2020 Ballot Initiatives

Where We Stand & What We Recommend

Quick Reference

State Initiatives
Recommendation
STATE PROP. 113: NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE Yes
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STATE PROP. 114: GRAY WOLF REINTRODUCTION Yes
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STATE PROP. 115: LATE-TERM ABORTION BAN No
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STATE PROP. 116: STATE INCOME TAX REDUCTION No
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STATE PROP. 117: VOTER APPROVAL ON CREATION OF CERTAIN ENTERPRISES No
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STATE PROP. 118: PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE Yes
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AMENDMENT B: REPEAL OF PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT RATES Yes
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AMENDMENT C: CHARITABLE BINGO AND RAFFLES Yes
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AMENDMENT 76: CITIZENSHIP REQUIREMENT FOR VOTING No
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AMENDMENT 77: EXPAND ALLOWED GAMING TYPES AND BET LIMITS
none
PROPOSITION EE: TAXATION ON TOBACCO AND E-CIGARETTES Yes
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Local Initiatives Recommendation
CITY OF BOULDER 2B: LEGAL REPRESENTATION IN EVICTIONS Yes
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CITY OF BOULDER 2C: PUBLIC SERVICE COMPANY FRANCHISE
none
CITY OF BOULDER 2D: REPURPOSING THE UTILITY OCCUPATION TAX
Yes
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CITY OF BOULDER 2E: DIRECT ELECTION OF MAYOR
Yes
CITY OF BOULDER 2F: ENLARGING THE ARTS COMMISSION Yes
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CITY OF LONGMONT 3C: BONDS FOR WATER IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS Yes
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CITY OF LONGMONT 3D: EXTENDING CITY LEASES No
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CITY OF LOUISVILLE: DISPOSABLE BAG TAX Yes
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State Initiatives

STATE PROP. 113: NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE
Recommendation: YES
Summary of the Initiative: The National Popular Vote guarantees the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states. During the 2019 legislative session the Colorado legislature passed, and Governor Polis signed the National Popular Vote into law (SB19-042). Colorado joined with 14 other states and the District of Columbia, together representing 196 electoral votes, in passing the National Popular Vote. The National Popular Vote law will go into effect when enacted by states possessing a majority of the presidential electors—that is, 270 of 538. All the electoral votes from those states will then be awarded to the candidate receiving the most votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
Rationale: We must fight back against Republican attempts to bolster the Electoral College, an inherently anti-democratic institution since its inception. The NPV compact is a path towards voter empowerment and modernizing our democracy.


STATE PROP. 114: GRAY WOLF REINTRODUCTION
Recommendation: YES
Summary of the Initiative: The measure would require the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to create and carry out a plan to reintroduce and manage gray wolves (Canis lupus) to Colorado lands west of the continental divide by the end of 2023. The exact location of wolf reintroductions would be determined by the commission. The commission would also manage any distribution of state funds that are made available to “pay fair compensation to owners of livestock for any losses of livestock caused by gray wolves.” The measure would direct the state legislature to make appropriations to fund the reintroduction program.
Rationale: Since the 1940s, when Colorado’s last wolf was killed, our ecosystem has suffered. A lack of natural balance means that too many elk and deer eat away the vegetation that holds streams and rivers back, leading to erosion and the disruption of even more habitats, like those for native beavers and songbirds. Wolves also naturally limit the spread of disease, such as Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), by taking vulnerable animals out of the population.


STATE PROP. 115: LATE-TERM ABORTION BAN
Recommendation: NO
Summary of the Initiative: This initiative would prohibit abortions after 22 weeks of gestation, towards the end of the second trimester of pregnancy. A physician would declare a date of conception from which this 22-week period would be established.
Rationale: The government should never be in the business of telling women what to do with their bodies, but in addition to this, a ban on abortion procedures after 22 weeks of pregnancy could place some women in the cruel situation of being forced to carry an unviable pregnancy to term, or travel to a different state to have an abortion performed. For these reasons, we and the Colorado Democratic Party recommend a position of “oppose.”


STATE PROP. 116: STATE INCOME TAX REDUCTION
Recommendation: NO
Summary of the Initiative: The initiative would decrease the state income tax rate for individuals, estates, and trusts from 4.63% of federal taxable income to 4.55% for tax years commencing on and after January 1, 2020. The tax rate would also reduce the tax rate for domestic and foreign C corporations operating in Colorado from 4.63% of Colorado net income to 4.55%.
Rationale: This is a billionaire bailout that will not help working families, and will instead gut our education and transportation budgets.


STATE PROP. 117: VOTER APPROVAL ON CREATION OF CERTAIN ENTERPRISES
Recommendation: NO
Summary of the Initiative: The initiative would require statewide voter approval of new state enterprises if the enterprise’s projected or actual revenue from fees and surcharges is greater than $100 million within its first five years. Revenue collected for enterprises that were created at the same time or that serve substantially the same purpose would be aggregated when calculating the application of this amendment.
Rationale: This bill would prevent future state enterprises, or services, like a Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program, from being passed from the legislature without approval from the voters. This is essentially a TABOR extension.


