Jan 12

County faces lawsuit over 2012 sheriff’s tax 

County faces lawsuit over 2012 sheriff’s tax

A sales tax funds nearly a quarter of the Sheriff’s Office staff. - PAM ZUBECK

  • Pam Zubeck
  • A sales tax funds nearly a quarter of the Sheriff’s Office staff.

A version of this story first appeared on the Indy‘s news blog, The Wire.

When El Paso County asked voters in 2012 to impose a .23 percent sales tax to fund the Sheriff’s Office, the ballot question said the new tax would raise “approximately $17 million” annually.

Turns out, it raised $17,898,721 in the first year and even more every year since. But the county hasn’t made a move to either lower the tax or refund the extra money.

Now, anti-taxer Douglas Bruce wants to force the issue. He filed a lawsuit on Dec. 26 seeking a refund to taxpayers of that roughly $900,000, with 10 percent interest per year for four years, and a reduction in the tax rate to prevent future excess collections.

That’s what he says is required by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, a state constitutional amendment that Bruce authored, which was adopted by voters in 1992. TABOR states that if a tax increase generates revenue that exceeds an estimate contained in the election notice ballot measure, the tax rate must be lowered in subsequent years and the excess refunded in the next fiscal year.

“They are only supposed to get whatever they asked for,” Bruce says, noting in the lawsuit that TABOR provisions were designed to “prevent government from ‘lowballing’ the true cost of what it requests in order to lure voters to support it.” Continue reading

Dec 23

Hospital Provider Fee Lawsuit Update

Where do we stand today on the Hospital Provider charge lawsuit?

There has been a flurry of activity.  The original lawsuit (“Complaint”) languished in the Court without resolution for more than 18 months.  Then, late in the session the legislature passed the infamous SB267, which among other steps, increased future state taxes up to $400 million per year without voter approval, and moved the Hospital Provider Fund off the books and supposedly redefined that welfare program as a government business.

The TABOR Foundation’s attorneys at Mountain States filed an amended Complaint to address the additional unconstitutional provisions of SB267.  More recently Mountain States met the deadlines imposed by the Court for any further amendments.  The revised Complaint (attached here) broadens the parties with standing to include individuals who paid the Hospital Provider charge, Rebecca Sopkin and Scott Rankin, and added the Colorado Union of Taxpayers; a change that the Board approved earlier this year.   There was some refinement of the arguments.

Some uncertainty exists about how the lawsuit will proceed.  There is a Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss that will probably be addressed in January.  However, the Court has allowed the lawsuit to proceed, so Steve Lechner will simultaneously be preparing the case for the June Hearing.  Motions for discovery were issued timely and Defendants’ (now both the State and the Hospital Association) information will be gathered.

Stay tuned; this lawsuit is now moving along quickly.

Penn R. Pfiffner

Dec 15

Hear Penn Pfiffner discuss TABOR First Amendment rights vs city of Denver Campaign Disclosures on December 15

At 6:00 PM tonight, Penn Pfiffner talks about TABOR First Amendment Rights Vs Campaign Disclosures … The Goldwater Institute Takes To The Courts To Protect Free Speech

If you want to have friends watch …. we do Facebook Live and Live Stream

The Coalition Talk Radio, an independent production on the GoLocalLive Network, broadcasts live on Friday Nights, from 6-9PM @ www.facebook.com/TheCoalitionRadio or www.GoLocalProv.com

www.CoalitionRadio.us

https://www.facebook.com/TheCoalitionRadio

Twitter @Coalition_Radio

The Coalition – Talk Radio

Lauren Neidel Rejoins Us To Discuss The Controversies Surrounding The Emergence Of The Progressive Democratic Movement

Real Issues. Intelligent Conversation.
We Are Outrage Porn Free, Civilly Disobedient Media
Friday Night … Candidates! Invenergy, Invenergy, Invenergy … Religion & Politics … Sweet Home Alabama … & More! All Times Are Eastern

At 6:00 PM Penn Pfiffner TABOR First Amendment Rights Vs Campaign Disclosures … The Goldwater Institute Takes To The Courts To Protect Free Speech

At 6:30 PM: Bill Hunt – Newly Announced Candidate For Rhode Island General Assembly District 68. We’ll discuss his Libertarian Philosophy, Plus! His Take On State & East Bay Issues
At 7:30: Progressive Activist Lauren Niedel Talks Women’s Caucus
At 8PM: Hesham El-Meligy Co-Founder Muslims For Liberty. Topics Will Include An Analysis Of the Muslim Faith … And It’s Interrelationship With Civil Liberties & The American Liberty Movement. Plus! Jerusalem … American Intervention …

