Tagballot measure

How will Maine Question 1 stack up to prior measures in terms of cost-per-vote?

Maine Question 1, a citizen-initiated measure designed to prohibit the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC), could see one of the highest cost-per-vote ratios for a ballot measure that Ballotpedia has recorded. The most recent campaign finance reports, which cover through Sept. 30, show that more than $71.82 million has been raised between supporters and opponents of Question 1. With Maine’s population of 1.36 million residents, contributions received were equivalent to $52.71 per resident.

For comparison, California Proposition 22, passed in 2020, is the most expensive ballot measure on record. Over $224.25 million was raised for and against Proposition 22, which was about $5.67 per California resident. At the election, 16.99 million people voted on Proposition 22, giving it a cost-per-vote ratio of $13.11 per vote. Alaska Ballot Measure 1, which would have increased taxes on oil production fields, had the highest cost-per-vote in 2020 at $64.64 per vote.

In Maine, turnout at odd-year referendum elections varied between 17 and 34 percent over the three prior election cycles. With about 1.14 million registered voters, based on the last published count in 2020, turnout would be between 203,000 and 380,000 voters based on the prior cycles. That would lead to a $189 to $353-per-vote projection for Maine Question 1. Maine turnout could exceed the three prior cycles, and Question 1 campaigns could still yet receive an influx of contributions. 

Ballotpedia has been conducting a cost-per-vote analysis for ballot measures since 2018. Three of the five top measures addressed policies related to energy. Since then, the following are the top five measures in terms of cost-per-vote:

Nevada Question 3 (2018) had a cost-per-vote of $100.85. Question 3 was defeated. It would have required the state legislature to pass laws to establish “an open, competitive retail electric energy market” and prohibited the state from granting electrical-generation monopolies.

Alaska Ballot Measure 1 (2020) had a cost-per-vote of $64.64. Measure 1 was defeated. It would have increased taxes on at least three oil production fields.

Montana I-185 (2018) had a cost-per-vote of $51.30. Initiative 185 was defeated. It would have increased the tobacco tax to fund Medicaid expansion.

Ohio Issue 2 (2017) had a cost-per vote of $37.79. Issue 2 was defeated. It would have required state agencies and programs to purchase prescription drugs at prices no higher than what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) pays for them.

Arizona Proposition 127 (2018) had a cost-per vote of $23.80. It was defeated. Proposition 127 would have required electric utilities in Arizona to acquire a certain percentage of electricity from renewable resources each year, with the percentage increasing annually from 12 percent in 2020 to 50 percent in 2030.

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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.



2021 statewide ballot measures written at second-year graduate school reading level

The ballot language for the 39 ballot measures appearing on nine statewide ballots in 2021 is written at an average reading grade level of 18 (second-year graduate school), up from 15 in 2019. 

Ballotpedia’s annual readability analysis of ballot titles and summaries of ballot measures was conducted using two formulas, the Flesch Reading Ease (FRE) and Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level (FKGL). The FRE formula produces a score between a negative number and 100, with the highest score (100) representing a 5th-grade equivalent reading level and scores at or below zero representing college graduate-equivalent reading level. The FKGL formula produces a score equivalent to the estimated number of years of U.S. education required to understand a text.

Here are some highlights from this year’s report:

  • On average in 2021, ballot titles or questions were written at a reading grade level of 18 (second-year graduate school).
  • The average ballot title or question grade level by state in 2021 ranged from seven in Washington to 32 in Colorado.
  • In 2019, the average Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level for the ballot titles or questions of statewide ballot measures was 15 years of formal U.S. education, and average state scores ranged from nine to 27.
  • Ballotpedia identified 15 measures with a ballot summary that was set to appear along with the ballot question on the ballot. The average Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level for the ballot summaries was 14.
  • The average ballot summary grade by state ranged from nine in Louisiana to 17 in Pennsylvania.
  • The average ballot title or question grade was highest for ballot titles written by secretaries of state (25) and other state boards and offices (21).
  • The Washington Attorney General wrote the titles with the lowest average grade level of seven.
  • The average ballot title or question in 2021 contained about 53 words. In 2019, the average ballot title length was 41 words.
  • The 2021 ballot measure with the longest ballot title was Colorado Proposition 119, which concerns an out-of-school education program and marijuana sales tax increase. The ballot question is 142 words.
  • The states with the shortest ballot titles or questions on average were Texas, Washington, and Maine; none of the three states featured additional ballot summaries or explanations on the ballot.

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District judge rules against ballot initiative to replace Minneapolis Police Department; Supreme Court will hear appeal

Voters in Minneapolis will see a citizen-initiated charter amendment on their ballots to replace the Minneapolis Police Department. On Sept. 14, however, District Court Judge Jamie Anderson ruled that the ballot question for the proposal was unreasonable and misleading and enjoined election officials from counting votes on Nov. 2. On Sept. 15, the Minnesota Supreme Court, which would have final jurisdiction, agreed to hear an appeal.

