Four More Measures Could Soon Qualify for Colorado's November Ballot | Westword
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Four More Measures Could Soon Make Colorado's November Ballot

Voters could be weighing more than a dozen statewide proposals in the next election.
A proposal preventing trophy hunting of big cats could be on the ballot in Colorado.
A proposal preventing trophy hunting of big cats could be on the ballot in Colorado. Cats Aren't Trophies
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The ballot Colorado voters will face this November keeps getting longer.

Four initiatives may soon be added to the list. Supporters of a measure to prohibit trophy hunting of big cats submitted the required petition signatures to qualify for the ballot on Wednesday, July 3, and are now awaiting confirmation from the Colorado Secretary of State that those signatures pass muster. Organizers for three other measures have until July 25 to submit their petitions, but say they've already surpassed the necessary signature count.

If the signatures are certified, these four initiatives will join the two citizen-initiated measures that have already made the ballot: proposals to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution and to cap property tax revenue increases at 4 percent each year. A third citizen-initiated proposal, to include economic impact statements with the questions on ballot measures, previously qualified for the ballot but was withdrawn in May.

Five more initiatives were sent to the ballot by state lawmakers: proposals to let the state keep all sports betting tax revenue to fund water projects; create an excise tax for gun and ammo purchases to fund victim services; remove the ban on same-sex marriage from Colorado's constitution; adjust certain election filing deadlines; and let judges deny bail to people charged with first-degree murder.

Dozens of other measures could still make the ballot. Eleven more initiative proposals are gathering signatures, and 21 others were approved by the title board but have not started petitioning. Those initiatives must each collect 124,238 signatures by August 5 in order to qualify for the ballot.

So far, 176 proposals have been rejected, withdrawn or expired this election season, according to the Secretary of State's website.

Trophy Hunting Ban Turns In Signatures

Initiative 91: Prohibit Trophy Hunting submitted 180,000 signatures this week, according to the Cats Aren’t Trophies political action committee. The Secretary of State now has until August 2 to review the signatures. If at least 124,238 of the signatures are valid, the issue goes to the ballot.

If passed by voters, the measure would ban the hunting of mountain lions, bobcats and lynx statewide, making it a Class 1 misdemeanor. The animals could only be killed if they threaten human life, livestock or property.

“We submit signatures to give Colorado voters an opportunity to stop the inhumane, unsporting killing of mountain lions and bobcats for their heads and their beautiful coats,” says Samantha Miller, Cats Aren’t Trophies campaign manager, in a statement. “This is commercial killing, with lion-hunting guides charging an $8,000 fee to guarantee a ‘trophy’ and trappers selling bobcat pelts to China.”

The proposal boasts support from 82 animal welfare and wildlife conservation organizations. But the Colorado Wildlife Conservation Project opposes the measure, arguing that it could disrupt wildlife management practices that rely on limited hunter harvest.

“The future of Colorado’s wildlife management is at a crossroads,” says Gaspar Perricone, chair of the Colorado Wildlife Conservation Project. "The underpinnings of science-based wildlife management administered by wildlife professionals may be on the ballot this November, and the stakes couldn’t be higher."

Proponents point to California as an example of maintaining a stable population without hunting; the state permanently banned the trophy hunting of mountain lions in 1990.

Three Petitions Near Finish Line

Three ballot measure campaigns have until July 25 to turn in the required petition signatures to qualify for the ballot. But Michael Fields, the designated representative for the initiatives, says they've already broken over 125,000 signatures for all three.

"Signature gathering is going well," Fields adds. "We are planning to turn in the signatures for those three...by the deadline. We are over 125,000 for all of them. But we will obviously turn in more than that, because we need 125,000 valid."

Initiative 108: Valuation for Assessments seeks to decrease the state property tax assessment rate to 5.7 percent for residential property and 24 percent for commercial property.

Initiative 112: Concerning Eligibility for Parole would require offenders convicted of certain violent crimes to serve their full sentence if they've been convicted of a violent crime twice before, and increase the required percentage of sentence served before parole for certain violent offenses.

