2016 Elections contain more than the candidates

Isaiah Cordova

 

Cheyenne Moyer (18) studies the Colorado Ballot Information Booklet.
Cheyenne Moyer (18) studies the Colorado Ballot Information Booklet.

Local issues should be of equal concern

By Isaiah Cordova

If you received a state-issued Blue Book in the mail recently, then you are eligible to vote in this year’s election. Besides the presidential ballot issue, there are representatives to elect to the Congress, two more races and nine propositions on the state level, and two positions to elect on the local level. The presidential election repeatedly overshadows the crucial and numerous issues on the ballot, and it is important to check those boxes. The following is a quick summary of each item on the ballot which hopefully every voter will vote on on Nov. 8, 2016.

Amendment T – No Exception to Involuntary Servitude Prohibition

Amendment T is a proposed amendment to the Colorado Constitution to remove references to the legality of slavery as a punishment for a crime. Amendment T would strike out the following clause in the Coloradoan Constitution:

[There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude] except as a

punishment for a crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.

This ballot option is a simple Yes/No question for the reformation of the Colorado Constitution.

Amendment U – Exempt Certain Possessory Interests from Property Taxes

Amendment U is a proposed amendment to the Colorado Constitution which would exempt individuals and businesses which utilize government-owned property for a profit under $6000. Government-owned land is already tax-exempt, but those who are allowed to utilize that land are not. This amendment would expand that exemption to individuals and businesses on such land.

Supporters argue that this amendment would remove an “administrative burden” from tax collectors. Opponents argue that this amendment would create an unfair tax break on individuals and would put a larger tax burden on others to provide enough money for local government needs.

Amendment 69 – Statewide Health Care System

Amendment 69 is a proposed amendment to the Colorado Constitution which would establish “ColoradoCare,” a statewide system to finance health care services for Colorado residents. This amendment would also create new taxes on most sources of income and redirect federal funding to pay for the administration of Colorado Care.

Supporters argue that this amendment creates a more equitable health care payment system that provides coverage for all Colorado citizens. This amendment would also provide a more transparent alternative to Obamacare and allows more options than private institutions which is not profit-motivated and allows citizens to directly control tax increases and decreases regarding ColoradoCare.

Opponents argue that Amendment 69 would create more taxes which may harm the Colorado economy. Amendment 69 does not guarantee that patient care will improve, and does not include an exact set of instructions for implementation or a date of implementation.

Amendment 70 – State Minimum Wage

Amendment 70 is a proposed amendment to the Colorado Constitution to increase the state minimum wage from $8.31 to $9.30 per hour beginning Jan. 1, 2017, and increase the minimum wage by $0.90 per hour each January until 2021, where the wage would be adjusted based on cost-of-living in Colorado.

Supporters argue that Colorado’s current minimum wage is too low to provide a basic standard of living for some workers. A report stated that minimum-wage workers in Colorado made, on average, $300 after taxes which is not enough money to sustain with the current cost-of-living.

Opponents argue that increasing the state minimum wage would, instead of helping, would hurt employees. If the amendment passes, then some workers earning the minimum wage may face lay-offs, reduced hours, or fewer benefits. Increasing the state minimum wage may also hurt small and family-owned businesses, particularly in rural communities where the cost of living is lower and economic recovery has been slow compared with urban areas.

Amendment 71 – Requirements for Constitutional Amendments

Amendment 71 would require that petitions proposed for election must be signed by registered electors who reside in each state senate district in Colorado in an amount equal to at least 2 percent of the total registered electors in the senate district. Any amendment would require at least 55 percent of the votes in order to pass.

Amendment 72 – Increase Cigarette and Tobacco Taxes

Amendment 72 is a proposed amendment to the Colorado Constitution which would increase the state tax on a pack of cigarettes from $0.84 to $2.59, a nearly 500 percent increase. This tax would be distributed to medical research, tobacco-use prevention, doctors and clinics in rural or low-income areas, veterans’ services, and other health-related programs. The tax would begin Jan. 1, 2017.

Proposition 106 – Access to Medical Aid-in-Dying Medication

This proposition would amend the Colorado statutes to allow a terminally ill individual with a prognosis of six months or less to live to request and self-administer medical aid-in-dying medication in order to voluntarily end his or her life and would allow a physician to prescribe medical aid-in-dying medication to a terminally ill individual 18 years or older.

The patient must go through a request process in order to receive the medication and their physician must be eligible to prescribe the medication. If any individual is found to have tampered with a patient’s request to receive the medication, they will be criminally charged.

Supporters argue that this amendment would expand the options available to a terminally ill person in the last stage of life.

Opponents argue that this amendment would encourage the use of lethal medication by terminally ill people and may send the message that some lives are not worth living to their natural conclusion.

Proposition 107 – Presidential Primary Elections

Proposition 107 would amend the Colorado statutes to establish a presidential primary election in Colorado that allows participation by unaffiliated voters. The proposition would remove Caucuses, the current method of electing presidential candidates in the primary elections.

Supporters of this proposition argue that a Presidential primary would serve Colorado voters better than the current caucus system. Caucuses can be crowded, held at inconvenient times, and conducted by inexperienced volunteers.

Opponents of this proposition argue that this method could result in some unaffiliated voter ballots not being counted and would raise costs for taxpayers.

Recommendations on Retention of Judges

There are multiple judges up for election or reelection in Weld County. Below is a list of each one and their views. It is recommended to read the each of the following biographies.

Supreme Court:

William Hood

Court of Appeals:

Karen M. Ashby

Michael H. Berger

Steven L. Bernard

Stephanie E. Dunn

David Furman

Robert D. Hawthorne

Jerry N. Jones

Anthony J. Navarro

Gilbert M. Roman

Diana Terry

District Court:

Warren Troy Hause

Julie C. Hoskins

Shannon D. Lyons

Thomas J. Quammen