Marijuana: How an Amendment 64 repeal measure almost passed last night
When Amendment 64 was passed last November and signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper the following month, most Coloradans figured it was a done deal -- unless the federal government decided to oppose it, that is. But no: Last night, Senator John Morse, seen here, and a slew of colleagues came within a whisper of passing a bill, SCR13-003, that would have allowed the state's voters to repeal the retail portion of the law if taxes to pay for it aren't approved this November. See the bill and learn more about its brief life below.
Photos, video below.
As we've reported, the Taxpayers Bill of Rights, shorthanded as TABOR, requires a vote to approve tax increases. Hence, House Bill 13-1318 was designed to set rates to be considered in this November's election. An excise tax of 15 percent was envisioned in A64's language, but a sales tax of up to 15 percent not sketched out in the amendment has also been pushed.
Just over a week ago, Amendment 64 proponent Mason Tvert came forward to decry a repeal effort that he associated with Smart Colorado, a group that's been pushing for the maximum number of restrictions possible on A64.
Photo by Sam Levin Mason Tvert at a press event earlier this year.
"According to lawmakers at the State Capitol, Smart Colorado has been floating the idea of referring a measure to voters that would repeal Amendment 64 if a special sales tax of 15 percent does not pass," Tvert told us for an April 26 post, "This amounts to extortion of the voters. They're being told they must approve a higher tax level proposed by legislators or otherwise the constitutional amendment they adopted in November would be repealed."
Smart Colorado spokesman Eric Anderson countered that his group hadn't conceived the repeal effort but found value in it. His statement reads:
Amendment 64 backers sold the ballot issue to Colorado voters as a way to pay for state priorities like education but increasingly it's looking like it could be a net drain on the state budget. Amendment 64 raised the possibility of new taxes on marijuana but didn't enact them. If voters don't now approve new taxes on marijuana, Colorado's budget will take a major hit and Amendment 64 will have exactly the opposite effect from what was promised to voters.
For that reason, Ramey sees it as logical that a repeal could only go forward during an even-numbered year, with 2014 presumably being the next opportunity to strike the amendment from the books. Should such an attempt be made in 2013 instead, Ramey sees it as "possible that the courts could invalidate the repeal...while sustaining the vote on the tax component." That could potentially leave Amendment 64 intact but kill taxes on marijuana entirely.
Nonetheless, legislators remain so freaked out by the prospect of voters going to the polls in November and rejecting taxes to pay for Amendment 64 implementation -- this despite a poll commissioned by proponents that showed support at 77 percent -- that the repeal effort not only stayed alive, but gathered steam.
Continue for more about the Amendment 64 repeal effort, including photos, a video and the failed bill.