DENVER — New Secretary of State Jena Griswold should have plenty of things to keep her busy as she heads into her first full election in November.
On Friday, her office approved another referendum petition in response to legislation passed in the Colorado General Assembly.
Karl Honegger and Marty Neilson, both associated with the Colorado Union of Taxpayers, filed the necessary paperwork to repeal House Bill 19-1052 — “Early Childhood Development Special District.” They now have until 3 p.m. on Aug. 1 to collect more than 124,000 signatures to get a repeal of the bill on the ballot.
The number of signatures required represents 5 percent of the total ballots cast in the most recent election for Secretary of State.
It’s the second citizen-led referendum approved in the past month that hopes to undo legislation passed by the Democrat-controlled state legislature. Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese and Monument Mayor Don Wilson are currently leading the effort to repeal the National Popular Vote legislation.
In addition, Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer and former Arapahoe County Commissioner John Brackney are leading a citizen’s initiative effort to repeal Senate Bill 181, which created sweeping changes to how oil and gas production in the state is handled, as well as create a new oil and gas permitting agency to replace the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Committee.
Additionally, there are three committees registered to recall state legislators, Rep. Rochelle Galindo, D-Greeley; Rep. Bri Buentello, D-Pueblo and Senator Leroy Garcia, D-Pueblo. Another committee, the Official Recall Colorado Governor Jared Polis committee is gearing up file for a petition when he becomes eligible for recall on July 8, and another committee in Douglas County seeks to fire Sheriff Tony Spurlock for his role in the Red Flag gun legislation.
“This is a huge deal,” Honegger said about the special district bill. “That large of a part of our economy being provided by the government. Businesses are going to have cut to the bottom line, and it directly will effect the cost of housing.”
The bill made it from its first committee hearing to the governor’s pen in six weeks, with little to no fanfare, and with bi-partisan support.
Honegger said there is no bill like HB 1052 in the country, in reference to it extending to 8 year olds.
“These special districts can both levy property taxes and sales taxes,” Honegger said. “And that their mission is extended from birth to 8 years old, providing early childhood development — whether that’s daycare or preschool — and having people taxed to provide that.”
The bill would extend the current definitions of special taxing districts from things such as fire, library, water and community colleges to include early child education.
One of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. Julie McCluskie, D-Summit County, said in committee that every time $1 is spend on early childhood, it pays back large dividends in health and learning. She called the bill needed to provide access to children who are left behind.
“There are challenges to providing daycare and health care for working families,” she said in the House Committee hearing. “Access to day care is daunting. Three-in-five families work outside the home. Demand exceeds capacity.”
“Special Districts help us tackle our local challenges,” she said.
Rep. Kimmi Lewis, R-Bent County, who voted against the measure, said it’s doesn’t create a new tax base yet, but it’s one step closer.
Honegger said they have not opened an issue committee or started collecting signatures, yet, but they are planning to begin fundraising efforts soon. Anyone interested in donating or helping in the meantime, can contact the group at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Complete Colorado will update this story as more information becomes available.