It is that time of the year again. ELECTION SEASON! And you know what that means? It is time for our annual ballot measure guide.
At CGH, we intend to spend our careers fighting for justice. We understand that the fight for justice must take place beyond just the courtroom. When we formed our law firm, we agreed we would never shy away from political issues and would instead donate time and money fighting to improve the lives of ordinary people. To that end, these are our endorsements for both the State of Colorado and City and County of Denver Ballot Measures that will appear on our ballots in Colorado in November. GO VOTE!
There are two ballot measures on every ballot in Colorado, Proposition CC and Proposition DD.
Prop CC: Vote YES! Proposition CC deals with tax revenue for the State of Colorado. Tax revenue in Colorado is currently regulated by a constitutional amendment called TABOR (the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights). One of the things TABOR does is cap the amount of revenue a government can receive in a given year. The cap is tied to inflation and population each year. If a government, in this case the State of Colorado, collects more money than the cap, the government is required to either (1) return the money to the taxpayers or (2) hold a state wide vote to keep it. Prop CC would end this practice and allow the State of Colorado to keep all the money it collects in taxes without having to return the money or hold a vote. There is a dispute about how much money is at play here, but is somewhere between $572 million and $1.7 billion over three years. This amounts to a refund somewhere between $20 and $248 for each taxpayer in Colorado.
There are some important things to understand about this measure (the measure is often referred to as “de-Brucing” after the guy who originally drafted TABOR). First, it would NOT raise taxes. Second, all the extra money collected would go towards roads and education. Third, an independent auditor would be hired to create a report showing exactly how the extra money is spent. Fourth, 85% of municipal governments, 51 of 64 counties, and all but four of 178 school districts have already passed a “de-Brucing” measure. Fifth, this will not impact individual income tax refunds from either the state or federal government.
Overall, at CGH we believe TABOR is terrible policy that has caused a state with one of the best economies in the nation to woefully underspend on education and roads. Receiving $20 or even $248 once per year won’t make a massive difference in the lives of individuals, but when we pool it all together it will have a large impact on K-12 education, higher education, and roads. Prop CC is good policy and we urge you to support it.
Prop DD: Vote YES! Proposition DD is also caused by TABOR. Back in 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to prevent states from legalizing sports betting. Since then, many states have started moving forward with legalizing it. Later that year, Colorado passed a law legalizing and taxing limited sports betting. However, because of TABOR, Colorado cannot tax sports betting without a vote of the people. Hence, Prop DD.
If passed, Prop DD would allow the thirty-three casinos in Colorado to offer sports betting either at their physical location or through apps they can create. It would not allow sports betting, or any other type of gambling, in any other physical location. The casinos, in turn, would pay a 10% tax on all sports betting profits. The State estimates it would raise $29 million a year. That money would then be used to fund the Colorado Water Plan. The Colorado Water Plan is complicated, but basically it funds projects for water storage, conservation, recreation, and education.
Sports betting is happening in Colorado right now. We can either legalize it, tax it, and regulate it. Or we can continue to let illegal gambling proliferate tax-free. The choice is clear. Vote yes on Prop DD.
If you live in the City and County of Denver, there will be four additional ballot measures on the 2019 ballot. If you live outside Denver, these will not apply to you, but you may be voting on your own ballot measures.
Question 2A: Vote YES! Question 2A will create a new “Department of Transportation and Infrastructure” for the City and County of Denver. Currently, transportation and infrastructure are run by the Department of Public Works. The reality is that over the past decade Denver has grown by 20%. We all know transportation, roads, and congestion are important issues. It is time that we had a department focused solely on those issues, rather than having it lumped in with a bunch of other stuff. There is no formal opposition to this change and we urge you to vote yes!
Question 2B: Vote YES! Another technical change, Question 2B will modify Denver’s charter to conform with other Denver laws. Essentially, it will clarify that Denver Arts and Venues (the agency that runs Red Rocks and all other City-owned arts venues) is an independent agency rather than under the Department of General Services. It has operated independently for years and this Question simply clarifies things. Like the other Questions, there is no formal opposition and we urge you to vote yes!
Question 2C: Vote YES! Question 2C creates the rank of “Emergency Medical Technician” inside the Denver Fire Department. It also creates a new “shift commander” position which would essentially be an assistant to the Chief. These changes have been requested by the Fire Department and there is no formal opposition. We trust the Fire Department knows what titles and positions it needs to most effectively protect Denver. We urge you to vote yes!
Question 2D: Vote YES! Question 2D deals with residency for elected officials in Denver. Currently, Denver law requires anyone running for an elected position in Denver’s government to actually live in Denver or the district for which they are running. However, there is a loophole that allows people who get elected to then move outside City or district limits. This was never the intent of the voters. If we are going to make people who run for office in Denver live in Denver, it only makes sense that we make them continue to live in Denver while they are serving. If they want to move, they would first need to resign from office. We urge you to vote yes!