Oct 07

Colorado school districts join legal fight against TABOR

School officials say they have standing as plaintiffs because of drop in funding

Colorado school boards who claim Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights has decimated student funding have joined a five-year legal fight to have the law dismantled.

Five Colorado school boards have been added as new plaintiffs in the original federal lawsuit filed against the anti-tax measure, also known as TABOR. The suit was filed in 2011 and led by state Sen. Andy Kerr and House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst.

In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court returned the case to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver for further review. But in June 2016, the Court of Appeals determined the legislative plaintiffs did not have standing to sue. The case was then sent back to U.S. District Court.

Lawyers for the original plaintiffs hope to keep the suit alive with the addition of the school districts, saying the districts have legal standing to sue because they have been directly injured by TABOR.

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

Oct 07

TABOR lawsuit is back, stronger than ever

TABOR lawsuit is back, stronger than ever

After suffering a major setback earlier this year, the legal team trying to repeal Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights amendment is back and charging once again into the breach.

Better known as TABOR, the amendment limits state spending and prohibits tax increases without a vote of the people. It has been panned by many lawmakers and policy analysts, and some point to it as a reason why Colorado lags in education funding nationally. Still, supporters believe it is a venerable effort at direct democracy.

In 2011, a group of public officials filed a lawsuit against the 1992 TABOR amendment, which puts an annual cap on the state’s tax revenue, on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. The case is officially filed against Governor Hickenlooper, who as head of state represents the Colorado Constitution. In the intervening five years, the case’s legitimacy has been, at different turns, supported, disputed and ultimately denied.

In 2013, two years after the case was filed, the Tenth Circuit approved it, heard it and handed down a decision in favor of the plaintiffs in 2014. But Colorado’s then-Attorney General, John Suthers, challenged that decision, arguing that the plaintiffs did not in fact qualify to be heard. The Supreme Court sided with Suthers and issued an order for the Tenth Circuit to reconsider the case in light of a recent decision, Arizona Legislature v. Arizona Redistricting Commission, that mandated that plaintiffs in this kind of case must be composed of complete government bodies, not just individuals. Continue reading

Oct 07

Pueblo City Schools joins in lawsuit challenging TABOR

Pueblo City Schools joins in lawsuit challenging TABOR

Pueblo City Schools (D60) has added its name to a list of plaintiffs in a constitutional challenge to Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.

During its regular September meeting, the board of education approved a resolution that will see the district become part of the Kerr et al v. Hickenlooper civil lawsuit, filed in 2011 in U.S. District Court in Colorado.

The plaintiffs — current and past state legislators, public officials, educators, administrators and private citizens — have sued to overturn TABOR.

“The ability of Pueblo School District No. 60 to provide adequate education services to its students depends in part on its ability to convince the Colorado General Assembly to adequately fund the Public School Finance Act,” the approved resolution declares.

Additionally, the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights “prevents the state and its local school districts from fulfilling their constitutional obligations to adequately fund the public schools” and has impinged on the district’s ability to provide for the education of its children “due to requirements for elections to approve any increases in the property tax mill levies.” Continue reading

Jul 20

Colorado Court of Appeals rejects challenge under Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights

Colorado Court of Appeals rejects challenge under Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights – Lexology

In a case decided on June 30, 2016, the Colorado Court of Appeals considered whether the Regional Transportation District and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District violated the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (“TABOR”). The Court of Appeals’ decision reflects, courts are reluctant to invalidate legislation on TABOR grounds. The decision also makes it more difficult to challenge TABOR.

TABOR requires advance voter approval before a district may collect any new tax, increase a tax rate, or change a tax policy that causes a net tax revenue gain. Under Colorado law, the Regional Transportation District and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (the “Districts”), along with the state, are granted taxing power.

In 2009, the legislature removed the state sales tax exemption for cigarettes, but the exemption remained in place for the Districts. In other words, the state could collect sales tax on cigarettes starting in 2009, but the Districts could not. The legislature also removed exemptions for direct mail advertising materials, candy, soda, and food containers in 2010, but these exemptions remained in place for the Districts.

 

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Jun 08

Colorado groups on IRS ‘targeting’ list

Colorado groups on IRS ‘targeting’ list

A handful of Colorado-based conservative organizations that sought tax-exempt status from the IRS are on the recently disclosed list of groups that were hit with additional scrutiny in the application process. In 2013, the IRS admitted and apologized for delaying the applications for tax-exempt status to groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in the group name.

A group called “TBD Colorado” is also on the list. Complete Colorado has not confirmed at the moment that the group is the same as the “To Be Determined Colorado” initiative launched by Governor Hickenlooper.

