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Politics and Government

Fact check: What’s true (and what’s not) about 2018 Colorado ballot measures

A look at the claims in TV ads about oil and gas setbacks and transportation spending

A 2018 Colorado ballot. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)
  • Credibility:

The Colorado ballot is crowded this year with questions about taxes, transportation, energy and education — not to mention a bunch of local issues.

All the competing messages flooding the TV airwaves makes it difficult to know up from down and how to vote.

MORE: A preview of Colorado’s 2018 ballot: Taxes, roads and an existential crisis for oil and gas

To help voters, Colorado media outlets are putting the claims in the commercials through a reality check.

Here’s a rundown of all the political fact checks about the 2018 ballot measures and whether they meet the truth test:

(Check back often for updates throughout the election.)

This is what Amendment 74 would do, but there’s more

The claim: “This allows property owners to ask for compensation at fair market value when government action limits their rights.”

From: Protect Colorado and Committee for Colorado’s Shared Heritage, in support of Amendment 74

Fact check verdict from CBS4: True

The context: The oil and gas industry and Colorado Farm Bureau paid for this ad and correctly described the constitutional amendment. But it needs context: The U.S. and state constitutions already requires government to reimburse landowners if they take or damage their property, except in cases of health, safety and welfare. The amendment would add a provision to require reimbursement if a law reduces a property’s fair market value. More hereSource: CBS4

If you look to another state, you can see the effects of Amendment 74

The claim: “As an unintended consequence of Amendment 74, cities and towns will be deluged with lawsuits and guess who will pay for it? You will.”

From: Save Our Neighborhoods, in opposition to Amendment 74

Fact check verdict from CBS4: True

The context: Local governments and legal experts are certain that the measure would spur lawsuits from property owners about a range of issues, whether noise and light ordinances, location of marijuana dispensaries and oil and gas drilling. The evidence is clear from Oregon, where a similar measure spurred more than 7,000 lawsuits and $20 billion in claims. More hereSource: CBS4

The impact of Proposition 112 is big — but not this big

The claim: “This is effectively a ban on new development of natural gas and oil.”

From: Protect Colorado, in opposition to Proposition 112

Fact check verdict from 9News: Half true

The context: The measure to require a 2,500-foot buffer from schools, buildings and “vulnerable areas” for new oil and gas development applies to state-owned land and private properties — but not federal land, which is a significant portion of the state. This is omitted from the pro-industry advertisement. More here. Source: 9News

Proposition 112’s effects on education are misstated

The claim: “Reducing revenues” from oil and gas development restrictions would mean “lower pay for our teachers and less money for our kids’ schools”

From: Protect Colorado, in opposition to Proposition 112

Fact check verdict from 9News: False

The context: The advertisement from the oil and gas industry organization suggests education spending could suffer if the measure to limit oil and gas drilling passes. If the local district loses local property tax revenue, the state must make up the difference, according to current spending formulas. How the state would pay this is questionable and could mean cuts elsewhere, but this is how it currently works. Source: 9News

VOTER GUIDE 2018: Resources, explainers, latest news and more

Does Proposition 112 improve oil and gas safety?

The claim: “It doesn’t improve safety.”

From: Protect Colorado, in opposition to Proposition 112

Fact check verdict from Fox31: False

The context: By increasing the distance between buildings and oil and gas operations to 2,500 feet, it would make homes and schools safer. The oil and gas industry and the state conduct checks to prevent leaks and incidents, but problems do happen, including explosions and deaths. More here. Source: Fox31

This justification for Proposition 110 is off by a million

The claim: “1991 was also the last time we raised taxes for transportation — since then our population has doubled.”

From: Coloradans for Colorado, in support of Proposition 110

Fact check verdict from 9News: Half true

The context: Colorado last increased the gas tax in 1991. Right now, 22 cents for every gallon goes to the state, and 18 cents goes to the federal government. But Colorado’s population hasn’t doubled in the past 27 years. The estimates from the state demography office shows it’s 1 million people shy of being doubled. More hereSource: 9News

The tourists will pay the bill, but so will Colorado residents

The claim: “When you vote yes on 110 those tourists will help pay to fix our roads and improve our transportation system all across the state.”

From: Coloradans for Colorado, in support of Proposition 110

Fact check verdict from 9News: Half true

The context: If Proposition 110 passes, it will increase sales taxes from 2.9 percent to 3.52 percent. So yes, tourists who visit the state will pay those taxes if they make purchases. But so would state residents. A family with income of $74,374 a year would pay an estimated $131 more a year in taxes. More here. Source: 9News

Proposition 112 may hurt the oil and gas industry, but its full impacts are not yet known

The claim: “If it passes, we would lose jobs in every community across our state. Not just in oil and natural gas, but in every industry.”

From: Protect Colorado, in opposition to Proposition 112

Fact check verdict from 9News: Misleading

The context: The potential for job losses in the state’s oil and gas industry is a possibility, but “every community” is a stretch. A pro-industry group study suggested the ripple effect of losing industry jobs could mean fewer related jobs, or service jobs in those areas. But the suggestion that it would affect everything goes too far. More here. Source: 9News


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