Jun 07

TABOR Survives Constitutional Challenge

Lunch Links: Puerto Rico Vote This Week, Gun Tax, and TABOR Survives Constitutional Challenge

June 06, 2016

By Joseph Henchman

Today is June 6, the date in 1978 when California voters approved Proposition 13 by a wide margin of 65 percent to 35 percent. Spearheaded by activist Howard Jarvis after years of skyrocketing property tax increases, Prop. 13 immediately cut property taxes by 30 percent and capped them thereafter: property taxes are limited to 1 percent of assessed value and the assessed value can only be increased a maximum of 2 percent per year, unless a change of ownership occurs. The “California tax revolt” symbolized by Prop. 13’s passage led to similar initiatives in other states. Although there is occasional criticism of how Proposition 13 works and its lock-in effects, it remains a third rail in California politics.

Here are some interesting links I came across:

  • S. House to Vote on Puerto Rico Bill This Week:The bill sets up a control board to oversee the island’s finances and restructure its $70 billion debt. It’s backed by Speaker Ryan, Minority Leader Pelosi, and Treasury Secretary Lew, but some Democrats are unhappy with a provision reducing the island’s minimum wage for young workers, and some Republicans are unhappy with the precedent the bill creates. (Bloomberg)
  • Appeals Court Rejects Constitutional Challenge to Spending Limitation: The federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruledthat individual Colorado lawmakers do not have standing to challenge their Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) spending limitation. They left open the question of whether the Legislature as a whole can bring such a challenge. The lawmakers argued that TABOR deprives Colorado of functioning representative government in violation of the Guarantee Clause of the Constitution. (10th Circuit)
  • Hillary Clinton and the Gun Tax: In a 1993 hearing, then-First Lady Hillary Clinton endorsed the idea of a 25 percent gun tax. Asked yesterday by George Stephanopoulos of ABC if she still supports it, she declined to answer but defended the proposal as a way to cover medical and law enforcement costs. (ABC)
  •  Oklahoma to Vote on Sales Tax Increase: The one-cent increase will appear on the November ballot as State Question 779. (The Oklahoman)
  •  Switzerland Rejects Guaranteed Basic Income: A proposal to give each Swiss adult 2,500 francs (about $2,500) each month was rejected at the ballot box, 23 percent to 77 percent. (Wall Street Journal)

 

And be sure to check out our new map on alcohol taxes.

 

http://taxfoundation.org/blog/lunch-links-puerto-rico-vote-week-gun-tax-and-tabor-survives-constitutional-challenge

 

Jun 04

Effort to undo TABOR tax law dealt blow by court

50354_2201459078_608064_nEffort to undo TABOR tax law dealt blow by court  But decision unlikely to end legal challenge

By | mkmatthews@denverpost.com and | jbunch@denverpost.com

WASHINGTON — A legal effort to dismantle Colorado’s controversial TABOR tax law was dealt a major setback Friday when a federal appeals court ruled that some of its biggest opponents did not have standing to move forward with a court challenge.

The decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means that Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, isn’t going anywhere soon — nor its requirement that state lawmakers and city leaders get permission from voters before raising taxes.
“For half a decade now, we’ve been fighting a federal court battle to defend our voters’ right to have a voice in state tax policy,” said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman in a statement. “I hope this decisive win will convince TABOR’s opponents that the courts are not the place to pursue their political agenda.”

There’s little chance, however, that the ruling will be the final word in the matter, as the coalition looking to unravel TABOR vowed to continue a court challenge that began in 2011.

To read the rest of this story, click (HERE):

Jun 04

BIG LOSS FOR KERR: Liberal Legislators Cannot Undo TABOR, Says Supreme Court

Kerr Colorado News AgencyOh no! Liberal golden boy state Sen. Andy Kerr has been spanked by the U.S. Supreme Court for trying to undo TABOR, which is the taxpayers bill of rights that requires taxpayer approval in order to raise taxes. The court’s ruling basically said that a select few legislators simply did not have the right to overturn a constitutional amendment, no matter how badly they want that fat cash for special interests. Ok, fine, we added that last part. But it’s true.

The case has been working its way through the court system, first taken up by Attorney General John Suthers and finished today by Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, who offered the following statement:

“I hope this decisive win will convince TABOR’s opponents that the courts are not the place to pursue their political agenda. However, my legal team and I will continue to defend taxpayers’ rights against legal challenge as long as we have to.”

While Team Kerr was told no, the court left open the possibility that a different set of plaintiffs (not legislators) could pursue a similar legal argument. Liberals just cannot wait to get their greedy paws on more taxpayer funds, so we don’t anticipate they will give up anytime soon.

