I have promised to send out my take on the various ballot issues, and retention of judges. In general, if you have not read and understood a ballot issue, please vote NO. You may read about the State ballot issues in your Bluebook. This year’s Bluebook is hard to miss because it is bigger than usual!
Referred measures (these are the ones with the letters) have been considered by the General Assembly and at least 2/3s of the members have voted to allow the measure to go to the ballot. That does not mean a legislator agrees with the issue, but agreed that the voters should have their say on the issue.
Amendments are citizen initiatives (the numbered ones), and are petition driven measures. This year’s measures affect both the State Constitution and statutes.
Ref E allows for a property tax credit for completely disabled veterans. That is about 2200 citizens in Colorado. You decide.
Ref F takes recall deadlines out of the State Constitution. It is fine with me.
Ref G. deletes obsolete Constitutional provisions. This is also fine with me.
Ref H bars the deduction from state income tax of payroll to illegal immigrants. You decide.
Ref I allow for domestic partnerships in Colorado. This law protects the legal rights of couples not allowed to marry. It protects the children of couples not allowed to marry. I support Ref I.
Ref J addresses the allocation of funding for schools and is the preferred solution over Amendment 39. I do not support this measure or Amendment 39, as I believe our school districts should be governed by locally elected school boards dealing with local issues.
Ref K requires the Attorney General to sue the United States Government to recapture state monies spent on illegal immigrants. Such a lawsuit may have symbolic value but is not likely to prevail. You decide.
Now to the Amendments. Only one of these is a proposed statutory amendment and the rest affect the State Constitution. Generally, I am opposed to amendments to the State Constitution.
Amendment 38 would make it easier for citizens’ initiatives to get on the ballot. It is already easy enough – just look at how many Amendments there are on the ballot this year!
VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT 38.
Amendment 39 is the so-called “65% solution,” mandating how local school districts allocate their spending. Again, it is a state mandate on local school boards, and puts important school services at-risk in almost all school districts.
VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT 39.
Amendment 40 would push out good judges for no reason. Colorado already has a process for judges with checks and balances, accountability and discipline measures, mandatory retirement at age 72 and retention votes by the people. More than 100 organizations and people in leadership positions across the state and across party lines publicly oppose Amendment 40. Every major daily newspaper has come out against this bad idea. And, for the first time in history, Governors Owens, Romer, Lamm and Vanderhoof came together to warn Coloradans about the consequences of this measure. Both the Democratic and Republican candidates for Attorney General also oppose the measure.
VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT 40.
Amendment 41 applies to all public employees from the Governor, to the firefighter, to the janitor, or to anyone with a state contract. It is a ban on gifts from anyone, not just lobbyists, to any state employee or a member of their family. Because Amendment 41 is a constitutional amendment, the General Assembly cannot “polish” it. While lobbying reform is important, it should not be locked into Colorado’s constitution where there is little flexibility to change the law to correspond with the ebb and flow of public policy and the needs of the times. I support limiting or banning gifts from lobbyists. But Amendment 41 just creates another inflexible and unworkable bureaucracy.
VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT 41.
Amendment 42 is the minimum wage initiative. It would require employers to pay $6.85 an hour to hourly employees, which will be adjusted for inflation in the future. (The current minimum wage $5.15.) This is the difference between earning an annual salary below the federal poverty level and earning a salary above the federal poverty level. While I wish this was not a Constitutional Amendment, I support it because it is the right thing for Colorado workers.
VOTE YES ON AMENDMENT 42.
Amendment 43 is a Constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. This duplicative of established and existing state law. It is therefore redundant and unnecessary.
VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT 43.
Amendment 44 is a proposed amendment to Colorado statutes which would legalize possession by a person 21 years and older of less than an ounce of marijuana in a private setting. Of course, this would remain illegal under federal law. In my experience, having contradictory state and federal law sends a confusing message. I also respect the strong opposition to this measure communicated to me by law enforcement.
VOTE NO ON AMENDMENT 44.
RETENTION OF JUDGES
As a member of the Colorado Bar, I urge a YES vote on retention of all the judges on this year’s ballot. The Judicial Performance Commission conducts a complete and thorough survey of the performance of each judge by interviewing attorneys and other judges. All of the judges received favorable reviews.
You may have read about the movement to remove Judge Marquez. I especially urge a YES vote for Judge Marquez, as he received overwhelmingly favorable reviews from the Bench and the Bar.
We agree on the vast majority of those issues, although I personally, although weakly, favor Amendment 44.