8 Colorado ballot initiatives you should know about

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Photo: Colorado votesInitiatives need 86,105 valid signatures to make it onto this November’s ballot, although proponents try to gather far more, assuming thousands will be thrown out. Here’s a quick list of what voters are likely to see.


These initiatives have been approved by the Secretary of State's Office and will be on the fall ballot.

Amendment 67 – Definition of a Person and Child

Extends the definition of a "person" in the Colorado Wrongful Death Act to include embryos and fetuses, a change that would criminalize abortion. Proponents say the amendment is needed because a person who causes a woman to miscarry, either through an accident or assault, cannot be charged with homicide under current Colorado law, although they do face enhanced charges that carry similar penalties.

Past coverage:

Amendment 68 – Horse Racetrack Limited Gaming, Proceeds for K-12 Education

Allows for a casino at the state’s only racetrack, in Arapahoe County. It would also permit two more casino-racetracks to be built in the future in Pueblo and Mesa counties. Operators would have to pay a $25 million up-front fee and turn over a third of their proceeds annually to the state for K-12 education. The proposed facilities would have at least 2,500 slot machines, more than some of the biggest casinos in the Las Vegas strip. Colorado’s existing casino towns are fighting the amendment, saying it could devastate their business.


Backers for these measures are still submitting their signatures, but the initiatives are expected to be on the fall ballot. These measures will be re-numbered if their signatures are accepted.

Issue 48 – Labeling Genetically Modified Food

Requires require food companies to label any genetically modified ingredients in their products. Proponents say consumers should have a right to know what they’re eating; while agricultural groups argue the labels create a stigma unjustified by current science. A similar measure is also on the Oregon ballot this year.

Past coverage:

Issue 124: School Board Open Meetings

Requires public access to contract negotiations between school districts and employee unions.


Backers of these initiatives appear to have backed down and withdrawn their ballot measures.

Issue 88: Oil and Gas Operations

Increases the mandatory setback between oil and gas wells and occupied structures (homes, schools, businesses, etc) from the current limit of 500 feet to 2,000 feet. Companies would be able to negotiate shorter distances with property owners. Backers say the space is needed to minimize health and quality of life impacts, while the industry complains the policy would effectively make it impossible to develop much of the state’s oil and gas.

Issue 89: Local Government Regulation of the Environment

Adds an "Environmental Bill of Rights" to the state constitution, stating that “clean air, pure water, and natural and scenic values” are common rights for all citizens. The full legal impact of the measure is unclear, although the initiative specifies that local governments would be allowed to pass more restrictive environmental regulations than the state has put in place.

Past coverage of issues 88 and 89:

Issue 121: Fair Distribution of Oil and Gas Revenue

Local governments that ban oil and gas development would be barred from receiving any tax money from the industry. Currently, some severance tax money is distributed to local governments through a competitive grant program. Communities would be unable to apply unless they allowed drilling.

Issue 137: Fiscal Impact of Ballot Measures

Future initiative petitions would be required to include a statement on the measure’s potential financial impact on the state, similar to what nonpartisan legislative staff currently compile for the ‘Blue Book’ election guide. Proponents include business organizations, and the interest group dedicated to fighting Issues 88 and 89.