What are the 11 statewide ballot measures voters will consider next month?

Here is a rundown of the 11 ballot issues appearing on the 2022 ballot across Colorado this cycle. Three are constitutional amendments, requiring 55% of the vote to pass. The propositions, two brought by the state legislature and six brought by citizens, require a simple majority to pass.

Constitutional Amendment D: 23rd Judicial District Judges

Proposed State Constitutional Amendment D will mainly have impact on the Front Range, where the 18th Judicial District was divided in two. The measure would direct the governor to reassign judges from the 18th district to serve in the newly created 23rd district.

Typically, judges go before a nominating commission before being appointed by the governor. After being appointed, judges participate in retention elections, where voters simply decide whether they should keep their job on the bench.

There hasn’t been a new judicial district in Colorado since 1964, and there is some uncertainty regarding how to fill the judgeships if the measure were to fail, according to the 2022 State Ballot Information Booklet.

Supporters of the amendment say it will ensure a smooth process and remove the prospects of legal challenges. Opponents say there are other ways to appoint judges, such as the existing vacancy process.

Amendment E: Homestead exemption for Gold Star spouses

Colorado’s current homestead exemption reduces the taxable value of a home by 50% for the first $200,000 in value. For example, a home valued at $500,000 with the homestead exemption would have a taxable value of $400,000.

Those eligible include Coloradans 65 and older who have lived in their home for 10 years and veterans with a permanent service connected disability.

Amendment E would extend eligibility for the exemption to about 500 spouses of veterans who have died in the line of duty, — known as Gold Star spouses — or who died due to injury or disease connected to their service. If passed, the measure would likely increase state spending by $288,000 in the upcoming budget year, according to the ballot booklet.

Supporters say it fixes an inconsistency in the current exemption allowing a disabled veteran’s spouse to continue to receive the benefit after they die. Opponents say Gold Star spouses often don’t have the same employment and income barriers that disabled veterans do.

Amendment F: Charitable Gaming

Currently, a nonprofit organization needs to be in operation for five years before it could apply for a bingo-raffle license. Amendment F would reduce that to three years, and then allow the state legislature to establish a different requirement in 2025.

The amendment would also allow those working to conduct bingo-raffle’s to be compensated — up to minimum wage until June 30, 2024, and with no restrictions after that. Bingo workers currently can’t be paid.

Supporters say the measure will allow more nonprofits to access another funding stream. Opponents say paying bingo workers detracts from the nonprofit’s mission.

Proposition FF: Healthy School Meals for all

During the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the federal government started to cover the cost of offering meals at school for all students. That funding recently stopped flowing meaning about 60% of Colorado students are no longer eligible for free breakfast and lunch at school.

Proposition FF, which was referred to the ballot by the legislature, would maintain free meals for all students. The proposition would fund it by raising taxes on households who have more than $300,000 in taxable income and requiring schools to participate in federal programs to get more funding.

Before COVID, the federal government paid for 100% of meals for families of four making less than $36,075 a year, and most of the cost for those making up to $51,338 a year with the rest covered by the state. Meals for the rest of students receive limited federal funding, but are mostly paid by students and their families.

The increase would add $813 in taxes for people making $300,000 to $499,999; $923 for people making $500,000 to $999,999 and $1,166 for people making more than $1 million, according to the ballot book. In the first full year of the increase it would collect just over $100 million, revenues that would not be subject to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

Supporters of the measure point to studies that show student’s who experience hunger have lower grades and are more likely to experience emotional, mental and physical health issues. They also say providing meals to all students helps parents facing higher costs due to inflation.

Opponents say raising taxes isn’t appropriate when families are dealing with inflation and the students the measure gives free meals to can already afford to purchase a school meal or bring one from home. They also argue schools are already underfunded, and this money would be better utilized for other school expenses.

Proposition GG: Tax information table

Proposition GG would require any citizen-initiated ballot measure that changes state income tax rates to display an information table explaining the implications of the changes for eight different income brackets on petitions and ballots.

These tables already appear in the ballot information booklet sent to voters each year, but are not displayed on petitions used to get questions onto the ballot and the ballot voters cast in November.

The measure could add to the cost to print ballots in local county clerk’s offices, as well as increasing information technology expenses for the Secretary of State’s Office.

Supporters of the proposition say it will increase voter’s understanding of the implications of tax measures before they sign a petition or vote, while opponents say it adds unneeded complications and expense to the process.

Proposition 121: State income tax reduction

The state income tax rate for everyone in Colorado is currently 4.55% for both individual and corporate taxes. Proposition 121 would decrease that to 4.40%, leading to a decrease collections by about $382 million in the 2023-2024 budget year.

