Elections, Sherrie Peif, TABOR, Taxes

Possible repeal of Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights to get rehearing

DENVER — Two Denver residents behind a proposed ballot initiative to repeal the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) have filed for a rehearing after the Colorado Title Board initially rejected their proposal.

On Jan. 16, the Title Board denied setting a title on an initiative that would ask voters to repeal the 26-year-old constitutional amendment that requires voter approval to increase taxes or take on new debt.  TABOR also limits the growth of a portion of the state budget to a formula of population growth plus inflation. The board said the initiative violated Colorado’s single subject rule.

Board member LeeAnn Morrill, who represented the Attorney General’s office, cited a Supreme Court decision over a 2002 proposed initiative that included a provision preventing the complete repeal of TABOR. She pointed out that the court stated in its decision:

“Moreover, an amendment to the Colorado Constitution which prevents the repeal of TABOR, itself, constitutes multiple subjects … TABOR contains multiple subjects … If a constitutional provision contains multiple subjects, and an initiative proposes to repeal the entire underlying provision, then the initiative contains multiple subjects.”

Denver-based attorney Edward T. Ramey, who is representing the proponents of the issue, disagrees. His filing for a rehearing said in part:

“The Ballot Title Setting Board denied the setting of a title for Proposed Initiative 20 19-2020 #3 on the grounds that it does not constitute a single subject. Proponents request a rehearing on the issue of whether a straight repeal — as distinct from adoption, amendment, or preventing a repeal — constitutes a single subject in this context.”

Ramey filed the request for rehearing on Jan. 22 on behalf of Carol Hedges and Steve Briggs. Hedges is the Executive Director of the Colorado Fiscal Institute. She has been a TABOR opponent for many years.

Hedges has previously attempted changes to TABOR, but this is her first attempt at a full repeal.

The request also stated Hedges and Briggs were not satisfied with an abstract prepared by the Director of Research of the Legislative Council of the General Assembly that outlined the expected economic impact.

“… shifting a portion of the state’s economy from the private sector to the public sector, as well as a corresponding reduction in household and business spending or saving, is wholly speculative regarding unknowable legislative responses to the restoration of its core constitutional responsibilities, incorrect, misleading, and prejudicial,” the filing said.

Hedges has said in the past that TABOR severely limits Colorado’s ability to invest in itself or benefit from economic growth.

Boulder-based attorney Shayne Madsen filed an objection to the rehearing on behalf of the Independence Institute* and Boulder resident and registered elector, Jon Caldara. Caldara is the President of the Independence Institute.

Madsen said Caldara and the Independence Institute objected to a rehearing for two reasons.

“The Ballot Title Setting Board properly denied the setting of a title for Proposed Initiative 2019-2020 #3 because the proposal does not constitute a single subject, and the conclusion of the Ballot Title Setting Board is consistent with Colorado decision, statutory and constitutional standards,” the objection read.

The rehearing is scheduled for Feb. 6th.

*Complete Colorado is a project of the Independence Institute.

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