Ballots to be mailed next week

1 county measure joins 13 state questions

    Phillips County’s ballots for the Nov. 6 general election will be mailed out the week of Oct. 15. County clerk Beth Zilla said that anyone who has not received their ballot by Saturday, Nov. 3, should contact the clerk’s office at 970-854-3131.
    Ballots must be returned by Tuesday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m., to Phillips County Clerk’s Office, Haxtun Town Hall or in the 24/7 drop box across the street from Phillips County Court House in the east parking lot.
    Colorado will elect a new governor and lieutenant governor this year. In the running are Jared Polis with Dianne Primavera (Democrat), Walker Stapleton with Lang Sias (Republican), Scott Helker with Michelle Poague (Libertarian), and Bill Hammons with Eric Bodenstab (Unity Party). CNBC called this particular race one of five close gubernatorial contests to watch this year.
    In other state races, running for secretary of state are Wayne Williams (R), Jena Griswold (D), Amanda Campbell (American Constitution) and Blake Huber (Approval Voting).
    For state treasurer, candidates are Brian Watson (R), Dave Young (D) and Gerald F. Kilpatrick (American Constitution).
    Attorney general candidates are Phil Weiser (D), George Brauchler (R) and William F. Robinson III (L).
    Running for state board of education member for the 4th Congressional District are Tim Krug (D) and Debra L . Scheffel (R).
    Candidates for the at-large regent of the University of Colorado are Lesley Smith (D), Ken Montera (R), Christopher E. Otwell (Unity) and James K Treibert (L).
    Running for District 1 state senator are Jerry Sonnenberg (R) and Debra Gustafson (D).
    District 65 state representative candidates are Rod Pelton (R) and Bethleen McCall (D).
    The only federal office on the ballot is the representative to the 116th United States Congress, District 4. Candidates are Karen McCormick (D) and Ken Buck (R).
    Voters will also be asked whether they want to retain Colorado Supreme Court Justice Richard L. Gabriel; Colorado Court of Appeals judges John Daniel Dailey, Rebecca Rankin Freyre, Elizabeth L. Harris and David J. Richman; and district court judges Charles M. Hobbs, Carl S. McGuire and Michael Keith Singer.
    In Phillips County, none of the races are contested. Candidates are District 1 county commissioner Terry L. Hofmeister, clerk and recorder Madene “Beth” Zilla, treasurer Sharon L. Michael, assessor Douglas D. Kamery, sheriff Thomas C. Elliott and coroner Dennis J. Jelden.
    The county’s only measure on the ballot is a question of whether the 13th Judicial District Attorney term limit should be modified from two terms to three terms.

