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Colorado House Republicans walk out in protest after Democrats end debate on Prop HH

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Joe Mueller

(The Center Square) – Republicans walked out of the Colorado House of Representatives on the last day of the legislative session after debate was ended on a bill to refer a property tax measure to voters.

As the House was taking a vote on Monday on Senate Bill 23-303, which would put Proposition HH on the ballot to reduce the property tax rate, Rep. Matt Soper, R-Delta, led a parade of Republicans out of the chamber.

“By walking out in protest, we sent a message to the Majority, who are mostly metro area Democrats, that our state includes much more than the concrete and steel parts of Colorado,” House Minority Leader Mike Lynch, R-Wellington, said in a statement. “Our voices - that fill the Front Range and the Western Slope — deserve to have their votes counted these last 120 days.”

The walkout happened after Democrats used a rule to end debate and call for a vote on an amendment to SB 23-303. The measure asks voters whether to cut property taxes from 7.15 percent to 6.7 percent and use Taxpayer's Bill of Rights surplus to compensate for lost local property tax revenue.

The bill was introduced in the Senate May 1 and sent to Governor Jared Polis May 8.

Rep. Lisa Frizell, R-Castle Rock, and a former Douglas County assessor, said she was concerned about the complexity of the bill.

“Here's the reality: There was literally zero stakeholding that occurred around this matter,” Frizell said in a video posted to social media. “That is so, so very concerning to all our citizens ... You can choose to vote ‘no’ on Proposition HH and see the greatest property tax increase in the state of Colorado's history. Or you can choose to vote ‘yes’ and still see the greatest property tax increase in the history of this state and lose your TABOR refund forever.”

The General Assembly also passed House Bill 23-1311, which would make level all tax year 2023 TABOR refunds if voters approve Prop. HH.

“The take away I want citizens to have is that Senate Bill 303 is ultimately a heavy-handed effort on the part of the governor’s office to normalize or redistribute TABOR refund dollars,” Frizell said. “It’s not going to save the property tax dollars they say it is. And that’s very disappointing because we have the ability to create a solution here in this legislature.”

Democrats contend the flat TABOR refunds will help families and seniors.

“Colorado’s economic growth is strong, yet rising property taxes have left many families and seniors in a bind,” Rep. Mike Weissman, D-Aurora, said in a statement. “Under this bill, Coloradans will receive a flat TABOR refund, which helps all Coloradans participate in and benefit from our state’s booming economy. This comprehensive property tax proposal works to support our renters and property owners alike, while protecting critical community services like water districts, fire districts, libraries and K-12 education that we all rely on.”