Dec 28

Update On Kerry vs Polis Lawsuit

“The federal court of appeals will review the trial court’s ruling on whether the case should even be brought before the federal judicial system.  Your TABOR Foundation is one of three entities that filed a “friend-of-the-court” urging the courts to reject the arguments of the plaintiffs, and thereby end the case and leave the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights unchallenged.  You may read the argument submitted by Mountain States Legal Foundation, the Colorado Union of Taxpayers and our Foundation, below.”

Case No. 17-1192

 

 

IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT

 

 

ANDY KERR, Colorado State Representative, et al.,

Plaintiffs-Appellants,

 

v.

 

JARED POLIS, Governor of Colorado, in his official capacity,  Defendant-Appellee.

 

 

On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Colorado

No. 11-CV-01350-RM-NYW, The Honorable Raymond P. Moore

 

 

BRIEF OF AMICI CURIAE MOUNTIAN STATES LEGAL FOUNDATION, THE COLORADO UNION OF TAXPAYERS FOUNDATION, AND THE TABOR FOUNDATION IN SUPPORT OF APPELLEE URGING AFFIRMANCE

 

 

 

Cody J. Wisniewski

MOUNTAIN STATES LEGAL FOUNDATION

2596 South Lewis Way

Lakewood, Colorado 80227

(303) 292-2021

cody@mslegal.org

 

Attorney for Amici Curiae

 

 

CORPORATE DISCLOSURE STATEMENT

The undersigned attorney for Amici Curiae, Mountain States Legal Foundation, the Colorado Union of Taxpayers Foundation, and the TABOR Foundation certifies that

Mountain States Legal Foundation, the Colorado Union of Taxpayers Foundation, and the TABOR Foundation are non-profit corporations that have no parent corporations and have never issued any stock.

 

Respectfully submitted this 21st day of December 2020.

 

 

/s/ Cody J. Wisniewski          

Cody J. Wisniewski

MOUNTAIN STATES LEGAL FOUNDATION

2596 South Lewis Way

Lakewood, Colorado 80227

(303) 292-2021

cody@mslegal.org

 

Attorney for Amici Curiae

 

i

TABLE OF CONTENTS Continue reading

Dec 22

Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District accused of improper mill levy increase

District president says they need the extra revenue to provide same level of service

HILLROSE, CO – JUNE 25: Water from the South Platte River flows into the Prewitt inlet ditch and will end up in Prewitt Reservoir on June 25, 2019 near Hillrose, Colorado. Neiman, who has worked for Prewitt Reservoir for 46 years, oversees and manages the water that is diverted off of the South Platte River that goes into the Prewitt inlet ditch and ends up in Prewitt Reservoir. The reservoir helps supply sufficient water for the irrigation of sugar beets. The reservoir is also used recreationally for swimming, fishing, hunting and other water recreation. When the reservoir is full it has a surface area of 2,340 acres. Prewitt Reservoir was financed and built by the Great Western Sugar Company and began construction in 1910 and was completed in 1912. (Photo by Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post)

PUBLISHED:  | UPDATED: 

In December of 2019 the county commissioners in Morgan, Logan, Sedgwick and Washington counties certified the Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District at 1.000 mills, double the amount allocated them on a yearly basis since early in the district’s formation.

Since then a group of property owners have been seeking recourse for the decision, claiming that the increase in mill levy was a violation of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which necessitates voter approval of both tax increases and the retention of excess funds if revenues grow faster than the rate of inflation and population growth. On May 19 William Banta, an attorney and legal council for the TABOR committee, sent a letter to the district.

“It has come to our attention that, in spite of TABOR, the Board of Directors of the Lower South Platte Water Conservancy District increased the District’s mill levy for 2020 without having voter approval,” the letter said. “Although we understood that the district received permission from the voters in 1996 to keep and use excess revenues there was no approval to increase a mill levy.”

The 1996 ballot measure is central to the district’s legal argument. The voters approved the ballot measure giving the district the right to retain and spend an additional $13,025 and access “the full proceeds and revenues received from every source whatever, without limitation, in 1996 and all subsequent years.”

To continue reading this story, please click (HERE):

 

Dec 18

Title Board rejects petitions proposal, finding an attempt to change constitution via statute

Title Board March 4
From left to right: Title Board members David Powell, Theresa Conley and Julie Pelegrin at the March 4, 2020 meeting.

