Nov 9, 2022 - News

Colorado split on magic mushrooms, plus more ballot measure results

Data: Colorado Secretary of State; Chart: Alayna Alvarez/Axios

A measure that would make Colorado the second state to legalize magic mushrooms led by a narrow margin with more voters to count, preliminary election returns showed.

  • Meanwhile, voters approved ballot measures that lower the state income tax rate to 4.4% and raise taxes to provide free school meals to all students.
  • In Denver, voters passed local initiatives that raise taxes to boost public library funding and require large businesses and venues to recycle.

Driving the news: In the most-watched measure, Colorado voters appeared divided on Proposition 122 — 51% to 49% — to legalize the use, possession and growth of psilocybin mushrooms and psychedelic substances, and allow licensed "healing centers" to administer the plants in supervised settings for people ages 21 and up.

  • Other ballot measures, including Proposition 123 to put about $300 million in existing tax revenue toward affordable housing, and Proposition 125 to allow grocery and convenience store to sell wine, remained too close to call as of Tuesday night.

The big picture: Colorado voters were asked to consider a variety of key policies in the 2022 midterm, including 11 statewide measures and more than 140 municipal issues, that advocates pushed to the forefront or lawmakers punted to the ballot.

  • Many increased taxes or fees, particularly on the Denver ballot.

Between the lines: Despite the pains of inflation, voters across the state proved they are willing to spend when it comes to investments they prioritize, such as housing and education.

What they're saying: Sarah Pardikes, a mother of two toddlers, told Axios Denver that inflation didn't stop her from voting for measures that raise taxes — particularly those related to education, like Proposition FF, that would provide free healthy meals to all Colorado students.

  • "It's always important to invest," she said.
Data: Denver Elections Division; Chart: Alayna Alvarez/Axios

Zoom in: In Denver, voters approved a number of measures, including Question 2I to increase property taxes to raise about $36 million annually for the Denver Public Library, and Initiated Ordinance 306 to require businesses and special events to offer compost and recycling services.

  • Voters appeared to favor Initiated Ordinance 307 to raise property owner fees to shift sidewalk responsibility to the city, but the race remained too close to call on Tuesday night.
  • Local voters also approved questions 2J and 2K — which allow the city to keep excess tax revenue to fund efforts to combat climate change and homelessness — as well as 2L, which modernizes the city's municipal election process.

Yes, but: Initiated Ordinance 305, which would have raised landlords' taxes to provide free legal representation for people facing evictions, failed 40% to 60%.

Zoom out: Here's a look at how Colorado voters weighed in on the state measures:

  • Proposition 121: Passed 65.5% to 34.5%. Colorado's income tax will lower to 4.4% from the current rate of 4.55%. This marks the second state income tax cut in two elections.
  • Proposition 123: Too close to call at 50.7% in favor to 49.3% opposed. This means roughly $300 million could be allocated from state tax revenue to pay for affordable housing projects statewide.
  • Proposition 124: Failed 38% to 62%. This measure would have allowed liquor store chains to add more locations.
  • Propositions 125 and 126: Too close to call at 49.8% to 50.2%; and 47.3% to 52.7%, respectively. The two initiatives expand where wine can be sold and allow third-party companies to deliver alcohol.
  • Proposition FF: Passed 55% to 45%. All Colorado students will be provided free meals at schools, no matter their family's income, by increasing taxes on higher-income earners.
  • Amendments D and E, and Proposition GG: Amendment D regarding the new 23rd Judicial District won, as did Amendment E to increase property tax exemptions, both by clear margins. Prop. GG to put more fiscal information on ballot measures also won.
  • Amendment F regarding charitable gaming failed 39% to 61%.

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