BIG LOSS FOR KERR: Liberal Legislators Cannot Undo TABOR, Says Supreme Court

Jun 03

10th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds TABOR, Colorado’s tax restriction

10th Circuit Court of Appeals upholds Colorado’s tax restriction (TABOR) » Publications » Washington Policy Center

By JASON MERCIER  | 

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Jun 3, 2016
The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals today vacated a legal challenge by some lawmakers to Colorado’s requirement for tax increases to receive voter approval. Washington Policy Center joined an amicus for the case in 2015 when it was before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The American Bar Association provides this summary of the case:

“Colorado state legislators sought to invalidate key provisions of the Colorado Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights (TABOR), claiming that those provisions interfered with their constitutional voting abilities and thus violated the Guarantee Clause of the federal constitution. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, the named party tasked with defending TABOR, argued that the legislators’ claims ought to be dismissed for lack of standing, and as nonjusticiable under the political question doctrine. The Tenth Circuit found that TABOR had caused actionable injury to the legislative plaintiffs by depriving them of their unique ability to affect Colorado tax policy by their votes, and (upon quick findings of causation and redressability) held that those plaintiffs possessed both Article III and prudential standing. The court held that a case-by-case approach to the political question doctrine was required by Baker v. Carr, and that the legislative plaintiffs’ Guarantee Clause claims were not barred as nonjusticiable by any of the six factors detailed in that case.” 

The potential impact of this original ruling on voter approved fiscal restraints of any kind on lawmakers across the country was very troubling to us which is why WPC signed on to an amicus in the case when it was before the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 30, 2015, the Supreme Court granted our petition and vacated the prior judgment and remanded the case back to the 10th Circuit for further consideration in light of the ruling in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Comm (2015).

Today the 10th Circuit ruled that lawmakers challenging the Colorado tax restriction lacked standing as individual lawmakers. The court ruled that only the legislature as an institution could challenge Colorado’s constitutional tax restriction. Colorado is one of 17 states with some form of supermajority vote or voter-approval requirement for tax increases.

Washington voters going all the way back to 1979 with Initiative 62, have consistently called for a higher threshold to raise taxes. The state Supreme Court, however, has ruled that a supermajority requirement for tax increases can only be enacted via a constitutional amendment. A December poll conducted by Elway Research, INC found that 65% of Washington voters want lawmakers to act on such a constitutional amendment. Should voters finally get the chance to consider one, the federal courts have again made it clear the people have the right to restrict tax increases via their state constitutions.

 

http://www.washingtonpolicy.org/publications/detail/10th-circuit-court-of-appeals-upholds-colorados-tax-restriction

Jun 03

SCOTUS Ruling on Kerr Vs. Hickenlooper Lawsuit

“Today the Judiciary ruled in favor of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).  Opponents of TABOR had asked the federal courts to rule it unconstitutional.  Arguments about whether a full trial should even begin had been appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court.  That highest Court had directed the 10th Circuit located here in Denver to reconsider the case in light of more recent precedent.  With today’s decision by the 10th Circuit Court, it appears that this case will be dismissed and TABOR will survive unscathed.

 

Your TABOR Foundation joined a group of limited government proponents to file Friend-of-the Court briefs at each step in support of TABOR.  We were ably represented in that effort by the National Federation of Independent Business through its attorney, Luke Wake.

 

We can be grateful that the most existential threat to TABOR is gone, for now.  We should be diligent that the Leftists who want to repeal such limits on the growth of governments will try again in a different fashion.

 

Oct 12

The attacks on TABOR continue

October 11, 2015

By Amy K. Frantz , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Do Legislators have a Constitutional right to impose taxes on citizens and to deny citizens any veto power over those actions? A group of politicians in Colorado seems to think so, and are continuing their quest to overturn the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR, from the Colorado State Constitution.

In Colorado, citizens are permitted to place measures on the ballot by initiative petition, and in 1992 the TABOR Constitutional Amendment was adopted by Colorado voters. TABOR requires majority voter approval to increase tax rates, to take on new debt, or to increase spending more than the rate of inflation plus state population growth.

In the original provisions of TABOR, any revenue collected in excess of the spending limit, plus an emergency relief fund of 3 percent of fiscal year spending, had to be returned to the taxpayers in the form of rebates. However, in 2005 Colorado voters approved a measure to forego the rebates for five years, following a scare campaign conducted by the state’s big spenders.

Continue reading

Sep 14

Effort underway to address Colorado’s ‘fiscal thicket,’ undo voter referendums

DENVER – There’s a veritable graveyard in Colorado of failed constitutional reform movements.

