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Stories about Colorado

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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Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission releases first set of staff drawn maps

The Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission released its first set of staff-drawn maps for the state House and Senate on Sept. 13. The commission had released an initial set of proposed maps in June before the US Census Bureau released block-level population data in August.

On Aug. 13, the commission adopted a new redistricting schedule which set Sept. 13 as the commission staff’s deadline for publishing its first set of plans online. The adjusted schedule was published after the Colorado Supreme Court ordered on July 26 that the deadline for submitting the state’s legislative redistricting plans to the Colorado Supreme Court be extended from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

After the staff plans were released, David Pourshoushtari, a spokesman for the Colorado Democratic Party, said, “the commission staff needs to understand the implications of drawing maps without taking into account the overlapping 4-year terms of state senators. Coloradans voted for fair redistricting when they approved Amendment Z, and this map does not meet that goal.” Executive director of the Colorado Republican Party, Joe Jackson, said that “this map will consistently elect a Democrat majority in the state House and state Senate. This process has a long way to go, and we hope the commission will work to generate more competitive districts.”

Colorado voters approved Amendment Z, which created the Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission, in 2020 by a margin of 71% to 29%. A similar amendment was approved that year that created an independent commission for congressional redistricting.

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Redistricting Roundup: Colorado redistricting commission releases new proposed congressional maps

Here’s a summary of the week’s noteworthy redistricting news from Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, and Texas.

Colorado: The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission staff released a proposed congressional district map on Sept. 3. This is the first proposed map the commission released since the U.S. Census Bureau distributed block-level data from the 2020 census to states on Aug. 12. The commission is holding public hearings about the newly released maps during the week of Sept. 7.

The Colorado Supreme Court previously ordered on July 26 that the Commission submit final congressional redistricting plans for approval no later than Oct. 1. Colorado was apportioned eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census—a net gain of one seat for the state.

Connecticut: The Connecticut General Assembly Reapportionment Committee will not create congressional and state legislative district maps by the state’s constitutional deadline of Sept. 15, according to The CT Mirror. If the deadline is not met, redistricting in Connecticut will be decided by a nine-member backup commission consisting of eight members appointed by the majority and minority leaders of each chamber of the legislature and a ninth member selected by the eight appointed commission members. Maps determined by the backup commission are not subject to legislative approval. Connecticut previously used this process in 2011 after the committee did not meet the deadline that year.

Iowa: The Iowa Temporary Redistricting Advisory Commission announced it would release the first draft of proposed state legislative district maps on Sept. 16. The Iowa Constitution states that the Iowa Supreme Court is responsible for legislative redistricting if the general assembly doesn’t enact new maps before Sept. 15. In April, the Iowa Supreme Court released a statement saying that “the supreme court tentatively plans to meet its constitutional responsibility by implementing a process which permits, to the extent possible, the redistricting framework…to proceed after September 15.”

Texas: Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced on Sept. 7 that he was calling a special session of the state legislature to address redistricting and other issues beginning Sept. 20.

Two Democratic state senators filed a lawsuit in federal district court on Sept. 1 arguing that the legislature cannot legally redraw district maps during a special session since the Texas Constitution requires lawmakers to begin the process after the “first regular session after the publication of each United States decennial census.” The lawsuit asks the court to draw interim maps until the state’s next regular legislative session in January 2023.

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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.

Additional reading:



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.



Colorado school district filing deadline is this week

The filing deadline to run for election to Colorado school boards is on Aug. 27. Ballotpedia is covering prospective candidates who file to run in the following school districts:

  1. Academy School District 20
  2. Adams 12 Five Star Schools
  3. Aurora Public Schools
  4. Bennett School District
  5. Cherry Creek School District
  6. Cheyenne Mountain School District 12
  7. Colorado Springs School District 11
  8. Denver Public Schools
  9. Douglas County School District
  10. Falcon School District 49
  11. Harrison School District Two
  12. Jeffco Public Schools
  13. Manitou Springs School District 14
  14. School District 27J
  15. St. Vrain Valley School District
  16. Widefield School District 3

The general election is scheduled for Nov. 2.

These 16 school districts served a combined total of 533,272 students during the 2016-2017 school year. 

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Redistricting review: Colorado Supreme Court adjusts redistricting deadlines

The Colorado Supreme Court modified its schedule for reviewing congressional and state legislative redistricting plans on July 26. This prompted the state’s congressional redistricting commission to adjust its own deadlines for submitting a final plan to the court for review.

The court’s July 26 order requires the congressional commission and all other interested parties to submit briefs “seven days after [the commission] … submits a final [congressional] plan and relevant accompanying materials to the supreme court for review, but in any event no later than Oct. 8.” The court will issue a ruling on the plan by Nov. 1. On Aug. 2, the congressional commission voted to adjust its own deadlines accordingly. It will approve a final plan by Sept. 28 and submit that plan to the court by Oct. 1. The commission’s original deadline for adopting a final congressional plan was Sept. 1.

The congressional redistricting commission originally petitioned the court to extend the deadline for submitting a final plan to Oct. 28. In response to the court’s July 26 order, Commissioner Bill Leone said, “We asked for a schedule, and they gave us a slightly different schedule — it’s not as much as we asked for, but it’s more than we have.”

For the state legislative district plan, the court set Oct. 22 as the briefing deadline. The court will issue a ruling on the plan by Nov. 15. The state legislative redistricting commission has not yet determined whether it will extend its original Sept. 15 deadline for submitting a final plan to the court for review.

To date:

  • Two states have enacted state legislative district plans: Illinois and Oklahoma.
  • In one additional state (Colorado), redistricting authorities have released drafts of proposed congressional and state legislative district plans.


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.



Signature deadlines approaching for Colorado 2021 initiatives

Four initiatives targeting the November 2 ballot in Colorado were approved for signature gathering. The deadline for signature submission to qualify for the 2021 ballot is August 2. Colorado also has deadlines specific to each initiative since initiatives can be circulated for no more than six months. Details about the four initiatives are below:

Custodial Fund Appropriations Initiative:

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 and reported $1 million in contributions from Unite for Colorado.

To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 valid signatures must be submitted by August 2, 2021. 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.

Learning Enrichment and Academic Progress Program and Marijuana Sales Tax Increase Initiative:

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.

Coloradans Against School Vouchers registered as an issue committee to oppose the initiative. The committee had not yet reported campaign finance activity. To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 valid signatures must be submitted by August 2, 2021.

Reduce Property Tax Rates and Retain $25 Million in TABOR Surplus Revenue Initiative:

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. Each version differs regarding how the $25 million in retained revenue could be spent. Suzanne Taheri and Michael Fields of Colorado Rising Action filed the initiative.

Cut Property Taxes registered as an issue committee to support the initiative and reported $750,000.00 in contributions from Unite for Colorado. To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 valid signatures must be submitted by August 2, 2021.

State Income Tax Rate Reduction Initiative:

This initiative, sponsored by Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute, would amend state law to decrease the state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.40%. Ballotpedia did not identify issue committees registered to support or oppose the measure. To qualify for the ballot, 124,632 valid signatures must be submitted by October 29, 2021.

The initiative campaign committees with campaign finance activity surrounding the three measures with contributions reported a combined total of $2.7 million in contributions from two donors. The committees reported a combined total of $2.14 million in expenditures.

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.