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Judge dismisses lawsuit seeking to hold up blue book printing over Gallagher Amendment language

Analysis created by nonpartisan legislative staff was removed last week and replaced with a description written by lawmakers

A 2018 Colorado ballot. (Eric Lubbers, The Colorado Sun)
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A Denver District Court judge on Friday morning dismissed a lawsuit attempting to delay printing of the state-issued voter guide because of changes state lawmakers made to language describing the question on the November ballot seeking to repeal the Gallagher Amendment.

Judge Martin F. Egelhoff declined to issue a temporary restraining order that would have prevented the so-called blue book from heading to press.

Proponents of the Gallagher Amendment, which governs Colorado’s property tax rates, contended that a rewrite last week of a nonpartisan analysis of the initiative was unfair. Clay Vigoda, who is leading Protect Our Homes Colorado, which opposes the repeal effort, said the alterations amounted to putting “campaign propaganda” in the blue book, which is sent to every Colorado voter.

EARLIER: Rewrite of Gallagher Amendment repeal explanation in Colorado’s state-issued voter guide leads to lawsuit


The repeal question is known as Amendment B on the November ballot. It was placed there by state lawmakers during the recent lawmaking term.

Republicans and Democrats loath Gallagher for the way it siphons tax revenue from local governments, including schools and fire districts.

The Gallagher Amendment dictates that home values can make up no more than 45% of the state property tax base, while non-residential property owners have to contribute 55%. The effect is that residential assessment rates have steadily fallen since Gallagher was enacted, which proponents of the amendment highlight as keeping money in Coloradans’ pockets.

The General Assembly’s Legislative Council Committee, a panel of top lawmakers, met last week to discuss blue book language drafted by nonpartisan Capitol staff through consultation with groups for and against the 11 questions on the November ballot. That’s when sweeping changes were made — with bipartisan support — to the language describing the Gallagher repeal, which stripped out taxation language.

Vigoda’s group said the new language is misleading. State lawmakers said they were simply trying to simplify the blue book.

“This bogus lawsuit being tossed out was as easy to predict as sunshine after a storm,” state Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial, said in a written statement.

Tate was one of the architects of the legislation placing the repeal question on this year’s ballot.

“The political insiders who authored the Gallagher Amendment in 1982 will undoubtedly continue trying to distract and deceive voters about the unintended consequences of the measure,” Tate added. “We will keep our focus on sharing with Coloradans the broad, bipartisan support for voting yes on Amendment B to stop the damage Gallagher delivers to schools, first responders and local businesses across the state.”

Ballots will be mailed out in Colorado starting on Oct. 9.

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