No one has tried to put out a comprehensive set of comments and recommendations regarding amendments and referenda on the 2008 Colorado ballot. Half of all Colorado voters will vote by mail in less than 30 days. We think it is time to fix that information gap.
Since we published this the first time, the No campaign on Amendments 47, 49, and 54 has kicked in. Protect Colorado's Future can't seem to come up with any real reasons to attack 49 and 54, and probably wouldn't even bother but for the right to work initiative. Edited (9/22) to add: The opponents at Protect Colorado's Future are reported to have refused to debate the issues on KBDI.
Peter Blake of the Rocky Mountain News published a public plea to the Colorado Supreme Court to rule on the illegal property tax hike. He says that if every tax increase amendment passes and the property tax is found to be constitutional, the state will rake in BILLIONS.
We borrowed this list from the Rocky Mountain News and added our comments. The Rocky's comments are in brown. Some of them are quite flaky.
*COLORADO AMENDMENT 46
Colorado Civil Rights Initiative
Would prohibit the state from granting preferential treatment to anyone on the basis of race, sex or ethnicity in hiring, education and contracts. A similar initiative has been passed in several states and the world hasn't ended. For centuries, society discriminated against minorities. In the late 1960's a series of laws were passed which reversed this discrimination, but which created favorites based solely on the color of one's skin. This initiative says that both kinds of discrimination are illegal. If we are to live in a colorblind society, It needs to be...colorblind. Yes. Updated (10/2) Rocky endorses.
*COLORADO AMENDMENT 47
Right to work
Would outlaw agreements requiring workers covered by union contracts to pay fees for representation. This wouldn't be necessary if Bill Ritter hadn't issued his executive order unionizing the state government. Bill Ritter and his union allies cannot be trusted to leave the labor peace act in place. This needs to be in the constitution. Yes.
* COLORADO AMENDMENT 48
Definition of person
Would ban abortion by defining personhood as beginning at fertilization. The unintended consequences of this initiative are almost certainly worse than leaving Roe alone. All of society's laws and customs would have to be reworked to accommodate this initiative. For example, could a woman who has a natural miscarriage on the day after fertilization (a not infrequent event) be prosecuted for child abuse resulting in death simply because the egg did not attach to the uterus? This "definition" says that she could be.
I watched the KBDI Debate on this issue. Whenever the proponent, Kristi Burton, was asked a specific question about the personhood amendment impacts, her cute answer was "this is a very simple amendment." She proceeded thus to dodge every question about its impact. I consider those tactics the very definition of sleazy politics, something I would not expect from a Republican. She proceeded as though she had complete contempt for the intelligence of anyone who watched. I don't like to be treated like a complete idiot deserving only contempt, and when a politician (make no mistake, she is a politician) treats me with contempt, I will say so. I'm saying so. NO! NO! NO!
Edited (9/22) to add: The Rocky Mountain News opined:
But we oppose Amendment 48. It not only attempts to go too far, it leaves voters guessing as to how far it would get. It is Election Day's version of a turn at the roulette wheel.
* COLORADO AMENDMENT 49
Public payroll standards
Would ban governments from taking deductions directly from employee paychecks for any nongovernmental special interest group. As far as we can tell, this is a non controversial good government initiative with little or no opposition. Yes. Edited to add: A very strange mailing has hit the streets since we wrote this. It features Deputy Sherriff Jeff Shaw, a man who guards our safety between donuts. I haven't a clue how Amendment 49 might impact his safety and the mailing leaves me, and others ignorant. It's hard to fight good government initiatives without facts. Whomever put this out has no facts or they would be using them. (You may think the donut comment heartless, but I will be publishing my experiences with a Colorado Springs cop after the election. The stuff is written and copies are in public official's hands. One of the file names is "Have another donut, officer." Perhaps that is the threat that Jeff Shaw sees, a public that actually wants him to do his job.) Edited (9/25) The Gazette endorses this and rebukes Bill Ritter. Edited (9-29) The Denver Post Endorses with the comment:
Amendment 49 has been lumped together with two other ballot measures being targeted by unions, and lots of money is being spent to convince voters its something it's not.
