While much of the public attention during the 2022 election cycle in Colorado has been focused on two critical statewide races—for governor and one of the two seats in the U.S. Senate—voters will be faced with many more questions when they submit ballots and head to the polls later this fall.

That ballot features 11 different measures that touch on issues ranging from tax cuts to housing to psychedelics. They’re perhaps not as straightforward or captivating as whether Jared Polis will remain in the governor’s mansion or Michael Bennet will earn a fourth term in the Senate, but they’re consequential subjects that will impact the lives of residents throughout the state.

The three amendments to the state constitution would require 55 percent or more of the vote to pass, while the eight propositions need only a simple majority.

Here’s what you need to know about each of those propositions and amendments in the weeks leading up to Election Day.

Note: The general election is on November 8; mail-in ballots must be postmarked by October 31. Register to vote online here. Find other Colorado voting information here. And find our guide to the Denver ballot measures here.

Colorado election 2020
Election support judge Brett Matarazzo, left, looks on as a voter drops off her ballot outside the atrium of Ball Arena on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020, in Denver. Photo by David Zalubowski / AP Photo

Proposition 121

What you’ll see:

“Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes reducing the state income tax rate from 4.55 percent to 4.4 percent?”

What it means:

Should the proposition succeed, that income tax reduction for individuals and corporations would take effect immediately for the 2022 tax year and beyond. That cut would be expected to reduce state income tax collections by $412.6 million for the 2023-’24 state budget year. State income taxes are often used to pay for government operations like education, human services, and corrections. In the most recent state budget year, income taxes generated $10.7 billion for the state. The income tax rate dropping to 4.4 percent would have a modest financial impact, as about 75 percent of taxpayers will get a tax cut of less than $63 a year.

Proponents of the proposition cite the economic relief taxpayers would experience if the rate is cut while adding that it won’t change the money available for state spending for at least the next three years, according to the state’s projections. Those in opposition to it argue that the proposition largely benefits Colorado’s wealthiest taxpayers and corporations. Those earning more than $1 million a year, who make up just a one percent share of the state’s taxpayers, are estimated to receive nearly half of the total tax savings.

The proposition has support from state Senator Jerry Sonnenberg (R-District 1), who filed the initiative, as well as organizations like Coloradans for Civil Liberties and the Independence Institute. Opponents include the Bell Policy Center, which noted that the measure would “undo the small step Colorado has taken toward a fairer tax structure.”

Proposition 122

What you’ll see:

“Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning legal regulated access to natural medicine for persons 21 years of age or older, and, in connection therewith, defining natural medicine as certain plants or fungi that affect a person’s mental health and are controlled substances under state law; establishing a natural medicine regulated access program for supervised care, and requiring the department of regulatory agencies to implement the program and comprehensively regulate natural medicine to protect public health and safety; creating an advisory board to advise the department as to the implementation of the program; granting a local government limited authority to regulate the time, place, and manner of providing natural medicine services; allowing limited personal possession, use, and uncompensated sharing of natural medicine; providing specified protections under state law, including criminal and civil immunity, for authorized providers and users of natural medicine; and, in limited circumstances, allowing the retroactive removal and reduction of criminal penalties related to the possession, use, and sale of natural medicine?”

What it means:

It’s quite a mouthful, right? Basically, the proposition would require the state to establish a regulated system for accessing psychedelic mushrooms and other plant-based psychedelics, along with decriminalizing the use of those substances in Colorado for those who are 21 and older. Additionally, those 21 and older would be able to grow, possess, and use substances containing psilocybin and psilocin—the two chemicals found in psychedelic mushrooms—as well as ibogaine, mescaline, and dimethyltryptamine (commonly known as DMT). State law currently forbids the possession and use of such psychedelic substances.

