law. Contrary to the legal fiction created by the 2021 Compact and Implementing Law, a bet is placed both where the bettor and the casino are each located.”

Following the approval of the compact, the casinos filed a second lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and the U.S. Department of the Interior. They alleged that approval of the compact violates federal laws including bank wire laws “by unlawfully permitting internet and bank wire transmission of transactions and payments relating to sports betting between the Tribe’s reservations and the rest of Florida, where sports betting is otherwise illegal.” They also argued that the compact violated the Fifth Amendment equal protection clause by allowing the Seminole Tribe to conduct online sports gambling in Florida although it would be illegal for anyone else to do so.

No Casinos, Inc., which supported Amendment 3 of 2018, also said it would file a lawsuit to block the compact from taking effect. Amendment 3, approved by a vote of 71.47% to 28.53%, made the citizen initiative process “the exclusive method of authorizing casino gambling,” meaning the Florida State Legislature is not permitted to authorize casino gambling through statute or through referring a constitutional amendment to the ballot. Amendment 3 included a provision stating that the amendment does not “limit the ability of the state or Native American tribes to negotiate gaming compacts pursuant to the Federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act for the conduct of casino gambling on tribal lands, or to affect any existing gambling on tribal lands pursuant to compacts executed by the state and Native American tribes pursuant to IGRA.” No Casinos President John Sowinski said, “This compact violates multiple Federal laws as well as the Florida Constitution. The 2018 constitutional mandate of 72% of Florida voters could not be clearer. Only Florida voters, not politicians in Tallahassee or Washington, have the power to expand gambling in Florida.”

Bryan Newland, principal deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior for Indian Affairs, said, “After thorough review under IGRA, we have taken no action to approve or disapprove the Compact … the Compact is considered to have been approved by operation of law to the extent that it complies with IGRA and existing Federal law.” Newland also said, “IGRA should not be an impediment to tribes that seek to modernize their gaming offerings, and this jurisdictional agreement aligns with the policy goals of IGRA to promote tribal economic development while ensuring regulatory control of Indian gaming. The Department will not read restrictions into IGRA that do not exist.”

Gov. DeSantis said, “The final approval of this historic gaming compact is a big deal for the State of Florida. This mutually-beneficial agreement will grow our economy, expand tourism and recreation and provide billions in new revenue to benefit Floridians.” DeSantis also said he believes the compact is in compliance with constitutional requirements under Amendment 3 of 2018.

Seminole Tribe of Florida Chairman Marcellus Osceola Jr. said, “Today is a great day for the people of Florida, who will benefit not only from a $2.5 billion revenue sharing guarantee over five years, but also from statewide sports betting and new casino games that will roll out this fall and mean more jobs for Floridians and more money invested in this state.”

Florida Education Champions, sponsors of an initiative to allow other entities, aside from the Seminole Tribe, to conduct sports betting in Florida, have raised $20 million from DraftKings and FanDuel in an attempt to qualify the initiative for the November 2022 ballot. The measure would authorize sports betting at sports venues, pari-mutuel facilities, and online in Florida. The Florida State Legislature would need to pass legislation to implement the constitutional amendment such as providing for licensing, regulation, consumer protection, and taxation. Under the amendment, all online sports betting tax revenue would be dedicated to the Educational Enhancement Trust Fund of the Department of Education. Online sports betting could be conducted by (a) Native American tribes and (b) entities that have existed for at least one year and that have conducted sports betting in at least 10 other states under the amendment. Such entities could begin conducting sports betting no later than eight months after the amendment is effective. Other entities or organizations could conduct sports betting no sooner than 20 months after the amendment is effective if authorized by state law. As of August 19, 2021, the Florida Division of Elections reported that 685 valid signatures had been submitted for Florida Education Champions’ initiative.

Seminole Gaming launched their own PAC, Voters in Control, and provided $10 million to it to support the compact and oppose the initiative sponsored by Florida Education Champions.

