I have always considered it a privilege to vote in an election. On my eighteenth birthday, I headed straight to Town Hall and registered to vote. Since then, I have made it a point to review election information, search for the facts and cast my ballot with choices I felt made the most sense.
When I opened my ballot last weekend, I sat down and started to complete the 3+ page form. The first page is pretty straightforward, as it is the page that includes state and local government and judicial candidates. When I moved on to the Ballot Measures section, I was instantly overwhelmed. It was obvious to me that, before I made a decision on any of the measures, I needed to find out more about them.
Below is an overview of each Ballot Measure, in the order it appears on the Ballot. Due to space limitations, I have included financial impact details from the 2018 State Ballot Information (Blue) Handbook. To view the full measures, including arguments for and against, visit: http://leg.colorado.gov.
As always, you should always investigate the material on the ballot to make informed decisions. To learn more about each measure, visit sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/Initiatives/ballot/contacts/2018.html
Amendment V (CONSTITUTIONAL)
Overview: This amendment is asking the voters whether we are okay with lowering the age qualification of a candidate for state legislature (representative or senator) from the current age of 25 to age 21.
Estimate of Fiscal Impact: This measure has no impact on state or local government revenue or spending.
Amendment W (CONSTITUTIONAL)
Overview: As evidenced on this year’s ballot, one-third of Page 1 lists individual, redundant questions on whether to retain each state, district and county judge. Amendment W would group the judges under consolidated jurisdiction segments, ask the ballot question once, with “Yes” or “No” next to each judge’s name.
Estimate of Fiscal Impact Local government impact: Amendment W decreases county clerk and recorder workload by a minimal amount and may reduce ballot printing and mailing costs.
Amendment X (CONSTITUTIONAL)
Overview: This amendment proposes removing the definition of industrial hemp from the state constitution, which was specifically added through the initiative process, and instead giving it the same meaning as defined by federal law.
Estimate of Fiscal Impact: Removing the definition of industrial hemp from the Colorado constitution has no impact on the revenue or expenditures of any state or local government agencies.
Amendment Y (CONSTITUTIONAL)
Overview: Every ten years, after the census has been conducted, each state is granted seats in the US House of Representatives, based upon the total US population. Colorado currently holds 7 seats in the House. After the census is completed, the state is responsible for redrawing the districts so that the number of people in each district is equal. The current process has resulted in court action the last four times redistricting has been conducted.
Amendment Y proposes to establish an Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission, made up of 12 members (4 from the state’s largest political party, 4 from the state’s second largest party, and, 4 who are not affiliated with any party) who will be appointed from a pool of applicants through an application and appointment process.
Estimate of Fiscal Impact:
State revenue: Beginning in FY 2020-21, Amendment Y may minimally increase Secretary of State cash fund revenue from fines collected from lobbyists who fail to disclose the required information.
State expenditures: Overall, Amendment Y increases state expenditures to fund the commission by $31,479 in FY 2020-21 and $642,745 in FY 2021-22 as compared with the expenses for the current process.
Amendment Z (CONSTITUTIONAL)
Overview: Similar to Amendment Y, Amendment Z relates to redistricting following completion of the census, as it pertains to state legislature. There are 35 state senators and 65 state representatives in Colorado.
Currently, the 11 member Colorado Reapportionment Commission convenes after the US Census has been conducted and redraws the new state legislative district maps. The members of the commission are appointed by legislative leaders, the Governor and the Chief Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court. Up to 6 of the 11 members may be affiliated with the same political party.
Amendment Z proposes to establish an Independent Congressional Redistricting Commission (separate from Amendment Y’s Commission) made up of 12 members (4 from the state’s largest political party, 4 from the state’s second largest party, and, 4 who are not affiliated with any party) who will be appointed from a pool of applicants through an application and appointment process.
Estimate of Fiscal Impact
State revenue: Beginning in FY 2020-21, Amendment Z may minimally increase Secretary of State cash fund revenue from fines collected from lobbyists who fail to disclose the required information.
State expenditures: Overall, Amendment Z increases state expenditures to fund the Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission by $252,065 in FY 2020-21, and decreases state expenditures by $65,977 in FY 2021-22, as compared with the expenses for the current Reapportionment Commission.
