For Election 2016, Coloradans will decide nine ballot issues across the state, and others in local jurisdictions, as we vote by mail beginning the third week in October or in person on November 8.
Consent of the governed, a key principle in America’s free society, is stronger in our state than in many others because “we the people” exercise direct lawmaking power on proposals to either change the state constitution (called amendments) or state laws (called propositions).
Colorado’s official ballot issue guide, the Blue Book, is compiled through a well-balanced bipartisan analytical process involving a committee of elected legislators along with impartial professional staff.
During my state Senate service years ago, I served on that committee and found its work trustworthy. Read the Blue Book here or watch for it in the US mail at your home address. (This covers only statewide issues; localities will do separate mailers.)
Because friends often ask how I’m voting and why, here’s my take on this year’s measures. Keen observers will see I am voting a straight-ticket “No.”
You may feel several are in the gray area, but I recommend “No on All” as the simplest advice for politically less-involved folks. That gives us the best chance of defeating the way-bad ones like 69 that wrecks health care, 71 that votes away your vote (and threatens TABOR), and 106 that creates a Colorado death industry.
MY TAKE ON STATEWIDE MEASURES
No on Amendment T: No Exception to Involuntary Servitude Provision This is a symbolic gesture to repudiate any hint of slavery in our state constitution, emotionally appealing but meaningless under the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution.
No on Amendment U: Exempt Certain Possessory Interests from Property Taxes This cleans up a nuisance item for local property-tax filers and collectors, accomplishing a reasonable minor reform in itself but needlessly confusing the less-informed voter in relation to the big, and ugly, measures coming next.
No on Amendment 69: Create a Government-Run Health Care System Massive new taxes would double the size of state government and force everyone into a mediocre DMV of socialized medicine as dysfunctional, or more so, than the VA.
No on Amendment 70: Raise the State Minimum Wage The minimum wage favors labor unions and higher-skilled workers at the expense of minorities and youth who are priced out of the job market.
No on Amendment 71: Draconian Requirements to Amend Constitution Hard-to-meet signature quotas in remote corners of the state, super-majority voter totals, and a double standard for repeals vs. new provisions would fence ordinary citizens out of the petition process and leave big-money interests in sole control of constitutional changes. (See more here)
No on Amendment 72: Raise Cigarette and Tobacco Taxes Sin taxes to modify behavior are the wrong use of government power, not to mention this would create a black market and worsen an already over-large state government.
No on Proposition 106: Legalize Doctor-Assisted Suicide Ghoulish though compassionate-sounding measure would endanger elderly and disabled persons, the most vulnerable among us, while subverting the medical profession from its high calling of saving lives, not ending them.
No on Proposition 107: All-Comers for Presidential Primary Election Recipe for endless political mischief. Going back to the presidential primaries we used to have is a good idea, but letting individuals from outside a political party help pick that party’s nominee is an awful idea.
No on Proposition 108: All-Comers for All Other Primary Elections Same reasoning as No on 107. Everyone at your house works hard getting ready for a family meal, then the government makes you give a seat at the table to the lazy neighbors from next door. Equally absurd for a political party as for a dinner party.
MY TAKE ON LOCAL MEASURES
No on Issue 4B: Reauthorize Cultural Tax Residents of metro Denver pay sales tax of 1 cent on 10 dollars for a pot of money doled out by the seven-county Scientific and Cultural Facilities District. Cuddly like a koala bear, right? But it’s better to let SCFD sunset in 2018 and allow arts groups to compete for donor dollars in the free market.
No on Issues 3A & 3B: Mill Levy and Bond Issue, Cherry Creek Schools Yet another tax hike for well-heeled Cherry Creek. Sorry, but public education is already awash in too much money and too much union red tape, yielding woeful mediocrity. True reform won’t come until taxpayers stop the gravy train. That’s the tough-love vote for better schools no matter where you live.