The rate would lower regardless of income, meaning high earners stand the most to gain from the measure passing. While an individual making less than $100,000 a year stands to save at most $89 in a year, someone who makes more than $1 million in a year would save more than $6,600 in a year.

The measure would also reduce TABOR refunds, which are returned to residents when the state collects more taxes than allowed. The ballot book notes those who see the most benefit from the measure are not necessarily the same people who will see the reduction in TABOR refunds.

Supporters of the measure say the state is already collecting more money than it can spend under TABOR and collecting and refunding the money to taxpayers is an inefficient system. They also say now is an appropriate time to cut taxes and the measure wouldn’t impact state spending for three years.

Opponents say that 75% of taxpayers will see savings less than $63 a year, and the meaningful benefits would only be felt by the wealthy and corporations. Less than 1% of taxpayers would feel more than half of the savings from the measure, and out-of-state corporations will keep more money, which could be invested beyond Colorado.

Proposition 122: Access to natural psychedelic substances

If passed, Proposition 122 would decriminalize psychedelic mushrooms and other plant based psychedelic substances, allowing those over 21 to grow, possess, share and use them.  It would also establish a regulatory system to offer supervised use of these substances starting in 2024, with the ability to expand what psychedelic substances could be used in 2026.

These substances are currently considered Schedule I controlled substances and are illegal under both state and federal law. If the measure passed, these substances would still be illegal under federal law, but the state wouldn’t treat them as illegal.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has designated psychedelic mushrooms as a “Breakthrough Therapy” for treating depression, which fast tracks research, development and review of a drug when it could offer substantial improvements over current treatments.

Research is being done to assess benefits these psychedelics may have on treating depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders and other medical conditions, according to the ballot book.

The measure would also create penalties for those under 21 possessing psychedelics and those over 21 who provide access to them to underage people. The penalties range from mandatory drug counseling to a $250 fine.

Supporters say the measure offers a potentially valuable tool to help Coloradans experiencing mental illness and eliminate harsh penalties for nonviolent offenses like possession of psychedelics.

Opponents point to a lack of approved therapies using psychedelics, saying creating a regulatory framework around them would legitimize these treatments before adequate research is completed. They also argue decriminalization would expand the black market for these substances.

Proposition 123: Revenue for affordable housing programs

Proposition 123 would set aside up to 0.1% of annual state income tax revenue for affordable housing projects administered by two state agencies. In the first year the measure would raise about $145 million, after that earning $290 million a year.

The money could be used by local governments to purchase land for future housing projects, to invest in or finance low- and middle-income housing, offer down-payment assistance for first-time homebuyers, help those experiencing homelessness and bolster local planning departments.

The money set aside for housing would not be subject to TABOR restrictions. In years where the state collects above the TABOR limit, the measure would reduce the refunds Coloradans receive. When collections are below the TABOR limit, the measure wouldn’t impact refunds, but would reduce the amount of money available to the state.

Supporters say the measure will provide dedicated funding to address Colorado’s housing shortage and make the state more affordable to live in. Opponents point to more than a $1 billion the state has already put toward housing in recent years and the measure could limit the state budget in the future.

Proposition 124: Liquor store locations

Currently, liquor stores are limited to three locations and will be allowed four locations in 2027. Proposition 124 would change that limitation to what is allowed for liquor-licensed drugstores, which are generally grocery stores with a pharmacy that sell beer, wine and spirits. There would be no limit on locations after 2037.

Supporters say the measure will even the playing field between retail liquor stores and grocery stores, putting the same limits on each. Opponents say the measure disadvantages small liquor stores that are uninterested or unable to expand to more locations, and benefits larger corporations that have the resources to open more locations.

Proposition 125: Wine sales in grocery and convenience stores

If passed, Proposition 125 would automatically convert retail beer licenses to beer and wine licenses, offering grocery and convenience stores who currently sell beer to add wine to their shelves.

Supporters say the measure will make it more convenient to purchase wine at more locations while opponents say it will hurt locally owned liquor stores that currently sell wine and benefit large grocery store chains by doubling the number of locations where wine can be sold.

Proposition 126: Third-party delivery of alcohol

Currently, establishments that sell alcohol are allowed to deliver it, but employees of that establishment who are 21 and older must deliver it. The measure would allow these locations to contract with third-party sellers to handle deliveries.

It would also continue to allow takeout alcohol at bars and restaurants beyond July of 2025 when that pandemic-era measure is set to expire.

Supporters of Proposition 126 say the ability to get alcohol delivered has become the expectation in Colorado and this measure will provide more options. Opponents say the measure expands access to alcohol beyond stores where there are better protections to ensure it is not sold to minors, and will make enforcement of alcohol delivery laws more difficult.

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