Tag Archive for Ballot Measures

NEVER POLITICS Voter Guide to 2016 Colorado Ballot Measures

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If you’re like me, you received your 2016 State Ballot Information Booklet (aka the “Blue Book”) in the mail and were slightly overwhelmed by the thickness of the booklet. It is 29 pages this year. If you are too busy to read the entirety of this booklet then NEVER POLITICS has your back! I have summarized concisely all of the measures on the ballot this year for your convenience!

Amendment T: No Exception to Involuntary Servitude Prohibition

Amendment T proposes removing language in the Colorado constitution that currently allows slavery and involuntary servitude to be used as punishment for the conviction of a crime.

Amendment T seems like a no-brainer to me. Who would want to allow slavery and involuntary servitude to be the letter of the law in 2016?

Amendment U: Exempt Certain Possessory Interests From Property Taxes

Amendment U proposes eliminating property taxes for individuals/businesses that use government-owned property for a private benefit worth $6,000 or less.

Amendment U seems like common sense. In these situations, many times collecting taxes on these properties costs more to collect than it brings in. It makes sense to remove these very minor taxes to streamline government.

Amendment 69: State Health Care System

Amendment 69 would establish ColoradoCare, a statewide system to finance health care services for Colorado residents. This entails creating new taxes on sources of income, establishing a board of trustees to oversee ColoradoCare, and this thereby allows the board of ColoradoCare to terminate ColoradoCare if the waivers, exemptions, and agreements from the federal government are not sufficient for its fiscally sound operation. The plan would become the primary health care for some, and then provide supplemental care to others who already have a plan. Colorado citizens could still choose to pay for a private health insurance plan, but all Colorado citizens are required to pay the tax. Supporters of Amendment 69 believe that the current system still leaves many uninsured and those who are insured have high deductibles. Supporters of Amendment 69 say that passing the Amendment to create ColoradoCare would create a more equitable system, with all Colorado citizens getting more access to health care. Opponents say that the taxes would be bad for the Colorado economy and prevent businesses from opening and staying in business in Colorado.

I personally think that ColoradoCare would be a progressive and more equitable health care system. People are faced with high deductibles and do not seek preventative care because of costs. Establishing a single-payer system in Colorado would lead the nation on the issue of healthcare. Bernie Sanders was recently in Colorado in support of Amendment 69. Unfortunately, the polling shows it is unlikely to pass. I am going to vote YES on Amendment 69. For more details on the exact taxes that will be increased, see the Colorado Blue Book. Interestingly, progressive left-leaning groups such as ProgressNow and policy groups such as the Bell Policy Center are against the ballot measure because of independent research showing problems with its implementation. This is a tough issue. But I believe in order to advance our society we must undertake the risks of a potentially bumpy transition to ultimately obtain more equal health care for all people. I think after 5 or 10 years of ColoradoCare we would work out the kinks or dissolve it all together if it proves insolvent, as the amendment allows. I think our current system is too profit-motivated, which leads to rising health care costs.

Amendment 70: State Minimum Wage

Amendment 70 proposes increasing the state minimum wage from $8.31 to $9.30 per hour beginning  January 1, 2017. Then increasing the minimum wage annually by $.90 per hour beginning January 1, 2018 until it reaches $12.00 per hour on January 1, 2020, and then starting January 1, 2021, and thereafter, adjusting the minimum wage each year based on cost-of-living increases.

As someone who has long worked in the retail and coffee industries I have made a low wage most of my working-life. I believe that the current minimum wage in Colorado (which is $7.25) is a poverty-wage. It has not kept pace with the cost of living in Colorado, especially with the ever raising cost of housing in Colorado. I believe Amendment 70 is an important step towards creating a living-wage. Liberal groups such as ProgressNow and policy groups such as The Bell Policy Center both support Amendment 70! Opponents say that it will hurt small businesses, especially those in rural areas. I think that we cannot sustain wages as low as they are now because the wealth-inequality between the rich and the poor continues to grow with each passing year. We must progress as a society by beginning to pass laws that help us to create a living wage.