STATE PROP. 118: PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE
Recommendation: YES
Summary of the Initiative: The Paid Family and Medical Leave ballot initiative would create a public family and medical leave insurance program that would guarantee up to 12 weeks of paid leave if someone needs extended time off to recover from a physical or mental illness, take care of a sick loved one, or spend time with a new child (biological or adopted). The insurance program would be funded through a premium paid equally by employers and employees at a rate equal to .9% of the employee’s annual wage. 
Rationale: As of now, 2.6 million Coloradans do not have access to Paid Family and Medical leave; that means the 2.6 million Coloradans will at some point have to choose between spending critical time with a new child or loved one, or recovering from an illness, and keeping their job and pay.


AMENDMENT B: REPEAL OF PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT RATES
Recommendation: YES
Summary of the Initiative: This constitutional amendment would repeal the Gallagher Amendment of 1982, which limits the residential and non-residential property tax assessment rates so that residential property taxes equal 45% of the total share of state property taxes and non-residential property taxes equal 55% of the total share of state property taxes. 
Rationale: Colorado’s schools, libraries, firefighters, police officers, and special districts can’t afford the Gallagher Amendment. Gallagher has become a financial boondoggle thanks to TABOR, and before rural fire departments and special districts go under, we have to get rid of Gallagher in order to protect their budgets. The financing mechanisms no longer serve the purpose that they were supposed to when this was adopted in the 1980’s, and the amendment frankly cannot coexist with TABOR. The Gallagher Amendment is hampering our local governments’ ability to properly fund needed services. Gallagher needs to go.


AMENDMENT C: CHARITABLE BINGO AND RAFFLES
Recommendation: YES
Summary of the Initiative: This amendment to the state constitution would lower the number of years an organization must have existed before obtaining a charitable gaming license from five years to three years and would allow charitable organizations to hire managers and operators of gaming activities so long as they are not paid more than the minimum wage. 
Rationale: This measure helps local charities hold bingo and raffle events in order to raise funds for their operations. This helps them support folks and causes in communities across the state. Rep. Jonathan Singer was one of the prime sponsors of this bill in the legislature.


AMENDMENT 76: CITIZENSHIP REQUIREMENT FOR VOTING
Recommendation: NO
Summary of the Initiative: This initiative would amend Section 1 of Article VIII of the Colorado Constitution to state that only citizens of the United States can vote in federal, state, and local elections. The Colorado Constitution currently says, “Every citizen of the United States who has attained the age of eighteen years, has resided in this state for such a time as may be prescribed by law, and has been duly registered as a voter if required by law shall be qualified to vote at all elections.” Under the ballot measure, the Colorado Constitution would say, “Only a citizen of the United States….” Current Colorado law requires U.S. citizenship to register to vote.
Rationale: This initiative is a racist dog whistle intended to increase turnout among anti-immigrant, racist voters. It also targets communities in Boulder County seeking to enfranchise undocumented residents in local elections and would strip from municipalities the right to expand suffrage in municipal elections. 


PROPOSITION EE: TAXATION ON TOBACCO AND E-CIGARETTES
Recommendation: YES
Summary of the Initiative: This measure would incrementally increase cigarette and tobacco product taxes and create a new tax on nicotine products such as e-cigarettes. Currently, in Colorado, cigarettes are taxed at a statutory rate of 20 cents per pack, tobacco products (cigars and tobacco designed to be chewed or smoked in a pipe) are taxed at a statutory rate of 20%, and nicotine products such as e-cigarettes are not taxed. The ballot measure would incrementally increase the statutory cigarette tax rate to $1.80 per pack and the statutory tax on other tobacco products to 22% by July 2027. It would also create a tax on nicotine products that would match the tobacco products tax rates. The rate would begin at 30% of the MLP in 2021 and would increase gradually to 62% of MLP by July 2027.
Rationale: Colorado is one of a few states without a statewide tax on e-cigarettes and vaping products. Plus, Colorado’s tobacco taxes are among the lowest in the country. While these taxes are regressive in nature, they counteract the equally regressive and predatory advertising force from large corporations to target the LGBTQ community, BIPOC, and our youth. The state needs to provide a countervailing force to deter nicotine use when communities are bombarded with ads. This is especially important when healthcare costs are considered, since nicotine taxes can lower medical costs across the healthcare system. It’s time for Colorado to join the rest of the country in adopting a nicotine tax that covers vaping products, and Colorado should increase taxes to deter nicotine use during a pandemic. Plus, funds generated will go towards preschool, rural education, and keep our tobacco cessation programs funded during this financial crisis.


