The Spot: Gov. Polis’ lifeline to ballot campaigns, weaponized public records and the legislature reconvenes

For people, policy and Colorado politics

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It’s hard to understate the significance of the governor’s recent executive order to allow ballot petitioners to collect signatures online and through the mail. (Let’s set aside for a moment that there’s some chance this order won’t stand, since it’s already been challenged in court.)

The order, signed Friday, was a lifeline to campaigns that were facing the nearly impossible, and dangerous, task of collecting more than 100,000 signatures to place their measures on the 2020 ballot. There are no public events taking place these days, and people are less inclined to stop outside of a grocery store to talk to a ballot petitioner — much less to risk infection by touching the petitioner’s pen and pad to sign the thing.

Collecting signatures online and through the mail brings challenges of its own. For one, it’s easier to sway someone through an in-person conversation than through an exchange online. But the online route creates a huge opportunity to connect with people petitioners otherwise wouldn’t reach — and at a lower cost.

Because of this order, you might vote this fall on proposals to raise the nicotine tax and to start a paid family and medical leave program for Colorado workers, among other measures.

You also might be asked to decide the future of income taxation in Colorado. I touched on two proposed tax changes in a recent story and want to briefly highlight this potential showdown today.

One ballot measure, pushed by liberal organizations and politicians, proposes to cut the state income tax for everyone earning less than $250,000 — more than nine in 10 Coloradans — while raising rates on the roughly 5% of Coloradans who make more than that amount per year. This would generate an estimated $2 billion annually for a state that expects to be short by at least that amount for the next couple years, or longer.

The other proposal would lower the income tax rate across the board — everybody gets a cut. It’s backed by conservatives, and it would reduce revenue to the state by an estimated $150 million per year.

This would be a fascinating set of competing proposals in any election, but particularly so this year, given Colorado’s projected shortfall. We’ll see if Gov. Jared Polis’ petitioning lifeline is enough to land either on the ballot.

If both qualify, the result will be hugely consequential.

And speaking of consequential elections, Justin Wingerter goes behind the scenes of Senate race dirt-collecting in this week’s Spot. Saja Hindi previews the back half of the legislative session, which is set to resume Tuesday. And Jon Murray writes about the strange world of retail politics in a pandemic.

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You can send tips, comments and questions to me at aburness@denverpost.com or to the other Post reporters below.

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Source:: The Denver Post – Politics


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