Three More Measures Expected to Join Colorado's November Ballot | Westword

Three More Measures Expected to Join Colorado's November Ballot

Another fifteen ballot measure proposals are currently collecting petition signatures.
Share this:
Colorado voters will be busy at the virtual ballot box come November.

Initiatives regarding bail eligibility, abortion rights and economic impact statements are on track to qualify for the 2024 ballot; they're now awaiting final verification from the Colorado Secretary of State's Office. If it determines that the measures qualify, they will bring Colorado's total number of certified ballot measures up to four, joining Initiative 50. That measure, which qualified for the ballot in October, seeks to cap property tax revenue increases at 4 percent each year, requiring voter approval for the government to keep tax revenue beyond that.

As of April 15, 214 proposals for citizen ballot measures had been filed, according to the Secretary of State's Office. But very few will end up on the ballot seven months from now; 102 initiatives have already been rejected, withdrawn or expired, and 94 are still awaiting action. Fifteen measures are currently collecting petition signatures to try to qualify for the ballot.

Here's a look at the issues Coloradans can expect to see on their ballots so far:

Bail Eligibility for Murder Suspects

When Colorado abolished the death penalty in 2020, the ability to deny bail to murder suspects unintentionally went away with it. Now voters will get the opportunity to undo this change.

The state constitution says suspects can only be denied bond in “capital cases,” meaning cases that are punishable by death. Since Colorado no longer punishes crimes with death, no suspects can be denied bail, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled last June.

House Resolution 24-1002 asks voters to create an exception to this new rule, allowing judges to deny bail to people charged with first-degree murder in cases where "proof is evident or presumption is great." The legislature approved the resolution nearly unanimously on March 28, with only five out of 100 legislators voting against it.

“We have seen harrowing examples in Colorado of first-degree murder defendants posting bail and committing further violent crime before their court date,” Senator Rhonda Fields, a sponsor of the resolution, said in a statement. “Making first-degree murder defendants ineligible for bail would give victims and their families peace of mind and help keep our communities safe.”

Following the legislature's approval, the resolution will be delivered to the secretary of state to be placed on the ballot. Since the measure would amend the state constitution, it must earn 55 percent of votes to pass.

Expanding Abortion Protections

Recent state laws have protected abortion access in Colorado after federal abortion rights were overturned in 2022. This ballot measure proposal aims to solidify Colorado's abortion access even further.

Initiative 89: Right to Abortion asks voters to enshrine the right to abortion in the state constitution. The measure would also allow state funds to be used to pay for abortions, including Medicaid and state employee health insurance, which is currently prohibited under a constitutional measure passed in 1984.

Proponents say they had collected over 225,000 signatures in support of Initiative 89 as of April 12; they only need 124,238 valid signatures to qualify, including at least 2 percent of registered voters in each of Colorado's 35 state Senate districts.

“Ballot measures like Proposition 89 are our first line of defense against government overreach and our best tool to protect the freedom to make personal, private healthcare decisions — a right that should never depend on the source of one’s health insurance or who is in office," Campaign Director Jessica Grennan said in a statement. "A right without access is a right in name only."

The campaign has until April 26 to deliver its signatures to the Secretary of State's Office. The measure needs 55 percent approval from voters because it is a constitutional amendment.

Economic Impact Statements for Ballot Measures

If passed into law, this proposal would change the way all future ballot measures are written.

Initiative 77: Economic Impact Statement
 asks voters to require that a ballot measure's economic impact statement be included on the ballot before the question. The statement would have to explain how the ballot measure would affect Colorado's employment, gross domestic product and the revenue, expenditures, taxes and fiscal liabilities of state and local governments. The text of the initiative says its goal is to provide transparent information to voters.

"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," says Mark Truax, campaign manager of Protect Colorado, the group behind the initiative. "[The initiative] provides for a comprehensive fiscal and economic give voters a better understanding of how these measures will impact our state."

