VOTE 2020: Aurora, state voters decide bevy of ballot questions

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VOTE 2020 - Statewide ballot questions

Statewide Ballot Question Arapahoe CountyDouglas CountyAdams CountyStatewide
AMENDMENT B
Repeal Gallagher
Yes173,427104,573116,3681,587,197
AMENDMENT B
Repeal Gallagher
No130,675105,06190,5101,177,196
AMENDMENT C
Charitable Gaming
Yes158,645105,729107,0051,428,737
AMENDMENT C
Charitable Gaming
No143,107102,36897,7041,333,615
AMENDMENT 76
Citizenship of Voters
Yes187,565153,596137,8121,801,283
AMENDMENT 76
Citizenship of Voters
No124,77763,87374,0751,068,371
AMENDMENT 77
Casino Bet Limits
Yes184,845129,502131,5751,668,347
AMENDMENT 77
Casino Bet Limits
No120,25381,23375,5201,121,541
PROP EE
Tax on Nicotine Products
Yes220,530154,412139,0771,954,049
PROP EE
Tax on Nicotine Products
No93,24662,22673,173920,066
PROP 113
National Popular Vote
Yes177,78691,363117,0561,495,741
PROP 113
National Popular Vote
No135,318124,11594,8181,366,217
PROP 114
Bring back Wolves
Yes163,94695.917108,2731,425,944
PROP 114
Bring back Wolves
No144,798117,579101,6351,415,796
PROP 115
Abortion restrictions
Yes118,020105,80386,2521,175,643
PROP 115
Abortion restrictions
No194,684110,219125,1311,689,044
PROP 116
Reduce state taxes
Yes176,149134,203132,0251,635,339
PROP 116
Reduce state taxes
No136,74382,30679,2591,228,079
PROP 117
State enterprises
Yes153,410121,306108,4391,430,294
PROP 117
State enterprises
No144,55184,26991,9661,301,403
PROP 118
Paid family leave
Yes189,68999,903128,2311,621,073
PROP 118
Paid family leave
No121,693114,02482,2701,222,798

AURORA | Voters in Aurora and across the state faced a crowded ballot chock full of questions seeking profound changes to the state. Among them, banning abortion, re-introducing wolves to the state and where Colorado should stand on the National Popular Vote proposal.

Colorado was the first state to decriminalize abortion, in 1967 — six years before Roe v. Wade. Several initiatives to ban or limit abortion have failed; voters on Tuesday will decide whether to ban abortion during the third trimester of pregnancy.

Voters also will decide whether the state should reintroduce gray wolves on the Western Slope after their successful reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park 25 years ago. Supporters say it’s the first time that voters, rather than government scientists, will choose whether to reintroduce the wolf, which once ranged across most of the U.S.

Colorado voters have a chance to repeal a law that would commit the state’s presidential electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote. Proposition 113 marks the first time that a state that has joined the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact will have the move challenged at the ballot box. Gov. Jared Polis signed the Democrat-sponsored legislation into law in March 2019. Republicans quickly got the repeal initiative on the ballot. The compact would take effect if states with a collective 270 electoral votes — the number needed to win the presidency — agree to join.

Also on the ballot: Colorado voters will decide whether to create a state program mandating paid family and medical leave for workers across all industries and income levels. Supporters say the coronavirus pandemic requires such a program; opponents say the coronavirus pandemic makes it unaffordable.

AMENDMENT B

Early election results suggest that a longtime formula intended to keep residential tax rates in the state low is going the way of the dodo. 

Nearly 58% of Colorado voters signalled support for Amendment B, according to Colorado Secretary of State numbers, which will repeal the state’s frequently debated Gallagher Amendment. 

The decades-old stipulation requires that the majority of the state’s property tax revenue come from commercial entities — not homes. The passage of the new amendment Tuesday night means the state will no longer have to maintain that ratio, and state lawmakers will no longer have to periodically change the residential rates. 

The current residential property rate of 7.15% and commercial rate of 29% will now remain flat and can only be increased if a majority of voters opt to do so in a future election.

