Colorado Supreme Court Opinions

April 23, 2018

2018 CO 29. No. 16SC639. TABOR Foundation v. Regional Transportation District.

Taxpayer Bill of Rights—Incidental and De Minimis Tax Revenue Increases.

To simplify tax collection and ease administrative burdens, House Bill 13-1272 realigned the sales taxes for the Regional Transportation District and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District with the State of Colorado’s sales tax. This involved removing some sales tax exemptions and adding others, resulting in a projected 0.6% net revenue increase for the Districts. The TABOR Foundation sued, arguing that H.B. 13-1272 violated the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Colo. Const. art. X, § 20(4) (TABOR), by making this tax change without first obtaining voter approval. The Supreme Court held that legislation that causes only an incidental and de minimis tax revenue increase, such as H.B. 13-1272, does not amount to a “new tax” or a “tax policy change” under section 4 of TABOR. Because the Court of Appeals correctly determined that H.B. 13-1272 is constitutional, the Supreme Court affirmed its judgment.

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2018 CO 30. No. 18SA176. Kuhn v. Williams.

Election Law.

In this expedited appeal under CRS § 1-1-113(3), the Supreme Court addressed whether the Colorado Secretary of State (Secretary) may certify incumbent Representative Doug Lamborn to the 2018 Republican primary ballot for Colorado’s Fifth Congressional District. Relying solely on the Colorado Election Code, the Court concluded he may not. The Court held that although the Secretary properly relied on the circulator’s affidavit and information in the voter registration system in verifying the petition and issuing a statement of sufficiency, petitioners nonetheless had the statutory right to challenge the validity of the petition under CRS §§ 1-4-909 and 1-1-113 before the Secretary certified Rep. Lamborn’s name to the ballot. Petitioners properly presented additional evidence to the district court in challenging the actual residence of the petition circulators. The Court concluded that the district erred when it focused on the challenged circulator’s subjective intent to move back to Colorado, rather than the test set forth in CRS § 1-2-102, when determining the challenged circulator’s residency. In applying the correct test to the essentially undisputed facts here, the Court concluded that the challenged circulator was not a resident of Colorado when he served as a circulator for the Lamborn Campaign. Accordingly, the Court reversed the district court’s ruling to the contrary. Because the challenged circulator was statutorily ineligible to serve as a circulator, the signatures he collected are invalid and may not be considered. That caused the Lamborn Campaign’s number of signatures to fall short of the 1,000 required to be on the Republican primary ballot. Therefore, the Court held that the Secretary may not certify Rep. Lamborn to the 2018 primary ballot for Colorado’s Fifth Congressional District. The Court did not address the Lamborn Campaign’s arguments regarding the constitutionality of the circulator residency requirement in CRS § 1-4-905(1) because the Court lacks jurisdiction to address such claims in a proceeding under CRS § 1-1-113.

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