Additionally, Florida Voters in Charge sponsored an initiative concerning casino gaming expansion in Florida. The group filed two versions: #21-15 and #21-16. The initiative would expand casino gaming in Florida and define casino gaming. Version #21-15 would limit new casinos to 100 miles from a Seminole tribal casino and version #21-16 would limit new casinos to 130 miles from a Seminole tribal casino. A spokesperson for the committee said “both of these ballot initiatives are options we are exploring,” and the committee “will make a decision on which option we will begin gathering signatures for soon.” Currently, 110 valid signatures have been submitted for version #21-16. Gary Bitner, spokesperson for the Seminole Indian Tribe, said, “Unlike the proposed sports betting ballot initiative, neither of these initiatives would interfere with the new gaming compact, nor would they impact the $2.5 billion revenue-sharing guarantee for the state of Florida over the compact’s first five years.”

Ballotpedia identified four committees registered to support and/or oppose gambling-related initiatives (#21-13, #21-14, and #21-15) targeting the 2022 ballot in Florida. In total, the four committees reported receiving donations of $62,069,547.80.

Proposed measures are reviewed by the state attorney general and state supreme court after proponents collect 25% of the required signatures across the state in each of one-half of the state’s congressional districts (222,898 signatures for 2022 ballot measures). After these preliminary signatures have been collected, the secretary of state must submit the proposal to the Florida Attorney General and the Financial Impact Estimating Conference (FIEC). The attorney general is required to petition the Florida Supreme Court for an advisory opinion on the measure’s compliance with the single-subject rule, the appropriateness of the title and summary, and whether or not the measure “is facially valid under the United States Constitution.” To qualify for the ballot, sponsors must submit 891,589 valid signatures, which must be verified by election officials by February 1, 2022. Signatures equaling at least 8% of the district-wide vote in the last presidential election must be collected from at least half (14) of the state’s 27 congressional districts.

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Colorado initiative to create out-of-school education program and increase the marijuana sales tax qualifies for 2021 ballot

On August 25, 2021, the Colorado Secretary of State announced that Initiative 25 qualified for the November 2021 ballot.

The initiative would create the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program, also known as the LEAP Program. Eligible children would include children at least five years of age and no older than 17 years who are eligible for admission to Colorado public schools. The program would provide out-of-school services that would consist of but not be limited to the following:

  1. tutoring in core subject areas,
  2. instruction in English and foreign languages,
  3. career and technical training,
  4. emotional and physical therapy,
  5. mental health services,
  6. special support for students with special needs, and
  7. mentoring.

Services would not include in-school instruction or programs to make up credits regardless of what time of day the program is taught. Services would also exclude anything for which school tuition is paid.

The initiative would establish the Learning and Enrichment and Academic Progress Fund. Under the initiative, no more than 10% of the fund may be spent on the administration of the program after the end of fiscal year 2025.

The Colorado Learning Authority would be allowed to seek gifts, grants, donations, loans, and federal assistance. At the end of the third and fourth quarters of fiscal year 2021-2022, the state treasurer would be required to transfer the same amount from the general fund that is currently transferred to the state public school fund from the sale and lease of sand, gravel, clay, stone, coal, oil, gas, geothermal resources, gold, silver, or other minerals on public school lands. At the end of each fiscal year thereafter, the state treasurer would be required to transfer from the general fund to the LEAP Fund the amount of money transferred to the state public school fund. The amount would be exempt from all revenue and spending limitations. The fiscal impact statement prepared by Legislative Council Staff estimates this amount to be $22 million

The measure would increase the marijuana retail sales tax incrementally from 15% to 20% to partially fund the program. Beginning January 2022, an additional 3% marijuana retail tax would be levied for a total of 18%. Beginning January 2023, the additional tax would increase to 4% for a total of 19%. After January 2024, the additional tax would increase to 5% for a total tax of 20% on marijuana retail sales. Beginning in January 2022, the state treasurer would be required to transfer the revenue generated from the additional marijuana tax to the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Fund monthly.

The initiative would result in an increase in state revenue by an estimated $137.6 million annually once the tax is fully increased to 20%.

Sponsors submitted 203,335 signatures and 145,076 were projected to be valid based on a random sample check of 5% of the submitted signatures. To qualify, 124,632 signatures needed to be valid.

Learning Opportunities for Colorado’s Kids (LEAP 4 Co) registered as an issue committee to support the initiative. According to reports covering information through July 27, the committee reported $1.61 million in contributions and $846,969 in expenditures. Gary Community Investment Company and Ready Colorado gave 98.87% of the contributions. So far, the campaign reported spending $683,790 on signature gathering with Blitz Canvassing.