The campaign submitted its petition signatures on March 27, one day before they were due; the signatures are still under review. The Secretary of State's Office has until April 26 to determine whether they collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Now Petitioning

Fifteen other proposals have been approved to start gathering signatures. Proponents need to collect 124,238 signatures from registered voters to get their initiative onto the ballot, and they only have six months after the bill title is set to do so. The latest ballot-measure petitions are due by August 5, and the Secretary of State's Office has until September 4 to verify the signatures.

If passed by the voters, here's what these proposed ballot measures would do:

Initiative 81, Protections for a living child: Ban abortion at any point after conception, classifying it as homicide. Petition due on April 18.

Initiative 85 and Initiative 86, Consumer choice in energy: Prohibit governments from passing any law or regulation to favor or restrict different energy sources. Petition due on April 18.

Initiative 91, Prohibit trophy hunting: Ban the hunting of mountain lions, bobcats and lynx statewide, making it a Class 1 misdemeanor. Petition due on July 5.

Initiative 108, Valuation for assessments: Decrease the state property tax assessment rate to 5.7 percent for residential property and 24 percent for commercial property. Petition due on July 25.

Initiative 112, Concerning eligibility for parole: 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. Petition due on July 25.

Initiative 116, Consumer choice in energy choice: Require governments to let consumers choose the energy source used in their home or business. Petition due on August 5.

Initiative 138, School choice in K-12 education: Add a child's right to school choice and a parent's right to "direct" their child's education to the state constitution. Petition due on July 25.

Initiative 144, Veterinary telehealth: Allow state-licensed veterinarians to provide animal health care services through audiovisual communication systems. Petition due on August 5. This measure is also awaiting action from the Colorado Supreme Court.

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. Petition due on August 5. This measure is also awaiting action from the Colorado Supreme Court.

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. Petition due on August 5.

Initiative 150, Damages involving catastrophic injury or wrongful death: Remove the limitations on the amount of damages a victim or their family can recover in cases involving catastrophic injury or wrongful death. Petition due on August 5. This measure is also awaiting action from the Colorado Supreme Court.

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. Petition due on August 5.

Initiative 170, Limit on contingency fees: Restrict the contingent fee attorneys charge clients in personal injury or wrongful-death cases to no more than 25 percent of the total amount awarded to the client. Petition due on August 5.

Initiative 171, Disclosure of litigation costs and expenses: Require attorneys to disclose in writing all costs the client will be responsible for ahead of time in personal injury or wrongful-death cases. If the total costs exceed the estimate by more than 10 percent, the client is not liable to pay the excess. Petition due on August 5.

Legislative Measures

The Colorado Legislature is also considering five resolutions that, if passed by lawmakers, will refer constitutional amendments to voters as measures on the November ballot:

Senate Resolution 24-001 would allow the legislature to pass a retrospective law to let victims of child sexual abuse pursue lawsuits for the abuse regardless of when it happened. A Senate committee approved the resolution in February, but it still awaits consideration by the full Senate.

House Resolution 24-1001 would let seniors who qualified for the homestead property tax exemption in 2016 or later but moved claim the exemption for their current residence. The resolution has not yet received its first vote.

House Resolution 24-1004 would prohibit someone appointed to fill a vacancy in the state legislature from running for legislative office in the next term. A House committee approved the resolution on April 15, but it still awaits consideration by the full House.

House Resolution 24-1005 would create a "parents' bill of rights," including the right to direct a child's education, control their mental health care treatment, review materials they access in the classroom and be notified if a child is "experiencing gender incongruence." The resolution has not yet received its first vote.

House Resolution 24-1006 would establish a new formula for calculating annual property tax revenue growth limits. The resolution has not yet received its first vote.

The legislature has until May to take action on the resolutions.
Can you help us continue to share our stories? Since the beginning, Westword has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver — and we'd like to keep it that way. Our members allow us to continue offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food, and culture with no paywalls.