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Stories about Colorado

Colorado commission releases draft congressional district maps; Louisiana lawmakers adopt redistricting criteria; and Michigan Supreme Court considers deadline extension

The Colorado Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission released preliminary congressional district maps on June 23, making Colorado the first state in the current redistricting cycle to produce a draft congressional plan. The commission will now conduct at least three public hearings on the proposed maps in each of the state’s current congressional districts. This makes for a total of at least 21 public hearings, all of which must also be broadcast online.

After public hearings conclude, the commission can take a vote on the preliminary map or ask commission staff to make revisions. In order to enact a map, eight of the commission’s 12 members (including at least two unaffiliated members) must approve of it. The Colorado Supreme Court must also approve the map.

The Speaker of the Louisiana House of Representatives and the President of the Louisiana State Senate signed HCR90 on June 10, a concurrent resolution outlining the “minimally acceptable criteria for consideration of redistricting plans.” The resolution prohibits district-to-district population deviations exceeding 5% of the ideal district population for state legislative district plans. The resolution also requires that lawmakers use census data for redistricting purposes (not American Community Survey data, which some states have used or are considering using).

On June 21, the Michigan Supreme Court heard oral arguments over a request by the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to extend the state’s constitutional deadline for adopting new redistricting plans.

Under the Michigan Constitution, the commission is required to adopt new redistricting plans by November 1. It is also required to publish plans for public comment by September 17. However, in light of the delayed delivery of detailed redistricting data by the U.S. Census Bureau, the commission argues that it will “not be able to comply with the constitutionally imposed timeline.” Instead, the commission is asking that the state supreme court issue an order directing the commission to propose plans within 72 days of the receipt of redistricting data and to approve plans within 45 days thereafter.

The state supreme court asked the Office of the Attorney General to assemble two separate teams to make arguments, one team in support of the commission’s request and another opposed. The court heard oral arguments on June 21. Deputy Solicitor General Ann Sherman, speaking in support of the proposed deadline extensions, said, “The very maps themselves could be challenged if they are drawn after the November 1 deadline.” Assistant Attorney General Kyla Barranco, speaking in opposition, said, “There isn’t harm in telling the commission at this point, ‘Try your best with the data that you might be able to use and come September 17, maybe we’ll have a different case.'”

The court did not indicate when it would issue a decision in the matter.

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Recall election for metropolitan district board in Colorado to be held June 29

A recall election seeking to remove three members of the Buckhorn Valley Metropolitan District No. 2 board in Colorado is being held on June 29. Members John V. Hill, Anna Maria Ray, and David Garton Jr. are on the ballot.

When listing their reasons, recall supporters said that the district was in payment default for bond debt and that the board “contracted with its own developer-management entity which has failed to satisfactorily maintain the non-potable water system for irrigation.” They also said there were numerous conflicts of interest.

In response to the recall effort, Hill said the Great Recession hit the development hard. He said that the district was in default for bond debt because the development was only half-built. Because of that, property tax revenue to pay off the bond was only half of what it was meant to be and could not cover the bond payments. 

Recall supporters had until Feb. 25 to collect 300 signatures in the district to get the recall on the ballot. They collected 378 signatures.

At the time the recall effort started, the board had four members—Hill, Ray, Garton, and Scott Green—and one vacant seat. Green resigned from the board in February 2021. The remaining board members appointed Erin Gallimore and Nicholas Viau—both members of the recall committee—to the vacant seats.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 231 recall efforts against 289 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

Additional reading:

Ballotpedia’s Mid-Year Recall Report (2021)

Recall campaigns in Colorado

Political recall efforts, 2021

Special district recalls



Colorado governor signs transportation bill removing 2021 bond issue from ballot

On June 17, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bill 260, thereby removing a bond issue that was set to appear on the state’s 2021 general election ballot.

The Colorado State Legislature passed Senate Bill 260 on June 2, 2021. It included a provision to remove the bond issue that was set to appear on the 2021 ballot. The bill was passed largely along party lines with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.

The bond measure was designed to issue $1.337 billion in bonds to fund statewide transportation projects with a maximum repayment cost of $1.865 billion over 20 years. The measure was originally passed in the state legislature as Senate Bill 1 in 2018. It was placed on the 2019 ballot after two 2018 citizen initiatives designed to authorize bonds for transportation projects—Proposition 109 (“Fix Our Damn Roads”) and Proposition 110 (“Let’s Go Colorado”)—were defeated.