Blue ribbon panels, legislative committees, summits and countless academic studies have been mulled up over the years to address the fact that Colorado voters have frequently and easily petitioned and changed the state constitution.

But a new group – Building a Better Colorado – is launching a 30-stop listening tour across the state to find out what Coloradans want to do about the growing constitutional conundrum.

Not everything is on the table, but just about.

The group is backed by Colorado businessman Dan Ritchie, who has led two Colorado universities and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He’s attracted 16 political co-chairs split evenly between Republicans and Democrats. The first of the meetings (what organizers called a dress rehearsal) kicked off this weekend in Grand Junction at the Club 20 meeting.

“It’s unlike anything that has been done before,” said Curtis Hubbard, a spokesman for the group with Onsight Public Affairs. “We want to go out, talk to Coloradans, present them with the challenges as we see them and then figure out if we can come up with solutions.” Continue reading

Sep 02

Blake: Sabotaging TABOR comes down to a single subject

Blake: Sabotaging TABOR comes down to a single subject

When it comes to sabotaging TABOR, term limits and the initiative process, the usual suspects tend to round themselves up.

The latest group, called “Building a Better Colorado,” is fronted by the otherwise estimable Dan Ritchie, who served 15 years as chancellor of the University of Denver, taking no pay and donating his $50 million ranch to the school.

The organization intends to hold “town hall meetings” throughout the state and produce a report recommending changes by year’s end.

Presumably most of these changes would necessitate ballot initiatives, since it’s hard to get the two-thirds majorities needed in the legislature to place referendums.

Photo and copyright: Tony's Takes -  used by permission

By proposing initiatives they are going to have to confront the awkward single-subject rule. More on that later.

Despite the clarity of their goals, the reformers like to talk in tiptoe-through-the-tulips terms. “It is subtle,” Gail Klapper of the Colorado Forum told The Denver Post, adding the discussions are about “nuanced changes” allowing Colorado “to move forward in the way we all want it to go.”

The Colorado Forum is just one of several civic groups behind Ritchie’s efforts. Its goals aren’t that subtle. It says on its Web site that “Colorado’s fiscal system has a structural imbalance — created by inherently conflicting constitutional mandates — that will continue to result in a widening gap between General Fund revenue and necessary expenditures.”

However “necessary” might be defined. The Forum goes on to recommend that TABOR-mandated refunds to the people be postponed and “revenue sources” not subject to the revenue cap be considered. Presumably that means imposing more “fees” instead of taxes that require a popular vote.

Continue reading

Aug 14

Colorado at legal epicenter for business issues

And what about TABOR?

The U.S. Supreme Court sent back to the Tenth Circuit Federal Court of Appeal the task of deciding Kerr v. Hickenlooper, a lawsuit calling into question TABOR’s constitutionality. The eventual decision is likely to reverberate throughout the nation, because it will answer a simple question: Who is in charge of the American republic?

In 1992 Coloradans voted to amend their state constitution in order to impose restraints on their government’s power to tax and spend. The Colorado Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) has since given citizens the final say on new or increased taxes and spending.

Opponents of TABOR, however, believe it makes it more difficult for government to pursue costly new programs, or to increase funding for existing programs, an argument they lost in the Colorado Supreme Court.

Safe to say, this will be the biggest decision any court will rule on this year relating to a state issue.

http://coloradostatesman.com/content/996010-colorado-legal-epicenter-business-issues

Jul 10

MSLF speaks about TABOR on Friday, July 17th

Democrats want to get rid of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
How does TABOR protect your personal and business interests?
Is there a legal difference between a “tax” and a “fee”?
What difference does it make to your bottom line?

William Perry Pendley is president of Mountain States Legal Foundation (MSLF), which defends constitutional liberties and the rule of law. His book, Sagebrush Rebel, Reagan’s Battle with Environmental Extremists and Why It Matters Today continues to draw rave reviews.

MSLF filed four lawsuits in defense of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). One was rejected by the Colorado Supreme Court, but two remain alive, and another was filed just days ago. Two of the cases ask the Supreme Court of Colorado to rule on whether the words “tax” and “fee” have legal meanings, or can they be used interchangeably to collect revenue without the consent of voters?
You need not be a member to attend. Lunch is $25 for non-members, $20 for members and $10 for students. A portion of the lunch fee goes toward the CRBC Small Donor Committee or the CRBC Political Committee to support Republican candidates in the 2016 elections.

RSVP@smallbizgop.com (not required, but appreciated).
Colorado Republican Business Coalition Monthly Luncheon
Friday, July 17 from 11:30am – 1pm
Brooklyn’s at the Pepsi Center
941 Auraria Parkway, Denver

www.smallbizgop.com