(Don’t Send in Your Mail-in Ballot Yet: Check back here next week to see our endorsements on these issues and much, much more. —ed)
Sure, the whole Obama vs. McCain battle gets all the glory, but voters in Colorado need to be prepped on so much more than the race for the White House. With 18 amendments and initiatives (ranging from quick and easy constitutional cleanups to messy battles about bestowing legal rights on fertilized eggs), we have the longest ballot in the U.S. this election season. The two states closest to Colorado—California and Oregon—have a rather pedestrian dozen issues to vote on. Wusses. In fact, Colorado voters haven’t seen this many items on Election Day since 1912, and this doesn’t include numerous county and city ballot items. It’s a whole lot to take in. We’re here to help with a little background on some of the more important issues you’ll be voting on next month.
What/Who is a Person Anyway?
Colorado, by most estimates, is pretty darn close to being split evenly between conservatives and liberals, which makes watching the campaigns for this issue so interesting. On one side are the conservatives trying to do their best to redefine Roe vs. Wade one state law at a time. On the other are the liberals trying to defend the rights of women in Colorado and beyond. This isn’t necessarily an abortion issue (yet), instead this amendment is about defining a person to include any human being from the moment of fertilization—basically when sperm meets egg. This would have all sorts of ramifications on everything from abortion to the medical treatment of pregnant women to interpretation of state laws. Those in favor say it will afford all human life proper rights and give the courts clear direction on who is actually a person. Those against it worry it will encroach on medical professionals’ judgment and infringe on individuals’ rights to make decisions about their bodies. This should be a partisan fight for the ages.
If you’ve ever been bummed while stuck betting just $5 apiece on three simultaneous hands of blackjack in a Black Hawk casino, this amendment should pique your interest. On the table is a proposal to give Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek the chance to expand their respective gambling halls. As it stands, casinos have to limit bets to five bucks, can only offer slots, blackjack and poker, and must shutter at 2 a.m. If passed, each municipality could vote to up gambling maximums to $100, add more games and extend hours. It’s easy to see why some want this approved: The estimated influx of tax dollars from the switch is expected to net the state $300 million in the next five years (paying for things such as community colleges and other programs). It also gives these communities the power to decide what’s best for them, and it could make Colorado casinos a tourism destination. Or it could pave the way for a mini Vegas in our beloved mountains, increase our compulsive gambling problem and limit the flexibility of how the state spends the gambling revenues. You decide.
Oh Boy, a Health Insurance Issue
With the progress of Democratic pushes for universal healthcare in Colorado stalled—again—this amendment pops up as a way to ensure most of the state’s employed residents are insured. It would amend the state’s constitution to require private employers with 20 or more workers to provide health insurance while limiting the amount an employee must pay to 20 percent. This probably sounds nice to those who favor universal healthcare but know that a majority of Colorado employers with more than 25 workers offer some type of insurance already. Wading through this is no different than the universal issue. The good: It’ll boost productivity as workers will be healthier, make coverage more affordable and spread the burden of solving the state’s uninsured health care crises across a large pool of business owners. The bad: This could raise costs for businesses that would ultimately be passed down in the form of lower wages and does nothing to combat the overall high cost of healthcare or help employees of
ST. VRAIN VALLEY SCHOOLS
Looking for Money
The St. Vrain Valley School District lags in terms of per-pupil spending. It has fallen on hard economic times recently and layoffs have been commonplace. That’s why district officials have decided to go to the voters with two separate initiatives asking for money. One is a $16.5 million mill levy override, the other is a $189 million bond (for the uninitiated, bonds pay for bricks and mortar, mill levies people and programs). The mill will restore 85 teaching and staff positions, cut down on class size and add art, music and language programs. The bond will pay for a high school in Frederick, convert an existing high school into a K-8 institution and fix a bunch of other stuff. Few have opposed the issue, except Dacono officials, since it doesn’t include an elementary school inside of town limits.
More Money for Town Officials
Speaking of Dacono, residents will be asked to increase the salaries of the mayor and council. Under the proposal, the mayor’s monthly salary would increase from $75 to $250; the council’s would move from $50 to $150. If approved, the raises would go into effect on Jan. 1. Maybe they should forgo raises and start saving for their own school. Just sayin’