Among the list:

  • Citizen Awareness Project
  • Clear Information Colorado
  • Coalition for a Conservative Majority Colorado Springs
  • Coalition for a Conservative Majority Denver Chapter
  • Colorado Women’s Alliance
  • Common Sense Colorado
  • Northwest Colorado Alliance, Inc.
  • Tea Party Patriots, Denver
  • TBD Colorado
  • The TABOR Committee

All of the groups appear to have a conservative or right-of-center leaning with the exception of  TBD Colorado, if that group is indeed the non-profit arm of the Governor’s effort “to find solutions to the difficult problems facing the state.”

The list was created as a result of a class action lawsuit against the IRS. According to the Washington Times, which broke the story on Sunday:

The tax agency filed the list last month as part of a court case after a series of federal judges, fed up with what they said was the agency’s stonewalling, ordered it to get a move on. The case is a class-action lawsuit, so the list of names is critical to knowing the scope of those who would have a claim against the IRS.

Complete Colorado reported in May of 2013 that The TABOR Committee felt as though it had received unnecessary and unfair questioning regarding the nature of their organizations. That group is on the list.*

“Certainly, we were damaged by this,” said Penn Pfiffner, Chairman of the TABOR Committee. “It’s very likely that we’ll be looking to recover the costs by the delay in responding to the extraordinary questions we got.”

Among the many questions asked in the letter to The TABOR Committee were such items as:

“…please provide each [board officer’s] names and addresses of each individual’s employer/business, the nature of their employment/business…”

“Please provide copies of agendas and/or descriptions of topics covered at each of the organization’s general meetings and events since inception.”

“Please submit copies of all publications and/or advertising materials that have been distributed or will be distributed.”

The list of 426 names does not include 40 other names of organizations that had already opted out of being a part of any class action suit. However, the list of 426 exceeds the original estimate from the IRS of 298 groups that were targeted.

Group list of extra scrutiny targets by IRS

*The 2013 report names the group as The Tabor Foundation. The TABOR Foundation is the (c)(3), and The TABOR Committee is the (c)(4) arm of the same group.

CORRECTION: The original publishing of this article listed Common Sense Colorado as an organization that would not be considered right-of-center or conservative. That is incorrect.

Send us tips at CompleteColorado@gmail.com.

http://completecolorado.com/pagetwo/2016/06/07/colorado-groups-on-irs-targeting-list/

Jun 08

Anti-TABOR lawsuit deserved latest setback in federal court

 

Anti-TABOR lawsuit deserved latest setback in federal court

Cynthia Coffman picture

Cyrus McCrimmon, Denver Post file

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman is defending the state against a lawsuit regarding TABOR.

By The Denver Post Editorial Board |

June 7, 2016 |

The Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights has multiple flaws that this editorial page has documented repeatedly over the years while urging lawmakers and voters to fix them.

We’re also on record as recently as last month urging the legislature to adopt a budgetary mechanism to free up revenue that otherwise would have to be refunded under TABOR.

But our critique of TABOR doesn’t extend to questioning the right of voters to enact or defend it. The 5-year-old lawsuit arguing that TABOR violates the U.S. Constitution’s mandate that states have a “Republican Form of Government” is too strained and exotic for our taste. It deserved the setback it suffered last week in federal court.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that several Colorado lawmakers who are plaintiffs lacked legal standing to sue because they do not represent the General Assembly as a whole.

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

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 06

Progressives Return To Their Roots

MSLF logo
ICYMI, Mountain States Legal Foundation provides The TABOR Foundation and The TABOR Committee with excellent legal advice and representation. Here is their June column, Summary Judgement, written by MSLF President William Perry Pendley:
 
Each month, MSLF president and chief operating officer William Perry Pendley publishes his monthly column, Summary Judgment. A hard-hitting commentary on environmental, federal lands, natural resources, or private property rights issues, Summary Judgment is carried by newspapers, magazines, newsletters and other publications throughout the country. So topical are the issues addressed by Summary Judgment that they are often the focus of talk radio discussion for weeks after the column is sent out at the end of each month. Summary Judgment runs 650 words and may be reprinted so long as credit is given to William Perry Pendley and to Mountain States Legal Foundation. A glossy photograph of the author is available or download a high-res photo.

Progressives Return To Their Roots

Jun 01, 2016 | by William Perry Pendley

The Virgin Islands’ Attorney General issued a subpoena against ExxonMobil and a free-market think tank in Washington, branding, blacklisting, and besmirching hundreds from coast to coast as participants in a long-running criminal conspiracy.  The think tank’s lawyer reviled the subpoena as “offensive,” “unlawful,” a violation of “civil rights,” and “un-American.”  It is all that but one:  “un-American.”  It has its roots in progressives’ earliest and proudest days.

 

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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):