* COLORADO AMENDMENT 50
Would allow casino towns to vote on whether to increase bet limits to $100 from $5, expand hours of operation and add games. This initiative does one thing that we like and one thing that we detest. First, it returns local control to the citizens most impacted by gambling, those who live in the three cities. Second, it assigns any additional taxes that result from this measure to fund something that voters would not eventually have to fund anyway. We consider that feature a fatal flaw. If the casinos want to bring this forward again without a restriction on where the funds are to go, then it would deserve consideration. In this form, it does not. No. Edited to add: (9/25) Denver Post Opposes.
* COLORADO AMENDMENT 51
Sales tax for disabled services
Would increase the state sales tax (by 2 cents on every $10) to fund services for those with developmental disabilities. Just another special interest tax increase. No.
* COLORADO AMENDMENT 52
Severance tax - transportation
Would allocate more severance tax money to transportation. This initiative focuses on fixing I-70 through the mountains. If you must vote for higher taxes on resources, which you will pay in the end, then this initiative is preferable to amendment 58. As taxpayers, we will eventually have to pay for the things this tax increase initiative proposes to use its proceeds for and you will love it if you are a skier from Denver, less so if you are an old guy from Colorado Springs. Even so, if amendment 58 were not on the ballot, this would be a NO brainer (pun intended). A very reluctant Yes. Very reluctant. Hold your nose. Updated (10/1) Denver Post opposes because it stops their bait and switch tactic.
* COLORADO AMENDMENT 53
Would impose tougher sanctions for fraud committed by businesses, executives. This is a poison pill to try to get rid of amendment 47. I guess that the good news is that it was put on the ballot as a law and not a constitutional amendment. The bad news is that employees might find that their employer is going to jail over some minor transgression. We hear that employers who are in jail can't run their businesses and are unreliable paymasters. Don't worry, though. If amendment 55 passes, the employer can't fire you because his business is going under as that wouldn't be "just cause." Those of you who know the history, or who will learn the history of this blog might think this author would support this initiative. You would be wrong. A BIG NO! The funny thing is that if this is passed, it will be equally easy to pass a similar law or amendment making other kinds of unsavory activity by union officers, politicians, and lawyers criminal. You can bet that will happen. We won't be able to build jails fast enough. Amendment 53 removed from the ballot by proponent in exchange for $3 million extortion payment by business.
* COLORADO AMENDMENT 54
Campaign finance curbs
Would bar sole-source government contractors and unions with exclusive bargaining powers from making contributions to political candidates. The Rocky Mountain News was deceptive in describing this. One of the uglier practices in government is for the winners of elections to pay off their supporters with public money through no bid contracts and other gimmicks. No bid contracts almost always carry a higher price to taxpayers than contracts awarded through competitive bidding. This doesn't bar contractors and unions from making contributions as the Rocky states. Rather, it just says that they can't be awarded sole source contracts after they make those contributions. There is almost no opposition to this good government initiative. Yes. Edited to add: See our comments on Amendment 49, above. It is very hard to see how this initiative impacts law enforcement personnel in any way. The flyer leaves this author clueless. Edited to add (10/1) Rocky dislikes this intensely, as does the Denver Post.
* COLORADO AMENDMENT 55
Would require an employer to provide a reason for firing a worker. Again, the Rocky hasn't a clue. This amendment does much more than just requiring a reason. It mandates acceptable reasons. We wrote about this amendment:
The initiative does much more than "having companies simply explain their reasons for firing employees." It lists acceptable reasons, and a business downturn isn't one of them. If an employer discharges an employee because he has no work for him, the employee can get his job back with back pay and attorneys fees. That thuggish provision has the potential to put every small business in Colorado out of business and will send bigger companies to other states.
If I were running a business in Colorado with this in the constitution, every employee would be part time and would be told they might be scheduled to work for as little as an hour a month. This initiative is a disaster as it will convert every employee in Colorado into a part time employee and Colorado into France. NO! NO! NO! Edited to add: (9/25) Another Rocky Editorial in opposition.
Amendment 55 Removed from the ballot by Proponent in exchange for $3 million extortion payment by business.
