by Lisa Cyriacks

Saguache County Commissioners approved two ballot questions for raising taxes. The first is based on a proposal submitted by a bi-partisan committee of citizens to raise sales taxes by one percent (1%) in support of Saguache County law enforcement and provide matching funds toward a new justice center to be located in Saguache County. The second measure approved by the Commissioners is to impose a five percent (5%) excise tax on the on the first sale or transfer of unprocessed marijuana by a retail marijuana cultivation facility located with Saguache County. (See article on page 7 for more information.)

Two statewide ballot measures have already been certified for the 2016 ballot as of July 18, 2016.

Amendment 69 or the Colorado Health Care System Initiative is a citizen-sponsored initiative that proposes the creation of a single-payer health care system funded through a payroll tax. (See article on page 28 for more information.)

The second is the Colorado No Exception to Involuntary Servitude Prohibition Amendment, a legislatively referred amendment addressing civil rights. This amendment could potentially remove the part of the Colorado constitution that allows forced, unpaid labor by convicted criminals.

Other initiatives are still in the process of gathering signatures. Petitioners must file the required number of valid signatures (98,492) by August 8, 2016, before certification by the Secretary of State to the November ballot. Below are a couple of examples of what to expect on the November ballot.

Primary elections and how candidates are selected for representing major political parties on a general election ballot is a major concern. Potentially there could be an initiative that would restore presidential primaries in Colorado and would allow unaffiliated electors to vote in the primary election without declaring an affiliation with that political party.

Another controversial ballot initiative, Raise the Bar, Protect Our Constitution is designed to make the Colorado constitution more difficult to amend by citizen initiatives. The ballot measure would raise the threshold for voter approval of a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment from the current 50% plus one vote to 55% with at least two percent of the signatures from residents in every one of Colorado’s 35 Senate districts. Saguache County Commissioners recently endorsed the ballot measure—the sole ballot initiative they agreed to weigh in on. Raise the Bar would only impact citizens’ ability to amend the Constitution, not legislator’s.

Citizens of Colorado may initiate legislation as either a state statute or a constitutional amendment. In Colorado, citizens also have the power to repeal legislation via veto referendum. The Colorado General Assembly may also place measures on the ballot as legislatively referred constitutional amendments or legislatively referred state statutes. Referred amendments require a 2/3 vote of each chamber.

The Colorado Secretary of State provides a list of potential 2016 measures, which can be found here: www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/Initiatives/titleBoard/