Amendment 71: Requirements for Constitutional Amendments

Amendment 71 (aka the “Raise the Bar” Initiative) proposes that a certain number of signatures be gathered from each state senate district to place a constitutional initiative on the ballot and increase the percentage of votes required to adopt a constitutional amendment. Liberal group ProgressNow opposes Amendment 71 because they believe it would make it so only wealthy special interests and corporations could afford to place measures on the ballot. The Bell Policy Center believes it would make it too hard to reform TABOR (The Tax-Payers Bill of Rights which causes a lot of budgetary issues for Colorado’s government and public education.)

Amendment 72: Increase Cigarette and Tobacco Taxes

Amendment 72 proposes increasing state tax on a pack of cigarettes from $0.84 to $2.59, increasing the state tax on tobacco products from 40% to 62% of the price, and distributing the new tax money for medical research, tobacco-use prevention, doctors, and clinics in rural or low-income areas, veterans’ services, and other health-related programs. I will vote YES on this ballot measure. Tobacco taxes are quite low in Colorado compared to other states and it can be raised and still below the average tax rate for tobacco in other states. Opponents say that this is a $315.7 million dollar tax increase. But we need to make smoking and tobacco use unattractive to Colorado citizens so I believe it is a necessary step to take in the interest of public health.

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

Proposition 106 proposes amending the Colorado statutes to allow a terminally ill individual with a prognosis of 6 months or less to live to request and self-administer medical aid-in-dying medication in order to voluntarily end their life. It also would authorize a doctor to prescribe medical aid-in-dying medication to a terminally ill individual under certain conditions, and would create criminal penalties for tampering with a person’s request for medical aid-in-dying medication or knowingly coercing a person with a terminal illness to request the medication. ProgressNow supports Proposition 106, stating that it is very similar to the law in Oregon, which has proven successful. I will be voting yes on Proposition 106. I don’t believe if you have a terminal illness you should have to suffer at length and be miserable and have no quality of life until you finally die. I think this is a humane law. Opponents say it is playing god, and think it may send the message that lives are not worth living to their natural conclusion. I think that is not accurate. Other opponents say that it creates opportunities for abuse and fraud. I think that happens less than opponents of the proposition espouse.

Proposition 107: Presidential Primary Elections

Proposition 107 proposes establishing a presidential primary election in Colorado that allows participation by unaffiliated voters. It would replace the current caucus system and replace with a primary instead. Primaries are a more streamlined process. I think it makes sense to replace the old caucus system and make it easier to cast your vote in the primaries. A presidential primary serves Colorado voters better than the caucus system. The current caucus system is confusing and inaccessible to many voters. Caucuses can be crowded, held at inconvenient times, and conducted by inexperienced volunteers. A presidential primary would eliminate these logistical difficulties. Under Proposition 107, a presidential primary would give voters several weeks to cast their ballots by mail or at a voting center.

Proposition 108 Unaffiliated Voter Participation in Primary Elections

Proposition 108 proposes amending the Colorado statutes to change the primary election process in Colorado to allow unaffiliated voters to vote in a nonpresidential primary election of a single political party and allow political parties to opt out of holding a primary election and instead choosing to nominate candidates by assembly or convention. In English, that means that Proposition 108 would create an open primary for all non-presidential elections where unaffiliated voters could vote in the primary. They would receive a combined ballot with candidates from every party. Never Politics supports Proposition 108. As a blog for progressive unaffiliated voters, I advocate for liberal independent voters. We deserve to have our voice heard in the presidential primary process. As is, only registered Republicans and Democrats can participate in the presidential caucuses. In Colorado 37% of all registered voters are registered as unaffiliated/independent. We deserve a voice!!! All Colorado voters deserve to be allowed to participate in the selection of presidential nominees, even if they are not affiliated with a political party. Opponents say that unaffiliated voters should not be able to vote in presidential primaries because they are unaffiliated. Never Politics thinks that’s a flimsy argument!

