An already crowded slate of measures will appear on this fall’s ballot, but it is about to get even more busy.
Two additional proposed initiatives for this fall’s ballot have or soon will turn in hundreds of thousands of signatures, but more are expected by the end of the day on Monday, when the deadline to turn in petitions hits.
The first measure, called Vote on Fees, would add to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights a provision to require that voters must approve fee increases for government-run enterprises proposed by the Colorado Legislature. The second would require all employers to provide paid family and medical leave to their workers.
Backers of the first proposal, the right-leaning group Colorado Rising Action, say state lawmakers have skirted TABOR by enacting fee increases on various things, getting around that constitutional amendment that requires that only voters can approve tax hikes.
While the group, which says its main focus is to hold liberal groups accountable, doesn’t single out Democrats for just doing that. Republicans also did so when they were in charge of the Legislature, such as licenses for hunting and fishing.
“Coloradans are sick of the Legislature using massive fees to get around a vote of the people, and the excitement around the Vote on Fees initiative is proof of that,” said Michael Fields executive director of the group.
On Wednesday, that group turned in petitions with more than 196,000 signatures to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office in hopes of getting that measure onto the fall ballot. Such initiatives need at least 124,632 signatures of registered voters to qualify.
The second measure, pushed by left-leaning supporters, would create a $1.3 billion state-run Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program. Like a similar, but failed program proposed in the Legislature, it would call on all employers and their workers to pay into a special fund, which employers could later apply to get paid for having to take time off for medical reasons for themselves or family members.
That effort is to submit more than 205,000 signatures to the Secretary of State sometime today.
Under the program, which is to be operated by the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, employees could qualify for up to 90% of their weekly pay, but no more than $1,100. Those employees could get up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
Under current federal law, employees are already entitled to up to 12 weeks of medical leave, but employers are not required to pay them for that time off.
During this year’s legislative session, lawmakers approved a new law that requires all employers to provide at least six days of paid sick leave, and an additional 10 days during a declared public health emergency, such as the current coronavirus pandemic.
Other proposed ballot measures that could turn in signatures by Monday’s deadline include a proposal to permanently lower the state’s sales tax rate to 4.55% from the current 4.63%, and a ban on any prohibition on the use of natural gas in new construction.
Already on the ballot are measures to require voters to be citizens (state law already requires this), reintroducing gray wolves to Colorado, prohibiting late-term abortions, opting Colorado out of the National Popular Vote Compact, increasing cigarette taxes and adding a new tax on vaping products that have nicotine, repealing the Gallagher Amendment and allowing bingo raffles to hire paid help.