Ideologically tempting ballot measures can lure like-minded voters to turn out for a general election, but that's a difficult proposition this November. As University of Denver pollster Floyd Ciruli said recently, there’s something on the ballot for everybody this year.
The 11 measures approved for the Nov. 3 ballot touch on social, fiscal and electoral issues and represent diverse political views, Ciruli told Colorado Politics.
As a result, it's a wash for either side to think a particular ballot question would drive turnout in their candidates' favor. Voter turnout in Colorado is likely to be record-setting, regardless, Ciruli said.
All fundraising totals are as of July 27, the end of the most recent reporting period.
All proposition measures will require a 50% plus one vote to pass. Amendments will require 55% voter approval to pass, except for Amendment B, which will need 50% plus one, since that was the law at the time the amendment was adopted.
Proposition 113/Senate Bill 42 — National Popular Vote
This is the first time citizens have tried to overturn a law passed by the General Assembly since 1932.
What it does: Repeals Senate Bill 42, passed in 2019 to put Colorado into the effort to mandate that Electoral College votes would go to the nationwide winner of the popular vote. So far, 15 states and the District of Columbia, with a total of 196 electoral votes, have signed on. Should the campaign reach 270 electoral votes -- the winning number required for a presidential contender -- the law would go into effect, according to Yes on National Popular Vote.
What your vote means: A “yes” vote confirms the General Assembly’s action; a “no” vote repeals the law.
Who’s in favor: In addition to Yes on National Popular Vote, the law is supported by the left-leaning Colorado Common Cause, the League of Women Voters, Coloradans for National Popular Vote and Conservatives for Yes on National Popular Vote (which has yet to identify any Colorado conservatives in favor of it).
Who’s against: Protect Colorado’s Vote, led by Republicans Rose Pugliese, a Mesa County commissioner, and Monument Mayor Don Wilson. The duo launched the petition drive that put the issue on the ballot last year.
Fundraising: definitely favors those who support National Popular Vote. Yes on National Popular Vote has raised more than $3.1 million; Conservatives for Yes on National Popular Vote has raised $115,000, although you’ll be hard pressed to find Coloradans making big donations. The big-dollar contributions are coming from out-of-state donors and the national organization. Influence Watch says its funders are Democrats and left-leaning foundations.
The “no” side has raised $457,530. It has the backing of stalwart Republicans, such as Larry Mizel of MDC Holdings, former CU President and gubernatorial candidate Bruce Benson and beer magnate Pete Coors. Values First Colorado, the committee that raises money to help elect Republicans to the state House, also paid $5,500 for petition signature gathering.
Proposition 114/Initiative 107 — Reintroduction of gray wolves
What it does: asks voters to allow the reintroduce of gray wolves west of the Continental Divide. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission would come up with a plan to restore and manage the wolves, and “fairly compensate” livestock owners for losses at taxpayer's expense.
Who’s in favor: Colorado Sierra Club and Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund.
Who’s against: Coloradans Protecting Wildlife, Colorado Farm Bureau. Stop the Wolf PAC.
Fundraising: Coloradans Protecting Wildlife, with lots of financial support from Farm Bureau chapters and cattlemen’s groups, has raised $340,740. Stop the Wolf has taken in $47,878, mostly from the Grand Junction-based Stop the Wolf Coalition, which does not disclose its donors.
The Rocky Mountain Wolf Fund has received $1.67 million in contributions. Among its largest donors: a self-titled dark money group that doesn’t disclose its donors and Defenders of Wildlife. The committee’s biggest contributions come from out-of-state organizations. The Colorado Sierra Club also makes its contributions directly to the Wolf Fund; as of July 26 the club and its affiliates have given $31,678.
Proposition 115/initiative 120 — Prohibit abortions after 22 weeks
What it does: prohibits abortions after 22 weeks. Exceptions are allowed to save the life of the woman but no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. Voters have resoundingly rejected three previous attempts to end abortion in 2008, 2010 and 2014.
Who’s in favor: the Catholic Church, the Coalition for Women and Children, Alliance for Life, Coalition to Help Moms and Save Babies, and End Birthday Abortions Colorado.
Who’s against: Abortion Access for All.
Fundraising: $603,906 from COBALT (formerly NARAL Colorado), the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.
Those who favor the measure raised $110,179, most of it through the Coalition for Women and Children.
Proposition 116/Initiative 306 — Reduce state income tax rate
What it does: lowers the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.5%.
Who’s in favor: Republican State Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling sponsored bills in the 2019 and 2020 session to do the same thing, but those measures got axed by Senate Democrats. Sonnenberg had hoped to get support from Gov. Jared Polis, who has voice support for an income tax rate reduction, both on the campaign trail and in his first two State of the State addresses. Also in support: the Independence Institute’s Jon Caldara, Americans for Prosperity and the committee Energize Our Economy.
