Opponents of Gallagher Amendment repeal suing over changes made to state Blue Book

An issue committee fighting against a November ballot measure asking voters to repeal Colorado’s Gallagher Amendment has sued the state and General Assembly over language in the state’s voter guide.

Protect Our Homes Colorado opposes the rewrite lawmakers made last week to the “Blue Book” descriptions — which every voter receives ahead of their ballot — for and against Amendment B. The group called the changes misleading and a move away from the required nonpartisan and impartial expectation of the state’s voter guide. Opponents of the repeal are demanding a rewrite before guides are printed and sent to voters. A hearing is scheduled Friday in Denver District Court.

“With less than five minutes of discussion, the proponents of the ballot measure threw our months of public input and staff work with changes to nearly everything, including the title, placement of sections, new graphs and charts, and wholesale changes in wording,” said Dennis Gallagher, the amendment’s namesake, in a statement. “Ironically, they also removed the phrase that the measure is working as intended, which I lobbied for as I knew the intent when we wrote it nearly 40 years ago.”

A bipartisan group of lawmakers referred the measure to the ballot at the end of this year’s legislative session, and Democratic and Republican lawmakers supported the changes to the legislative nonpartisan staff’s language in the guide.

One of the sponsors of the repeal effort, Sen. Chris Hansen, called the lawsuit “desperate” and “a stunt” in a statement. The Denver Democrat noted that the Legislative Council supported the changes on 15-3 bipartisan vote.

“They understood Coloradans deserve clear and simple language on Amendment B and a complete picture of the Gallagher Amendment’s impact,” he said.

The amendment passed in 1982 intended to limit residential property taxes by forcing businesses to pay a higher tax share. It has ultimately brought down residential property taxes to near the lowest in the country. But local governments and school districts depend on property taxes. Legislative analysts have estimated that K-12 education alone could lose half a billion dollars next year if the amendment stays. Opponents of the repeal argue that it will add additional tax burdens on property owners.

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