2024 Election, Elections, Featured, Sherrie Peif

Numerous citizen-led initiatives working for a spot on Colorado’s November ballot

DENVER — Colorado is one of just 21 states that allow citizens’ ballot initiatives to change state statute or amend the state Constitution, and one of just 14 states allow that allow for direct initiatives, meaning the state’s legislature does not have to confirm the statute.

Nearly every election year there are a handful of measures for voters to decide, while other efforts never make it to the ballot. This year is no exception, with a huge number of initiatives at various stages of the process, including many being challenged to the Colorado Supreme Court.

There are measures to guarantee abortion rights in the state’s Constitution (while another, that did not gather enough signatures would have banned abortion entirely). Other measures would reduce property taxes, change the way candidates get on the ballot, change the number of days in the legislative session, ban the hunting of mountain lions, and change the way law enforcement is funded, among many other things.

An avalanche of initiatives

According to the Secretary of State’s Office, there are 20 ballot measures that are: already on the ballot (2), currently having signatures counted (1), or are approved for signature gathering (17). Additionally, there are another 19 that are tied up in litigation in the Colorado Supreme court, and 35 that are in the process of having the title set.  Another 62 were refused titles, 54 that were withdrawn, and 25 that have expired — 215 total.

Not all the initiatives that made their way in front of the title board are unique. Many are near-mirror images of others with only small differences that sponsors either changed their mind about or will decide in the future which version to circulate after all other requirements for an initiative are met.

That is nearly double over the 2021-2022 election cycle, when there were just 114 and still more than in 2019-2020, when there were 192. The number of citizen-initiated measures is always higher in an even-numbered election year because in odd years, initiatives can only be Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) related.

Perhaps even more interesting is that of all those initiatives there were 116 duplicates in 2019-2020 (or just 76 unique measures) compared to 78 duplicates this year (or 137 unique measures), and a majority of initiatives this year address changes to bills passed by the legislature or remakes of initiatives that were killed by the legislature.

While most of the measures are changes to state statute, which require 124,238 valid signatures from registered voters, there are a handful of constitutional changes, which not only require the same number of signatures, but also requires that at least 2 percent of that number be collected in each of Colorado’s senate districts, and if it makes the ballot, must pass by at least 55 percent of the voters.

Working towards the ballot

One of the two measures that have already made this year’s ballot is a constitutional amendment that would cap an increase in property tax revenue spending to 4 percent without voter approval and the other is a statute that would require an economic impact statement to be placed on all ballot initiatives, outlining any impact the measure would have on such things as employment, local and state revenues, and the state’s GDP.

Another constitutional amendment that would guarantee a woman’s ability to obtain an abortion is currently in the signature verification process.

According to ABC News, Coloradans for Protecting Reproductive Freedom coalition, said its group collected over 225,000 signatures, 100,000 more than needed to make the threshold. Whether the group met the 2 percent requirement from each senate district is unknown.

Others that are preparing to gather signatures or are tied up in court have already created controversy, while already raising hundreds of thousands in donations.

Initiative 91, would bar what the measure refers to as the “trophy hunting” of mountain lions—along with bobcats or lynx–in Colorado but includes language that appears in practice to outright ban hunting of mountain lions entirely in Colorado— despite laws on the books that already tightly regulate and protect the species.

Although the group behind the effort, “Cats Aren’t Trophies” have yet to turn in their petitions and get confirmation from the Secretary of State that the measure will make the ballot, it has already raised more than $500,000, most of which has poured in from out of state (with $233,000 of that coming in the form of non-monetary, consultation donations from Animal Wellness Action and Center for a Human Economy).

A second group opposing the effort has also started raising money in expectation of the measure making the ballot. As of the May 6 reporting period Colorado’s Wildlife Deserve Better had raised nearly $300,000 in cash donations. About two-thirds came from Colorado donors. The group did get a $100,000 out-of-state donation from Missoula, Mt. However, it came from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, an organization formed in 1984 to look after the elk population and “the habitat it needs to thrive” across the entire Rocky Mountain region.

Two other initiatives currently pending before the Colorado Supreme Court take a direct hit at Democrat lawmakers who pushed through a bill that would raise nearly $87 million over two years by adding a $3 “congestion impact fee” on rental vehicles.

One defines the term “fee” as it is used under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and requires voter approval for all new fees, and a second one that would require new fees for use on public transportation be collected only in the areas served by the transit system they benefit.

According to Colorado Public Radio the two constitutional amendments were put forward by the American Car Rental Association.

“We have taken this step simply because the elected officials of Colorado, in the legislature and in the governor’s mansion, simply have ignored what we consider to be the very strong arguments ACRA has put forward against the current rental fee that’s being proposed,” Gregory Scott, spokesperson for the association told CPR.

A spokesman for Gov. Jared Polis told CPR the ballot measures are reckless attempts by out of state special interest organizations, despite the fact Polis himself has accepted millions of dollars in out of state money supporting both his campaigns, including a single donation of $900,000 in 2020 from the Sixteen Thirty fund, a far-left Washington D.C. based non-profit that poured more than $11 million into Colorado ballot issues and candidates in 2018.

Sixteen Thirty also nearly singlehandedly (nearly $3 million) footed the bill in 2020 for the paid family medical leave measure, which Polis openly supported and campaigned for.

Two other measures that would change the way transitioning K-12 students are treated and prohibit boys from participating in girls sports have been granted title and are currently gathering signatures.

Initiative 142 would require educators to notify parents if they become aware that their child plans to transition to a different gender. The measure was challenged in the Colorado Supreme Court, claiming the initiative contained more than one subject. However, the court upheld the decision of the title board.

Initiative 160 would ban minors from participating in any sport for any gender other than that assigned at birth, including public recreation, club and interscholastic. Initiative 160 was also challenged in the Colorado Supreme Court and also upheld.

Complete Colorado will continue to follow all possible and final approved citizen-initiated measures on the 2024 ballot.


Our unofficial motto at Complete Colorado is “Always free, never fake, ” but annoyingly enough, our reporters, columnists and staff all want to be paid in actual US dollars rather than our preferred currency of pats on the back and a muttered kind word. Fact is that there’s an entire staff working every day to bring you the most timely and relevant political news (updated twice daily) from around the state on Complete’s main page aggregator, as well as top-notch original reporting and commentary on Page Two.

CLICK HERE TO LADLE A LITTLE GRAVY ON THE CREW AT COMPLETE COLORADO. You’ll be giving to the Independence Institute, the not-for-profit publisher of Complete Colorado, which makes your donation tax deductible. But rest assured that your giving will go specifically to the Complete Colorado news operation. Thanks for being a Complete Colorado reader, keep coming back.

Comments are closed.