The Coalition Talk Radio, an independent production on the GoLocalLive Network, broadcasts live on Friday Nights, from 6-9PM @ www.facebook.com/TheCoalitionRadio or www.GoLocalProv.com

www.CoalitionRadio.us
https://www.facebook.com/TheCoalitionRadio
Twitter @Coalition_Radio

EVENING TALK RADIO LIVES ON!
The Coalition Talk Radio 2.0 Live! On The GoLocalLive Media Network Watch On:
https://www.facebook.com/TheCoalitionRadio/
Friday’s From 6-9PM

Call Us! Vent! Consider Us Your Radio Intervention …
(401) 441 6515
Rebroadcasts @ www.CoalitionRadio.us
Pls “Like” The Coalition www.facebook.com/TheCoalitionRadio
Pls “Follow” The Coalition www.twitter.com/Coalition_Radio
Pls “Subscribe” Coalition YouTube http://tinyurl.com/ybquny6u

 

 

Dec 14

Taxpayer groups file suit against Denver to prevent disclosure of nonprofits’ donors in election spending

Goldwater Institute-backed effort challenges campaign finance rules changed by city in September

By | jmurray@denverpost.com | The Denver Post

Matt Miller, an attorney for the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, discusses a lawsuit filed by the group challenging part of the Denver campaign finance law. With him outside the Denver City and County Building on Dec. 13, 2017, are Marty Neilson, left, of the Colorado Union of Taxpayers, and Penn R. Pfiffner from the TABOR Committee.

Jon Murray, The Denver Post

Matt Miller, an attorney for the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute,= discusses a lawsuit filed by the group challenging part of the Denver campaign finance law. With him outside the Denver City and County Building on Dec. 13, 2017, are Marty Neilson, left, of the Colorado Union of Taxpayers, and Penn R. Pfiffner from the TABOR Committee.

 

Two conservative taxpayer advocacy groups filed suit Wednesday against Denver over campaign finance disclosure rules that they say will violate the privacy rights of their donors when the groups get involved in city elections.

The lawsuit, filed by the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute on behalf of the two groups, says changes approved by the City Council in September violate the free speech provision of the First Amendment. The city ordinance requires clubs, associations, corporations and groups that advocate for or against local ballot measures to meet the disclosure requirements of issue committees once they raise and spend at least $500.

Once it passes that threshold, an issue committee must identify by name and address each donor who gave $50 or more within that calendar year.

“We have donors who like to remain anonymous, and we’d like to honor their requests,” said Marty Neilson of the Colorado Union of Taxpayers. “We think this is an unconstitutional ordinance.”

Click (HERE) to read the rest of this story

Nov 14

TABOR Hearing Update

 

This morning the TABOR Foundation brought a lawsuit before the Colorado Supreme Court.  As the Plaintiff, we have charged that both Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD) and its Scientific and Cultural Facilities District had violated the requirements of the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights when they started imposing sales taxes on items that had been exempt; items that the Districts did not have voter approval to tax.  The arguments were presented on appeal to the State’s highest court.  Our Foundation was ably represented by attorney Steve Lechner of Mountain States Legal Foundation.  He faced alone the four attorneys employed by the governments on the other side.  Our side had lost at both the District (trial) level and at the Colorado Court of Appeals.

We knew going in that the Court is skewed to the Left and consistently finds reasons to subvert the clear language of TABOR.  One Justice, Gabriel, asked a hypothetical about getting broad-brush voter approval that, because as the Justice admitted, it was not applicable to this case.  Mr. Lechner nailed a question by Justice Marquez.  She had asked him if a precedent out of Mesa County could mean that the entire argument about voting on a tax policy change was irrelevant as long as revenues did not exceed the overall District TABOR limit.  Lechner cited to her chapter and verse on why the particulars of that precedent were wrong.

Steve Lechner also gave a summary that laid out the proper path for the Court to follow, showing that our lawsuit does not ask to have the statute declared unconstitutional, since it merely provides the necessary legislative permission for the newly imposed taxes.  We don’t even ask that the relevant statute be overturned; only that the Districts then take the next logical step and ask the voters for permission to impose those taxes.

In my experience, we will have to wait several months for a Ruling to be issued.  The TABOR Foundation thanks Mountain States Legal Foundation for its free representation and its thorough, excellent work.  Both organizations has seen this through as far as we can, and the Supreme Court’s ruling will conclude the issue.