In 2019, the measure was delayed to the 2020 ballot. Legislators had concerns that the bond issue appearing on the 2019 ballot alongside Proposition CC, which was designed to allow the state to retain revenue for transportation purposes, could cause both measures to fail. In 2020, the measure was delayed again to the 2021 ballot due to the economic concerns surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic.

The new transportation bill provides for $5.4 billion in transportation spending over 10 years. About $3.8 billion of the funds will come from new fees set to take effect in July 2022, including fees on gasoline and diesel purchases, retail deliveries, Uber and Lyft rides, electric vehicle registrations, and car rentals.

The bill was also designed to create four new state enterprises: the Nonattainment Area Air Pollution Mitigation Enterprise, the Clean Transit Enterprise, the Clean Fleet Enterprise, and the Community Access Enterprise.

Enterprises were established through the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) amendment of 1992. Enterprises are government-owned businesses that provide goods or services for a fee or surcharge that is paid for by the individuals or entities that are purchasing the goods or services. This is in contrast to government agencies or programs that provide goods or services that are paid for by tax revenue. Enterprise revenue does not count toward the TABOR limit. TABOR limits the amount of money the state of Colorado can take in and spend. Any money collected above the TABOR limit is refunded to taxpayers unless the voters allow the state to spend it.

Proposition 117 of 2020, which was approved by voters, was designed to require statewide voter approval of new state enterprises if the enterprises’ projected or actual revenue from fees and surcharges is greater than $100 million within their first five years. Under Proposition 117, revenue collected for enterprises that were created at the same time or that serve substantially the same purpose is aggregated when calculating the application of this restriction. The four enterprises are expected to collect below the $100 million five-year limit.



Colorado Legislature passes transportation funding bill that removes bond issue from 2021 ballot

On June 2, 2021, the Colorado State Legislature passed a transportation funding bill, Senate Bill 260. It included a provision to remove the bond issue that was set to appear on the 2021 ballot. Governor Jared Polis (D) is expected to sign the legislation. The bill was passed largely along party lines with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.

The bill provides for $5.4 billion in transportation spending over 10 years. About $3.8 billion of the funds will come from new fees set to take effect in July 2022, including fees on gasoline and diesel purchases, retail deliveries, Uber and Lyft rides, electric vehicle registrations, and car rentals.

The bill was designed to create four new state enterprises: the Nonattainment Area Air Pollution Mitigation Enterprise, the Clean Transit Enterprise, the Clean Fleet Enterprise, and the Community Access Enterprise.

Enterprises were established through the Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) amendment of 1992. Enterprises are government-owned businesses that provide goods or services for a fee or surcharge that is paid for by the individuals or entities that are purchasing the goods or services. This is in contrast to government agencies or programs that provide goods or services that are paid for by tax revenue. Enterprise revenue does not count toward the TABOR limit. TABOR limits the amount of money the state of Colorado can take in and spend. Any money collected above the TABOR limit is refunded to taxpayers unless the voters allow the state to spend it.

Proposition 117 of 2020, which was approved by voters, was designed to require statewide voter approval of new state enterprises if the enterprises’ projected or actual revenue from fees and surcharges is greater than $100 million within their first five years. Under Proposition 117, revenue collected for enterprises that were created at the same time or that serve substantially the same purpose is aggregated when calculating the application of this restriction. The four enterprises are expected to collect below the $100 million five-year limit.

The bond measure was designed to issue $1.337 billion in bonds to fund statewide transportation projects with a maximum repayment cost of $1.865 billion over 20 years.

The measure was originally passed in the state legislature as Senate Bill 1 in 2018 and was placed on the 2019 ballot after two 2018 citizen initiatives designed to authorize bonds for transportation projects—Proposition 109 (“Fix Our Damn Roads”) and Proposition 110 (“Let’s Go Colorado”)—were defeated.

In 2019, the measure was delayed to the 2020 ballot. Legislators had concerns that the bond issue appearing on the 2019 ballot alongside Proposition CC (which was designed to allow the state to retain revenue for transportation purposes) could cause both measures to fail. In 2020, the measure was delayed again to the 2021 ballot due to the economic concerns surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic.



