The two sides rattling swords over Colorado oil and gas issues appeared ready to lay down their arms on ballot initiatives this year, but it wasn’t meant to be. Now, however, it might not matter anyway.
The industry drove the discussion of a truce. One backer of the deal told Colorado Politics they hoped it would lead to longer-term negotiations to avoid settling differences with expensive political campaigns.
Factors outside the negotiations, however, contributed to the collapse of any reconciliation this year, said Joe Salazar. Salazar leads Colorado Rising, the powerhouse environmental group that has pushed public health and safety regulations against the oil and gas industry for years.
“We receive overtures from the industry all the time,” he told Colorado Politics Friday morning. “This time is no different. Our foremost concern is not them. It’s COVID, the governor’s executive order and these lawsuits.”
To get on the ballot this year, either side would need at least 124,632 signatures for each ballot initiative by Aug. 3, and that’s a difficult ask in the current coronavirus culture, where people might be reluctant to accept a clipboard and a pen from a stranger.
Gov. Jared Polis is trying to make it easier, with a May 15 executive order to relax the petition-gathering rules so anyone who wanted to get on the ballot could collect signatures via emails, if they follow a series of new rules from the Secretary of State’s Office.
Business groups from across the state have sued the governor, alleging he overstepped his constitutional authority by using emergency powers to bend the election rules that require in-person verification of who’s signing up to get a question on the ballot.
Though Polis won in Denver district court, the decision is on appeal, as the days click off toward Aug. 3.
“I’m not certain Polis’ executive order helped us out that much,” said Salazar, a lawyer and former state representative who narrowly lost the Democratic primary for attorney general in 2018. “It’s still going to cost a Hell of a lot of money to do, and right now it’s being challenged in court. That challenge — let’s be optimistic — is going to late June, and then it’ll be appealed again to the Supreme Court, which means we’re look at well into July.”
A Denver District Court judge on Wednesday let stand an executive order issued by Gov. Jared Polis that allows petition gatherers to collect signatures for ballot initiatives by mail or email during the coronavirus…
Read More: Colorado oil-and-gas truce collapses, but time’s slipping away for November ballot |