ELECTION NIGHT 2014: COLORADO AND NATIONWIDE RESULTS AND ANALYSIS

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Election Night is finally here, and the results are slowly rolling in. I will be live-blogging throughout the evening! CNN is already projecting that Kentucky Senator and Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell will keep his Senate seat with a comfortable margin. Perhaps we will know at the end of the night if McConnell will become the Senate Majority Leader as well.

However, we may not know this by the end of tonight, or even by the end of this month if the Louisiana Senate race is the deciding senate seat (which may be forced into a December runoff if neither candidate receives the salient number of 50% of the vote.) I am so disappointed about the Kentucky senate race results, and the reality that McConnell wasn’t voted out of office. But it is hardly a surprise. Kentucky is just a conservative state and the sixth year itch is prevailing. And that’s not even mentioning how extremely unpopular President Obama is in that state, which was Alison Lundergan Grimes undoing.

Stay with NEVER POLITICS for all your Election Night news, with a special focus on Colorado’s races and the role of independent voters and candidates in Colorado and beyond. The polls close in Colorado in about 45 minutes! I am especially interested in how many independent (unaffiliated) voters vote in Colorado and nationwide. The dominant trend seems to be that more and more voters are leaving the two dominant parties and choosing to be independents. This should not be a trend that the Democrats and Republicans take lightly. This shows the severe dissatisfaction and disillusionment that voters feel with the two party system. But it encourages me, as I think they will have to pay attention to this trend and manifest some positive collaboration in Washington D.C. if they are interested in their own political survival.

BREAKING NEWS:

New Hampshire Senate Race: Jeanne Shaheen (D) wins key Senate Seat, fending off Republican Scott Brown!

Colorado Update: The polls have been closed now for a half hour and the results in the governor’s race are exceedingly close, with Beupreaz leading Hickenlooper 49-47%. And in the Senate race, Cory Gardner looks to be crystallizing his lead, 52 to 43% with 41% reporting!

CNN is reporting that the Louisiana Senate race WILL indeed go to runoff, with the vote split between the two Republican candidates causing neither Landrieu or Cassidy hitting the magic number of 50%! This race will not be settled until December. The laywers will be pouncing in Louisiana!

 Colorado’s AMENDMENT 67 “Personhood Amendment” HAS FAILED! A huge victory for women and women’s reproductive freedoms.

 7News is projecting that Mike Coffman has defeated Andrew Romanoff in Colorado’s 6th Congressional district 54% to 41% with 68% reporting. This devastates me. The worst news of the night hands-down. However, Romanoff fought the good fight and his campaign was fought with honor and honesty.

The Republicans only need 2 senate seats now to reach their magic number to gain control of the Senate.

 Governor hopeful Wendy Davis has lost by a huge margin in Texas.

 CNN has called the Colorado SENATE Race. Rep. Cory Gardner has defeated incumbent Mark Udall, 51% to 44%. I feel that the Democrats blew this race with their one-note campaign, setting Udall up for defeat.

 The GOP are routing the Dems everywhere. They just won the Georgia Senate race. The GOP now only needs to win one more Senate seat to gain control of the Senate. Iowa and Kansas are still too close to call but lean Republican.

In Wisconsin, Scott Walker has sailed to re-election after a controversy-laden 4 year term. After his recall election and all of the curbing of collective bargaining rights for unions, Walker has won re-election. What does that say about the times we are in? A state that used to be so pro-union is veering dramatically to the right. This scares me more than anything else tonight. A very scary bellwether for our country. Scott Walker will likely run for President in 2016 now.

Kansas just elected the Republican Senate candidate Pat Roberts beating Greg Orman the independent. This defeat stings since it would have been so interesting if another Independent was sent to D.C. It is simply not to be.

Colorado Update: Proposition 104 has passed overwhelmingly. This Proposition will require any school board meetings which discuss collective bargaining (unions) to be open to the public. Well done, Colorado! However, Proposition 105, the GMO labeling proposition has been voted down, most likely due to the political ads that ran that said that 105 would raise food costs.

