Colorado Non-Residential Property Valuation (2008)

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The Non-Residential Property Valuation Initiative or Initiative 95 would have increased the valuation for assessment of non-residential real property from 29% to 34% of its actual value, would have left the residential valuation at 21%, and provided that the increase could not result in an increase in property tax on residential real property. It further instructed that any increase in revenues or expenditures attributable to the measure would not be subject to TABOR limitations.

This measure was a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment.

This measure was withdrawn by its proponents in June 2008 as an overture to business interests, hoping to encourage proponents of the Colorado Right to Work Initiative to withdraw that measure as well.[1]

"We want to show that we're open to negotiation with the business community," said Manny Gonzales, a spokesman for UFCW Local 7.[2]

Kelley Harp, a spokesman for A Better Colorado, the group pushing Amendment 47, said the withdrawal of the UFCW measures will not keep the right-to-work initiative from appearing on November's ballot.[2]

The official ballot title read:

Local taxes shall be increased $577.3 million annually in the statewide aggregate on non-residential property by an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning an increase in the valuation for assessment of all taxable property other than residential real property from 29% to 34% of the property's actual value for property tax purposes, and, in connection therewith, exempting additional revenues, appropriations, or expenditures resulting from the increase in valuation for assessment from all constitutional or statutory revenue or spending limitations.


This measure along with four others (Initiatives 92, 93, 94, and 96) were all filed March 31, 2008, by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7. Union leaders acknowledged that the five measures were filed as a counter-attack in retaliation against the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry's recent endorsement of the Right to Work Initiative (Initiative 41), which would prohibit union costs from being deducted from the paychecks of employees who choose not to join the union.[3][4][5]

Political observers saw these measures as further setting the stage for "a fiery showdown between business and labor in November."[4]

"We saw that if right to work is something voters approve in November, eventually—inevitably—workers' rights are going to suffer," said Manny Gonzales, a spokesman for the UFCW.[4][5] Gonzales admitted that the unions didn't consider what would happen if right-to-work failed and the five initiatives passed. [3]

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The South Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce announced its opposition April 13, 2008, to this initiative, as well as to the others filed at the same time by the union. At the same time, the group officially announced its opposition to the Right to Work Initiative as well.[6]

"Continued support of these initiatives creates an adversarial dynamic between these groups and threatens Colorado's economic peace and vitality," the Chamber said in a statement, adding that the current Labor Peace Act has "served Colorado well for 60 years in allowing for cordial relations between management and labor."[6]

Some business groups said Monday that the right-to-work ballot proposal came only after increased activism by unions.

"The unions started this," said Dan Pilcher, a spokesman for the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, which supported the right-to-work proposal. "The business community doesn't feel like this was a fight that it initiated by any means whatsoever."[4]

The Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce launched a group called Coloradans for Responsible Reform, which is raised money from business interests to oppose this initiative as well as numerous other initiatives that they see as anti-business.[7]

The National Federation of Independent Business of Colorado announced May 1, 2008, that it had joined Coloradans for Responsible Reform in the effort.[7]

Five-measure filing fires up a bitter fight

Gov. Bill Ritter and others made strong pleas for both union and business leaders to back down, asking both groups to pull their ballot measures to avoid a bitter fight that could throw the state's political situation into chaos. But despite these efforts to discourage them, both sides seem to have pressed forward with their initiatives. See Colorado ballot initiative news for more information on the controversy.[8]

Other measures where unions and business clash

In addition to the five measures filed March 31, 2008, a coalition of unions and advocates for the poor supported six other initiatives that would have imposed criminal and civil penalties on certain executives or employees of businesses that commit fraud. The coalition also backed an initiative that would bar employers from firing employees without "just cause."

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The Title Board set a title for the measure, and its petition form was approved. Supporters the had to submit 76,047 valid signatures by August 4, 2008. The initiative did not make the ballot.

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