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!