Propositions 109 and 110 take aim at CDOT backlog

    Two separate — but not mutually exclusive — propositions are on the ballot to fund state transportation projects. It is possible for both to pass or for both to fail. Propositions 109 and 110 take different approaches to address the $9 billion Colorado Department of Transportation backlog.
    Maintenance and construction of state highways are funded by federal and state gas and diesel fuel taxes and from state vehicle registration fees, but CDOT’s growing list of needs is outpacing those revenue sources.
    Put simply, Proposition 109 — known as “Fix Our Damn Roads” — would allow CDOT to borrow $3.5 billion to be repaid over 20 years with money from elsewhere in the state budget without raising taxes or fees. The total repayment amount, including principal and interest is limited to $5.2 billion.
    Should 109 be passed, borrowing $3.5 billion would replace funding by two laws previously enacted. In 2017, Colorado committed $1.5 billion for transportation through sale and lease-back of state buildings. In 2018, another $1 billion over a 20-year period was devoted from existing state revenues. The $3.5 billion from Proposition 109 would mean a net increase of $1 billion for transportation.
    Proposition 110, on the other hand, allows for CDOT to borrow $6 billion to be repaid by an increase in sales and use tax. The existing tax is 2.9 percent, and Proposition 110 would increase it to 3.52 percent for 20 years. Repayment, including principal and interest, is limited to $9.4 billion over 20 years.
    The two propositions also stipulate different projects that the funds can be used for.
    Proposition 109 identifies 66 specific highway projects that funds can be used on. Funding provided by the measure isn’t enough to pay for all of the projects, which are estimated to cost $5.6 billion.
    Under Proposition 110, additional tax revenue is dedicated to the following:
    — 45 percent to CDOT for state transportation projects.
    — 40 percent to local governments for transportation projects.
    — 15 percent for multimodal transportation projects (bike paths, sidewalks and public transit such as buses, rail and rides for the elderly and disabled).
    Arguments for 109: It accelerates construction of essential highway projects without raising taxes. It also corrects the state’s failure to invest sufficient funds to maintaining and expanding the highway system by directing the state to prioritize highway projects ahead of other programs. Lack of highway capacity causes delays, increases business costs and reduces driver and passenger safety. 109 requires the state to invest more money in transportation, improving economy and quality of life.
    Arguments against 109: It commits up to $5.2 billion to repay borrowing without creating a new source of revenue, diverting money from other programs, which may include education, health care and routine transportation maintenance. It also would pay for only a portion of the projects and fails to address the cost of ongoing maintenance of these projects. In 2018, the state demonstrated its commitment to transportation funding by pledging $1 billion from existing revenue sources. 109 would replace this commitment with borrowed money, and borrowing is expensive. Under this measure, approximately $1.7 billion in taxpayer money will be spent on interest payments.
    Arguments for 110: As Colorado highways deteriorate and costs of improvements increase, the state needs to invest in its infrastructure and cannot afford to expand and modernize its transportation system without a new revenue source. This measure is flexible, allowing local communities to identify their own most pressing needs. New, dedicated revenue for transportation would allow the state to continue to meet its obligations to fund education, health programs and public safety.
    Arguments against 110: The measure raises taxes for a fundamental government service that should be fully funded through the state budget. Any shortfall in transportation funding is a result of prioritizing state spending in other areas. 110 also dedicates too much revenue, that should be used exclusively for road repair and improvement, to multimodal transportation. The majority of the workforce use their personal vehicles to commute daily and depend on quality road and highway maintenance. Sales taxes disproportionately affect low-income individuals because they must spend a large share of their budget buying taxable necessities.

Amendment W to change ballot format

    Since 1966, the process for selecting judges and justices in Colorado has required they:
    1. Be nominated by a judicial nominating commission.
    2. Be appointed by the governor.
    3. Go before voters in a retention election to maintain their seat on the bench at the end of their terms.
    Amendment W seeks to change the ballot format for judicial retention elections to remove the requirement that a retention question be asked for each justice and judge.
    If passed, the measure will decrease county clerk and recorder workload by a minimal amount and may reduce ballot printing and mailing costs. There is concern, however, that Amendment W risks confusing voters in retention elections.
    This measure requires at least 55 percent of the vote to pass.

Amendment X would remove state definition of ‘industrial hemp’

    When the recreational use of marijuana was legalized in Colorado in 2012, a definition of “industrial hemp” was added to the state’s constitution. Amendment X is meant to remove the definition of industrial hemp from the Colorado Constitution and, instead, use the definition in federal law or state statute.
    The current state definition is “the plant of the genus cannabis and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] concentration that does not exceed three-tenths [0.3] percent on a dry weight basis.”
    A “yes/for” vote would strike the state definition. In the event that federal law changes, Colorado would maintain compliance with federal regulation.
    A “no/against” vote would leave the definition that voters previously put into the state constitution.
    This measure requires at least 55 percent of the vote to pass.