Judge Anderson has ruled on the ballot language on three occasions. On Aug. 13, Anderson ruled against the Minneapolis City Council for including a statement summarizing the ballot measure that “[waded] into a grey area of explanation that is not allowed.” On Sept. 7, Anderson struck down a ballot question as “vague to the point of being misleading” and said that “ambiguities risk creating a ‘chaotic situation’ in Minneapolis.” The Minneapolis City Council approved a different, longer ballot question in response to the judge’s order. On Sept. 14, Anderson struck down the new council-approved ballot question. As ballots went to print on Sept. 7, the Minneapolis City Council cannot again change the question on the November ballot. The previous two cases were not appealed to the Minnesota Supreme Court. 

The ballot initiative followed the Minneapolis City Council’s attempt to craft an ordinance replacing the MPD following the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. Derek Chauvin, the police officer who killed Floyd, was charged and sentenced for murder and manslaughter. The Minneapolis City Council approved legislation for a ballot in 2020, but, on Aug. 5, 2020, the city’s charter commission voted 10-5 to take an additional 90 days to evaluate the proposal and not send the proposal back to the City Council, blocking the measure from appearing on the ballot in 2020. 

In 2021, the campaign Yes 4 Minneapolis launched a ballot initiative campaign to replace the MPD. Kandace Montgomery, director of Black Visions Collective, is the board chairperson of Yes 4 Minneapolis, and JaNaé Bates, a theologian and communications director of ISAIAH, is the campaign’s communications director. Through the most recent report filing deadline on July 27, 2021, Yes 4 Minneapolis had received $1.48 million, including $500,000 from Open Society Policy Center and $430,383 from MoveOn.

The ballot initiative has the support of U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-5) and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison (D). Opponents include U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D), U.S. Rep. Angie Craig (D-2), Gov. Tim Walz (D), and Mayor Jacob Frey (D). A campaign called All of Mpls is opposing the proposal. Through July 27, All of Mpls raised $109,465. 

The ballot initiative is one of three policing-related local measures on the ballot for Nov. 2, 2021, that Ballotpedia is covering. The others are a ballot initiative in Austin, Texas, to require a minimum number of police officers; and a ballot initiative in Cleveland, Ohio, to create a commission to oversee police misconduct investigations and discipline.



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 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.



Austin police staffing minimum and training requirements initiative qualifies for the ballot

On Tuesday, the Austin city clerk announced that the group Save Austin Now submitted enough valid signatures to qualify its initiative for the ballot.

The initiative would:

  • establish a minimum police department staffing requirement based on the population of the city, which would require the city to hire additional police officers;
  • state that the police chief should seek demographic representation in hiring police officers;
  • add additional required training time for police officers; and
  • add new requirements for serving on the city’s Public Safety Commission.

In Austin, initiative petitioners must gather 20,000 signatures to qualify an initiative for the ballot. The requirement is based on 5% of the qualified voters in the city but is capped at 20,000. If petitioners collect enough signatures, their initiative is sent to the city council, which must either approve the initiative or put it on the ballot for the next allowable election date.

On July 19, Save Austin Now submitted 27,778 signatures for the initiative. On Aug. 3, the clerk’s office announced that a sampling of a quarter of the submitted signatures projected 25,786 valid signatures, 5,786 more than the minimum requirement. The city council has ten days to approve the ordinance itself or to put the initiative on the ballot. The deadline for the city council to put the initiative on the Nov. 2, 2021, ballot is Aug. 16.

Matt Mackowiak, chair of the Travis County Republican Party and co-founder of Save Austin Now, said, “Steve Adler, Greg Casar, Equity PAC and associated extreme groups will attempt to smear this effort for the next three months. They do not care about public safety and want to watch Austin burn. We will not let them. We will educate citizens about how our police budget was defunded, how police staffing has become a crisis, and about how a violent crime wave has resulted. We can fix this mess created by a unanimous vote of the City Council in August 2020. Austin must rise up and demand a safe city for every neighborhood.”

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said, “Directing the City Council to hire additional police officers at this time could result in layoffs in other departments. We also need more public health professionals, firefighters, park rangers, and EMS to keep our community safe.”

Austin City Council Member Greg Casar said, “George Floyd was killed one year ago, and instead of working on police reform, this group is fear-mongering and trying to avoid police accountability. Their petition drive is about writing a blank check of taxpayer funds to their own department, while cutting off funds for all our other public employees and critical public safety needs. This petition goes directly against what the Black Lives Matter movement is all about.”

Save Austin Now also sponsored Proposition B (May 2021), which made it a criminal offense for anyone to sit, lie down, or camp in public areas and prohibited solicitation of money or other things of value at specific hours and locations. Austin voters approved Proposition B 57.7% to 42.3% at the election on May 1.

Austin, Texas, Police Policy Initiative: Staffing Levels, Training, and Hiring Practices (November 2021)

In 2021, Ballotpedia is covering a selection of local police-related measures concerning police oversight, the powers and structure of oversight commissions, police practices, law enforcement department structure and administration, law enforcement budgets, law enforcement training requirements, law enforcement staffing requirements, and body and dashboard camera footage. Ballotpedia has tracked eight other measures related to police policies that were on the ballot earlier in 2021 or are on the Nov. 2 ballot.



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.

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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.