Coloradans Against School Vouchers registered as an issue committee to oppose the initiative. The committee has not yet reported campaign finance activity. The next campaign finance reports are due on September 10, 2021.

LEAP 4 Cosaid, “Despite heroic work by educators and school districts among unprecedented circumstances, many Colorado school children have been falling further behind – particularly students of color, those from low-income families, or those with special needs. This ‘opportunity gap’ and ‘achievement gap’ have been a cause of great concern in Colorado for years. COVID has only made the situation worse. Out-of-school learning has shown to be an effective tool for closing the gap, but not everyone can afford it. On the heels of COVID, closing the gap has taken on a special urgency. Now is the time to take the first step, because the future of so many young people is on the line.”

Taxpayers for Public Education, which opposes the initiative, said,Initiative 25 is a public school voucher scheme that would undermine Colorado’s public schools and potentially divert money into private institutions that could discriminate against students based on their religion, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, immigration status, or heritage.”

The deadline to submit signatures for initiatives targeting the November 2021 ballot was August 2. Campaigns for two other initiatives submitted signatures by that deadline: the Custodial Fund Appropriations Initiative (#19) and the Reduce Property Tax Rates and Retain $25 Million in TABOR Surplus Revenue Initiative (#27).

Initiative 27 was also certified. Proponents submitted 192,562 signatures on August 2. The secretary of state announced on August 26 that proponents had submitted 138,567 valid signatures based on a random sample check of 5% of the signatures submitted.

From 2016 through 2020, successful initiative petition drives cost an average of about $850,000, ranging from volunteer efforts to $2.2 million.

Measures that can go on the statewide ballot in Colorado during odd years are limited to topics that concern taxes or state fiscal matters arising under TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (Section 20 of Article X of the Colorado Constitution). This requirement was added to state law in 1994.

Measures that can go on odd-year election ballots include measures proposing new taxes, tax increases, an extension of taxes, tax policy changes resulting in a net tax revenue gain, changes to revenue or fiscal obligations, delays in voting on ballot issues, and approval for the state to retain and spend state revenues that otherwise would be refunded for exceeding an estimate included in the ballot information booklet.

The last time an initiative appeared on an odd-year ballot in Colorado was in 2013. The measure, which was defeated, would have changed Colorado’s flat personal income tax rate to a graduated income rate with increased rates. At least $10.4 million was raised in support of the initiative.

In 2020, eight initiatives appeared on the ballot in Colorado. Campaigns supporting the measures received an average of $3.36 million in support contributions and $2.49 million in opposition contributions. Campaigns supporting and opposing the eight initiatives on the 2020 ballot reported a combined total of $46.8 million in contributions.



Detroit voters reject Proposal P charter revision

Detroit Proposal P, which would have adopted a new city charter for Detroit was defeated by voters on August 3. According to election night results, 67% of voters were opposed to the measure, and 33% were in favor.

The new charter would have made changes to policy regarding broadband access, police practices, healthcare, taxes and utilities, and reparations, among other topics. The revised charter would have been 145 pages long, adding 25 pages to the existing 120-page charter.

Proposal P would have replaced Detroit’s existing city charter, which was approved by voters in 2011 and enacted in 2012. The 2012 charter was the product of its own Charter Revision Commission, which was elected by Detroit voters in 2009. The charter was revised twice before the 2012 version in 1997 and 1974, with the original charter having been enacted in 1918. When Detroit first revised its charter, it set a precedent allowing for the creation of a nine-member commission to investigate and propose any necessary changes to the city charter.

In August of 2018, Detroit voted to revise the 2012 charter by approving Proposal R. Later that year, voters elected a Charter Revision Commission in the November election. The Revision Commission was tasked with preparing a revised charter to put before voters. This charter was on the ballot on August 3 as Proposal P.

Proposed changes to city policy within the charter included the following:

  • developing free public broadband internet;
  • providing reparations to Black residents;
  • changing police practices, policies, and training requirements;
  • giving residents amnesty for water and sewer fees; and
  • granting tax credit for residents who show proof of overassessed property taxes.

Ballotpedia has tracked eight other local ballot measures in 2021 concerning

  • police oversight;
  • the powers and structure of oversight commissions;
  • police and incarceration practices;
  • law enforcement department structure and administration;
  • law enforcement budgets;
  • law enforcement training requirements;
  • law enforcement staffing requirements; and
  • body and dashboard camera footage.