Local Initiatives

CITY OF BOULDER 2B: LEGAL REPRESENTATION IN EVICTIONS
Recommendation: YES
Summary of the Initiative: No Eviction Without Representation is a ballot initiative that will guarantee free legal representation to individuals and families who are summoned to eviction court. Right to counsel has been successful in a number of other cities, including San Francisco and New York City. Boulder would be the seventh city to adopt such a program. City of Boulder officials recently approved an amendment to the initiative to change the proposed funding mechanism from a fee to a tax and also added rental assistance. 
Rationale: Eviction is a problem nationwide, and the City of Boulder is no exception. Eviction results in homelessness, loss of income, job insecurity and destabilizes families and communities. With stagnating wages, the high cost of living in Boulder and unprecedented levels of unemployment, the Boulder is in need of greater safety net programs to prevent the most housing-insecure members of our community from ending up on the streets. Currently, only 2% of renters who appear in court have access to legal counsel compared to 88% of landlords. This imbalance of power between landlords and tenants must be corrected by guaranteeing legal representation to those who face the threat of eviction. The Boulder County Democrats should endorse this measure. 


CITY OF BOULDER 2D: REPURPOSING THE UTILITY OCCUPATION TAX
Recommendation: YES
Summary of the Initiative: Extends the portion of the Utility Occupation Tax (UOT) originally dedicated to forming a municipal electrical utility from its current expiration of Dec 31, 2022 to Dec 31, 2025.  The extension is dependent on voters also passing the Xcel franchise agreement, which the committee is recommending the party not take a position on. UOT revenue could repay some costs associated with the formation of a municipal utility and fund projects that support the city’s clean energy goals in the context of the city’s racial equity goals. 
Rationale: The city’s municipalization effort has been costly.  The pandemic has also hurt the city financially.  Extending the UOT would put the city on better financial footing.  Extra revenue could allow the city to help disadvantaged members of the community with utility bill payments, improve energy system reliability and modernization, and increase access to energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions.  The climate crisis is the existential threat of our time.  A 2020 report called out a zip code in western Boulder County (not the city of Boulder) as producing the most greenhouse gas per person in the nation.  Boulder should do its part to solve the climate crisis, be a model for the rest of Boulder County and work to decrease the economic gap that exists in the city’s population.


CITY OF BOULDER 2F: ENLARGING THE ARTS COMMISSION
Recommendation: YES
Summary of the Initiative: Changes the city charter to increase the Arts Commission from 5 to 7 members.  In March 2021 one new member would begin a 5-year term and the other a 3-year term in order to stagger the expiration of commissioner terms.  
Rationale: The Boulder Arts Commission was established in 1979 to increase awareness and support for the arts.  It administers the city arts grant program and makes recommendations to the council with respect to annual budget appropriations for the arts.  The unpaid commissioners serve 5-year terms.  The Arts Commission’s 2020 letter to city council included a request to increase the size of the commission because of the steep learning curve and intense time commitment associated with grants decisions.


CITY OF LONGMONT 3C: BONDS FOR WATER IMPROVEMENT PROJECTS
Recommendation: YES
Summary of the Initiative: This measure opens up new lines of financing that will be used to build much needed water capital improvement projects including improved wastewater treatment. 
Rationale: The city of Longmont has had to raise water rates multiple times in the last two years to try and finance water improvement projects. This measure could ease some of the burden and allow the city to update critical infrastructure. This measure will improve quality of life and cost of living for Longmont residents, and the Boulder County Democratic Party should be in support.


CITY OF LONGMONT 3D: EXTENDING CITY LEASES
Recommendation: NO
Summary of the Initiative: This charter amendment will revise section 12.4 of the City of Longmont’s charter to allow the city to lease its property for up to 30-years. Currently, the city is only allowed to lease property for up to 20-years. 
Rationale: This exact measure was put to the voters last year and failed. Supporters say the goal of the measure is to incentivize private-public partnerships between developers and the city by creating more stable leasing conditions. However, these partnerships often feature unnecessary subsidies for developers, while at the same time making it harder for the city to leverage the value of their own property. We are recommending that the Boulder County Democratic Party affirm the choice Longmont voters made in 2019 and reject this charter amendment.


CITY OF LOUISVILLE: DISPOSABLE BAG TAX
Recommendation: YES
Summary of the Initiative: Louisville residents will be deciding whether there should be a 25-cent disposable bag tax in place when shopping at all retailers within the city beginning Jan. 1, 2022. Out of the 25 cents/bag, 10 cents go to the retailer and 15 cents to the city.
Rationale: More than 300 U.S. municipalities have either outright banned or taxed the use of plastic bags.  Colorado cities are currently prohibited by state law from banning plastic bags; the city of Boulder adopted a bag tax with some exceptions in 2013, which made a huge immediate impact in the number of plastic bags.  Anything we can do to help decrease the more than 1.15 million metric tons of plastic garbage that is in the waterways (which eventually end up in the ocean in the famous Garbage Patches) would be beneficial to our planet. More and more plastic is being found in the food we eat so making a small change like using fewer plastic bags will help remove this source from our food source.


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