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Colorado Supreme Court Again Fails to Honor the Will of Colorado Voters

May 21, 2018 | by William Perry Pendley

The court’s latest ruling is yet another in a parade of rulings that weakens the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights and the protection the voters intended it would provide for Colorado taxpayers.

DENVER, CO.  A Colorado nonprofit, public-interest group that educates citizens on the dangers of excessive taxation, regulation, and government spending and protects their right to petition government today has learned that the Colorado Supreme Court ruled against it following oral arguments before the court on June 7, 2017.  The Colorado Union of Taxpayers Foundation (CUT) alleged that, under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR), its members should have had the opportunity to vote on the $0.20 tax imposed by the City of Aspen, Colorado on each disposable carryout bag Aspen grocers provide to customers.  The $0.20 tax went into effect in May of 2012, and is collected from customers, and then, like a sales tax, is remitted to the City of Aspen.  The Colorado Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in favor of upholding the district court’s decision, characterizing the tax as a fee that does not violate TABOR. 


“The people of Colorado have yet again been let down by the Colorado Supreme Court, which continues to ignore the language and intent of TABOR,” said William Perry Pendley, Mountain States Legal Foundation president.  “Instead of honoring the will of the voters, the Court continues to read exceptions and loopholes into TABOR that simply do not exist.”   

In October of 2011, the Aspen City Council passed a “Waste Reduction Fee,” similar to taxes imposed by Telluride, Carbondale, and Basalt, to collect a 20-cent tax on each disposable carryout bag grocers provide to customers.  Aspen grocers are then required to remit the tax revenue to the city.  Revenue from the tax funds general expenses of Aspen government.  The City Council was urged to enact the tax because, “Aspen considers itself an environmental leader and this topic presents an opportunity for Aspen to continue to take a progressive stance on environmental issues,” according to Aspen environmental health specialist Ashley Cantrell.     

Mountain States Legal Foundation, created in 1977, is a nonprofit, public-interest legal foundation dedicated to individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system.  Its offices are in suburban Denver, Colorado.

For more information:  Colorado Union of Taxpayers Foundation v. City of Aspen


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