Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ballot Measures for Dummies: 2010 by Ken Gordon

“Yes on Letters. No on Numbers.”

The Colorado legislature has done something useful since the last election. All ballot measures in the past were called “Amendments” although some of the measures amended the Constitution, and some amended the statutes. This was confusing. Many people thought if a measure was called an “amendment” it meant that it amended the Constitution. Now, that is in fact, true. If a measure amends the statutes it is called a proposition.
Ballot measures that begin with a letter are Referenda and ballot measures that begin with a number are Initiatives. Referenda are referred by the legislature. That is how you can remember. Referenda are referred. Initiatives are initiated by the people by collecting signatures.
I’m sorry that I am getting this out a little late. My recommendations follow the letter or number of the measure.

Amendment P: Yes. Regulation of Games of Chance. This measure moves the licensing of games of chance such as bingo and raffles from the Secretary of State’s office to the Department of Revenue. The Department of Revenue regulates other forms of gambling and the Secretary of State’s office is very busy making sure that elections are run fairly.

Amendment Q: Yes. This allows the seat of government to be moved from Denver if there is an emergency. For instance if someone accidentally explodes a nuclear device in the metropolitan area. In that event it won’t matter much to those of us who live in Denver, but for the rest of the state it makes sense.

Amendment R: Yes. This measure eliminates property taxes on leased government property that is worth less than $6000. The argument that persuaded the legislature to refer the measure was that the administrative cost of assessing the tax was high compared to the amount collected. I recognize that we need tax revenue to provide services, but this tax has a high hassle to benefit ratio and I think it makes sense to pass this measure.

4. Amendment 60: No. This measure along with Amendment 61 and Proposition 101 have been called the “Ugly Three” by the opposition. Amendment 60 reduces local property taxes and requires the state to replace money lost to K-12 education. After a period of time the state will not have enough revenue to pay for some of the other services you may be accustomed to, such as prisons, courts, Medicaid, higher education. I don’t understand how who people who support measures like this think that reducing taxes to the point where you can’t support higher education will help us have more money. The truth is defunding higher education is the worst thing you could possibly do for the economy and the prosperity of Colorado not to mention the reduction in quality of life for high school graduates who won’t be able to go to college.

5. Amendment 61: No. The second measure in the “Ugly Three” places severe restrictions on governmental borrowing. This will prevent the building of governmental projects such as highways, schools and airports. These kind of improvements employ numerous workers in the hard-hit construction trades and the improved infrastructure helps reduce the cost of goods and services produced in the US and makes us more competitive.

6. Amendment 62: No. This is the so-called “personhood” amendment. It is an extreme anti-abortion measure that goes so far that it may even outlaw certain forms of birth control. It is an easy “no” because of the legal liability it creates for doctors and nurses with poorly defined language.
7. Amendment 63: No. This ballot measure is in opposition to Federal health care reform, but it is misleading because under the Constitution laws passed by Congress are the “supreme law of the land.” State law cannot overturn a Federal law. One of the pieces of health care reform requires everyone to buy insurance or pay a penalty. Some people object to this, but if those people are injured and end up with a serious injury in an emergency room, we will all end up paying for that person’s care. "There are no libertarians in emergency rooms." (I would like to take credit for the previous, but I heard it on the Mario Solis Marich show on AM 760). It comes down to this. Do you want to live in a society where, when someone is ill and goes to the hospital, they get care whether they are wealthy or not? If you want that, then everyone has to participate.

8. Proposition 101: No. The last of the “Ugly Three.” This measure reduces income, vehicle and telecommunication taxes that pay for necessary services such as our roads, the education of our kids, prisons to keep bad guys in, and a health care safety net.

9. Proposition 102: No. This measure was put on the ballot by bail bondsmen who want to make more money. If this measure passes it will keep more people in jail at your expense so that they need to hire bondsmen. The fact that this is on the ballot is actually despicable.

These are my thoughts. Thanks for taking the time to read them. Feel free to forward this to others or reprint in any place or format.

Hope you are doing well.


Ken Gordon