DENVER — A ballot initiative effort that seeks to repeal Senate Bill 181 and put in place a new Colorado Oil and Gas regulatory board has been withdrawn, at least for now, by its authors.
However, it will be back before the Title Board next year to go before the voters in the 2020 election, 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.
The initiative was initially denied by the Colorado Title Board 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).
Colorado’s single-subject laws are designed to prevent confusion among the voters.
Proponents were set to have a rehearing today, but pulled it Thursday, saying it was sidelined because of technicality and behind the scene maneuvering.
“While we still disagree with the Title Board’s decision we were even more skeptical of the ability to get to a clean title that represented the spirit of our ballot initiative,” Kirkmeyer said in a statement. “Understanding both the executive and legislative branches are controlled by extreme liberal Democrat politicians we knew the deck was stacked against us going into this.”
Kirkmeyer said they were overwhelmed by the number of supporters who were committed to helping with funding and resources and are willing to stand with them for 2020.
“We plan to come back stronger, defend our state, our families and re-file a refined ballot initiative for 2020,” Kirkmeyer said. “… Men and women who truly care about our state, rejected oil and gas extremism in 2018. If it comes to it, we know they’ll do it again in 2020.”
At the initial hearing, 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.
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.
Kirkmeyer added that they will watch the implementation of SB-181 and other laws impacting the energy industry closely.
“From the day SB-181 was introduced, we have been worried about politics taking over the regulatory process in Colorado,” she said. “Our state became a leader in both energy production and environmental protection by following the facts, adhering to science and letting impartial experts do their jobs. SB-181 threatens this proud tradition by giving political operatives too much power.
“In the coming months, we will be watching Jared Polis, with his California style agenda, and his political appointees. If Polis and company use the 181 rulemaking as a hammer to kill Colorado jobs and hurt Colorado families or if extremists hijack 181 and push local bans and moratoriums across the political landscape, we will eagerly make the 2020 election a referendum on his extreme and out of touch energy policy.”