Proposition 112 and Amendment 74 could interact

    The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission currently has regulations that prohibit oil and natural gas wells and production facilities from being located closer than:
    — 500 feet from a home or other occupied building.
    — 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.
    Those requirements can also be waived in certain instances by the COGCC and a building owner.
    Proposition 112 seeks to make the setback for new oil and natural gas development to 2,500 feet from occupied structures, water sources and areas designated as vulnerable. It also does not include a waiver provision.
    If passed, the measure would keep oil and natural gas development farther away from occupied structures and reduce resident exposure to industrial activity — and the accompanying noise, traffic, dust, light and odors — and the potential hazards related to such activity. Some people living near such operations have reported sinus and respiratory conditions, headaches and nausea to the Department of Public Health and Environment.
    Arguments against Proposition 112 are that the existing setbacks are far enough and that further restrictions will reduce the economic benefits provided by the oil and gas industry.
    Amendment 74 addresses devaluation of property — Amendment 74 would require state or local government to compensate a property owner if a law or regulation reduces the fair market value of their property.
    Already, the Colorado Constitution and state law stipulate that the government cannot take or damage private property without providing compensation to the owner.
    The current standard is that the loss in value must be almost total for it to become a regulatory taking. Amendment 74 would broaden the circumstances under which the government must provide compensation to include any decrease in the fair market value.
    On the one hand, the measure would ensure that when a property’s value is harmed by government action, the owner is fairly compensated for the loss. On the other, there is concern that Amendment 74 would have costly consequences for taxpayers.
    Amendment 74 requires at least 55 percent of the vote to pass.

Campaign contribution limits addressed in Amendment 75

    Colorado law regulates campaign finance for state and local candidates. Contribution limits restricting the amount of money an individual or political committee can donate to a candidate in a specific election cycle are established in the state constitution and adjusted for inflation every four years.
    In addition to collecting contributions from others, a candidate may make unlimited contributions from personal funds to their own campaign. Amendment 75 seeks to allow greater contributions for a race in which a candidate loans or contributes more than $1 million to his or her own campaign.
    For governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, attorney general and state treasurer, the contribution limit is currently $1,150. For state senate, state house of representatives, state board of education, CU regent and district attorney, the current limit is $400.
    Should Amendment 75 pass, in a race that sees a candidate spend over $1 million on their own campaign, the limits would be increased fivefold —  to $5,750 and $2,000 respectively.
    To apply, at least one candidate in the race must:
    — Contribute or loan funds totaling more than $1 million to his or her own campaign.
    — Contribute or loan funds totaling more than $1 million to a committee to support or oppose any candidate in the same election.
    — Coordinate third-party contributions totaling more than $1 million to any committee to influence the candidate’s own election.
    Amendment 75 would result in a one-time cost of $15,000 in the Department of State to make modifications to the state’s campaign finance tracking system.
    This measure requires at least 55 percent of the vote to pass.

Amendments Y and Z target gerrymandering

    Amendments Y and Z address two similar but separate issues. Y establishes a new process for congressional redistricting, and Z does the same for state legislative redistricting.
    The U.S. Census Bureau counts the U.S. population every 10 years. Afterward, congressional reappointment occurs, by which each state is granted seats in the U.S. House of Representatives based on its share of the total U.S. population. The states must then redraw their districts so that the number of people in each district is equal. Similarly, state legislative districts are redrawn.
    Both amendments Y and Z seek to create independent redistricting commissioners for the respective processes. The commissions would be made up of an equal number of members from each of the state’s two largest political parties and unaffiliated voters to amend and approve maps drawn by nonpartisan legislative staff.
    Amendment Y would increase state expenditures by $31,479 in fiscal year 2020-2021 and $646,745 in FY 2021-2022. Amendment Z would increase expenditures by $252,065 in FY 2020-2021 and decrease expenditures by $65,977 in FY 2021-2022.
    These measures require at least 55 percent of the vote to pass.