Amendment A (CONSTITUTIONAL)
Overview: The Colorado Constitution currently prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime for which a person has been convicted. By removing the “except as punishment” language, it prohibits slavery and involuntary servitude in all circumstances.
Estimate of Fiscal Impact: The measure may minimally impact state and local government revenue, costs, and workload if court filings increase due to offenders filing additional lawsuits.
Amendment 73 (CONSTITUTIONAL)
Overview: Amendment 73 would increase funding for preschool through grade 12 public education by increasing individual income tax on those earning over $150,000 per year, increasing the corporate tax rate and setting new assessment rates for property taxes levied by school districts. It is estimated that, if the measure passes, an additional $866 million to $1.5 billion in additional school district funding will be available in the 2019-2010 fiscal year.
Estimate of Fiscal Impact
State revenue: The measure increases state revenue by $750.9 million in budget year 2018-19 (half-year impact) and $1.6 billion in budget year 2019-20. This amount is from individual income taxes and corporate income taxes. This revenue is exempt from constitutional spending limits and must be used for educational purposes identified in the measure.
State expenditures: The measure increases state expenditures by $174,933 in budget year 2018-19 for administrative costs. In budget year 2019-20, the measure increases expenditures for education by $1.6 billion. Revenue generated in other years must also be spent on education.
School district impact: The measure increases school district revenue by a minimum of $866 million and up to a net $1.5 billion in budget year 2019-20, the first full fiscal year the measure is implemented. The minimum spending represents the funding requirements specified in the measure; the maximum increase is the result of the $1.6 billion in new state revenue in budget year 2019-20, and a $62.4 million decrease in revenue from property taxes.
Local government impact: The measure increases costs for county assessors and treasurers offices to update computer and data systems related to the changes in assessment rates. Specific costs will vary among counties.
Amendment 74 (CONSTITUTIONAL)
Overview: This amendment would require the state or a local government to compensate a property owner if a law or regulation results in the reduction of fair market value of the owner’s property.
Currently, there are three ways the state or local government can take or damage private property: eminent domain allows government to take land from a private landowner for a public use or benefit; intentional or accidental damage to property; and, regulatory taking that deprives the owner of the use or value of their property.
Amendment 74 would expand the circumstances under which the property loses any value under regulatory taking, as opposed to the current standard of an almost total loss in value or use.
Estimate of Fiscal Impact: The measure requires that the state or a local government compensate property owners any time a law or regulation reduces the fair market value of private property. The measure will increase state and local expenditures to compensate private property owners as a result of regulatory or legislative action.
Amendment 75 (CONSTITUTIONAL)
Overview: This amendment allows an increase in campaign contribution limits when a candidate loans or contributes more than $1 million to his or her own campaign, by allowing all candidates in the same election to collect five times the level of individual contributions currently authorized in the state constitution.
The state sets limits in individual contributions to various state candidates, but the amount a candidate contributes to their own campaign is unlimited. Since 2010, four candidates in statewide races have contributed or loaned over $1 million to their campaigns.
Estimate of Fiscal Impact: Amendment 75 will result in a one-time cost of $15,000 in FY 2018-19 in the Department of State to make modifications to the state’s campaign finance tracking system.
Proposition 109 (STATUTORY)
Overview: The proposition would amend the Colorado statutes to require the state to borrow up to $3.5 billion in 2019 to fund up to 66 specific highway projects; direct the state to identify a source of funds to repay the borrowed amount without raising taxes or fees; and, limit the total repayment amount, including principal and interest, to $5.2 billion over 20 years.
Borrowed money under Proposition 109 may only be used for road and bridge expansion, construction, maintenance, and repair on the 66 transportation projects located throughout the state (identified in the measure on pages 59 through 63 of the 2018 Blue Book). The total estimated cost of the 66 projects listed is $5.6 billion. Final selection and order of construction would be determined by CDOT and an 11-member Transportation Commission, appointed by the Governor, to prioritize state transportation needs.
In Grand County, there are two projects listed under the proposed “Fix Our Damn Roads” Act: US 40, Kremmling East and West – Phased addition of shoulders and passing lanes; and, US 40, Fraser to Winter Park – Capacity improvements (four lane facility).
