Gallagher, National Popular Vote ballot measures explored in Thursday Pilot & Today election forum
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Thursday evening’s virtual live election forum hosted by the Steamboat Pilot & Today gave a closer look into two upcoming ballot measures.
The forum included views on Proposition 113 and Amendment B, which all eligible and registered Colorado voters will vote on this year. The forum schedule also included a discussion on Proposition 114, the Gray Wolf Reintroduction Initiative, which would reintroduce gray wolves on public lands in Colorado. Terry Fankhauser, executive vice president of Colorado Cattlemen’s Association, argued against the proposition.
However despite multiple invitations, the proponent did not respond, and thus both sides of the issue cannot be fairly represented in coverage of the forum.
First, Colorado Sen. Mike Foote, D-Boulder, argued in favor of Proposition 113, saying it is the best way to ensure every vote is counted during a presidential election.
Proposition 113 is called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact Referendum. If passed, it would join Colorado into the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, awarding Colorado’s electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote.
“The current system doesn’t work,” Foote said. “If you are part of the minority vote in your state — your vote doesn’t count.”
Instead of presidential candidates only focusing on a handful of swing states, Foote said, the change would make sure the candidate with the most votes wins the election.
“(That is) how we elect every single other official in the country,” he said, “(and) it should be good enough for the most powerful elected official as well.”
Steve Hofman, a Steamboat Springs-based political consultant, argued against Proposition 113.
He said the measure would actually give more power to the office of the president, and that presidential candidates will only go to the places in the country with the most number of votes.
States like Colorado, Hofman said, would get less attention both in the electoral process and how the president governs.
Hofman cited the delicate balance between state and federal power as intended by the founders, and warned against disruption and not keeping a longer-term outlook.
Change is needed, Foote argued.
“Whether or not your vote counts or whether or not presidential candidates care about what you think should not depend on whether or not you live in a swing state,” Foote said.
The ideal would be for the entire country to become a battleground, he said, where the president has to seek all votes.
Hofman views the effort as another step to “nationalize politics and take things away from communities and states and send to Washington (D.C.) to make the decision there.”
Not all states have adopted or plan to adopt a measure to join the National Popular Vote and it would not be considered the law of the land until states totaling 270 votes adopt the compact. Foote said lawmakers across the country are about two-thirds of the way there, and it could happen by the 2024 election.
Hofman noted the issue could end up being litigated in the Supreme Court.
Visit SteamboatPilot.com/election for the latest news and information on the 2020 Election including voting results, candidate profiles, polling locations and more.
Rep. Dylan Roberts of Colorado’s 26th District, which includes Eagle and Routt counties, argued for the passage of Amendment B as Clay Vigoda, leader of Protect Our Homes Colorado, offered his view of opposition.
Amendment B is called the Gallagher Amendment Repeal and Property Tax Assessment Rates Measure. It repeals the Gallagher Amendment of 1982, which limited the residential and non-residential property tax assessment rates so that residential property taxes amounted to 45% of the total share of state property taxes and non-residential property taxes amounted to 55% of the total share of state property taxes.
Roberts said the law may have worked in 1982, but doesn’t anymore, and especially hurts rural communities, their small businesses and fire, library and school districts.
With smaller tax bases, those special districts have to return to voters for more money, Roberts said. Especially given the ongoing wildfires, Roberts said many small fire districts are desperate for more funding and have been hurt by the Gallagher Amendment.
Vigoda warned against a massive increase for homeowners, to the tune of more than $450 million each year, he said.
Roberts said repealing the amendment wouldn’t increase taxes — that can only happen by a vote as per TABOR, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.
In 40 years, Vigoda said Gallagher saved homeowners approximately $35 billion.
In answering a question as how to concisely explain the very complicated law, Roberts said, “The fact that it is so complicated is reason for why it shouldn’t be in the constitution. It’s become unworkable.”
Both agreed the tax system needs reform across the board, and Roberts argued the best way to start was to repeal Gallagher.
Repealing Gallagher and putting the “burden directly on the homeowners is unconscionable,” Vigoda said.
To reach Kari Dequine Harden, call 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.
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