Colorado, Maryland, North Carolina end mask requirements

Three states ended statewide public mask requirements for vaccinated and unvaccinated people between May 14 and May 20.

Colorado Governor Jared Polis (D) ended the statewide mask requirement on May 14. Masks are still required for unvaccinated visitors to nursing homes, prisons, and hospitals, and in certain school settings. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people must still comply with federal law, which requires masking on public transportation and at public transportation hubs like bus stations and airports.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) ended the statewide mask mandate on May 15. The state still requires vaccinated and unvaccinated people to wear masks in schools and hospitals, as well as on public transportation.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) ended the statewide mask mandate for vaccinated and unvaccinated people on May 14. Masks are still required for all people, regardless of vaccination status, on public transportation and in healthcare settings.

Additionally, at least eight more states amended their existing mask orders to align with the CDC guidance issued May 13, exempting fully vaccinated individuals from most indoor mask requirements. Those states are Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Virginia.

Thirty-nine states issued statewide public mask requirements during the pandemic. Twenty-one states had statewide mask orders at the time of this writing, including 17 of the 23 states with Democratic governors and four out of the 27 states with Republican governors. 

Of those 21 states, six required masks for vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Fifteen states exempted fully vaccinated people.

Of the 18 states that have fully ended statewide public mask requirements, 12 have Republican governors, and six have Democratic governors. Fifteen states ended mask requirements through executive order, two (Kansas and Utah) ended mask requirements through legislative action, and one (Wisconsin) ended its mandate through court order.



New apportionment data released – six states gain congressional seats, seven states lose seats

On April 26, 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau released it post-2020 census apportionment counts. Six states—Texas (two seats), Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon—gained seats. Seven states—California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia—each lost a seat.

Of the six states that gained congressional seats, three are Republican trifectas (Texas, Florida, and Montana), meaning Republicans control the governorship and majorities in both state legislative chambers in each. Two (Colorado and Oregon) are Democratic trifectas, and one (North Carolina) is a divided government.

Of the seven states that lost congressional seats, three (California, Illinois, and New York) are Democratic trifectas, two (Ohio and West Virginia) are Republican trifectas, and two (Michigan and Pennsylvania) are divided governments.

What is apportionment, and how does it work? Every ten years, the nation conducts the census, a complete count of the U.S. population. The data gleaned from the census determines congressional apportionment. Apportionment is the process by which the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are allotted to the states on the basis of population, as required under Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution. A state can gain seats in the House if its population grows – or lose seats if its population decreases – relative to populations in other states.

After the first census (1790), the 105 members of U.S. House represented about 34,000 residents each. Now, the 435 members of the House will represent an average of 761,169 residents each.

The 2020 census: According to the 2020 census, the resident population of the United States, as of April 1, 2020, was 331,449,281, representing a 7.4 percent increase over the 2010 population. California remained the most populous state with 39,538,223 residents. The population of Texas, the only state to gain multiple congressional seats from apportionment, grew by nearly 4 million residents between 2010 and 2020, reaching 29,145,505. Utah was the fastest-growing state: its population increased by 18.4 percent between 2010 and 2020, reaching 3,271,616.

The census is a complex undertaking. First, the Census Bureau collects data. This involves making a list of every residence (including houses, apartments, dorms, etc.) in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the five U.S. territories; asking members of each household in the country to complete the census survey; and following up with those households that did not submit surveys. The Census Bureau then must process the data. This involves making a final list of residential addresses, cross-checking for duplicate responses, and processing write-in responses. The Census Bureau also uses imputation, a statistical method applied “in rare instances” that enables the Census Bureau “to fill in missing information using what we already know about an address and its nearest, similar neighbor.” Typically, upon final processing of the data, the Census Bureau delivers state population and apportionment counts by December 31 in the year of the census. Detailed redistricting data follows by April 1 of the next year.

On November 19, 2020, Census Bureau Director Steve Dillingham announced that, “during post-collection processing, certain processing anomalies [had] been discovered.” Dillingham said that he had directed the bureau “to utilize all resources available to resolve this as expeditiously as possible.” On January 27, 2021, Kathleen Styles, a Census Bureau official, announced that the final apportionment report would be delivered by April 30, 2021.