Estimate of Fiscal Impact: Proposition 109 makes changes to transportation finance over 20 years. Its effects on state revenue and expenditures are summarized below.
State revenue: The measure requires the state to sell revenue bonds, which will increase state revenue by up to $3.5 billion. Under current law, bond revenue collected under Proposition 109 will replace $1.5 billion in state revenue from the sale and lease-back of state buildings. On net, Proposition 109 increases state revenue by up to $2.0 billion.
State expenditures: The measure authorizes $3.5 billion in state revenue from the sale of bonds to be spent on transportation projects. However, current state law directs other funding commitments to be cancelled if the measure passes, resulting in a net increase in spending on transportation of up to $1.0 billion.
The measure commits up to $5.2 billion to the repayment of debt. These financing costs will replace the $2.25 billion in financing costs related to the sale and lease-back of state buildings, resulting in a net increase in financing costs of up to $2.95 billion.
Proposition 110 (STATUTORY)
Overview: This proposition would amend the Colorado statutes to increase the state’s sales and use tax rate from 2.9 percent to 3.52 percent for 20 years; distribute the new tax revenue for transportation as follows: 45 percent to the state; 40 percent to local governments; and 15 percent for multimodal transportation projects; and, permit the state to borrow up to $6.0 billion for transportation projects and limit the total repayment amount, including principal and interest, to $9.4 billion over 20 years.
The measure is estimated to raise about $767 million in the first year that it applies. Under the measure, the average amount of sales tax paid by a Colorado family with an average income of $74,374 is estimated to increase by $131.
Estimate of Fiscal Impact: Proposition 110 makes changes to transportation finance over 20 years. Its effects on state and local government revenue and expenditures are summarized below.
State revenue: This measure increases sales and use tax revenue by $366.0 million (half-year impact) in state budget year 2018-19, and by $766.7 million in state budget year 2019-20. The sales and use tax revenue increase continues for 20 years. In addition, the measure authorizes CDOT to sell bonds, increasing revenue by up to $6.0 billion over three years.
State expenditures: This measure will increase expenditures equal to the amount of revenue described above for construction and maintenance of transportation projects, and debt service. The measure commits up to $9.4 billion to the repayment of debt.
Local government revenue and expenditures: The measure increases state distributions to local governments for transportation projects by $146.4 million (half-year impact) in state budget year 2018-19, and by $306.7 million in state budget year 2019-20. These increases continue for 20 years.
Proposition 111 (STATUTORY)
Overview: Proposition 111 would amend Colorado statutes to reduce the total cost for a payday loan to a 36 percent annual percentage rate; and, expand what constitutes unfair or deceptive trade practices for payday lending.
Payday loans are small, easy-to-access short-term loans that do not require a credit check. In 2016, about 207,000 individuals in Colorado secured over 414,000 payday loans, and, the average APR on payday loans in Colorado was 129 percent. These loans totaled over $166 million, and consumers paid an estimated $50 million in loan costs (any combination of fees and interest).
The measure reduces the loan costs on a payday loan to a maximum APR of 36 percent and eliminates the current fee structure. In addition, regardless of whether payday lenders have a physical location in the state, they may not offer higher cost loans via electronic or U.S. mail, the internet, or telemarketing.
Estimate of Fiscal Impact: In state revenue and spending, if Proposition 111 results in payday lenders choosing not to renew their licenses, there will be a reduction in fee revenue to the Department of Law.
Proposition 112 (STATUTORY)
Overview: Proposition 112 would amend Colorado statutes to require that new oil and natural gas development be located at least 2,500 feet from occupied structures, water sources, and areas designated as vulnerable. The measure does not apply to federal land, which includes national forests and parks and comprises about 36 percent of the land in Colorado.
Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) regulations, approved in 2013, prohibit oil and natural gas wells and production facilities from being located closer than: 500 feet from a home or other occupied building; and, 1,000 feet from high-occupancy buildings such as schools, health care institutions, correctional facilities, and child care centers, as well as neighborhoods with at least 22 buildings. The surrounding area encompassed by the current 500-foot setback includes about 18 acres, and the 1,000-foot setback area includes about 72 acres. Proposition 112 increases the setback to a minimum of 2,500 feet, or about 450 surrounding acres.