Penn Pfiffner
Chairman, TABOR Committee

Nov 07

Reflections on 25 years of TABOR in Colorado

Reflections on 25 years of TABOR in Colorado

Friday marked 25 years since the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights was added to the Constitution in 1992

By Julia RentschReporter-Herald Staff Writer

Posted:   11/06/2017 11:07:03 PM MST

TABOR timeline

• 1992 — Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights amends Section 20 Article X of the Colorado Constitution

• 2000 — Amendment 23 for education spending increases

• 2005 — Ballot measure Referendum C loosens some TABOR restrictions for five years

• 2006 — TABOR measures rejected by voters in Maine, Nebraska, Oregon

• 2011 — State Sen. Andy Kerr and House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst lead suit against TABOR

• 2014 — Kerr v. Hickenlooper confirms general assembly has standing to challenge the constitutionality of TABOR

• 2015 — U.S. Supreme Court returns Kerr & Hullinghorst case to 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

• 2017 — House Bill 17-1187 to change excess state revenues cap growth factor introduced

Both Sam Mamet and Larry Sarner acutely remember the moment that the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights Act was amended to the Colorado Constitution. The difference: One man hated the amendment’s restrictions, while the other saw them as democratically vital.

Friday marked exactly 25 years since the election in which the amendment was added to the state constitution — Nov. 3, 1992. The measure took effect Dec. 31, 1992, and serves as a way to limit the growth of government by requiring increases in overall revenue from taxes not exceed the rates of inflation and population growth.

Continue reading

Oct 04

Republicans block pot-tax fix in Colorado Legislature’s special session

By   –  Reporter, Denver Business Journal
 Updated 

Colorado state Senate Republicans killed a second attempt Tuesday to re-establish a tax that could cost special districts some $6.9 million this fiscal year and then adjourned what might have been the least productive special session in the history of the state Legislature.

The final gavel, which came down at 2:23 p.m., ended two official days and several unofficial weeks of wrangling over whether the Legislature could fix an error it made in Senate 267 — the omnibus bill from the 2017 regular legislative session that boosted transportation funding, reduced business personal property taxes and freed up room under the state’s revenue cap by turning the hospital provider fee into an enterprise fund.

The error occurred when the bill inadvertently eliminated the ability for special districts to levy sales taxes on retail marijuana — a change that most affected the Regional Transportation District, which is slated to lose $6 million through June 30 because of it.

Legislative Democrats, with the backing of Gov. John Hickenlooper, offered two bills during the two-day special session that sought to clarify that special districts do have the ability to collect sales taxes on that uniquely Colorado project.

Continue reading

Oct 04

Colo. Taxpayer Rights Act Suit Appealed To 10th Circuit

Colo. Taxpayer Rights Act Suit Appealed To 10th Circuit

Law360, New York (October 2, 2017, 2:56 PM EDT) — A group of Colorado political subdivisions have returned to the Tenth Circuit to argue that they have standing to challenge the constitutionality of the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Eight school boards, a county commission and a special district board, in their opening brief on Sept. 27, claimed extensive injury from TABOR, a state constitutional provision requiring popular approval of any tax increase at any level of government.

“TABOR has deprived all of Colorado’s legislative bodies — from the state Legislature to boards of county commissioners…

Oct 04

TABOR questions stymie special Colorado legislative session

 TABOR questions stymie special Colorado legislative session

The biggest fight over whether to fix a drafting error in a state rural sustainability bill is whether the fix requires voter approval.

Senate Republicans are adamant that voters in affected special districts should weigh in. Democrats and those who have fought similar battles in the courts disagree.

Monday, the Legislature returned to the Capitol to fix a drafting error in Senate Bill 17-267, as ordered by Gov. John Hickenlooper, who had signed the bill May 30.

The bill consolidated two sales taxes on recreational marijuana – a state tax of 2.9 percent and a special tax of 10 percent – and raised the tax to a voter-approved maximum of 15 percent.

Continue reading

Oct 03

Rifts develop quickly during Colorado legislative special session

By
 –  Reporter, Denver Business Journal

Day one of the Colorado legislative special session ended with House Democrats advancing a bill to fix a mistake that could cost special districts as much as $6.9 million this year — but providing little reason to be optimistic that the measure can make it through the Republican-led Senate.

Legislators are grappling with a drafting error in the signature bill of the 2017 session that removed the ability of special districts to charge sales tax on retail marijuana, a gaffe that could leave districts a combined $6.9 million short on revenue this year if not fixed. The vast majority of that shortage — about $6 million — would be incurred by the Regional Transportation District that provides public transit in the Denver area.

Continue reading