Starting in 2024, licensed facilities regulated by the state would offer supervised use of psychedelic mushrooms. Should the state choose to do so, that could extend to other plant-based psychedelics beginning in 2026. Due to facility and facilitator licensing fees, state revenue would increase by about $5.2 million in the 2024-’25 budget year. The measure states that it’s not intended to allow for the sale of these substances for personal use, though the removal and reduction of criminal penalties would apply retroactively to those who have already been convicted of an offense that would be decriminalized after its passage.

Supporters point to the potential positive effects of psychedelics in treating things like depression and anxiety, along with clearing the crowded criminal justice system of a number of nonviolent offenders. Those in opposition state that no approved therapies use plant-based psychedelics and that the effects of taking them can vary dramatically based on the individual. They also fear that a black market for those drugs would expand.

Proposition 123

What you’ll see:

“Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning statewide funding for additional affordable housing, and, in connection therewith, dedicating state revenues collected from an existing tax of one-tenth of 1 percent on federal taxable income of every individual, estate, trust, and corporation, as defined in law, for affordable housing and exempting the dedicated revenues from the constitutional limitation on state fiscal year spending; allocating 60 percent of the dedicated revenues to affordable housing financing programs that will reduce rents, purchase land for affordable housing development, and build assets for renters; allocating 40 percent of the dedicated revenues to programs that support affordable home ownership, serve persons experiencing homelessness, and support local planning capacity; requiring local governments that seek additional affordable housing funding to expedite development approvals for affordable housing projects and commit to increasing the number of affordable housing units by 3 percent annually; and specifying that the dedicated revenues shall not supplant existing appropriations for affordable housing programs?”

What it means:

The proposition would set aside up to 0.1 percent of state income tax revenue annually to fund affordable housing programs, money that would be exempted from the state’s revenue limit. The housing programs would be administered by the Office of Economic Development and International Trade and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. Those programs would receive an estimated $145 million for the 2022-’23 state budget year and $290 million in the years to follow.

That money would have several specific uses: for grants and loans to local governments and nonprofits to acquire and preserve land for affordable housing development; to offer assistance to develop affordable, multifamily rental housing; for home ownership programs and down payment assistance for first-time homebuyers; and for a program addressing homelessness through rental assistance and eviction defense. The money would add to—not replace—existing state funds spent on affordable housing. Since 2021, Colorado has allocated more than $1.2 billion from the American Rescue Plan for affordable housing, emergency rental assistance, homeowner mortgage assistance, and tax credits for developers, among others.

The measure has received support from groups and organizations like Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, the National Association of Realtors, and NAACP Denver, which see the proposition as a way to combat Colorado’s rapidly rising housing prices without raising tax rates. Opponents believe that the proposed programs do not address the root causes of high housing costs and they reduce the TABOR refunds for the state’s residents.

Proposition 124

What you’ll see:

“Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning increasing the number of retail liquor store licenses in which a person may hold an interest, and, in connection therewith, phasing in the increase by allowing up to eight licenses by December 31, 2026, up to 13 licenses by December 31, 2031, up to 20 licenses by December 31, 2036, and an unlimited number of licenses on or after January 1, 2037?”

What it means:

A yes vote would allow retail liquor stores to apply for and, if approved, increase the number of locations, with no limit after 2037. It would undo the current law, which restricts those businesses from operating no more than three stores in the state through 2026. In this scenario, retail liquor stores would be able to apply for the same number of locations as grocery stores with a pharmacy that sell beer, wine, and spirits. It does come with limitations, as any new locations would have to be at least 1,500 feet away from other retail liquor stores. The proposition would have no impact on grocery and convenience stores that sell only beer, which are permitted to have an unlimited number of locations.

To those in favor of it, the proposition would mean that retail liquor stores would no longer be at a competitive and financial disadvantage when compared to grocery store chains, though those arguing against the initiative believe it hurts small, locally owned liquor stores that don’t have the same capacity to expand as their large retail counterparts.

