The Nov. 7 ballot is starting to take shape, with a pair of local ballot questions approved by the Eagle County commissioners this week, a long list of Vail Town Council candidates throwing their hats into the ring, and a possible transportation infrastructure tax question backed by Eagle (and Routt) County state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush.
First, here’s the press release from Eagle County on its two ballot questions:
The Eagle County Board of Commissioners has approved two questions for the Nov. 7 ballot. Topics include new sales and excise taxes on recreational marijuana, and reestablishing the county’s ability to provide cable television services, telecommunications services and high-speed internet services.
On Tuesday, Sept. 5, the commissioners approved ballot language that asks voters for permission to opt out of a state law which prohibits the use of public money to provide or improve access to high-speed internet and other telecommunications services, either on their own or through partnerships.
The ballot question would not prevent any private business, including existing broadband providers, from initiating or continuing to provide these services. The towns of Avon, Eagle, Gypsum, Minturn and Vail are asking voters to approve similar measures.
At a special meeting Friday, Sept. 8, the board approved ballot language asking voters to authorize new sales and excise taxes of up to 5 percent each on recreational marijuana, for the purpose of funding mental health and substance abuse services.
In order to help the marijuana industry absorb the proposed taxes, the county intends to set the collection rate at 2.5 percent in 2018 with future annual increases of .5 percent each year thereafter until the 5 percent limit is achieved in 2024.
And here’s a press release from the state House Democrats on a possible transportation tax ballot question:
Hopes Rise for New Transportation Initiative
Duran, Mitsch Bush Say Effort for 2018 Ballot Measure Addresses a Pressing Need
(Sept. 7) – A plan by business groups to push for a ballot measure to increase state investment in transportation was applauded Thursday by the two House Democrats who sponsored a 2017 bill to achieve the same goal.
The new initiative, unveiled Wednesday, is being spearheaded by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce with support from the Colorado Contractors Association. Negotiations with several other groups are continuing. While the language of the measure has not yet been announced, it is expected to be based on last session’s transportation compromise effort, HB17-1242.
That bill, sponsored by Speaker Duran and Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, would have asked the voters of Colorado to provide financing for $3.5 billion in projects, capturing all of Colorado’s tier 1 needs statewide. It also included new revenue for local governments and new matching dollars for transportation options across the state, to help commuters to get to work on time, to help seniors stay in their homes and to provide those with disabilities access to efficient and affordable transportation.
The bill, which also had the sponsorship of Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, and Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, passed the House but died when the Republican members in the Senate Finance Committee locked down against it.
“I’m glad to see the business community moving forward with this effort to build a transportation network that meets the needs of our growing state,” Speaker Duran said. “The path to continued prosperity will not be travelled over potholed, traffic-choked roads.”
“Our state is facing a transportation crisis, and it’s not just along the Front Range,” said Rep. Mitsch Bush, the chairwoman of the House Transportation & Energy Committee. “For the rural areas of our state, deteriorating roads and bridges and lack of public transit impose severe difficulties for business, agriculture, energy and people who must travel long distances to access health care.”
“Without a statewide solution, some Colorado communities with deeper pockets have been moving forward with transportation initiatives of their own, leaving many other communities behind,” Speaker Duran said. “We need a long-term, statewide solution, and I hope the voters will have the opportunity to decide whether to make this investment in the future of our state.”