Impound initiative, tax measures on Colorado ballots
October 24, 2009
DENVER – A Denver initiative requiring police to impound the vehicles of unlicensed drivers is the highest-profile measure to go before Colorado voters on Nov. 3, due to the debate over whether it targets undocumented immigrants who can’t get driver’s licenses.
The Denver City Council passed a proclamation earlier this month urging voters to defeat the measure because it would be too expensive and tie up police resources.
Councilman Doug Linkhart said police should have discretion about whether to tow vehicles of drivers who don’t have license with them.
Dan Hayes, who sponsored the measure, said police are ignoring an initiative passed last year requiring them to seize vehicles of drivers not carrying licenses. Hayes rejected claims that the law targets illegal immigrants.
“This isn’t racist. Everyone is treated the same,” Hayes said.
Sabrina Karim, spokeswoman for the Coloradans for Safe Communities campaign, said illegal immigrants would be among those most affected by the ordinance. She said the move could create a safety nightmare by forcing police to impound all vehicles and strand drivers and passengers.
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“I don’t think this gets to the heart of the public safety issue,” Karimret said.
Police said they seize about 50 cars a day under the current ordinance and estimate that number would double if they were required to seize all vehicles. In the past, the department has said it prefers its officers have discretion.
Legal challenges kept similar measures off the ballot in Lakewood and Aurora. Hayes said he’s pursuing a statewide initiative next year.
Coloradans also will elect 65 mayors and council members to positions being vacated because of term limits and other reasons.
Sales tax extensions or increases are on the ballot in Alamosa, Boulder, Fountain, Leadville, Longmont, Lyons, Merino, Mt. Crested Butte, Platteville and Telluride.
Other proposed taxes include a marketing tax in Aspen and lodging taxes in Black Hawk, Hayden, La Junta, Loveland, Timnath, Sheridan and Wray.
Measures to relax term limit measures are going before voters in Aurora, Commerce City, Englewood and Fountain.
A Breckenridge initiative proposes to decriminalize marijuana possession. In 2006, Denver voters approved an ordinance calling possession of small amounts of marijuana the “lowest law enforcement priority” for police.