Initiative 138: School Choice in K-12 Education aims to add a child's right to school choice and a parent's right to "direct" their child's education to the state constitution.

Qualified Measure Withdraws From Ballot

While these initiatives push to earn their spot on the ballot, another measure has backed out. Initiative 77: Economic Impact Statement qualified for the ballot in April, making it the second citizen-initiated measure to qualify. But organizers withdrew the measure on May 16, according to the Secretary of State's Office.

The proposal would have asked voters to require that a ballot measure's economic impact statement be included on the ballot before the question, explaining how the measure would affect Colorado's employment, gross domestic product and the revenue, expenditures, taxes and fiscal liabilities of state and local governments.

"Coloradans are already battling rising inflation, higher property taxes and tightening family budgets. Voters deserve to know what the economic and financial impacts are so they can make an informed decision," campaign manager Mark Truax told Westword in April. "[The initiative] provides for a comprehensive fiscal and economic analysis...to give voters a better understanding of how these measures will impact our state."

Truax did not respond to an inquiry regarding why the measure was withdrawn.

The withdrawal came the day before Governor Jared Polis signed a pair of oil and gas bills involved in a legislative compromise that included the proponents of several competing fossil fuel-related measures agreeing to pull their proposals. The timing prompted speculation that pulling Initiative 77 was also part of the deal.

A different compromise led to the withdrawal of three ballot measure proposals still in the petitioning process: Initiative 150: Damages Involving Catastrophic Injury or Wrongful Death; Initiative 170: Limit on Contingency Fees; and Initiative 171: Disclosure of Litigation Costs and Expenses.

In exchange for pulling those proposals, state legislators passed a bill to increase the caps on damages for medical malpractice. That bill was signed into law on June 3.

Proposals That Are Still Petitioning

Two more measures have been approved for petitioning since Westword's last update.

The first, Initiative 284: Transportation Fees, asks voters to restrict mass transit fees, requiring that new or increased fees be paid only by people who directly benefit from them and be approved by voters. This would apply to fees used to fund bus and rail projects, but not roads, highways and bridges.

Initiative 310: Concerning the Conduct of Elections would completely overhaul Colorado's election system. The measure would eliminate party primary elections, replacing them with open primaries in which candidates of all political parties participate and the top four vote-getters move on to the general election. The proposal would also implement ranked-choice voting in general elections, where voters rank candidates by preference instead of choosing just one.

The signatures for these are due on August 5. So are the signatures for the nine other petitioning measures; if passed by voters, here's what they'd do:

Initiative 142, Parental notification of gender incongruence: Require public school employees to notify a student's parents if the child is experiencing "gender incongruence."

Initiative 144, Veterinary telehealth: Allow state-licensed veterinarians to provide animal health care services through audiovisual communication systems.

Initiative 145, Establish qualifications and registration for VPA: Create the Veterinary Professional Associate position, allowing people with a master's degree in veterinary care to carry out certain routine procedures.

Initiative 147, Criteria for obtaining concealed handgun permit: Prohibit sheriffs from denying applications for concealed handgun permits based on marijuana use that is lawful in Colorado.

Initiative 157, Funding for law enforcement: Create a $350 million fund for law enforcement pay, recruitment, training and providing $1 million in death benefits to the family of any officer killed in the line of duty.

Initiative 160, Public athletics programs for minors: Ban transgender girls from participating in female sports by restricting participation in public school girls' sports programs to those assigned female at birth.

Initiative 201, Prohibit ranked choice voting: Prohibit ranked choice voting from being used in any election for public office in Colorado.

Initiative 202, Ballot access through caucus and assembly process: Enshrine in the state constitution the right of candidates to qualify for the ballot through a political party's caucus and assembly process.

Initiative 278, Primary elections for major political parties: Enshrine in the state constitution the right of major political parties to hold separate primary elections to select candidates.
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