Who’s against: Fair Tax Colorado.
Fundraising: Fair Tax Colorado has raised $1.225 million funded by teachers’ unions, the Bell Policy Center, Great Education Colorado and the Gary Community Investment Co.
AFP has kicked in $9,116 in non-monetary contributions. Energize our Economy is funded by the Independence Institute, with $26,328 in non-monetary contributions. Republican-leaning committee Unite for Colorado, which has funded broadcast ads targeting Democratic U.S. Senate candidate and former Gov. John Hickenlooper. Unite has contributed $625,000, also in non-monetary donations.
Proposition 117/Initiative 295 — Fees for new state-based enterprises.
What it does: asks voters to approve fees for new state-based enterprises. An enterprise is a state-owned business, such as what’s proposed for the paid family leave ballot measure. Republicans have complained for years (as well as in the courts) that requiring new fees is a work-around against the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, which requires voter approval for taxes. This would put fees in the same category.
Who’s in favor: Americans for Prosperity , and Michael Fields of Colorado Rising State Action.
Who’s against: Fair Tax Colorado and Earthworks Action Fund.
Proposition 118/Initiative 283 — Paid family and medical leave
What it does: sets up a state-run enterprise through the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment that would provide up to 12 weeks paid leave.
Who’s in favor: Colorado Families First and the Working Families Party.
Who’s against: Not Now Colorado, which is backed by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce.
Fundraising: Colorado Families First has raised $3.389 million, with its largest donations from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a left-leaning dark money group from Washington, D.C. that has taken a substantial interest in Colorado politics in the past eight years, with more than $14 million in contributions to left-leaning committees.
Sixteen Thirty has put $2.8 million into the pro-paid family leave committee. Working Families has raised $50,000 from its national organization in New York, which doesn’t disclose its donors. However, Open Secrets says its largest donors are unions and several dark money groups, including Way to Win Action Fund and the Green Advocacy Fund, which advocates for renewable energy.
Not Now has just one contribution reported as of July 25, a $25,000 donation from the chamber.
Amendment 76/Initiative 76 -- citizen qualification of electors
What it does: the Colorado constitution states that “every citizen” is eligible to vote; this would change that to “only a citizen” is eligible to vote.
Who’s in favor: Colorado Citizen Voters. Contributions totaling $1.43 million come from its national 501(c)4, which does not disclose donors. The Washington Post reported in 2019 that its backers have close ties to the Trump campaign, including members of Trump’s Mar-A-Lago club.
In Colorado, the measure is backed by Republicans such as former state Rep. Joe Stengel and George Athanasopoulos.
Who’s against: None so far
Amendment 77/Initiative 257 -- local voter approval of gaming limits in Central City, Blackhawk and Cripple Creek casinos
What it does: Gives voters in Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek the right to approve a maximum single bet of any amount, and to approve new casino games in each city. The amendment does not eliminate the limits; it gives residents in the towns the option to hold a local election instead of putting the decisions up to a statewide vote.
Who’s in favor: Local Choice Colorado, which has raised $2.25 million, mostly from casinos and betting organizations.
Who’s against: None so far.
Amendment B/Senate Concurrent Resolution 1 — repeal the Gallagher Amendment
What it does: repeals the 1988-voter approved Gallagher Amendment, which sets a property tax ratio of 55% on commercial and 45% on residential. Critics claim because of rising residential property values, it has lowered the amount of property taxes for K-12 education and other property tax-funded services, such as fire, police, water and hospitals.
Who’s in favor: the Colorado General Assembly, which passed the resolution on a 51-14 vote in the House and 28-6 in the Senate (it required a two-thirds vote in each chamber to make it to the ballot). Colorado Coming Together, which registered as an issue committee on July 23, also backs the measure.
Who’s against: Protect Our Homes Colorado and Keep Property Taxes Low, neither of which has reported any contributions.
Amendment C/House Concurrent Resolution 20-1001 — new bingo licenses
What it does: allows those with bingo-raffle licenses to “hire managers and operators of games” as well as reduce the requirement that a charity be in operation for five years before obtaining a charitable gaming license.
Who’s in favor: Colorado Charitable Bingo Association, which has not yet registered a campaign committee .
Who’s opposed: None so far
Proposition EE/House Bill 1427 — taxing nicotine produces
What it does: increases the taxes on nicotine and vaping products, to raise $294 million annually. The money would go to public education.
Who’s in favor: A Brighter, Healthier Future for Colorado’s Kids, which has so far raised $756,027, largely from Education Reform Now Advocacy, the fundraising side of Democrats for Education Reform; and Gary Community Investment.
Who’s against: None so far.
This article has been updated to correct the intent of Amendment 77.