The Associated Press has just called that the Republicans have taken control of Senate Majority. Sen Mitch McConnell just got a promotion. He will now lead the Senate as Senate Majority Leader. He will have a fun time trying to control his caucus, especially the junior Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz.

More COLORADO Updates: The GOP has routed the Dems on all levels, not just the Senate/House Races, but also in state level government. The GOP Secretary of State candidate Wayne Williams has defeated the Democrat Joe Neguse. Similarly, the Democrat Betsy Markey has lost to Walker Stapleton for State Treasurer. Cynthia Coffman (R) has also won Attorney General, defeating Dem Don Quick.However, there are bright spots in the liberal Colorado Congressional districts 1 and 2, the progressive incumbent Reps. Diana Degette and Jared Polis both won handily! These two are two of my favorite Reps in the House of Representatives.

With 13 Days Until Election Day, Mail Ballots Have Arrived To Voters State-Wide and Early Voting Has Begun! And NEVER POLITICS Shares Candidate Endorsements

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With less than 2 weeks until the election, nationwide the pundits are predicting victory for the GOP. The Senate Majority is likely to flip to being controlled by the Republicans, and here in Colorado the GOP leads in the polls in several key races: the senate race, the governorship, and key House of Representative races. President Obama’s approval ratings have been dismal, sitting at about 40%. The election has become less about the issues in the country and more of a referendum on President Obama. The GOP don’t have to have a proactive campaign when all they have to do is tie Democrat incumbents to the unpopular President. And this has been done ad nauseam in this election season.

Cory Gardner has run a “successful” campaign by linking Mark Udall’s voting record to President Obama’s agenda. This tactic is clearly based on the statistics on Midterm elections. In the sixth year of a President’s term, his/her political party loses. The statistics show it. Which is why I am having a hard time sustaining hope in this political climate. But I am more interested in the long-game anyway. While the GOP may win, and win big in November, I still believe there is much evidence to suggest that they are still losing the long game, and losing it nationwide. It is easy rhetoric for the GOP in this election to simply tie candidates nationwide to an unpopular President. But are they actually suggesting any alternatives? Do they have any cogent policy suggestions on how to move the country forward? I don’t see how they can win the Presidency in 2016 without a real vision for the country.

In fact, I think Hillary Clinton already has the election basically in the bag, and she hasn’t even formally announced that she is running yet. None of the speculated crop of GOP presidential candidates will have any remote chance of beating her. All of the polls in Iowa and New Hampshire show Hillary well ahead in the polls when matched against any of the GOP candidates (Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, et al.) None of the metrics I have seen show that the GOP can win nationwide popular votes when they refuse to shift stances on the issues of the times. The GOP adamantly refuse to vote for immigration reform, raising the minimum wage, continue to support anti-women policies that infringe upon their reproductive rights, or reform on student loan interest rates. So, while the Democrats may lose in the short term, I doubt that the trend holds for too long. In 2016 and beyond we are likely to see reversals in these trends.

In addition to the Democrats inherent uphill battle this election season, I am also immensely frustrated by the local newspaper media piling on. I am alluding of course to the Denver Post and their recent endorsements of Cory Gardner and also Mike Coffman. The Denver Post usually endorses Democrats and liberal candidates, and I find it very fishy that all of a sudden this newspaper is endorsing these very socially conservative candidates. The timing is odd as well. The Denver Post is currently up for sale. And it’s current owners are a hedge fund. It seems to me that these endorsements have more to do with the owner of the Post and the prospective sale of the paper than the collective opinion of its journalists. There has been a sizable outcry against the Denver Post since these endorsements, with everyone from Gary Hart to others speaking out against it. The Denver Post said in its endorsement of Cory Gardner that the gridlock in Washington D.C. needs to stop, so they endorsed Gardner because he will be a new Senator, versus Udall who has been in the Senate for 15 years. This is the most pathetic logic I have ever heard for an endorsement. Cory Gardner has served in Congress for a few years in the House of Representatives and he has been one of the obstructionists who have caused the gridlock. In fact, he did not do much to stand up to his party during the Government Shutdown of 2013, when Colorado desperately needed a functioning federal government to provide emergency funding for Colorado during our devastating 2013 thousand year flood. It really boils my blood that just one year after all of the outrage over the government shutdown, the citizens of Colorado have already forgotten about it. Voter amnesia at it’s finest. And if the Denver Post was really serious about supporting candidates who will change the gridlock in D.C., they should have endorsed Andrew Romanoff for Colorado’s 6th district. Instead, they endorsed a well-known Birther and obstructionist, Mike Coffman. The Denver Post has no credibility anymore. It’s just another corporate agenda by the oligarchy.