* COLORADO AMENDMENT 56
Health coverage for employees
Would require employers with 20 or more workers to provide health care coverage for workers. Edited to add: There is very little information out about this. It is another poison pill attack on amendment 47, and given how bad the other poison pills (54, 55, and 57 are), this suffers from guilt by association. In 1993, when Hillary was pushing her health care plan, she wanted businesses with five or more employees to provide coverage. She stood on the capitol steps and proclaimed that if businesses couldn't do that, they shouldn't be in business. I owned a marginal business at that time with 7 employees, and she was right, her plan would have put me out of business and my employees on unemployment. How many businesses with 20 or more workers will this law close down leaving their workers both without health care and without a job? NO! Edited 9/22 to add: The Rocky published a guest editorial opposing this amendment.
Amendment 56 Removed From Ballot By Proponent in exchange for $3 million extortion payment by business.
* COLORADO AMENDMENT 57
Would allow an employee to sue for damages in addition to any settlements from the workers compensation system. This should be called the trial lawyer's full employment act. Very little has been written about this initiative and very little information is available on the Internet. Since it was put on the ballot by the same folks who are pushing 53 and 55, it is intended to destroy Colorado business. Imagine being an employer who is running a retail business that is held up. The robber shoots an employee who is already eligible for Workman's compensation. If this passes, he can sue his employer for something that the employer could not control and would likely win. Just the threat of a lawsuit might put the employer out of business. NO.
Amendment 57 Removed from ballot in exchange for $3 million extortion payment by business.
* COLORADO AMENDMENT 58
Would reduce energy company tax breaks and use revenue to pay for college scholarships and other programs. This is an example of the worst kind of public policy making imaginable. Bill Ritter is a lover of tax increases and couldn't allow the 2008 season to pass without one. He couldn't get anything through the legislature in an election year, so he had to do it via the initiative process. He went looking for a sugar daddy to pay for the political campaign for his tax as new taxes have to be approved by the voters. He made a deal with the environmentalists that if they paid for the campaign, their pet projects would get 25% of the revenues forever. Even worse, the 60% of the leftover revenue generated by this tax doesn't fix any problem that voters have routinely said they want fixed. If this is passed, the voters will be paying a new energy tax AND they will eventually be asked to pay more taxes for higher education, transportation, etc. NO!!!!! Updated (9/26) Rocky opposes using the same argument we used. Updated (10/5) Denver Post opposes, again for the same reason.
* COLORADO AMENDMENT 59
K-12 schools funding
Would lift constitutional limits on state spending and direct additional revenue into an education fund. Amendment 23 was put on the ballot with spending increases as a poison pill attempt to break TABOR. It resulted in a "temporary time out" from TABOR in the form of Ref C. Ref C was passed with promises that money from it would go to specific places, like higher education. The Ref C money did go to higher education, but the legislature removed pre-existing funds going to higher education and spent them elsewhere, meaning that the taxpayers were victims of a multi-billion dollar shell game. This amendment is authored by some of the same people who authored Ref C and is designed to get the voters to pay for more school funding but doesn't protect existing funding from being raided. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. No! Edited to add: The Rocky Mountain News acknowledges that it is a shell game. (9/25) Mark Hillman exposes the big money behind this.
* COLORADO REFERENDUM L:
Would lower the age of a candidate for the Colorado House and Senate from 25 to 21. Yes.
* COLORADO REFERENDUM M
Would eliminate obsolete provisions in the state constitution about land value increases.
* COLORADO REFERENDUM N:
Would eliminate obsolete provisions in the constitution about intoxicating liquor.
* COLORADO REFERENDUM O:
Would increase the number of signatures required on petitions for constitutional amendments to at least 6 percent of votes cast in the previous election for governor. It does much more than this. It is designed to take the grass roots out of the initiative process by adding to the number of signatures required and by requiring that they be collected throughout the state. This effectively allows the voters in one congressional district to veto the good ideas of the voters in the other six. For those who don't know their history, one major reason that the US Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation was a provision in the Articles that prohibited amendment unless all states agreed to it. The legislature knows this and is intent on making the process very cumbersome and very expensive, meaning that only the very wealthy would have access to the ballot. Absolutely Not. NO, NO, a thousand times NO. Edited to add: (9/25) The Denver Post issued a vacuous two sentence endorsement with no discussion. If they had a legitimate argument for it, they wouldn't try to slip it past the voters in this way.
Note: It seems to be legal for someone to put something on the ballot and then demand money from those impacted to have it removed. Our comment about it being extortion is not intended to be a claim that someone committed a crime, but it should be a crime.