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Election night in Colorado: races to watch

6:26 PM, Nov 5, 2013   |    comments
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KUSA - Two statewide tax questions are on the 2013 ballot in Colorado, along with a host of noteworthy local races.

Most of the voters who will participate have already cast ballots, though polling places will remain open until 7 p.m. on Tuesday night.

As the results come in, here's what to watch for:

AMENDMENT 66: INCOME TAXES FOR EDUCATION

This is the biggest race to watch in 2013, which could be determined in large part by how heavily the greater Denver metro area turns out in support.

This question would increase Colorado's income tax and change it from a flat tax to a progressive tax.

The current 4.63 percent rate would increase to 5 percent on the first $75,000 of taxable income and 5.9 percent for earnings above that threshold.

Calculate your exact tax increase

The $950 million in tax revenue generated would be dedicated to the public school system, triggering a change in the state's formula for distributing the funds to districts.

Local districts would largely make the decisions about what to do with their increased funding.

Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado) has campaigned in favor of the measure, while Republicans hoping to challenge him have come out firmly against it.

PROP AA: MARIJUANA TAXES

Coloradans legalized marijuana in 2012 and retail sales of recreational pot are set to begin on January 1, 2014.

This proposition would enact both a 15 percent wholesale tax and 10 percent sales tax on the drug.

Both taxes are written in a new "TABOR proof" style, meaning they are adjustable between 0 and 15 percent without needing further voter approval.

A broad coalition of pro and anti-pot groups have endorsed the measure, though the sales tax was not originally envisioned in Amendment 64, the measure which legalized pot.

That has some pro-marijuana groups campaigning against it.

NOT MY COLORADO

In response to recent state legislation advanced by Democrats, (most prominently gun control,) eleven of Colorado's 64 counties have ballot questions asking voters whether they'd like to secede from the state.

If the so-called "51st state" movement picks up any victories, they will send a message.

It should be noted, however, that these are advisory questions. Counties cannot simply secede from the state based on a local vote.

Changes to statehood ultimately require the approval of Congress.

The counties considering measures to secede are: Moffat, Weld, Logan, Sedgwick, Phillips, Yuma, Washington, Elbert, Lincoln, Kit Carson, and Cheyenne.

FRACTURED OVER FRACKING

Concern over the uptick in hydraulic fracturing have environmentalists aiming to curtail the practice.

Local restrictions are being considered by voters in four Colorado cities.

In other jurisdictions, restrictions on oil and gas extraction have brought lawsuits from the state government.

The industry says restrictions unfairly inhibit the owners of the oil and gas from accessing the resource.

Environmentalists argue that newer fracking techniques aren't safe and that more scientific study is needed before allowing these methods to be used close to residential areas.

Voters in Broomfield, Boulder and Fort Collins will decide whether to impose moratoria on fracking until more study can be done.

On Lafayette, voters will decide whether to enact an outright ban.

A TEST FOR CONSERVATIVE SCHOOL REFORMS

Voters in Douglas County are being watched by national groups.

The current school board has acted as a national model for conservative reforms to public schools, and four members are up for re-election.

Conservatives from around the state and the nation have rallied to support the incumbents: Jim Geddes, Judith Reynolds, Doug Benevento, and Meghann Silverthorn.

A slate of four challengers are being backed by teacher unions: Barbra Chase, Julie Keim, Bill Hodges, and Ronda Scholting.

It's likely that one slate or the other will emerge victorious in its entirety because all board members are elected by the entire county at-large.

Whichever group wins would control a majority of the board's seats, though the conservatives enjoy a heavy advantage in GOP voter registration in the county.

(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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