The first ballot initiative proposal of the 2021-2022 election cycle has been filed in Colorado, even as the results from the current general election are still unofficial.
All five statutory measures introduced so far are from designated representatives Thomas Williams and James Newell and seek to ban hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. Deeming the practice detrimental to public health, the environment and wildlife, the initiatives would prohibit all fracking on non-federal land. The ban would apply to current and future fracking permits.
While there are slight variations between the multiple versions of the proposal, most of the measures would grant private individuals the standing to sue for compliance, and allow the attorney general’s office to enforce with or without a third-party complaint.
Legislative Council Staff, which offers comments and suggestions to proponents, asked in their analysis whether the authors “considered any fiscal impacts that may result from the enactment of the proposed initiative on the state, local governments within the state, oil and gas developers and their employees, or private mineral rights and royalty owners and lessees?”
Specifically, the evaluation was concerned about the loss of severance or property tax revenue, as well as whether the fracking ban would amount to a government taking of private property under the constitution.
Two other proposed initiatives, pertaining to the posting of operating hours for schools and universities and creating a state-level electoral college, were introduced and withdrawn.
Following the review-and-comment process with Legislative Council Staff, proponents who wish to proceed with their initiative must submit it to the secretary of state's office to receive a title. The three-member Title Board will hold meetings beginning in December to set the ballot titles that appear before voters, provided the initiatives meet the constitutional single-subject requirement.
In the most recent election cycle, designated representatives with multiple similar proposals chose one to pursue for the ballot, even if the Title Board advanced more than one of the initiatives.