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Legal questions on initiative petitioning continue rising as coronavirus rapidly alters campaigns

By Sam Lounsberry. Originally published in the Daily Camera on May 18, 2020. Photo by Jeremy Papasso, Daily Camera Staff Photographer.

"In what has been the most persistent political discussion of the coronavirus outbreak in Boulder, amid perhaps the strangest campaign season the city has seen in a consequential presidential election year, what to do about local initiative petitions for the fall ballot continues receiving attention.

After last week’s City Council near-repeat of an April discussion, with both talks resulting in no action to change the in-person petition signature gathering efforts underway amid a pandemic fueled by close human contact, a possibly needle-moving development took place over the weekend.

A state public health order came forward from Boulder’s own Gov. Jared Polis to allow email or mail-in signatures to count toward thresholds for measures to appear before voters statewide, setting the context for yet another upcoming local consideration of the issue. Boulder’s government would have to take action on its own for email signatures to be allowed. Council leaders on Monday set a renewed discussion for next week of the local petition initiatives, which include attempts to have citywide votes in November on loosened residential occupancy limits, directing tax funding away from the municipal utility project and requiring the government to provide a lawyer to renters facing eviction."

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