The last day to collect signatures required for Colorado ballot initiatives to be placed on the November 2022 ballot came and went on Aug. 8, and Colorado voters now have a better idea of what they can expect to see on the ballot in this year’s upcoming election.
For background, a ballot initiative must receive 5% of the total votes cast for all candidates of the office of the secretary of state at the prior general election in order to be placed on the ballot for voter approval. This amounts to 124,632 signatures for the 2022 election. The last day to turn in signatures is three months before the Nov. 8 election, and these signatures must receive a sufficiency determination by the secretary of state no later than Sept. 7 to appear on the ballot.
While the secretary of state has not yet verified signatures for all ballot initiatives submitted at this stage, submitting signatures demonstrates that an initiative’s proponents have confidence in their signature-gathering efforts. With this deadline now passed, it is possible to hypothesize which measures will appear on Colorado’s November ballot and which will not.
Measures That Did Not Gather Sufficient Signatures
One of the most discussed initiatives that missed the signature mark this year is Initiative No. 56, informally titled “Unlawful Murder of a Child.” This measure concerned the hot-button issue of abortion, and specifically sought to define “murder of a child” and criminalize abortions by those who seek them and those who provide them. This is the seventh failed attempt to ban abortion in Colorado since 2000.
Another hot-button initiative that failed to gather the required number of signatures is Initiative No. 61, which sought to decriminalize possession of psilocybin—the chemical found in magic mushrooms—and legalize it in state-regulated settings. This initiative is separate and distinct from a different initiative to legalize psychoactive mushrooms, which had already obtained the required number of signatures before Nov. 8 and is already on the November ballot.
Initiative No. 63, known as the “Colorado Additional State Education Funding Initiative,” is a third initiative that failed to obtain sufficient signatures. This initiative sought to alleviate some of the deficits in public education funding without raising the existing state income tax rate. Instead, it would reallocate a portion of the federal taxable income for individuals, estates, trusts and corporations into a state education fund.
Sponsors of six other initiatives in the signature-gathering phase did not turn their petitions in by the 5:00 p.m. deadline, including an initiative that sought to require certain investor-owned entities to give back a portion of revenue to ratepayers from electricity and natural gas sales.
Measures That Will Be on the November Ballot
In contrast, the measures that have met the statutory requirements, including the requisite number of signatures, and thus will appear on the November ballot are:
- Initiative No. 31 – Seeks to cut the state income tax from 4.55% to 4.4%. Voters approved a similar tax cut last year when they voted to reduce the tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55%. The same backers of that proposition—Republican Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg of Sterling and the libertarian Independence Institute’s Jon Caldara—are also leading Initiative No. 31.
- Initiative No. 58 – The other “magic mushroom” initiative, which if passed, would allow people to consumer “natural medicines”—defined as dimethyltryptamine, ibogaine, certain forms of mescaline, peyote, psilocybin or psilocyn—in licensed facilities.
In addition, four other initiatives submitted signatures before the Aug. 8 deadline and are currently under signature review. If they are determined to meet the signature requirements, they too will be on the ballot. These initiatives are:
- Initiative No. 96 – Seeks to increase the number of retail liquor licenses a Colorado resident can hold from four in 2027 to seven now and an unlimited number after 2037.
- Initiative No. 108 – Seeks to dedicate a portion of revenues (approximately one-tenth of 1%) from existing income tax revenues, and allocate the funds to housing projects, including affordable housing financing programs that reduce rent, purchasing land for affordable housing developments and supporting people experiencing homelessness.
- Initiative No. 121 – Seeks to permit the sale of wine in Colorado grocery stores. Currently, only beer and certain sprits are allowed to be sold in grocery stores.
- Initiative No. 122 – Seeks to allow third parties to deliver alcoholic beverages in Colorado.
Finally, there are four referred measures that will be appearing on the November ballot that have been approved by the legislature for voter consideration. These initiatives include:
- Charitable Gaming Amendment – Seeks to allow operators and managers of charitable gaming activities to be paid and allows the legislature to determine how long an organization must exist to obtain a charitable gaming license.
- Homestead Exemption to Surviving Spouses of U.S. Armed Forces Members and Veterans Amendment – Seeks to extend an existing homestead exemption for disabled veterans to the surviving spouses of military personnel and certain veterans.
- Table of Changes to Income Tax Owed Required for Citizen Initiatives Measure – Seeks to require a table showing changes in income tax owed for average taxpayers in certain brackets to be included in the ballot title and fiscal summary for any citizen initiative.
- Twenty-Third Judicial District Amendment – Seeks to require the governor to designate judges from the 18th judicial district to serve in the newly created 23rd judicial district.
We will officially know all of the measures that will be on the ballot by Sept. 7. For more detailed information on the Colorado election cycle and Colorado’s ballot initiatives, visit our comprehensive, online ballot tracker.
This document is intended to provide you with general information regarding Colorado ballot initiatives. The contents of this document are not intended to provide specific legal advice. If you have any questions about the contents of this document or if you need legal advice as to an issue, please contact the attorneys listed or your regular Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP attorney. This communication may be considered advertising in some jurisdictions. The information in this article is accurate as of the publication date. Because the law in this area is changing rapidly, and insights are not automatically updated, continued accuracy cannot be guaranteed.