The current setback requirement may be waived in certain instances by the COGCC and a building owner. Proposition 112 does not include a waiver provision.
Estimate of Fiscal Impact
State government revenue and spending: Proposition 112 is expected to decrease the amount of severance tax, royalty payments, and lease revenue that state government collects in the future. Because the measure does not impact existing oil and natural gas development, no immediate impact on state revenue is anticipated; however, because the measure reduces the surface land available for the development of new oil and natural gas operations, future state revenue from these sources will be reduced. Proposition 112 will also reduce future income taxes to the state. Since the economic conditions and geographic limitations affecting oil and natural gas production are uncertain, the specific reductions in state revenue cannot be estimated.
Department of Natural Resources: Severance tax revenue received by the state funds both operating expenses of the department and specific programs, including water supply project grants, low-income energy assistance, control of invasive species, and a variety of other programs. Funding for these programs will be reduced.
Local government revenue and spending: Proposition 112 is also anticipated to reduce future property tax revenue collected by local governments. Limitations on new drilling will reduce local property tax collections, since producing well sites have higher assessed value than inactive nonproducing areas. The change in local revenue and expenditures also cannot be estimated. Local governments receive a share of the state’s severance taxes to offset the impacts of oil and natural gas development. This revenue will be reduced.
Grand County Ballot Measures
Next are the three countywide Measures on this year’s ballot. To view 2018 Grand County Ballot Information, visit: co.grand.co.us/147/Elections
Grand County Ballot Measure 1A
Overview: This measure asks voters whether to impose an additional 5% sales tax on all retail marijuana and retail marijuana products sold in Grand County.
Currently, a 2.9% state sales tax, a 15% retail marijuana state sales tax, a 1% county sales tax, a .3% transportation tax applies to all retail marijuana purchases in unincorporated Grand County.
The County Finance Department estimates the increase in sales tax would amount to about $310,000 in added revenue in 2019.
Grand County Ballot Measure 1B
Overview: This measure asks voters whether to impose an additional 5% excise tax on the first sale or transfer of unprocessed retail marijuana by a cultivation facility located within Grand County.
Currently, unprocessed retail marijuana is subject to a 15% state excise tax.
The County Finance Department estimates that this increase would amount to about $155,000 in added revenue in 2019.
Estimate of Fiscal Impact
The County Finance Department estimates an annual increase of $30,000 to cover staff administration (.25 FTE) and secure transportation of cash payments received from Grand County marijuana businesses, if one or both measures (1A, 1B) are passed.
Grand County Ballot Measure 1C
Overview: This measure asks voters whether to permit, but not obligate, the County to provide cable television, telecommunications and high speed internet services (otherwise known as Advanced Service), directly or indirectly with public or private sector providers.
Currently, many areas within the county are unserved or underserved as the demand for broadband services becomes a basic infrastructure need.
If approved, the county would have the legal ability to directly and/or indirectly provide Advanced Service to the county’s residents and businesses.
Estimate of Financial Impact
No information available.
After completing my research on this year’s ballot measures, I was much better equipped to complete my ballot. There are also several local ballot measures, equally important to the regions they serve. I encourage you to learn more about the measures and make your vote count this election day.
From now until Election Day at 7 pm, you can drop your completed ballot off at any of the following 24-hour, county-controlled drop box locations:
Grand Park Community Recreation Center
1 Main Street, Fraser CO 80442
Granby Town Hall
Zero Jasper Avenue, Granby CO 80446
Grand Lake Town Hall
1026 Park Avenue, Grand Lake CO 80447
Grand County Administration Building
308 Byers Avenue, Hot Sulphur Springs CO 80451
CSU Extension Hall, County Fairgrounds
210 11th Street, Kremmling CO 80459
If you’re going to mail your ballot, keep in mind that it will take additional postage, above the cost of a first class postage stamp. All ballots must be received by 7 pm on Election Day, November 6th, in order to be counted (postmarks do not count).
If you need a replacement ballot, call (970) 725-3065. The last day for the County Clerk’s Office to mail you a replacement is October 29th.
If you’re not yet registered to vote, you can register right up to Election Day, November 6th! Visit the County Clerk’s Office, go online to GoVoteColorado.com or download a registration form from the county website to get registered.