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Can tax proponents beat the clock in Colorado?

Posted by Kelly Maher on February 17th, 2011
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An initiative put forth late last year that would have created a progressive income tax and generally overhauled Colorado’s tax policy died on the vine. It has since been resurrected into six different proposals that will be heard at 1:30 p.m. today in House Committee Room 109 at the Colorado Capitol.

Can proponents beat the clock to get one of these on the ballot in November? The initiative process is a lengthy one: proponents must meet with Legislative Legal Counsel, hold public hearings, go to title board meetings, and allow for opponents to appeal even before they go to gather signatures from the people (Yep, those people who bug you as you’re walking out of King Soopers).

So the question proponents of a progressive income tax have to be asking themselves is: do we have enough time to get enough signatures to actually get an initiative on the ballot? State law allows for up to six months for an initiative proponent to gather signatures to get a measure on the ballot; but a generous timeline, assuming there is no legal challenge would allow five months at most to get the signatures needed. Signature petitions must be filed with the Secretary of State’s office by Aug. 1, 2011 for a Nov. 8 election. In addition, state law requires that the number of signatures is based on a percentage of the total votes cast in the previous election for Secretary of State, so access to this year’s ballot would require more than 85,000 signatures. Two years ago it was just over 76,000.

In the title board hearing for the first initiative last Dec. 15, when faced with the idea that her first initiative wouldn’t go forward, one of the proponents, Carol Hedges said:

“We’re starting to squeeze for a whole variety of reasons. We intended to file this in December but you all don’t meet in December . . . or in November, we don’t do the title boards in . . . you know it’s no one’s fault that’s just the way it is. We’re just starting to squeeze, I was just proposing something that might keep this process moving more quickly. We can immediately go refile with Legislative Counsel, but that will again trigger another two weeks before we have another hearing which will then triggers . . . so we’re another month out which is starting to get closer to our ability to have the full six months to collect signatures.”

According to today’s Denver Post, state Sen. Rollie Heath, D- Boulder is also seeking either a referendum, or initiative, on taxes at the ballot.

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  • Post by Kelly Maher on February 17th, 2011

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