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Colorado’s State-Wide Ballot Amendments – What is the Proper Role of Government?

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Following are my opinions on the state-wide ballot initiatives in Colorado from my perspective about whether or not they are actually the proper role of government.  Feel free to reach out if you have questions about your local ballot issues.

Amendment 67 – Definition of Person and Child

The marketing for Amendment 67 would have you believe that it exists solely to gain equal rights in wrongful death situations.  If implemented however, it would effectively ban most forms of birth control, and cause legal issues for women who miscarry or participate in many forms of infertility treatments.  The pro-life activist community is not universally behind the Personhood effort. In 2008, Colorado’s Amendment 48, the first attempt at a Personhood Amendment in Colorado, was defeated at the ballot box 73-27. When a similar bill made its way through the Colorado State Legislature in 2014, even the Catholic Archbishop of Denver urged people to act to stop the bill.  It failed.  This Amendment creates more intrusion in to women’s lives, and makes government larger and more powerful.  I will be voting NO.

Amendment 68 – Horse Racetrack Casino Gambling

The marketing for Amendment 68 is “for the children.”  It purports to be raising money for schools.  Who isn’t for good schools?  If this passes, it would allow casino style gambling at 3 Colorado horse racetracks (one existing horse racetrack and two still to be developed), and would create an additional tax to produce millions more in revenue to the state.  Ordinarily, I would support a business owner’s right to determine what should happen at his or her business.  But, I have a couple of issues with this Amendment.  First, voters in the areas where these casinos might open should have the ability to make this decision for their community, adding a local control element to the discussion.  None of these proposed casinos would impact my area.  Why should I get a say?  Second, creating new taxes simply adds to the amount of money the State government has to spend, and generally speaking, government does not spend money well.  When we “starve the beast”, they have less money with which to harm citizens. I will be voting NO.

Amendment 104 – School Board Meeting Requirements

This Amendment requires that when school boards meet with unions for the purpose of collective bargaining, that these meetings will be conducted in public.  When this idea has previously been brought before the Colorado state legislature, it has been killed on a party line vote. Not surprisingly, the teachers’ union is funding the opposition to Amendment 104.  The government belongs to us, and the citizens are owed transparency in negotiations that involve taxpayer dollars.  For more history on this effort, see this Denver Post op-ed by former State Representative B.J. Nikkel, a great advocate of government transparency. I will be voting YES.

Amendment 105 – Labeling Genetically Modified Food

This Amendment would require labeling of food products containing Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), with many exceptions.  The history of GMOs is a complicated debate.  While I can appreciate the viewpoint of those who don’t want to consume GMOs, I am also aware of the positive uses.  In poor parts of the world for example, GMO’s are starting to be used to infuse crops with specific nutrients, thereby saving millions who would otherwise die of malnutrition.  Ultimately, I come down on the side of voluntary actions instead of the force of government.  Food products that do not include GMOs are free to label their products (as many do today) as GMO free.  Consumers would then be free to choose what they buy, and apply pressure to companies to label their food products.  Although there are many more complexities covering the exceptions, ingredients, etc., it is simply not the proper role of government to force businesses to jump through regulatory hoops and add cost to their process.  I will be voting NO.

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