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Economists Sound Alarm on Amendment 74's Economic Impact

If voters approve Amendment 74, taxpayers will be responsible for payments to property owners for any loss in property value due to a government action, including enforcing setbacks for drilling. (MrKn/Pexels)
If voters approve Amendment 74, taxpayers will be responsible for payments to property owners for any loss in property value due to a government action, including enforcing setbacks for drilling. (MrKn/Pexels)
November 5, 2018

DENVER – A group of Colorado economists is urging voters to reject Amendment 74 in Tuesday’s election.

The amendment would allow companies to make governments pay if any policy reduces the value or projected future profits related to their property.

Chris Stiffler, an economist with the Colorado Fiscal Institute, maintains the constitutional amendment could create chaos in how government operates, and uncertainty in investments and the marketplace.

"I'm worried that we're not going to be able to tap into the benefits of our booming economy in the next several years if we're spending money litigating, or spending money paying frivolous claims that come from expanding the definition of 'takings,'" he states.

The economists note the proposal's broad language would allow an oil and gas company to sue for lost profits if it is not allowed to drill under someone's home, for instance – and the homeowner could also sue for lost property value if drilling is allowed.

Either way, Stiffler says, taxpayers would end up on the hook.

Proponents of 74 say the measure is needed to protect private property owners from state or local governments effectively seizing their property by lowering its value.

Stiffler says ads running on TV during Broncos games and elsewhere make it seem as though without Amendment 74, property owners are helpless from recovering losses due to government policies.

"It misrepresents the fact there's already rules and regulations, and ways that average private property owners can reclaim damages from local governments," he stresses.

In an open letter to voters, the economists point to a similar measure passed in Oregon in 2004, which resulted in nearly $20 billion in claims filed.

Local governments couldn't afford to pay them all, and stopped enforcing land use codes. Oregon voters repealed the measure in 2007.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - CO