In 2020, Ballotpedia identified 20 police-related measures in 10 cities and four counties within seven states that appeared on local ballots. All 20 were approved.

Additional reading:



Campaigns for three Colorado initiatives submit signatures by August 2 deadline

Campaigns for three initiatives in Colorado faced a signature deadline of August 2. To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 valid signatures are required.

Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program and Marijuana Sales Tax Increase Initiative (#25):

This initiative would amend state law to create the Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program to provide out-of-school learning opportunities for children aged 5 to 17 in subjects including math, science, reading, writing, music, art, career education, and specialized support for those with special needs. The measure would increase the marijuana retail sales tax by 5% to partially fund the program. The initiative would result in a state revenue increase of $137,600,000 annually.

Learning Opportunities for Colorado’s Kids (LEAP 4 Co) is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. The committee reported $948,270 in contributions, with all but $20 coming from Gary Community Investment Company. The committee reported spending $609,012 on signature gathering through June 26. The committee’s August 2 campaign finance report covering data through July 28 was not yet filed at the time of this article. LEAP 4 Co reported submitting over 200,000 signatures on July 30.

Coloradans Against School Vouchers registered as an issue committee to oppose the initiative but has not yet reported campaign finance activity.

Custodial Fund Appropriations Initiative (#19):

This initiative, which would amend the state constitution and state law, would transfer the power to appropriate custodial funds (state revenue not generated through taxes) from the state treasurer to the state legislature. Examples of such funds include pension funds and court-approved settlement funds. The measure defines custodial money as money received by the state that (1) originated from a source other than the State of Colorado, (b) was awarded or provided to the state for a particular purpose, and (c) that the state is acting as a custodian or trustee to carry out the purpose for which the funds were provided.

The Committee for Spending Transparency is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. According to the August 2 campaign finance report covering information through July 28, the committee had received $1.275 million in contributions, all from Unite for Colorado, and had spent $1.13 million on signature gathering.

Constitutional amendments in Colorado require a 55% supermajority vote to be ratified and added to the state constitution. This requirement was added by Amendment 71 of 2016.

Reduce Property Tax Rates and Retain $25 Million in TABOR Surplus Revenue Initiative (#27):

This initiative would amend state law to reduce the residential and non-residential property tax rates and authorize the state to retain and spend $25 million in revenue above the state’s TABOR spending cap, which it would otherwise be required to refund to taxpayers.

Cut Property Taxes is leading the campaign in support of the initiative. According to the August 2 campaign finance report covering information through July 28, the committee had received $875,000, all from Unite for Colorado, and had spent $868,728 on signature gathering.

Sponsor of initiatives #19 and #27 Michael Fields, Executive Director of Colorado Rising Action, said that around 200,000 signatures were gathered for each measure and that signatures would be submitted on August 2.

A fourth initiative, Initiative #31, which would amend state law to decrease the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%, faces a signature deadline of October 29, 2021, to qualify for the November 2022 ballot. The measure was sponsored by Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute. A committee— Colorado Character— registered to support the initiative on July 20, 2021.

From 2016 through 2020, successful initiative petition drives cost an average of about $850,000, ranging from volunteer efforts to $2.2 million.

Measures that can go on the statewide ballot in Colorado during odd years are limited to topics that concern taxes or state fiscal matters arising under TABOR, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (Section 20 of Article X of the Colorado Constitution). This requirement was added to state statute in 1994.

Measures that can go on odd-year election ballots include measures proposing new taxes, tax increases, an extension of taxes, tax policy changes resulting in a net tax revenue gain, changes to revenue or fiscal obligations, delays in voting on ballot issues, and approval for the state to retain and spend state revenues that otherwise would be refunded for exceeding an estimate included in the ballot information booklet.

The last time an initiative appeared on an odd-year ballot in Colorado was 2013. The measure, which was defeated, would have changed Colorado’s flat personal income tax rate to a graduated income rate with increased rates. At least $10.4 million was raised in support of the initiative.

In 2020, eight initiatives appeared on the ballot in Colorado. Campaigns supporting the measures received an average of $3.36 million in support contributions and $2.49 million in opposition contributions. Campaigns supporting and opposing the eight initiatives on the 2020 ballot reported a combined total of $46.8 million in contributions.