Denver — A ballot initiative effort that seeks to repeal Senate Bill 181 and put in place a new Colorado Oil and Gas regulatory board lost its first round in front of the Colorado Title Board on Wednesday.
However, proponents will file for a rehearing, said Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer, one of the two proponents of the initiative.
Kirkmeyer, along with former Arapahoe County Commissioner John Brackney, filed to take a repeal of SB 181 to voters in 2019 after they say state legislators left local governments and the industry itself out of negotiations for the bill that will make sweeping changes to oil and gas production in the state.
The results of those changes are likely to send the state into recession, the pair say.
Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill into law earlier this week.
All four versions of the initiative were denied based on the idea it contained a second subject dealing with certain aspects of revenue being exempted from spending limitations under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).
However, Kirkmeyer confirmed Wednesday afternoon they would be filing for a rehearing, saying they have a good argument against the idea the revenue clause triggers a second subject.
Colorado’s single-subject laws are designed to prevent confusion among the voters.
Opponents argued against several aspects of the proposal they said caused additional subjects, but Title Board members rejected all other arguments, saying the proposal was being written to repeal a “moving target,” while SB 181 was still making its way through the General Assembly.
Board members added the premise of the initiative is an oil and gas regulatory rewrite, and they are confident voters understand that, even taking their decision on the TABOR aspect down to the wire, not sure which direction to vote.
The Title Board is a legal authority under the Secretary of State’s office that is charged with making sure citizen-led ballot proposals meet state constitutional guidelines. They also set the final language for the ballot.
If successful at rehearing, one version of the “Oil and Gas Independent Regulation Act,” will make its way to the signature gathering phase, and will need just under 125,000 signatures from registered Colorado voters to make it onto the ballot. The number of signatures needed is equal to 5 percent of the total number of votes cast in the last election for Secretary of State.
The final text of the initiatives can be found here:
Kirkmeyer and Brackney have said that Colorado voters are tired of political wars over oil and gas. They want an independent commission with checks and balances.
Proponents have until April 24th to file for the rehearing, which would then be set for either April 25th or 26th. After a rehearing, either side could then appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court, which could either uphold the Title Board’s final decision or remand it back.
Kirkmeyer said, they are pursuing all options, which includes putting it on the 2020 ballot, if all other remedies for 2019 fail, she said.