NEVER POLITICS 2014 POLITICAL CANDIDATE AND BALLOT MEASURE ENDORSEMENTS:

Senator: Mark Udall
Governor: John Hickenlooper/Joe Garcia

Congressmen (6th District): Andrew Romanoff

Secretary of State: Joe Neguse
State Treasurer: Betsy Markey
Attorney General: Don Quick
State Representative, District 37: Nancy Cronk

BALLOT MEASURES:

Amendment 67: VOTE NO.

Amendment 68: VOTE YES.
Proposition 104: VOTE YES.
Proposition 105: VOTE YES.

 

John Hickenlooper in Re-Election Fight And if Jared Polis’ Anti-Fracking Measures Make the Ballot, Could Doom Mark Udall

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In the spring, Hickenlooper’s campaign was flying high. Spirits were high that Hickenlooper would have a comfortable lead through the summer leading into the fall and the election. But that was before the Republican primary and before Hickenlooper’s opponent was chosen.

And here comes Bob Beauprez.

He crushed Tom Tancredo in the Republican primary. And he has a shot of becoming Colorado’s next governor. The Denver Post recently ran a piece about the “6-year-pushback,” the idea that there comes a push-back against the President’s party after 6 years in office, the result of voter frustration after 6 years of policy making. There could be a tide of political change in this politically purple state. We could get a Republican governor for the first time since 2007. We could get a Republican senator in the form of Cory Gardner.

Gov. Hickenlooper is now locked into a re-election fight, much like Mark Udall. Polls in mid July showed Governor Hick locked into a statistical tie. A Quinnipiac University poll released on July 15 found Republican Bob Beauprez leading the governor, 44% to 43%.

Hickenlooper has taken a few hard hits in public opinion over the last few years. The first was with the passing of gun-control legislation following the 2012 Aurora movie theater shooting. And the second stumble was with the very unpopular decision Governor Hickenlooper made to allow a “temporary reprieve” on the death penalty sentence of mentally-ill killer Nathan Dunlap. Bob Beauprez is jockeying into position to exploit public anger on these two issues. That combined with the public anger about “Obama-care” and the Dems have an uphill battle to November.

And we the citizens get caught in the middle with the mind numbing political ads that fill our tv screens on the local channels. Super PACS are out in force. We have ads from Karl Rove’s Super PAC, the Koch Brothers Super PAC, the Republican Senate Majority PAC, the Democrat Senate Majority PAC, then from Udall and Gardner’s campaigns directly. It is mind numbing. Combine that with the oil company propaganda ads which tell us that fracking is safe, effective, and counters our reliance on Middle Eastern oil. Nevermind that is completely unsafe and ruins the drinking water and farmland. Nevermind that it is causing earthquakes in Greeley, Colorado, a place that has never had any earthquake activity.

Time and Politico both recently published in-depth pieces that did an excellent job examining the impact of Jared Polis’ anti-fracking state-wide ballot measures that could potentially be on the ballot in November, if enough signatures are had by the August 4th deadline.  Democrats are concerned that these measures will serve as Republican turn out machines in November. This may cast the death blow to Mark Udall and to Gov. Hickenlooper. While I admire Rep. Jared Polis for speaking out against the intimidating oil and gas lobby in Colorado on fracking, he is not helping out the chances of Mark Udall keeping his Senate seat. Independents could very well be essential in determining who wins the Senate seat and who our governor will be….