73 aims to increase public school funding

    Amendment 73 has drawn plenty of attention due to taxes and education being involved. The aim of the amendment is to increase funding for preschool through 12th-grade public education. If passed, it would:
    — Increase income taxes for individuals with taxable income over $150,000.
    — Increase the state corporate income tax rate.
    — Reduce taxes for nonresidential property.
    — Increase taxes for residential property.
    The measure encourages the state legislature to adopt a new public school finance act, but until then, Amendment 73 stipulates the following for budget year 2019-2020:
    — Base per-student funding to be $7,300, compared to the current $6,769.
    — Full per-student funding for each kindergartner, compared to the half funding received currently.
    — Relaxed income requirements for students to be considered low-income for funding purposes.
    — $296.1 million for special education, compared to $176.1 million currently.
    — $22.5 million for gifted and talented ($12.5 million currently).
    —$41.6 million for English language proficiency ($21.6 million currently).
    — $131 million for preschool ($121 million currently).
    — Remaining $738.6 million generated by the measure to be spent on public education as determined by state legislature.
    Proposed tax changes outlined — Currently, Colorado’s individual and corporate income tax rate is a flat 4.63 percent. The measure would create a graduated individual rate of:
    — 4.63% from $0-$150,000
    — 5% from $150,001-$200,000
    — 6% from $200,001-$300,000
    — 7% from $300,001-$500,000
    — 8.25% for over $500,000
    The change would affect just 8.2 percent of filers, as the vast majority have taxable income under $150,000.
    The corporate tax rate would be increased from 4.63 percent to 6 percent.
    The change in individual tax rates is expected to bring in an extra $1.4 billion in 2019-2020. The new corporate tax rate is expected to bring in an additional $229.4 million.
    For school district property taxes only, Amendment 73 would reduce the nonresidential assessment rate from 29 percent to 24 percent. For residential property, the current rate is 7.2 percent, but it is expected to fall to 6.1 percent for 2019-2020. Amendment 73 would set it at 7 percent, effectively increasing the rate from what it would be otherwise.
    The measure does not impact the assessment rates for mines and lands producing oil and gas.
    Amendment 73 would increase state revenue by $750.9 million in budget year 2018-19 and $1.6 billion in 2019-2020. This amount is from individual and corporate income taxes. It is exempt from constitutional spending limits and must be used for educational purposes identified in the measure.
    One concern is that the measure does not allow the state legislature to adjust the income tax thresholds to account for inflation. In the future, if more money is generated than is needed for public education, there isn’t an option to spend it elsewhere.
    Arguments for Amendment 73 point to the cuts to educational funding as a result of the Great Recession. The measure would alleviate the impact of the historical cuts. On the other hand, arguments against it point out that a tax increase does not guarantee increased academic achievement.
    This measure requires at least 55 percent of the vote to pass.

Amendment V lowers age requirement

    Amendment V proposes changing the age requirement for serving in the state legislature. Currently, the Colorado Constitution requires a representative or senator in the state legislature to be at least 25 years old. If passed, this measure would lower the minimum age requirement to 21.
    For comparison, 43 states have a minimum age requirement of 18 or 21 for state representatives. For state senators, about half of the states set the minimum age requirement at 18 or 21, and the other half between 25 and 30 years old.
    A “yes/for” vote means changing the minimum age to 21. A “no/against” vote is to keep the minimum age at 25.
    This measure requires at least 55 percent of the vote to pass.

Prop 111 limits APR on payday loans

    In 2016, the average annual percentage rate on payday loans in Colorado was 129 percent. Proposition 111 aims to limit such loans to 36 percent APR, as well as expand what constitutes unfair or deceptive trade practices for payday lending.
    Colorado’s current law has a fee structure that allows lenders to charge an origination fee of up to 20 percent of the first $300 loaned, plus 7.5 percent of any amount in excess of $300. They may also charge an interest rate of 45 percent per year per loan and a monthly maintenance fee of $7.50 per $100 loaned, up to a total of $30 per month.
    In other words, a $500 loan repaid in six months under the current law could incur a $75 origination fee, $68 in interest and $150 in maintenance fees — $293 total. That comes out to an APR of 180 percent.
    Under Proposition 111, that same $500 loan would be limited to an APR of 36 percent or $53 total. The measure would also prohibit lenders offering higher cost loans via mail, email, the internet or telemarketing, regardless of whether the lender has a physical location in Colorado.
    If the proposition results in payday lenders choosing not to renew their licenses, there will be a reduction in fee revenue to the Department of Law.

Amendment A addresses slavery

    Currently, both the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Article II Section 26 of the Colorado Constitution prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude — except as punishment for a crime for which a person has been convicted.
    Colorado’s Amendment A is meant to address that caveat on the state level. A “yes/for” vote on Amendment A means that section of Colorado’s constitution will simply read, “There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude.”
    A “no/against” vote is in favor of keeping the section as is with the exception included.

 

Information provided by the Legislative Council of the Colorado General Assembly. To view the entire 2018 State Ballot Information Booklet, visit http://leg.colorado.gov/bluebook.

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