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Colorado Republicans push for special session on property taxes, bond

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Joe Mueller

(The Center Square) – Colorado Senate Republicans called for Governor Jared Polis to call a special session to address a state Supreme Court decision allowing bond for alleged murderers and surging property taxes.

“This issue must be addressed now, not next year,” Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer, R-Brighton, said in a statement. “We urge Governor Polis to convene a special session immediately – we need to get back to work, do our job and pass a law that stops protecting suspected murderers and starts protecting the people of Colorado.”

The Colorado Constitution authorizes a district court to deny bail if “proof is evident and presumption is great” that a capital offense has been committed. However, since the General Assembly statutorily abolished capital punishment in 2020, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled bail can no longer be denied as there are no more capital offenses.

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Jared Polis - elected Governor of Colorado in November 2018.

Governor Polis desires a change to the law, his spokesperson, Conor Cahill, said.

“The Governor supports changes to prevent suspects formally charged with capital offenses from getting out on bail, and now that the Supreme Court has ruled, he calls upon the state legislature to fix this unintended consequence of eliminating the death penalty even if it takes a referred constitutional amendment, which could not be referred to the ballot until the 2024 election,” Cahill said.

Senate Democrats also viewed a constitutional amendment on the ballot as an appropriate solution.

“Addressing the recent Supreme Court decision regarding denying bail to the accused likely requires a change to the Colorado Constitution, which must be sent to the voters for their approval,” Senate President Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, said in a statement. “... it would be much more responsible to work together to build consensus among various stakeholders – Republicans and Democrats alike – to find a long-term solution that ensures justice and keeps Colorado communities safe.”

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Senate Republicans also requested action on potentially “the largest tax increase in Colorado history” as property taxes for homeowners might increase by as much as 60 percent next year. They said the November ballot initiative Proposition HH that proposes reducing property taxes and compensating for revenue losses with TABOR refunds was an “ill-conceived and rushed scheme.”

The Colorado Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of Prop HH later this summer.

“I have said it before, and I will say it again: Governor Polis must convene a special session to address the devastating increase in property taxes,” Senate Minority Leader Paul Lundeen, R-Monument, said in a statement. “The legislature and the Governor must offer a solution that will lower property taxes without raiding Coloradans’ TABOR refunds.”

Cahill wrote the ballot initiative will allow Coloradans to immediately reduce property taxes.

“Allowing voters the opportunity to enact Proposition HH in November to save people money is common sense and the Governor is skeptical as to why certain Republicans are attempting to block the voters’ ability to weigh in on this important plan to cut property taxes,” he said.