Several old guard Democratic lawmakers have defended the nearly 40-year-old amendment, saying it balances the scales and provides favorable tax rates to homeowners. Opponents to Gallagher have said that it hamstrings business and cinches the purse strings for counties, school districts and special districts that rely on property tax revenues to pay for services. 

Proponents of the measure lauded the measure’s passage Tuesday. 

“When we launched this adventure our opponents were dismissive, saying there is no way; the Gallagher Amendment is too complex and that we would get killed at the ballot box. They were wrong and they underestimated Coloradans,” Kent Thiry, former CEO of Davita and co-chair of the campaign to pass the amendment, said in a statement. “Coloradans care about fairness, they care about firefighters and small business, they care about each other and their state.”

The issue has produced a unique smattering of bipartisan bedfellows in recent months. Republican Aurora City Councilman Curtis Gardner and Democratic state Sen. Rhonda Fields co-wrote a column voicing their support for the measure, and longtime Democratic state politicos aligned with the traditionally conservative social welfare group Colorado State Rising Action.

In 2003, voters roundly rejected a similar proposal. 

PROP. 113

With the final votes yet to be tallied, Colorado voters signaled support to add the state’s nine electoral college votes to the interstate national popular vote compact, although the race remained somewhat close.

As of 9:25 p.m., almost 53% of voters supported joining the popular vote plan, compared to 47% of voters opposed. 

If the plan passes, Colorado voters will join states large and small from Hawaii to Vermont and Washington, D.C. that have opted to establish a popular vote system for Presidential General Elections. The reform would become the law of the land if voters in states totaling 270 electoral college votes all agree.

With Colorado’s vote, the compact has won 196 electoral college votes, leaving 74 to remain.

If the plan reaches the 270-vote finish line, those states would award all of their electoral college votes to the candidate that wins the national popular vote — guaranteeing their election. However, it’s possible that Colorado voters would opt for a candidate that loses the national popular vote. In that case, Colorado’s nine electoral college votes would go to the candidate that lost the state.

With the move, proponents aim to make the race for President more Democratic. 

Former state Senator Mike Foote, a Democrat, told the Sentinel last month that candidates chasing the popular vote would campaign throughout the country, not just a handful of battleground states such as Michigan, Florida and North Carolina whose electoral college votes are crucial to a winning bid. 

Proponents would also have a 2016-esque scenario — in which one candidate wins the popular vote but loses the election — relegated to history. 

That situation also rocked the country in 2000 during a razor-thin race between George W. Bush and Al Gore. 

PROP. 114

And then the people said: Let there be wolves. 

Maybe.

Coloradans across the state have signalled support for proposition 114, according to early election results, though the margins remain thin. 

Of the some 2.7 million ballots counted as of about 9:15 p.m. on election night, 50.3% of residents voted in favor of the measure that seeks to re-introduce gray wolves to the western portion of the state. The two camps in favor and opposed to the proposal are currently separated by about 18,000 votes.

If the current lead holds, the state Parks and Wildlife Commission will have to craft a plan to bring wolves back to the western half of the state by the end of 2023.

Last week, federal officials axed endangered species protection for wolves in the U.S., riling many of the same conservationists who have supported the measure with significant financial resources in recent months. 

The committee formed in support of the measure raised more than $2.1 million as of Monday, according to campaign finance records. Opponents raised some $172,000, but spent less than a third of that total. 

There are an estimated 2,000 wolves in the northern Rocky Mountains, with additional pockets in Washington, Oregon and California. The country’s largest wolf population totals about 4,000 outside of Wisconsin and Minnesota. 

The state is now expected to pay about $800,000 per year by 2024 to bring wolves back to the state. The monies will primarily come from hunting and fishing license fees, according to legislative analysts. 

PROP. 115

A would-be measure to ban abortions after 22 weeks faced a stiff buttal from Colorado voters as of 9:20 p.m.

The measure would make abortions illegal during the third trimester of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape, incest or a fatal diagnosis in which the fetus can’t survive outside the womb. It would allow abortions after that time only if a woman’s life was endangered. Doctors violating the rule would also face fines and prison time. 

Early on Tuesday night, “No” voters rejected the measure with by about 20 percentage points.

