Colorado ballot issues roundup: Voters vote on property tax extension and healthy school lunches, split on magic mushrooms, changes to liquor laws

Vail Daily staff
A man drops off his voting ballot.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Amendment D (Judges in new 23rd Judicial District)

Early election results Tuesday showed Coloradans voting in favor of a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution that would allow seven judges to move from one Front Range judicial district to a neighboring district.

About 68% of votes tallied by 9 p.m. Tuesday were in favor of the amendment, with about 32% voting against, according to unofficial results from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office.

If approved by 55% of voters statewide, the amendment creates a one-time exception to the constitutional process of appointing judges in order to let seven judges who are currently working in the 18th Judicial District keep their jobs and continue working when the district is split in two in 2025. – The Denver Post

Amendment E (Property tax extension for qualifying seniors and disabled vets)

Colorado voters showed strong support Tuesday for a proposed amendment to the state’s Constitution that would extend an existing property tax exemption to the spouses of servicemembers who died in the line of duty or from a service-related injury or illness.

About 88% of the votes tallied by 9 p.m. Tuesday were in favor of the amendment, with about 12% voting against, according to unofficial results from the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. About a 1.5 million votes had been tallied by 9 p.m.

If approved by 55% of voters statewide, the constitutional amendment would exempt Gold Star spouses from 50% of property taxes on the first $200,000 of a qualifying resident’s home value. A home valued at $150,000, for example, would be taxed as if it were worth $75,000 under the exemption.

According to the state blue book, approximately 490 Coloradans would become eligible for the exemption next year should it be extended. – The Denver Post

Amendment F (Charitable gaming activities)

So far, voters in Colorado aren’t in favor of Amendment F, a measure that opens up bingo and raffle games for charitable purposes to newer nonprofits.

More voters are against the initiative, with 61% of the votes — or 890,403 votes — at 8:34 p.m. MST, according to unofficial results posted on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website.

Nonprofits must operate for five years before they can apply for bingo-raffle licenses of their own. With the measure in place, that time frame would shrink to three years — with the added ability to pay an employee working the game up to minimum wage. — The Denver Post

Proposition FF (Healthy school lunches)

Colorado voters are in favor of Proposition FF so far, which would provide the state’s students with free school meals — no matter their families’ incomes. With tax deduction limits in place, the price tag would fall on wealthy Coloradans.

About 55% of voters back the measure, with 870,388 votes, as of 9:01 p.m. MST, according to unofficial results on the Colorado Secretary of State’s website.

The initiative would establish and fund the Healthy School Meals for All Program. It would boost taxes for households with incomes higher than $300,000 by curbing state income tax deductions. The move would impact about 114,000 joint and single-filer tax returns, or about 5% of those filed in Colorado. – The Denver Post

Proposition GG (Decease state income tax rates)

Proposition GG, which sought to place more detailed tax information tables directly on petitions and ballots for citizen-initiated measures, maintained a solid lead and is expected to pass.

There were 1,073,290 votes in favor of the measure and 443,046 against as of 8:45 p.m.  Democrats in the Colorado legislature referred the measure via the passage of Senate Bill 222, which Republicans opposed. Supporters went that route because Gov. Jared Polis has voiced opposition to legislative measures that would change ballot language on citizens’ initiatives.

The measure had no impact on tax rates and the information was already calculated and reported in the state’s ballot book. What it sought was to include that tax table with any measures that changed tax rates. Before and after changes in average taxes across eight different income brackets were shown. – The Denver Post

Proposition 121 (Reducing state income tax to 4.4%)

A measure to cut Colorado’s state income tax rate from 4.55% to 4.4% for both individuals and corporations starting with the 2022 tax year was coasting to victory by a nearly two-to-one margin Tuesday night.

Colorado Proposition 121 had received 1,020,451 votes for and 545,697 against as of 9:10 p.m. It follows a 2020 ballot measure that cut the state income tax rate from 4.63% to 4.55%.

The measure will reduce the money the state collected for its general fund by $412.6 million in the budget year 2023-2024, which represents a 2.4% reduction to the general fund. About 68.4% of the general fund last year came from the $10.7 billion the state collected in income taxes. – The Denver Post

Proposition 122 (Magic mushrooms)

Colorado voters were split on a measure to legalize medicinal psychedelics while ballots were still being counted Tuesday night.

Proposition 122, Access to Natural Psychedelic Substances, was supported Tuesday with about 51% of the vote as of 9:19 p.m., according to polling tallies. That’s with about 44% of votes tallied, according to the Secretary of State, making the vote too close to call by press time.

The measure seeks to legalize psilocybin and psilocin, two compounds found in “magic mushrooms,” for use in therapeutic settings and pave the way for the establishment of “healing centers” where adults 21 years old and up can use the substances under the supervision of licensed professionals.

Additionally, Proposition 122 would decriminalize the personal growing, use and sharing of psilocybin and psilocin, as well as ibogaine, mescaline and dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, for adults. – The Denver Post

Proposition 123 (Earmark state tax revenue surplus for affordable housing)

A ballot measure to redirect 0.1% of state income tax revenues toward a range of affordable housing efforts maintained a small lead Tuesday night but has seen its margin of support shrink as more votes are counted.

Proposition 123, a citizens’ initiative, had 780,297 votes in favor and 751,985 opposed, which works out to 51% for and 49% against as of 8:42 p.m. The proposal seeks to generate $145 million in the 2022-23 state budget and $290 million in the following year to provide funding for downpayment assistance, homelessness prevention, and eviction defense as well as to support land purchases for affordable housing developments. Tenants in those taxpayer-funded projects would receive a share of the profits coming from the development. – The Denver Post

Proposition 124 (More liquor licenses for retail liquor stores)

A statewide measure to allow Colorado liquor license holders the ability to expand the number of storefronts they can operate was trailing Tuesday night after the initial batches of vote were counted.

More than 1.1 million votes had been tabulated as of 8 p.m. — with 61% of voters rejecting Proposition 124, according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. Nearly 39% of ballots have been cast favoring the measure.

Current law says stores can have three locations. Proposition 124 would expand that to eight by 2026 and eventually end the limit altogether in 2037. – The Denver Post

Proposition 125 (Wine in liquor stores)

A vote to allow Colorado grocery and convenience stores the ability to sell wine was nearly even as the state counted ballots Tuesday evening.

Those in favor of Proposition 125 accounted for 50.1% of the more than 1.1 million votes counted as of 7:56 p.m., according to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office. Voters deciding against the measure accounted for 49.90%.

Under Proposition 125, any store that already can sell beer (or other malt beverages such as hard seltzer or lemonade) would be allowed in March to start selling wine. That would mean grocery stores such as King Soopers and Safeway — which can only sell beer now — would be able to stock their shelves with whites, reds and rosés.

Colorado law currently only permits stores with a broader liquor license to sell wine and other vinous liquors (wine coolers, sake, cider and mead). – The Denver Post

Proposition 126 (Third-party delivery of alcohol sales)

Proposition 126, which would amend the Colorado Liquor Code to allow home alcohol delivery from third-party services, was leading by nearly 100,000 votes as of 9:30 p.m.

“The delivery has to be from a licensed retailer, and the driver must be at least 21, but it could arrive on your doorstep through a third-party service like Grubhub,” 9 News reports. “It also would make permanent the current ability — set to expire in 2025 — for bars and restaurants to sell takeout and delivery alcoholic beverages.”

The effort saw opposition from a group of stand-alone liquor stores which said they would be crippled by the legislation.

A late tally of votes saw 870,052 voters in favor of the legislation and 772,993 against.

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