What comes next: The Census Bureau has not yet delivered redistricting data to the states. Upon announcing the 2020 apportionment counts, Acting Census Bureau Director Ron Jarmin said, “Our work doesn’t stop here. Now that the apportionment counts are delivered, we will begin the additional activities needed to create and deliver the redistricting data that were previously delayed due to COVID-19.” The Census Bureau expects to deliver the raw data to the states by August 16. The “full redistricting data with toolkits for ease of us” will be delivered by September 30.

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Voters in Colorado Springs approved Issue 1 regarding ballot titles for ballot measures

According to unofficial election results, Colorado Springs voters approved Issue 1 by 65.9% to 34.1%. Issue 1 amended the Colorado City charter to allow ballot titles for tax or bonded debt increases to exceed 30 words.

Yes on 1 Colorado Springs led the campaign in support of Issue 1. In support of the change, the campaign said, “Limiting ballot language to just 30 words isn’t enough space to give voters a clear and thorough explanation of what they are voting on. Removing the 30-word restriction will allow Colorado Springs voters to have the details of how our tax dollars will be spent.”

The charter amendment was put on the ballot through a unanimous vote of the Colorado Springs City Council on Jan. 26.



Voters recall Colorado school board member

A recall election seeking to remove Lance McDaniel from his position as the District A representative on the Montezuma-Cortez School District Board of Education in Colorado was approved by voters on Feb. 16, 2021. Cody Wells was elected to replace McDaniel on the board.

The recall effort started in July 2020. Recall supporters said McDaniel had shown a “lack of leadership and has proven to be a poor role model for our children,” regarding several of his social media posts. The petition stated, “We need school board members that understand leadership and the power of mentoring, and know not to voice their personal, political, or social opinions that could influence children.”

McDaniel said he was not concerned about the recall effort. “When it gets down to it, I’m a loudmouth liberal, and they don’t like that,” he said. McDaniel said he stood by his social media posts. “The conservatives don’t like the fact that there are some more progressive people in the town,” he said. McDaniel was one of seven members on the board of education. He was appointed to his position in 2018.

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters of the effort had to submit 1,126 signatures in 60 days. The number of signatures was equal to 40% of the citizens in the school district who voted in the last school board election. Recall supporters submitted the signatures by the deadline, and Montezuma County Clerk and Recorder Kim Percell determined enough signatures were valid. Before a recall election could be scheduled, four challenges were submitted against the petition, saying the petition was “baseless, frivolous and infringes on Mr. McDaniel’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech.” A hearing on the challenges was held on Nov. 19, and the challenges were denied on Nov. 23. Hearing Officer Mike Green said that the recall petition met the statutory requirements. The filing deadline for successor candidates was Jan. 8.

Three other school board recall elections have been scheduled so far this year. All three are in Idaho and are being held on March 9.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 226 recall efforts against 272 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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Colorado school board recall election to be held Feb. 16

A recall election seeking to remove Lance McDaniel from his position as the District A representative on the Montezuma-Cortez School District Board of Education in Colorado is being held on February 16, 2021. 

The recall election ballot has two questions. One asks if voters are in favor of recalling McDaniel with the option to vote yes or no. The other question lists the successor candidates. If a majority of voters cast ballots in favor of recalling McDaniel, the successor candidate who receives the most votes will replace him on the board. If a majority of voters cast ballots against recalling McDaniel, he will retain his position on the board.

The filing deadline for successor candidates was January 8. Cody Wells was the only candidate to file.

The recall effort started in July 2020. Recall supporters said McDaniel had shown a “lack of leadership and has proven to be a poor role model for our children,” regarding several of his social media posts. The petition stated, “We need school board members that understand leadership and the power of mentoring, and know not to voice their personal, political, or social opinions that could influence children.”

McDaniel said he was not concerned about the recall effort. “When it gets down to it, I’m a loudmouth liberal, and they don’t like that,” he said. McDaniel said he stood by his social media posts. “The conservatives don’t like the fact that there are some more progressive people in the town,” he said.

To get the recall on the ballot, supporters of the effort had to submit 1,126 signatures in 60 days. The number of signatures was equal to 40% of the citizens in the school district who voted in the last school board election. Recall supporters submitted the signatures by the deadline, and Montezuma County Clerk and Recorder Kim Percell determined enough signatures were valid. Before a recall election could be scheduled, four challenges were submitted against the petition, saying the petition was “baseless, frivolous and infringes on Mr. McDaniel’s First Amendment rights of freedom of speech.” A hearing on the challenges was held on November 19, and the challenges were denied on November 23. Hearing Officer Mike Green said that the recall petition met the statutory requirements.

