Northern Colorado voters will be asked to weigh in on county, state and national issues and candidates this fall. Because mail-in ballots will arrive in the middle of October, many voters will have expressed their wishes weeks before election day. The following is an attempt to briefly describe the issues under consideration. Additional information can be found by internet research. The League of Women Voters website is a good place to start.
Larimer County General Election (includes city of Fort Collins and Poudre River Regional Library District issues dealing with so-called de-Brucing issues related to the state of Colorado TABOR Amendment)
Library District Ballot Issue 5F
May Poudre River Public Library District keep all revenues from the 3 mill property tax levied by the voters in 2006 without refunding any amount as a consequence of exceeding the revenue estimates contained in the election notice mailed to voters in 2006, and continue to collect and spend the tax at the approved 3 mill levy authorized in 2006 without increase or decrease.
The Library District offers the following facts:
• The 2016 budget for the Library District is $9.2 million.
• About 95 percent of funding comes from revenue generated through the 3 mill property tax levy collected annually.
• Revenue collected from 2015 property taxes is fully allocated to 2016 library services, programs, staffing, and operations.
• From 2008 through 2015 the Library District received $744,000 in sales tax from the City of Fort Collins as part of its Building on Basics sales tax initiative. That source of revenue expired in 2015 making the Library District more dependent on property taxes than in prior years.
• The Library District is currently debt free.
City of Fort Collins Ballot Issue 2A
May the city keep and spend revenues related to the “Keep Fort Collins Great” Sales and Use Tax City Voters Approved in 2010 and spend revenues in the following ways:
33 percent for street maintenance and repair.
17 percent for other street and transportation needs
17 percent for police services
11 percent for fire protection and other emergency services
11 percent for parks maintenance and recreation services
11 percent for community priorities other than those listed above as determined by city council without refunding any amount for exceeding the revenue estimates in the election notice mailed to voters in 2010.
Larimer County Ballot Resolutions
School Bond and Mill Levy
Voters will be asked to pass a school bond issue (3C in the amount of $375 million) and a mill levy override (3B in the amount of $8 million) for Poudre School District to acquire, construct, improve, equip and furnish district property including new schools, additions to existing schools and improvements to all current schools and four charter schools. $2.6 million derived from the mill levy override will used for operating costs of new buildings, staff, materials, equipment and technology. The mill levy override represents a voter-approved revenue change allowing the district to collect and spend the income without limitation.
Larimer County Scientific and Cultural District
Voters will be asked to agree to a county-wide one-tenth of one percent sales and use tax (estimated increase of $6.6 million in the first year) to establish a Larimer County Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, through 2026.
Voters will be asked to re-establish Larimer County’s authority, restricted by Senate Bill 05-152 in 2005, to give the county the right to provide services such as high-speed internet, telecommunication services and cable television services, directly or indirectly to residents and businesses in the county. Passage will allow for improved services and access.
Behavioral Health Facility
Voters will be asked to agree to a quarter percent county-wide sales tax to fund a behavioral health facility for the county. This represents an estimated $16 million annual increase to construct, improve, maintain and operate a treatment and detox facility for mental health, substance abuse and alcohol abuse and to operate outpatient and support services.
Candidates running for county and district office
District 2: Current Republican Larimer County commissioner Steve Johnson is running for re-election against Democrat Bill Wright.
District 3: Current Republican Larimer County commissioner Tom Donnelly is running for re-election against Democrat Karen Stockley.
Republican district attorney Clifford Riedel is running for re-election unopposed.
Colorado candidates running for national office
U. S. Senate:
Democratic Senator Michael Bennet is running for re-election against Republican Darryl Glenn. Also running are Independent Dan Chapin, write-in Jerry Eller, unaffiliated Paul Noel Fiorino, Unity Party of America candidate Bill Hammons, Green Party candidate Arnold “Arn” Menconi, Libertarian Lily Tang Williams and write-in Don Willoughby.
U.S. House of Representatives:
Democrat Jared Polis is running for re-election against Libertarian Richard Longstreth, Republican Nicholas Morse and write-in Steven S. Todd.
