Colorado’s 2016 ballot measures: The always up-to-date guide

Here’s what’s on the ballot and what’s still awaiting approval from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

“I Voted” stickers. (Joe Hall/Flickr)
“I Voted” stickers. (Joe Hall/Flickr)
“I Voted” stickers. (Joe Hall/Flickr)

Here’s what’s on the ballot and what’s still awaiting approval from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

We could see as many as 11 statewide ballot measures this year dealing with everything from slavery to fracking. Two were referred from the legislature, and nine were submitted by groups of citizens circulating petitions. The Secretary of State’s Office has until Sept. 7 to verify that all the measures have at least 98,492 valid signatures.

On the ballot:
  • Amendment 69, often referred to as ColoradoCare. This amendment would create a 10 percent payroll tax, with one third paid by the employee and the rest paid by the employer, to raise $25 billion a year for a single-payer health care system. The main concerns are cost — some analyses predict it won’t raise enough money to pay for itself — and the power this would give the board of trustees that administers the plan.
  • Amendment T bans slavery. The Colorado constitution currently allows involuntary servitude for people convicted of a crime. This amendment would remove that exemption and prohibit all slavery for everyone.
  • Amendment U would give a tax break to people who make money — but not too much money — from leasing government land. Those people have  a “possessory interest” in real property, and this amendment would exempt them from taxes if the interest is less than $6,000. The property tax exemption would go into effect in 2018, and the amount would be adjusted for inflation moving forward.
  • Amendment 70 would raise the minimum wage in Colorado to $12 an hour over a period of four years. Proponents say it’s necessary to help wages keep pace with inflation and will help the economy by give poor people more disposable income. Opponents say it will hurt businesses and could lead to job losses.
  • Amendment 71 would make it harder to amend the Colorado constitution. Backers of “Raise the Bar” think we have too many constitutional amendments on the ballot dealing with too many issues that should be simple statute. If this passes, it would take 55 percent and not a simple majority to approve a constitutional amendment — unless it was a vote to repeal a part of the constitution. Constitutional amendments would also need signatures from at least 2 percent of the registered electors in each state Senate district, more difficult than the current standard, which is 5 percent of the people who voted for the office of Secretary of State in the last election.
  • Amendment 72 would increase the state cigarette tax by $1.75 a pack from the current 84 cents a pack. This amounts to tripling the cigarette tax. It would also impose a 22 percent tax on other tobacco products. The money — up to $315.7 million a year — would go toward smoking prevention and cessation programs and other health care programs.
  • Proposition 106 would make Colorado the sixth state where physicians can prescribe lethal doses of barbiturates to people with a terminal illness.
  • Proposition 107 would create a presidential primary to replace the party-run caucuses and allow unaffiliated voters to vote in that primary.
  • Proposition 108 would allow unaffiliated voters to vote in primary elections while the parties would still control, through caucuses and conventions, the process of selecting candidates for the primary.

These measures did not collect enough “valid” signatures, according to a state review. Unless they win an appeal in court by Sept. 29, they will not be on the ballot.

  • Initiative 75 would allow local governments to restrict and even ban fracking within their jurisdictions. The question of whether local or state government has the ultimate authority to regulate oil and gas extraction has been a highly contested issue in recent years, with the courts siding with the state. This amendment would resolve that dispute in favor of local jurisdictions. Industry groups are strongly opposed, and they’ve raised some $15 million already to fight the measure.
  • Initiative 78 would require that any oil and gas operation be at least 2,500 feet away from an occupied structure. That’s nearly half a mile and would put a lot of land off-limits to fracking. Again, industry groups are strongly opposed.

Updated as of Monday, Aug. 29.

Erica Meltzer

Author: Erica Meltzer

Erica Meltzer covers government and politics. She's worked for newspapers in Colorado, Arizona and Illinois and once won a First Amendment Award by showing up in the wrong place at the wrong time. She served in the Peace Corps in Paraguay and can swear fluently in Guarani. She gets emotional about public libraries. Contact Erica Meltzer at 303-502-2802, or @meltzere.