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The upcoming election on Nov. 7 will have the second biggest ballot in state history.
Understanding the issues is the first and best step to being an informed voter. Each general election, the state legislature puts out an analysis of the ballot proposals. This analysis is commonly referred to as the “Blue Book.” In it is a breakdown of what each measure will do if passed. Amendments are proposals to change the Colorado Constitution while referenda are proposals to change the Colorado statutes.
This is an abbreviation of the Blue Book to inform students what they will have to decide upon in the November general election.
It is important to note that a YES vote on any of these measure is a vote IN FAVOR OF making the changes listed below, while a NO vote on the issue is a vote AGAINST making the change.
Amendment 38: Petitions.
A proposal to expand citizens’ ability to change laws by modifying existing procedures for proposals. It will limit the government’s ability to change a measure put to it by citizens and decided by voters and it will limit the number of measures government can exempt from voter challenge.
Argument For: It will put more power in the hands of the voter, while making elected officials more open to the needs and wants of Coloradans.
Argument Against: It will weaken representative government. It will create longer ballots in the future with increasingly more complex issues for the voter to decide on.
Amendment 39: School District Spending Requirements.
A proposal to require school districts to spend 65 percent of yearly budget on specific items. It also makes provisions for school districts to obtain a waiver from the 65 percent and specifies sanctions for failure to reach spending requirements.
Argument For: It will put more money into the classroom.
Argument Against: School districts vary greatly across the state, they have different needs and as such locally elected school boards should determine the exact spending requirements.
Amendment 40: Term Limits for Supreme Court and Court of Appeals Judges.
A Proposal to enact term limits for Supreme Court justices from 10 years to four years, and appellate judges from eight years to four years.
Argument For: It will create more opportunity for a more diverse judiciary. It will make the judges on the state’s two highest courts more accountable.
Argument Against: This is unnecessary because the current system already creates accountability. It will also force several judges off the bench who were already voted in to longer terms.
Amendment 41: Standards of Conduct in Government.
This proposal will prohibit elected officials from accepting money or gifts in excess of $50. It will prohibit family members of elected officials from receiving gifts that would benefit officials. It will ban lobbyists from giving gifts to elected officials. It will prohibit elected officials from lobbying for two years after they leave office, and it will create an ethics commission.
Argument For: It will strengthen public confidence in elected officials. Not all elected officials are able to judge the ethics of their peers; this commission will eliminate this problem.
Argument Against: The current law already prohibits elected officials from receiving money, and the gifts they receive have to be publicly disclosed on a regular basis. Establishing a new commission just adds more unneeded bureaucracy that will just duplicate the work of other oversight committees.
Amendment 42: Colorado Minimum Wage.
A proposal to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $6.85 per hour.
Argument For: Raising the minimum wage will allow more people in the state to earn an income above the poverty level.
Argument Against: Raising the wage may hurt the economy. Small businesses may have to raise the prices of their goods, lay off employees or close down.
Amendment 43: Marriage.
A proposal to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Argument For: The interest of society is served by preserving the historical definition of marriage. Without the amendment the court may rule that same-sex marriages can be legal.
Argument Against: Marriage does not belong in the Colorado Constitution. Also, current law already bans marriage that does not consist of one man and one woman, making this amendment unnecessary.
Amendment 44: Marijuana Possession.
A proposal to legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older.
Argument For: Some people consider marijuana to be safer than alcohol; as such people should be allowed to consume it under the same restrictions currently used for alcohol.
Argument Against: Marijuana is a gateway drug that will lead users to harder drugs. Sobriety is the only safer choice when it comes to any mind-altering substance.
Referendum E: Property Tax Reduction for Disabled Veterans.
A proposal to lower property taxes for qualified disabled veterans, it also defines who a qualified veteran is.
Argument For: Colorado needs to help those who sacrificed for their country. The money saved by veterans will enable them to improve the quality of their lives.
Argument Against: Only one-twentieth of 1 percent of all Colorado residents will receive this tax break. Furthermore, disabled veterans who do not own homes do not benefit. The federal government should help veterans and not the state.
Referendum F: Recall Deadlines.
A proposal to remove deadlines to recall elected officials. It will also change requirement for when a recall election is held.
Argument For: Current deadlines may be too tight for election officials to respond and conduct elections. It also allows the legislature the ability to take all considerations into account when setting a deadline for a recall.
Argument Against: The people of Colorado should be able to remove unsatisfactory officials as quickly as possible.
Referendum G: Obsolete Constitutional Provisions.
A proposal to remove obsolete provisions, dates and references from three sections of the state constitution. It will also eliminate specific gender references in one section of the constitution.
Argument For: This is a continuation of the effort to update the constitution to enable better understanding of the document.
Argument Against: The historical significance of provisions and language in the constitution are valuable for research.
Referendum H: Limiting a State Business Income Tax Deduction.
A proposal to increase state income tax of businesses that deduct wages or other compensation to unauthorized aliens. It also defines an unauthorized alien as someone not eligible under federal law to work in the U.S.
Argument For: This will target employers who hire illegal immigrants and discourage their employment. It will make businesses that pay higher wages to legal workers more competitive.
Argument Against: This will have little or no impact on illegal immigration. Illegal immigration is a national issue and is the responsibility of the federal government not the state.
Referendum I: Domestic Partnerships.
A proposal to create a new legal relationship called domestic partnership, providing same-sex couples with some of the same legal rights as married couples in the state. It will also define what the criteria and process is to enter into a domestic partnership and it also specifies that this is not marriage.
Argument For: Same-sex couples deserve the same rights as married couples. It will allow for legal protections currently unavailable to same-sex couples.
Argument Against: This partnership will diminish the significance of marriage in society. The rights this will extend to same-sex couples are not extended to any other two unmarried people.
Referendum J: School District Spending Requirements.
A proposal to allow voters to exempt a school district from the 65 percent requirement if Amendment 39 is passed. It will also require an annual budget from each district submitted to the state.
Argument For: This will allow the local school boards the flexibility to respond to the needs of their local schools. It will also establish a standard of spending that can be changed in the future if need be.
Argument Against: Most schools already spend above the 65 percent requirement making this referendum unnecessary. It also discounts the diversity among the 178 school districts in the state.
Referendum K: Immigration Lawsuit Against Federal Government.
A proposal to require the state to sue the federal government to demand enforcement of existing immigration laws.
Argument For: This lawsuit will make it clear to the federal government that citizens of the state want the U.S. to enforce current immigration laws. Illegal immigrants receive benefits from the state; this referendum is an important step in reducing the cost incurred by the state.
Argument Against: This is ultimately a waste of money to require the state attorney general to sue the federal government. The U.S. government has the exclusive authority to determine who is illegal and who is not.