McDaniel is one of seven members on the board of education. He was appointed to his position in 2018.

In 2020, Ballotpedia covered a total of 226 recall efforts against 272 elected officials. Of the 49 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 29 were recalled for a rate of 59%. That was higher than the 52% rate for 2019 recalls but lower than the 63% rate for 2018 recalls.

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Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew: 80% of local ballot measures were approved in 2020

80% of measures in top 100 cities were approved in 2020

Last week, we gave you a summary of our annual report on California local ballot measures. Today, we’re back with an analysis of the approval rates, notable topics and measures, and more in the top 100 largest cities last year.

Ballotpedia covered 314 local ballot measures in the nation’s 100 largest cities in 2020. The 314 measures appeared in 26 different states and Washington, D.C. 

Here are some highlights from the report:

  • Voters approved 252 measures (80.3%) and defeated 62 (19.7%). That approval rate was five percentage points below what it was in 2019 (85.1%) and eight percentage points below 2018 (88%).
  • There were 109 measures (34.7%) in California. 
  • 174 measures (55.4%) proposed bond issues or taxes. Of those, 126 were approved, and 48 were defeated.
  • There were 92 local bond measures. The measures proposed a total of $32.16 billion in bond money. Voters approved 67 measures amounting to $25.567 billion. Voters rejected 25 measures amounting to $6.593 billion.
  • Twenty-two measures (7.0%) concerned elections, campaigns, voting, and term limits.
  • Twenty measures (6.4%) concerned law enforcement or police policies.
  • Washington, D.C., became the fifth city to decriminalize psilocybin and the first city to decriminalize all entheogenic plants and fungi.
  • Fourteen measures were put on the ballot by initiative signature petitions, and 300 were referred to the ballot by city councils, county boards, school boards, special district boards, or, in two cases, state legislatures.

Keep reading at the link below to view the full analysis.

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$1.337 billion bond issue to appear on Colorado’s 2021 ballot

As yesterday’s Tuesday Count—a weekly report showing ballot measures that have been certified in the past week—showed, we’re off to a busy start for the 2021 ballot measures cycle. So far, eight state ballot measures have been certified for this year. This is the largest number of ballot measures to be certified by the second week in January of an odd-numbered year since at least 2011 (the average number is two).

Seven of the measures will appear on the ballot in Rhode Island, and one will appear on the Colorado ballot. Today, let’s take a look at the Colorado measure.

The Colorado Transportation Bond Issue would authorize $1.337 billion in bonds to fund statewide transportation projects with a maximum repayment cost of $1.865 billion over 20 years.

The measure was initially proposed in Senate Bill 1, which was passed by the state legislature during the 2018 legislative session. The measure was set to appear on the November 2019 ballot provided neither of the two citizen initiatives designed to issue transportation revenue anticipation notes were passed in November 2018. Both 2018 measures failed. The legislature then delayed the bond issue to the 2020 ballot and then delayed it to the 2021 ballot.

From 1999 to 2019, 14 ballot measures appeared on the statewide ballot in Colorado during odd-numbered years. Voters approved six of them and defeated the other eight.

Between 2010 and 2020, 50 transportation-related measures appeared on ballots across the U.S. Click here to learn more. 

And to keep up on ballot measure certifications, subscribe to our State Ballot Measure Monthly email. 

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Judith French appointed Ohio Director of Insurance

January brings inaugurations, which often cause a chain reaction of newly appointed officeholders. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been processing hundreds of officeholder changes. Here’s an example of a state executive change in Ohio.

On Jan. 19, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) appointed Judith French (R) as the state director of insurance. She succeeds interim director Tynesia Dorsey. 

The director is a cabinet-level executive position in the Ohio state government and the chief officer of the Department of Insurance. The director is responsible for ensuring the laws and regulations related to insurance are enforced across the state.

The office of insurance commissioner is nonpartisan in 38 states. The 12 states in which the position is partisan include the 11 states where the insurance commissioner is elected, as well as Ohio. Of the 12 states where the insurance commissioner has a partisan affiliation, the office is held by a Democrat in three and a Republican in nine.

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