Capitol Close-Up Election Re-Cap

 

Capitol Close Up: Election Recap

 

 

Election Day 2018 is in the books, and Colorado made a significant political shift, with Democrats winning every statewide office and control of the General Assembly. Voter turnout of more than 2.5 million was higher than predicted for this midterm election, with Democrats turning out in larger numbers than Republicans and a strong showing of Unaffiliated voters that leaned toward Democratic candidates. Here’s a quick recap of statewide races, as well as ballot issues.

 

  • Governor—Jared Polis (D) defeats Walker Stapleton (R)
  • Attorney General—Phil Weiser (D) defeats George Brauchler (R), Brauchler was endorsed by the CAHB
  • State Treasurer—Dave Young (D) defeats Brian Watson (R)
  • Secretary of State—Jena Griswold (D) defeats Wayne Williams (R)

 

The CAHB will closely monitor and be a stakeholder where necessary as Governor-elect Polis prepares to take office. Polis’s team will be filling many slots in state agencies and on boards and commissions that impact our industry.

 

Colorado General Assembly

 

Control of the State Senate is critical to homebuilders and Colorado’s business community. Unfortunately, Colorado’s upper chamber will switch to Democratic leadership, leaving the capitol in single-party control for the next two years. The CAHB worked with several coalitions to support pro-business and pro-homebuilding candidates; however, the Democratic wave, combined with a lower than normal Republican turnout, swept up too many Senate candidates.

 

The Democrats will have a 19-16 majority during the next session, and we will be watchful and active moving forward. There is pent up demand among Democrats and their core constituencies for legislation and policies impacting the legal system, employment and workplace laws, and environmental regulations. This will include legislation like 2018’s bills to put a “chill” on the use of mediation and arbitration. These bills were ultimately voted down in the Republican-controlled Senate; however, we lost that backstop in yesterday’s election.

 

The CAHB and many of our industry partners have worked successfully over the past few years on bipartisan solutions to critical issues, highlighted by our efforts on construction-litigation reform. We are looking forward to educating new legislators and the Polis administration on the issues critical to homebuilders across Colorado.

 

To be most successful, the CAHB will need support and participation from its members. Please be sure to get engaged as the Polis administration ramps up and the Democrats prepare for single-party rule of the General Assembly. It certainly will be all hands-on deck for homebuilders and Colorado’s business community.

 

U.S. Congress

 

As most politicos expected, the U.S House of Representatives will change to Democratic control, and Colorado’s Sixth Congressional District was part of that move with Democrat Jason Crow defeating longtime Congressman Mike Coffman, who was endorsed by both the NAHB and CAHB. All the remaining candidates for Congress endorsed by the CAHB won their races, with incumbent Scott Tipton prevailing in the only other high-profile U.S. House race in Colorado. The U.S. Senate will remain in Republican control, with the Republicans, led by Colorado’s own Senator Gardner at the NRSC, picking up a few seats.

 

Interestingly, President Clinton lost 54 House seats and eight Senate seats in his first midterm election.  President Obama lost 63 House seats and six Senate seats in his first midterm.  President Trump is likely to lose fewer than 40 seats, and the Senate actually gained Republican seats. That suggests, at least nationally, that the blue wave was maybe more of a wake. 

 

Statewide Ballot Measures

 

Finally, the CAHB took positions on 6 statewide ballot measures. Coloradans rejected most measures on the statewide ballot.

 

Amendments Y and Z:

An important exception was Amendments Y and Z, which were endorsed by the CAHB. Amendments Y and Z change how Colorado draws its legislative and congressional district maps and places those decisions into the hands of a politically balanced commission. The hope is that Y and Z will reduce gerrymandering during the redistricting process and provide more competitive races.

 

Amendment 73:

Amendment 73, a constitutional amendment to increase income taxes and change property taxes for schools to help fund public education, failed. The amendment needed a yes vote of 55 percent to change the state Constitution but received just under 45 percent.

 

Proposition 112 and Amendment 74:

Proposition 112 and Amendment 74, the two measures embroiled in the oil and gas ballot fight, both failed. CAHB opposed both measures. With the election of Polis as governor and the Democratic takeover of the Senate might lead to changes in oil and gas regulations and environmental laws. The CAHB will be an active stakeholder in this process.

 

We cannot underscore enough how important the defeat of Amendment 74 was to our industry.  Its passage would have paralyzed local governments from making important decisions, such as land use, that would have severely impacted our members’ ability to develop new homes, which we know are sorely needed in Colorado.  Thank you to our members who stepped up financially, and to our local association partners that helped educate our industry about the Amendment 74’s consequences.

 

 

Propositions 109 and 110:

Finally, both statewide transportation measures were rejected by similar margins. The CAHB supported Proposition 110, the Let’s Go Colorado sales-tax increase because it actually provided enough funding to begin to address our infrastructure needs. Despite this result, Colorado still has at least $9 billion in unfunded transportation projects, not including the traffic challenges posed by our growing state. CAHB believes it’s important to have a sustainable source of revenue for state and local transportation needs and will continue to advocate for a statewide solution to the transportation funding. The 2017 legislative compromise on transportation did require a $2.337 billion TRANs bond measure to be placed on the 2019 ballot, if a 2018 statewide measure was not passed. The CAHB will likely participate as a stakeholder in that process as well.

 

In closing, maybe the best news from yesterday is that all the mailers, TV commercials and other political information will cease for a while. However, 2019 will certainly be a busy, and likely challenging, political year for homebuilders. Stay tuned and please be prepared to get involved.

 

Thank you.