A coalition of opponents including Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union celebrated the early results. 

“The voters of Colorado have spoken loudly and clearly — abortion bans have no place in our state,” said Lucy Olena, campaign manager for the No on 115 campaign, in a statement. “For the fourth time in 12 years, Coloradans have rejected attempts to ban abortion at the ballot, trusting patients and families to make the personal medical decisions that are right for them, without interference from politicians.

As of September, 43 out of the 50 U.S. states banned abortion at some point in a pregnancy. Other states without statutory limits are Alaska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Vermont.

-The Associated Press contributed to this story 

PROP. 118 

A ballot measure creating statewide paid family and medical leave benefits for workers saw strong support early on election night. 

If Proposition 118 passes, businesses with more than 10 employees — and workers themselves — would have had to pay a tax funding the program. Bosses would be prevented from retaliating against employees for requesting paid time off to care for sick loved ones, undergo treatments or begin raising a child.

As of 9:30 p.m., about 57 percent of voters supported the plan, compared to 42 percent against it. 

Under Prop. 118, workers would be entitled to up to 12 weeks of paid family leave or medical leave. These benefits wouldn’t void an employee’s existing paid-time-off benefits. Workers could also use an additional four weeks of leave for pregnancy or childbirth complications. 

To pay for the benefits, up to half of the cost would come out of workers’ paychecks through a payroll tax to the state government. An employer would pay the other half. The exact cost would be adjusted over the years; for 2023 and 2024, the plan would cost 0.9 percent of an employee’s wage. Split in half, that would deduct $180 annually from an employee making $40,000 per year.

The vote comes on the heels of a failed minimum wage increase in Aurora.

CHERRY CREEK SCHOOL DISTRICT 

Two measures to give extra funding to the Cherry Creek School District to offset budget cuts due to the COVID-19 pandemic are leading as of poll closing time.

Yes on 4A and 4B are both ahead, with Yes of 4A at 70.03% of the vote and Yes of 4B at 57.95%.

Measure 4A, a mill levy override, would increase operating revenue by $35 million and bond measure 4B would raise $150 million to fund deferred maintenance and district projects.

The district’s funding was cut by $25 million for the 2020-2021 school year, and the state is projecting a $35 million cut next school year based on decreased tax collection revenue from COVID-19.

The 4A budget election would raise $35 million for the district to offset those cuts, and would be distributed proportionately to every school in the district.

The money from measure 4B would go towards $150 million in construction and deferred maintenance identified by a task force. The list includes renovations to Village East Elementary School, increased maintenance on aging schools, expanding the Cherry Creek Innovation Campus and safety and security upgrades, such as putting deadbolts on classroom doors in every school.

The money would also go toward the creation of a $7 million mental health day treatment center and a possible new elementary school on the east side of the district.

“It might be the most important $7 million this district ever spends,” Siegfried said in an October interview with the Sentinel.

The measure would cost homeowners $1.65 a month in new taxes per $100,000 of property value. Proponents say the net property tax increase is relatively low for the size of the package because the district would also be retiring older debt.

ADAMS COUNTY

Voters in Adams County have agreed to continue paying a pair of sales taxes to benefit local open spaces and roads, according to early election results. 

More than three quarters of Adams County voters said they supported ballot issues 1A and 1B, which asked residents to continue paying a current open space sales tax of .0025% on every dollar spent and a current tales tax for roads of .005%.

Both measures have been in place for nearly 20 years, according to Adams County officials. If voters had rejected this year’s measures, the taxes would have sunset at the end of the decade.

The Adams County Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed to send the questions to voters in early September. 

Monies generated by the open space tax are specifically dog-eared to preserve land that protects water quality, protect wildlife areas and wetlands, preserve farmland and carve out open space amid urban expansion. 

For the infrastructure tax, 40% of the funds go to road and bridge projects in the county, and 60% go to maintaining, operating and expanding county current county facilities.

About 60% of voters also signed off on another countywide ballot question that axes term limits for the county coroner. The current coroner, Democrat Monica Broncucia-Jordan, has been in her post for nine years. She’s up for re-election again in 2022.