Proposition 125

What you’ll see:

“Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning the expansion of retail sale of alcohol beverages, and, in connection therewith, establishing a new fermented malt beverage and wine retailer license for off-site consumption to allow grocery stores, convenience stores, and other business establishments licensed to sell fermented malt beverages, such as beer, for off-site consumption to also sell wine; automatically converting such a fermented malt beverage retailer license to the new license; and allowing fermented malt beverage and wine retailer licensees to conduct tastings if approved by the local licensing authority?”

What it means:

The proposition would allow licensed grocery and convenience stores that already sell beer to also sell wine, as well as other vinous liquors like wine coolers, sake, cider, and mead. It would offer added convenience for consumers who want to be able to purchase wine as part of their grocery runs, and the sales would occur in a well-regulated environment. Opponents, however, believe that the measure would benefit national chains at the expense of small, locally owned liquor stores.

Proposition 126

What you’ll see:

“Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning authorization for the third-party delivery of alcohol beverages, and, in connection therewith, allowing retail establishments licensed to sell alcohol beverages for on-site or off-site consumption to deliver all types of alcohol beverages to a person 21 years of age or older through a third-party delivery service that obtains a delivery service permit; prohibiting the delivery of alcohol beverages to a person who is under 21 years of age, is intoxicated, or fails to provide proof of identification; removing the limit on the percentage of gross sales revenues a licensee may receive from alcohol beverage deliveries; and allowing a technology services company, without obtaining a third-party delivery service permit, to provide software or a digital network application that connects consumers and licensed retailers for the delivery of alcohol beverages?”

What it means:

Should it pass, the proposition would green-light third-party companies like grocery and meal delivery services to shuttle alcohol to customers directly from grocery stores, liquor stores, convenience stores, bars, and restaurants beginning in March 2023. It would also permanently allow takeout and delivery of alcohol from bars and restaurants, which is scheduled to repeal in 2025.

Alcohol delivery by various businesses has been legal in Colorado for some time—liquor stores since 1994, wineries since 1997, grocery and convenience stores since 2019, and bars and restaurants since 2020, the last of which was implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. The proposition removes restrictions on retail liquor stores, bars, and restaurants that limit the amount of money they can earn from alcohol delivery.

Amendment D

What you’ll see:

“Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning judges of the newly created 23rd judicial district, and, in connection therewith, directing the governor to designate judges from the 18th judicial district to serve the remainder of their terms in the 23rd judicial district and requiring a judge so designated to establish residency within the 23rd judicial district?”

What it means:

In 2020, the state Legislature passed a law that created the 23rd Judicial District out of the existing 18th Judicial District. When it comes into form in 2025, the 23rd Judicial District will include Douglas, Elbert, and Lincoln counties while the 18th will have Arapahoe County.

With the creation of that new district comes a need for judges to fill seats on its bench. Since 2020 legislation stipulated that judges who live within the new district boundaries will be reassigned to their new districts, the amendment, if passed, would direct the governor to reassign those judges. It would represent a smooth transition, and it would prevent any looming threat of litigation over how the judges to that new district should be determined.

Should the measure fail, uncertainty about the assignments of judges to the 23rd Judicial District could linger, and the continuity of court functions could be disrupted, though there are ways to fill those seats beyond the amendment. The state constitution allows for judges to be appointed through a vacancy process.

Amendment E

What you’ll see:

“Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning the extension of the property tax exemption for qualifying seniors and disabled veterans to the surviving spouse of a United States armed forces service member who died in the line of duty or veteran whose death resulted from a service-related injury or disease?”

What it means:

Colorado’s existing homestead exemption reduces property taxes owed on a qualifying homeowner’s primary residence by sparing 50 percent of the first $200,000 of the home’s value from taxation. Qualifying homeowners include residents 65 or older who have lived in their homes for at least 10 years and veterans with a permanent disability tied to their service. Last year, 9,016 veterans claimed homestead exemptions, receiving an average annual tax reduction of $617.

