County reasserts marijuana lawsuit should be dismissed in new filing
TIMELINE OF DISPUTE
Aug. 21, 2018 – The Board of County Commissioners approves ballot measures 1A and 1B. Measure 1A increases sales tax on retail marijuana by 5 percent and measure 1B increases excise tax on retail marijuana by 5 percent.
Oct. 23 – Igadi general counsel David Michel approaches the county commissioners with his concerns regarding the financial impact statements. Measure 1A claims to increase tax revenue by $310,000 and measure 1B claims to increase tax revenue by $155,000.
Nov. 6 – Election Day. Measure 1A passes by 693 votes and 1B passes by 537 votes.
Nov. 21 – Election results are certified by the county clerk.
Dec. 1 – Michel files contest of measures 1A and 1B in the Grand County District Court on the basis that the financial impact statements were misleading to voters and therefore the ballot measures should be overturned.
Dec. 11 – Michel serves the county commissioners with his contest of measures 1A and 1B.
Dec. 18 – County files motion to dismiss the lawsuit on the grounds of lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
Dec. 19 – Dill Dill Carr Stonbracker & Hutchings, P.C. files entry of appearance on behalf of Michel.
Jan. 8, 2019 – Dill Dill Carr Stonbraker & Hutchings, P.C. files response to motion to dismiss on behalf of Michel.Jan. 14, 2019 — County files reply to the response to the motion to dismiss.
In a new filing in the lawsuit against the county alleging it misled voters on two marijuana ballot measures, Grand County reasserts its position that the suit should be dismissed.
The county maintains the arguments that it does not have jurisdiction over the case and the lawsuit does not state a claim upon which relief can be granted. It also maintains that the initial complaint is a challenge to the content or title of the ballots.
The initial complaint, filed Dec. 1 by David Michel, Tabernash dispensary IgadI’s general counsel, claims the financial impact statements accompanying the 2018 general election ballot measures 1A and 1B were misleading to voters. Ballot measure 1A increased the sales tax on recreational marijuana by 5 percent and 1B increased the excise tax on recreational marijuana by 5 percent.
One of the main disagreements in the filings is whether Michel’s complaint is about the form or content of the ballot titles or the means by which the election result was obtained. The county argues it is the former and Michel’s representation, Denver-based law firm Dill Dill Carr Stonbraker & Hutchings, argues the latter.
Since Michel is alleging the fiscal information included with the ballot measures is incorrect and misleading, the county argues he is challenging the ballot notice, which is the information used to formulate the content of the ballot title, and, therefore, the lawsuit is a contest to the content of the ballot.
If the complaint is about the ballot title’s form or content, then the county argues the lawsuit is time-barred and invalid.
As far as the fiscal information included, the filing stated the county included the estimated maximum dollar amount of revenue that could be collected by the county for both ballot measures 1A and 1B, as required by Colorado’s Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights.
It also defends including the potential marijuana revenue from Fraser, which the county cannot collect, in its estimates because Fraser is located within Grand County and any potential sales should be included in the estimates.
The filing states that the complaint doesn’t allege any facts showing the result of the election was influenced by the supposed irregularities in fiscal impact statements.
The county also reiterated the arguments made in the motion to dismiss regarding the county’s lack of personal or subject matter jurisdiction due to the initial complaint improperly naming the county and Michel’s failure to follow statutory procedure.
“Service was clearly defective and contrary to the law and is ineffective to grant this court jurisdiction over the county,” the filing states.
Specifically regarding the request in the response to the motion to dismiss to amend the improper name, the county responded that the request is contrary to rule and law.
For these reasons, the county asks the Grand County District Court to dismiss the case.
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