The fate of a November ballot question that could lead to Fort Collins providing high-speed internet services is in the hands of Larimer County District Court judge.
Fort Collins resident Eric Sutherland and attorneys representing the city squared off in court Friday morning to argue about whether the content and form of the broadband ballot question meet legal requirements.
District Court Judge Thomas French has until Tuesday to decide whether to change the ballot language approved by City Council or let it stand.
The city’s deadline for certifying the ballot language to the Larimer County Clerk’s Office is Sept. 8. The county is coordinating the Nov. 7 election.
Sutherland raised five complaints about the ballot language, ranging from the lack of a comma, which he said made the question grammatically incorrect, to whether it complies with the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, or TABOR, amendment to the state constitution.
If approved, the measure would amend the City Charter to allow but not require the City Council to establish a telecommunications utility. The utility would be a standalone entity or part of the city’s Light and Power Utility.
It’s your money.
TABOR allows you a vote to let the government keep it or if you would rather have it in your pocket.
El Paso County TABOR initiative could jumpstart local funding for I-25 widening
Posted: Aug 29, 2017 8:42 PM EDTUpdated: Aug 29, 2017 8:43 PM EDT
Kristi Hargrove voted for Donald Trump in the last election. From Crested Butte, which she calls a liberal town, she identifies as a proud Republican.
“My daughter came home from school, she was in middle school, complaining about how cold she was at school,” Hargrove said. It was around 2003. “I said to her, well wear more clothes, because you never put on enough clothes.”
However, when Hargrove went to work on a student directory for her P.T.A., she had trouble because her fingers were freezing. After confronting the principle, she found out the school had turned down the utilities.
“We live in a fairly affluent area and I thought that was ridiculous,” she said. “My comment to her was, ‘who’s wasting money?’” Continue reading
An effort to reform the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, passed its first test on Monday with Republican support. File photo.An effort to reform the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, passed its first test on Monday with Republican support, though the legislation faces an uphill battle.
Some TABOR observers call it progress that two Republicans are sponsoring the effort to change how the state calculates its spending cap.
The bill received bipartisan support from the House Finance Committee. It heads to appropriations for consideration.
Despite the bipartisan support, Rep. Dan Thurlow of Grand Junction and Sen. Larry Crowder of Alamosa, sponsors of House Bill 1187, are still mavericks on the subject though an evolution appears to be underway.
“Let’s merely take a look at TABOR one more time and see how it’s working over the last 25 years, and if it’s working we leave it alone, and if it’s not working we make an adjustment,” Thurlow said during a well-attended hearing at the Capitol.
DENVER (AP) — The Latest on a bill to loosen a Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights limit on Colorado state revenues (all times local):
5:20 p.m. p.m.
The Democrat-led House Finance Committee voted 10-3 Monday to refer the bill by Republican Rep. Dan Thurlow and GOP Sen. Larry Crowder to the House Appropriations Committee.
Their bill would ask voters in November to change the way annual state revenue limits are calculated under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
It could allow the state to keep hundreds of millions of dollars for roads, education and other priorities.
Opponents argued that any proposed change to TABOR, a constitutional amendment passed by voters in 1992, should be in the form of a constitutional amendment — not a statutory change called for by the bill.
Constitutional changes carry tougher ballot qualification and voter passage benchmarks.
Two Colorado Republicans want to loosen a constitutional restriction on how much revenue the state can receive without having to issue tax refunds.
Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Larry Crowder say it’s time to have a conversation about those limits 25 years after voters approved them under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
Republicans long have opposed TABOR tampering, arguing excess revenues belong to taxpayers.
But Thurlow and Crowder say individual refunds would be pocket change when the state faces a $500 million budget deficit.
Their bill would ask voters in November to change the way TABOR’s annual revenue limits are calculated. It would potentially allow the state to keep hundreds of millions of dollars for roads, education and other priorities.
A House committee hears testimony on the bill Monday.
Two Colorado Republican lawmakers are delivering on their promise from earlier this year to fine-tune TABOR, a 25-year-old constitutional restriction on how much the state can receive — and spend — without triggering tax refunds.