The Title Board rejected on Wednesday a proposed ballot initiative to drastically revamp the direct democracy process in Colorado, concluding the proposal was an attempt to repeal sections of the state constitution without actually being a constitutional amendment.

“You simply cannot amend the Colorado constitution by enacting a statute,” said Jason Gelender, a board member representing the Office of Legislative Legal Services. “It would be like if the General Assembly tried to do what the measure seems to try to do, saying ‘we’re going to repeal TABOR,’” referring to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Initiative #6, from designated representatives Donald L. “Chip” Craeger III of Denver and John Ebel of Lone Tree, mirrored three other proposals the Title Board considered within the past year. Nicknamed the “Petition Rights Amendment,” the measure would expand the right of ballot initiative to most units of government, change the process by which initiative titles are set and appealed, and alter the number of signatures required to place an initiative on the statewide ballot.

To continue reading this story, please click (HERE):

Dec 07

Can voters ignore the state constitution when passing an initiative?

The Other Arizona Election Challenge

Can voters ignore the state constitution when passing an initiative?

By  The Editorial Board

Dec. 6, 2020 5:43 pm ET

Voters wait in line at the Surprise Court House polling location in Surprise, Arizona, Nov. 3.

PHOTO: CHRISTIAN PETERSEN/GETTY IMAGES

 

The outcome of the presidential race isn’t the only election result being contested in Arizona, and the other has even greater consequences for the law. Last week two lawsuits were filed against Proposition 208, the ballot initiative that imposes a new 3.5% tax surcharge to raise an estimated $827 million for education. It passed with 51.7% of the vote.

The suits are challenging whether Prop 208, which passed as a statute, must conform to the state constitution. One suit was filed by businesswoman Ann Siner and retired judge John Buttrick, the other by the Goldwater Institute, the influential Arizona think tank.

The suits claim that Prop 208 contradicts a constitutional amendment that limits the amount of revenue provided to school districts each year. It also overrides another constitutional provision requiring a two-thirds majority of the Legislature to approve a tax increase.

The Legislative Council, a nonpartisan legislative office that reviews bills and ballot measures for form and constitutionality, held that Prop 208’s language exempting the money it raises from an existing cap on education spending “is likely invalid” because it violates express constitutional limits. Supporters went ahead anyway. The state Supreme Court declined to rule on claims that Prop 208 unconstitutionally curtails the Legislature’s authority but said it couldn’t consider the issue until it passed.

To continue reading this story, please click (HERE):

Sep 13

Opinion: Chuck Wibby: Kill the fee in wolf’s clothing

By Chuck Wibby

In 1992, Colorado voters passed the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, or TABOR. The amendment to the Colorado Constitution is widely despised by elected officials at every level of government. It is also widely loved by the majority of taxpaying citizens who pay the bills to employ those same elected officials.

Among its other provisions, TABOR contained an exemption for fee-based services that the government provides to citizens. It was a logical concession. After all, if the city wanted to operate a parking lot, it would be impractical to have a vote every time the city wanted to increase the cost to park your car in their lot.

TABOR’s intent was that “government-owned businesses that provide goods or services for a fee or surcharge” are “paid for by the individuals or entities that are purchasing the goods or services.” This is in contrast to “government agencies or programs that provide goods or services that are paid for by tax revenue.” Letting no good deed go unpunished, it didn’t take the state too long to figure out how to take advantage of TABOR’s allowance for fee-based enterprises.

To continue reading this TABOR story, please click (HERE):

Aug 26

‘Vote on Fees’ measure makes November ballot

FILE - Coloradans vote on TABOR in 2005
A voter exits the voting booth at the Denver Election Commission office in Denver, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2005.

(The Center Square) – An initiative to require voter approval of some state enterprises that draw their revenue from fees has been approved for the November ballot, the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office said Monday.  

Colorado Rising State Action, the conservative advocacy group backing the Initiative 295turned in more than 196,000 signatures in July, with 138,852 of those signatures being valid, the office said. The measure needed 124,632 valid signatures to make the ballot.

