Stating he does not want Coloradans’ rights to put initiatives on the November ballot to be limited by the coronavirus, Governor Polis on Friday issued an Executive Order instructing the Secretary of State to develop temporary rules for gathering petition signatures by mail or email. The governor suspended the order yesterday until June 24 to allow the Secretary of State to develop the rules first.
Currently, signatures must be gathered in face-to-face interactions and the petition pages must be notarized, testifying that they were collected in person and that certain rules were followed when a signature was gathered. Much of Colorado’s signature-gathering laws are in the state Constitution—and should not be circumvented by an executive order.
CAHB has partnered with business and nonprofit stakeholders to strengthen Colorado’s petition-gathering laws to limit special-interest ballot measures. Last week, we co-signed a letter with 35 other organizations to Gov. Polis, asking him not to take this step. In that letter, we noted that “electronic signature gathering would also be more susceptible to voter fraud, jeopardizing our state’s hard earned and well-managed election process.” That letter is available by clicking here.
On Monday, Colorado Concern and former University of Denver chancellor Daniel Ritchie filed a lawsuit in Denver District Court, stating the governor lacks the power to alter Colorado’s statewide signature-gathering process, even in a time of emergency, and that the governor cannot change the state Constitution. The complaint can be viewed by clicking here.
CAHB will be an active participant in the coalition efforts to stop any weakening of the ballot initiative and petition process. Even though Initiative 122, limited growth, has been withdrawn for 2020, there are still several harmful ballot measures pending, including a rewrite of state income taxes and paid family leave. And any changes to signature gathering now could create a precedent for changes in future years, opening our industry for more attacks in 2022 and beyond.
We hope that Gov. Polis acknowledges our concerns and eventually works with us on this issue. Instead of drawing political battle lines and mustering resources to fight anti-business ballot measures, we should be focusing our energies, and limited financial resources, on economic recovery and addressing our common threat of COVID-19.
Initiative 122 Withdrawn:
As noted above, Initiative 122 was withdrawn last week, meaning that the limited-growth measure will not appear on the 2020 ballot. The withdrawal may have been prompted by a campaign-finance complaint filed last week by the Coloradans for Responsible Reform issue committee formed to defeat Initiative 122. The proponent’s issue committee, Sensible Growth, is more than 14 days delinquent on its first campaign-finance report and failed to file its second report due yesterday. CFRR will continue to work to ensure that Daniel Hayes is held accountable for not disclosing contributions and expenditures, including paid signature gathering.
State Budget Update:
The General Assembly will reconvene after Memorial Day to address the state budget. The Joint Budget Committee, the bipartisan group that writes the state budget, last week received an updated economic report. According to economists, state revenues have dropped further than previously reported and the state now faces a $3.3 billion shortfall. The current year shortfall is $895.8 million, and the shortfall for the 2020-21 fiscal year is $2.42 billion. The budget contraction for this downturn is expected to be twice the Great Recession (a -5.6% reduction versus a -2.5% reduction in 2009). The largest and hardest cuts to the budget will likely hit K-12 education, higher education and transportation.
In addition, the state will be grappling with the cost of unemployment. The Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund (UITF) has received 10 times the filings than the previous recession and will likely need to borrow money from the federal government to remain solvent. Employers will then have to pay increased UI fees of $42.80 to $865.40 per worker next year to replenish the fund.
Face Coverings Extended:
Governor Polis on Sunday extended a previous Executive Order requiring critical and essential workers to wear non-medical face coverings. This extension is in effect until June 16.
Face coverings are part of the Multi-Industry Construction Guidance document released on April 1 that lays out the state’s safety requirements for construction jobsites. That document is available by clicking here. The guidance on face coverings includes:
- Use of personal protective equipment for hygiene and safety: employees should wear all standard worksite personal protective equipment (PPE), especially eye protection and gloves, as well as other standard safety equipment (e.g. reflective vests or jackets). In addition, workers should wear a mask or cloth face covering at other times if consistent with OSHA and other applicable safety requirements. PPE may not be shared between members of a work team.
If you have any questions about temperature checks, symptom monitoring or face coverings, please contact Ted Leighty at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for your adherence to these regulations and guidelines.