Colorado House District 49
Republican Perry Buck is running for re=election against Democrat Adrian “Buzz” Sweeney.
Issues on the state ballot
It pays to take a close look at the nine ballot measures that will appear on the Colorado ballot in November. In case you’re thinking that your vote may not matter, know that in 1984 Colorado became the first state to ban state funds for abortion. The measure passed by one percentage point. The ballot is long. Checking it out ahead of time will help.
The history of direct legislation by initiative and referendum has been around for more than 100 years in Colorado and has a vigorous and controversial history that continues to this day. It was established by constitutional amendment in a special session of the state legislature in 1910.
In 1912, there were 22 initiatives and six referendums on the ballot. Eight of the initiatives passed giving mine workers and women an eight-hour workday, providing pensions for orphans and widows with children, establishing juvenile courts and granting home rule to Colorado cities and towns.
Over time, Colorado voters have been sympathetic to the needs of the elderly and the ill through various initiatives. In 1970, through the efforts of state senator Dick Lamm, the winter Olympics were kept out of Colorado. He later became governor. Another initiative at this time prohibited underground nuclear explosions without prior approval of the voters.
The Motor Voter initiative increased the number of registered voters in Colorado by 12.4% between 1985 and 1986. A term limits movement in 1990 passed with 71 percent of the vote.
Attempts to limit taxes failed seven times until 1992 when TABOR, the Taxpayers Bill of Rights passed.
The number of initiatives on the ballot averages nine in even numbered election years and overall ranges from one to 14. More than 100 measures have appeared on the ballot since 1996. Since that date, about 40 percent of statewide ballots were approved by the voters. In 1992 there were 10 initiatives on the ballot. In 2014 there were only four. In 2016 nine measures have been certified and will be placed on the ballot. Sis are amendments, three are propositions. Thirty-nine initiatives were filed. Petitioners had to file 98,492 valid signatures. The Colorado General Assembly can place measures on the ballot by a two-thirds vote of each chamber. The historical information above is taken from an article published by the Initiative and Referendum Institute and from Citizen Lawmakers: The Ballot Initiative Revolution by David Schmidt.
You will be asked to weigh in on these proposed amendments and propositions:
Amendment T removes the exception that allows the use of slavery or involuntary servitude as for the conviction of a crime.
Amendment U exempts any individual or business benefitting no more than $6,000 from the use of government land or property from the payment of property tax.
Amendment 69 creates a statewide health care system to be known as ColoradoCare. This amendment to Section 21 of the Colorado constitution proposes to to provide affordable health care to all Colorado residents.
Amendment 70 increases the minimum wage from $8.31 an hour to $9.30 an hour beginning January 2017 and increasing by 90 cents annually until it reaches $12 in January 2020.
Amendment 71 raises requirements for initiated amendments to the Colorado constitution to require signatures of 2 percent of voters before it can be placed on the ballot.
Amendment 72 increases Colorado’s cigarette tax from 84 cents a pack to $2.59 a pack and on other tobacco products from 40 percent to 60 percent of manufacturers’ retail price.
Proposition 106 would make assisted death legal among patients with a terminal illness who receive a prognosis of death within six months.
Proposition 107 would restore presidential primary elections held before the end of March and make them open in Colorado. Unaffiliated voters could affiliate with a party on election day in order to vote in that party’s primary.
Proposition 108 would allow unaffiliated electors to vote in the primary election of a major political party without declaring an affiliation with that party and permit a political party, in some circumstances, to select candidates by committee or convention rather than through a primary election.
Just as significant are the measures that did not make it onto the ballot. They include prohibiting investment of public funds in companies that do business with Iran, an increase in tax for incomes over $405,000, granting local governments authority to regulate oil and gas development within their geographic borders, adding “poker tournament” to a definition of “charitable gaming,” keeping daylight saving time year round, allowing food stores to sell beer and wine and allowing the state to spend revenues beyond current constitutional limitation — and there are more.