The amendment would extend that exemption to Gold Star spouses of service members who died in the line of duty and of veterans whose deaths stemmed from their service time. The surviving spouse would need to own and live in the home to qualify for the exemption, as well as provide proper evidence from either the Department of Defense or Department of Veterans Affairs. The amendment would affect 490 surviving spouses who have not been able to claim the exemption to this point. Current state law allows spouses of 100 percent disabled veterans to keep the exemption when the veteran dies, but those spouses do not receive it if the service member is killed while still in the military.

One argument in favor of the measure’s passage is an altruistic one, as it would allow the state to do more to financially help Gold Star families, particularly those who lose an additional source of income following the service member or veteran’s death. Those opposed to the amendment, though, point to the fact that it only benefits surviving spouses who can afford homes, excluding those who rent or have other living arrangements.

Amendment F

What you’ll see:

“Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning the conduct of charitable gaming activities, and, in connection therewith, allowing managers and operators to be paid and repealing the required period of a charitable organization’s continuous existence before obtaining a charitable gaming license?”

What it means:

In 1958, the state constitution was amended to allow select nonprofit organizations to operate games of chance like bingo or raffles, with the proceeds from those games being devoted solely to the organization’s purposes. Such qualifying organizations include veterans, labor, religious, and charitable groups. Under the current law, those bodies need to have operated continuously in the state for at least five years to apply for a bingo-raffle license. This amendment would reduce that period from five to three years while also allowing—but not requiring—bingo-raffle workers to receive compensation.

The amendment would allow more organizations to earn what can be an important source of revenue while increasing state revenue by about $20,000 in the 2022-’23 fiscal year, a figure that would likely increase in future years. Opponents of the measure believe that money spent paying bingo-raffle workers takes funds away from the nonprofit’s central mission.

Proposition FF

What you’ll see:

“Shall state taxes be increased $100,727,820 annually by a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes that, to support healthy meals for public school students, increases state taxable income only for individuals who have federal taxable income of $300,000 or more by limiting itemized or standard state income tax deductions to $12,000 for single tax return filers and $16,000 for joint tax return filers, and, in connection therewith, creating the healthy school meals for all program to provide free school meals to students in public schools; providing grants for participating schools to purchase Colorado-grown, raised, or processed products, to increase wages or provide stipends for employees who prepare and serve school meals, and to create parent and student advisory committees to provide advice to ensure school meals are healthy and appealing to all students; and creating a program to assist in promoting Colorado food products and preparing school meals using basic nutritious ingredients with minimal reliance on processed products?”

What it means:

The proposition would create a program—Healthy School Meals for All—that would offer free school breakfasts and lunches to all public school students regardless of their family’s income, beginning with the 2023-’24 school year. The following year, the program would also provide grant funding to school meal providers to purchase Colorado-based products, increase wages, provide stipends for school cafeteria workers, and receive help from a nonprofit organization to assist in preparing healthy school meals. To pay for the program, state income tax deductions for the top five percent of earners in the state would be limited. In other words, if someone makes less than $300,000 a year, their taxes would not be impacted by the measure.

Proposition GG

What you’ll see:

“Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes requiring that the ballot title and fiscal summary for any ballot initiative that increases or decreases state income tax rates include a table showing the average tax change for tax filers in different income categories?”

What it means:

If passed, the proposition would require that a tax information table be included on petitions and ballots for any citizen-initiated measure that changes the individual income tax rate, whether increased or decreased. The table would display the average change in taxes owed in eight specified income groupings. It would also have to be included on petitions for new ballot measures.

While the table doesn’t currently appear on the ballot, it is included in statewide ballot information booklets.

Clarification: This story was updated to clarify funding for Proposition FF.

Craig Meyer
Craig Meyer
Craig Meyer is a Denver-based freelance writer. Before moving to Colorado in June 2022, he spent the previous 10 years as a sports writer with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, primarily covering college basketball and football.