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Colorado voters can expect lengthy November ballot packed with initiatives

March 26, 2016 Updated: March 26, 2016 at 5:36 pm
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DENVER - Colorado voters likely will have a couple pages to ponder in November after they make their pick for president. Dozens of groups and individuals have proposed dozens of ballot initiatives. Those include letting the state retain TABOR refunds, allowing beer and wine sales in grocery stores, and moving the state to a single-payer health-care system.

Ironically, among the more than 100 proposals are some that would make it harder to amend the state constitution, requiring more signatures from more diverse areas to get an issue on the ballot.

The deadline to file initiatives with the Colorado Legislative Council was Friday. Language for 15 initiatives was filed, but several of those were not only duplicates of each other, but duplicates of language filed earlier as people tried to perfect their ballot language.

"I think what you're seeing right now is a lot of strategic maneuvering of people on all sides of a variety of issues, so I do not expect many - a majority - of those issues that have been put forward to the title board this year to make it onto the ballot," said Curtis Hubbard, a political consultant who helped lead a statewide listening tour that has resulted in multiple ballot initiatives being filed.

That effort, Building a Better Colorado, is the impetus for a number of proposed initiatives.

The record for number of petitions filed is 18 initiatives on the 2008 ballot. Of those, four passed, four were withdrawn, and the rest failed.

Hubbard said he knows there can be voter fatigue with a long ballot, but he is relying on the mail-in-ballot factor to help.

"That gives voters time to research items they are unfamiliar with and return the ballot once they have made a decision," he said. "It's not as if the majority of our voters walk into the ballot booth and are confronted with some amount of initiatives to make a decision on."

Only one of the proposed initiatives has completed the long process to appear on the ballot in November: Amendment 69. The Colorado Care Act would move the state to being closer to a single-payer health-care system. The group proposing the initiative, backed by state Sen. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, turned in 109,134 valid signatures in October.

Four other proposed initiatives have gotten to the point where they can begin collecting signatures. Those proposals include a measure to give local governments more control (including over oil and gas operations); a proposal to automatically register people to vote when they obtain or renew driver's licenses; a mandate for the state to divest from companies doing business in Iran; and a measure that moves oversight of judicial ethics to the Independent Ethics Commission.

Among the new petition language filed Friday were three proposals to both do away with the presidential caucus and instead hold a primary and allow unaffiliated voters to participate to take part. The language of each measure provides some combination of those options and one allows each party to vote on whether to open their primaries to unaffiliated voters. Hubbard said they will move forward with no more than two options, likely one dealing with presidential elections and the other with unaffiliated voters.

A handful of proposals would further regulate oil and gas operators.

And finally, the one everyone has been talking about is a measure to allow the state to retain revenue over the cap of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, instead of refunding that money to taxpayers.

Former Colorado State University President Al Yates and philanthropist Dan Ritchie are backing those proposals together.

"The message of the initiative that we would like to have on the ballot is pretty straightforward," Yates said. "Given the messaging and given the people who have expressed interest in this, we think that we will be able to do well. . We have had thousands of people who have been directly involved in those conversations, and not only have they been involved but they are committed to doing something about it, literally an army of people."


Contact Megan Schrader: 286-0644

Twitter @CapitolSchrader

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