Rep. Dan Thurlow and Sen. Larry Crowder have introduced House Bill 17-1187 that seeks to change the way annual revenue limits set by the 1992 Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights are calculated.
It’s a first step that could allow the state to keep millions of dollars for roads, education and other priorities, starting with an extra $175 million in the 2018-2019 fiscal year, according to legislative analysts.
Thurlow, of Grand Junction, and Crowder, of Alamosa, have asked: What’s the use of individual taxpayer refunds amounting to pocket change when, this year alone, lawmakers must close a $500 million gap to balance the budget that begins July 1?
“I believe our party is the party of solutions and this bill is an example of that,” Thurlow said Monday. Continue reading
What is House Bill 1187?
HB1187 would allow the government budgets at all levels to grow much larger each year by changing the current growth formula of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. The current automatic increase uses the previous year’s budget and adds the growth in population plus inflation. Under the existing formula, Colorado’s State budget has grown an average of 4.7 percent a year for the past 25 years that TABOR has been in effect.
The new formula would replace the growth rate with the growth in personal income, averaged over five years. With that substitution, the TABOR limit would soar.
The measure is sponsored by Rep. Dan Thurlow (R-Grand Junction) and Sen. Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa County).
A fatal flaw in the proposal.
This bill is a very sneaky effort to avoid the constitutional rules altogether. The rules say that the state constitution cannot be changed by passing a law. This proposed measure says it can change a foundational definition in the constitution with a new law. It does not ask simply for the state to keep the excess of taxes collected for some number of years. It is a permanent change in how each TABOR limit is set. That’s a fundamental change to the constitution. Continue reading
The Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), also known as Initiative 1, was on the November 3, 1992 ballot in Colorado as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The famed measure, thought up by Douglas Bruce, requires statewide voter approval of tax increases that exceed an index created by combining inflation and population increases.
Text of measure
See also: Colorado State Constitution, Article X
The language appeared on the ballot as:
|“||Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado Constitution to require voter approval for certain state and local government tax revenue increases and debt; to restrict property, income, and other taxes; to limit the rate of increase in state and local government spending; to allow additional initiative and referendum elections; and to provide for the mailing of information to registered voters?||”|
Kerr v. Hickenlooper
See also: Kerr v. Hickenlooper
A lawsuit regarding Initiative 1 will likely have far reaching effects for other TABOR laws around the country and direct democracy, in general. A lawsuit was filed with U.S. District Court in Denver, with plaintiffs arguing that the amendment is unconstitutional. The lawsuit was filed during the week of May 27, 2011, by 34 bipartisan plaintiffs, according to reports.
According to Doug Bruce, author of the citizen initiative, if the lawsuit is successful in its efforts, it could allow lawmakers unlimited power, and could be extremely detrimental to citizen initiative efforts in the state of Colorado. Bruce stated: “This isn’t only attacking Colorado. The consequences of a ruling in their favor would invalidate the Constitution in all 50 states, and would also mean no limits on the federal government. We would have anarchy.”
However, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, David Skaggs, stated that the measure limits state legislators and conflicts with both the state and United States constitutions. Skaggs also argues that other initiatives have been overturned, but that it did not negatively affect the process. Skaggs commented: “Courts won’t reach beyond the narrow question presented. Yes, we got to this issue by initiative”, but the lawsuit targets TABOR and not citizens’ initiatives.
The case’s impact expanded significantly due to the consideration of a Guarantee Clause argument. In 2012, Colorado District Court Judge William J. Martínez ruled in favor of allowing the case to proceed. However, Martínez’s ruling noted the history of seeing the Guarantee Clause as not justiciable or capable of judicial resolution, and said, “the Court determines that it cannot summarily conclude that Plaintiffs’ Guarantee Clause claim is per se non-justiciable”
The defense appealed the decision to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. In March 2014, the court ruled that the case was justiciable. The court further denied a petition for rehearing en banc in July 2014. Some consider the case likely to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.