Taxpayer advocacy groups argue that lawmakers have used fees to avoid being subject to the state’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), a constitutional amendment that requires all tax increase be approved by voters. Under TABOR, state enterprise funds aren’t subject to TABOR’s revenue cap.

“It’s official, Coloradans will get to vote on strengthening TABOR this November,” Colorado Rising State Action Executive Director Michael Fields said in a statement. “State lawmakers have abused enterprise fees for years as a method to increase revenue and get around asking voters. It’s really simple, voters just want to be asked.”

To continue reading this story, please click (HERE):

Jul 31

Initiative to implement progressive state income tax fails to garner enough signatures to qualify for ballot

FILE - Election 2020 Colorado Primary
Election judge Michael Michalek, left, directs voter Nicholas Garza on where to pick up his ballot at a drive-thru location outside the Denver Election Commission building, Tuesday, June 30, 2020, in downtown Denver.

(The Center Square) – Supporters of an effort to implement a progressive state income tax system called it quits on Friday.

The Fair Tax Colorado campaign said it didn’t collect enough signatures to qualify Initiative 271 for the ballot in November, citing a petition process complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The campaign is ending today, but our ballot work will continue,” said the Colorado Fiscal Institute, one of the measure’s backers. “That’s because citizen initiatives are where tax policy is made in Colorado, and we need to keep Coloradans engaged on these critical issues.”

The measure proposed amending the state constitution and adjusting the state’s current 4.63 percent flat income tax rate according to income. Under the measure, taxpayers making $250,000 or less annually would have been taxed at 4.58 percent; those making $250,000 to $500,000 would have taxed at 7 percent.

Please click (HERE) to read the rest of this article:

Jul 22

Voting at a time when voting makes sense!

Voting at a time when voting makes sense!

July 2020

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) includes good government provisions that improve election procedures.

We know that voter turnout is highest for those people who will benefit most directly by the ballot measure.  One way to suppress voter participation is to hold an election at an unusual time or at an unexpected, inconvenient, or difficult time.

Before the Taxpayer‘s Bill of Rights, Colorado elected officials could schedule a special election for a new tax or for a debt measure.  Held in, say, February, the government could hope weather to be really foul, so that even the average taxpayer who thought to vote on the measure might think twice, while those proponents who would benefit from the new tax would be in the majority for whom it was worth the effort to slog to the polls.

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights ended that incivility to the citizen.  With TABOR, a vote must happen on the November general election ballot, or if there is a standard election in the spring, (common for many town and city elections) the measure can appear on that municipal ballot.  The only other time a TABOR measure may go before the voters is in odd-numbered years at about the time in November that a general election would take place.

Colorado constitution (Article X, Section 20) paragraph 3(a) states:  “Ballot issues shall be decided in a state general election, biennial local district election, or on the first Tuesday in November of odd-numbered years.”

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights greatly improved government operations beyond providing the taxpayer the power to vote on tax increases.

#TABOR
#ItsYourMoneyNotTheirs
#ThankGodForTABOR
#VoteOnTaxesAndFees
#WhyTABORMatters

 

 

 

Jun 16

Colorado Legislature gives final approval to a charitable bingo and raffles amendment, cigarette tax increase measure

FILE - Cigarettes

On June 15, the Colorado State Legislature sent two measures to the November 2020 ballot.

One measure would amend the state constitution to require charitable organizations to have existed for three years before obtaining a charitable gaming license instead of the current constitutional requirement of five years. The amendment would allow charitable organizations to hire managers and operators of gaming activities so long as they are not paid more than the minimum wage. Currently, the constitution requires those who operate charitable gaming activities to be a member of the organization working as an unpaid volunteer.

The other measure would increase cigarette taxes and create a new tax on nicotine products such as e-cigarettes. It would dedicate revenues to various health and education programs. The measure requires voter approval under TABOR since it would increase state revenue.

To continue reading this story, please click (HERE):

May 28

TABOR Emergency Taxes at the State level

TABOR Emergency Taxes at the State level

Emergency taxes are a contingency written into the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.  In response to the decline in revenues due to the pandemic economic shutdown, activists on the Left are urging new and higher taxes using the emergency taxes clause.  Unfortunately, the General Assembly has put itself into an impossible situation that will prevent the imposition of any State emergency taxes.  Legislators’ dishonest dealings in good times removes this option today. Continue reading