The handful of groups seeking your vote on statewide ballot measures in November are expected to raise more than $30 million by mid-October.
As of Sept. 30, ten issue committees have raised a total of $29.3 million, with a decidedly-lopsided advantage for those who back three liquor-related ballot measures and another supporting the measure to decriminalize magic mushrooms.
Wine in Grocery Stores is an issue committee backing Proposition 125, which would allow wine to be sold in grocery stores. It has so far raised $11.2 million, although its first couple of million went to pay for petition signatures to get it to the ballot. The measure is backed by DoorDash, InstaCart, Target, Albertsons Safeway, and Kroger. The same group is backing Proposition 126, which would allow liquor delivery by grocery stores.*
Opposing Prop 125 as well as the other two liquor measures is Keeping Colorado Local, with contributions of $603,000, mostly from local liquor stores and the Colorado Licensed Beverage Association.
Coloradans for Consumer Choice and Retail Fairness backs Proposition 124, which would expand the number of liquor licenses a retailer can hold. That committee has now raised $7.1 million, with the first $2 million spent on getting the measures on the ballot. The rest has largely come from Colorado Fine Wine & Spirits, a subsidiary of Total Wine & More, which has three locations in Colorado and is owned by Rep. David Trone, D-Maryland, and his brother, Robert.
The magic mushroom ballot measure, Proposition 122, is backed by the issue committee Natural Medicine Colorado. It would decriminalize possession of psilocybin and other related hallucinogens and allow the licensing of “healing centers” where people could take those substances to treat mental health disorders.
Natural Medicine Colorado has now raised and spent $2.8 million, although most of it went to getting the measure to the ballot. Since mid-July, when it was certified for the ballot, the committee has raised less than $250,000, with $215,000 from the New Approach PAC of Washington, D.C.
The measure’s only opposition, from Protect Colorado’s Kids, is headed by Luke Niforatos, an executive vice-president with Smart Approaches to Marijuana, and which has raised $750 in non-monetary contributions used to develop a website.
Proposition 123 would set aside about $300 million per year out of TABOR refunds to pay for a series of affordable housing initiatives. The issue committee Coloradans for Affordable Housing Now has raised $4.9 million, including $1.8 million since it made the ballot in early August. Its biggest donors include David Younggren, former board chair for Gary Community Investment Company and the Piton Foundation, the major backer of the initiative; Habitat for Humanity, Gary Advocacy (part of Gary Community Investment) and Action Now of Houston, a nonprofit that focuses on progressive causes and founded by John and Laura Arnold.
The initiative’s only formal opposition is from Path 2 Zero, an initiative of the Independence Institute that has so far raised less than $5,000. Path 2 Zero also backs Proposition 121, the measure to lower the state income tax rate; and opposes Propositions GG, FF and Amendment F.
The issue committee for Americans for Prosperity, another dark money group, has also spent about $6,000 to back Proposition 121.
The issue committee Keeping Colorado Great is opposed to Proposition 121, and is funded by the National Education Association, which has contributed $250,000.
The General Assembly put six measures on the ballot, and the one getting the most attention is Proposition FF, which would increase taxes on incomes above $300,000, with the money paying for meals for all public school kids in Colorado.
Healthy School Meals for All Colorado Students, the issue committee backing the measure, has raised more than $1 million, largely from Hunger Free Colorado ($532,203), the Jefferson County-based Community First Foundation ($250,000) and Gary Advocacy ($100,000).
Proposition GG would require the ballot title and fiscal summary for any ballot initiative that increases or decreases state income tax rates include a table showing the average tax change for tax filers across different income categories. An issue committee, Coloradans for Ballot Transparency, has so far raised just over $1 million, with half of that from the Sixteen Thirty Fund, a dark money group that has given $19.5 million to various Democratic-affiliated causes over the past decade.
The National Education Association and the Colorado Education Association have collectively contributed $350,000 to the issue committee.
No issue committees have been filed to back Amendment F, which deals with charitable gaming activity; Amendment D, which would designate judges for the state’s new 23rd Judicial District; or Amendment E, which would extend the homestead property tax exemption to Gold Star spouses.
Editor’s note: a previous version incorrectly identified the backers of Proposition 126.
The Secretary of State certified the ballot for Colorado’s 2022 general election on Monday, including 11 statewide ballot measures.
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