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Analysis of Amendments and Propositions on the November, 2016 Colorado Ballot
“The Americhicks-Molly & Kim” are providing this commentary to help you navigate thru the questions on the 2016 Colorado ballot. Here is the link to the Colorado Secretary of State website with the information on all amendments and propositions: http://www.sos.state.co.us/pubs/elections/Initiatives/ballotContactList.html.
We have done our best to look at these as we think our Founders would, with the vision that government is instituted by “We the People,” deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, and constrained by the Vision of The Declaration of Independence and the guiding principles of The U.S. Constitution. Therefore, we are recommending “NO” on all amendments and propositions. Here’s our thinking:
TEXT: Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning the removal of the exception to the prohibition of slavery and involuntary servitude when used as punishment for persons duly convicted of a crime?
TOTAL TEXT OF THE LANGUAGE TO BE CHANGED: Section 26. Slavery prohibited. There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.
Initially, we were a “yes” on this because our understanding was that this proposed change is just to clean up the word “slavery” in our Constitution. In digging deeper, we realize that this change could restrict any type of “involuntary servitude” for individuals who have been duly convicted of a crime. This potentially opens up all kinds of expensive litigation, paid for by the Colorado taxpayer, by prisoners who challenge the definition of “involuntary servitude.” Does “involuntary servitude” mean that prisoners no longer have to do KP duty (kitchen patrol duty), clean latrines, pick up trash, etc? Would the state of Colorado have to pay minimum wage to prisoners doing such work?
Amendment T is a political football for politicians. Both sides of the aisle are on record for supporting Amendment T. What politician in his/her right mind would be on record of supporting the word “slavery?” The unintended consequences of this poorly written amendment will be far reaching and expensive. The proponents need to go back to the drawing board and submit a future proposal to take out only the word “slavery.”
TEXT: Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning an exemption from property taxation for a possessory interest in real property if the actual value of the interest is less than or equal to six thousand dollars or such amount adjusted for inflation?
Per the Blue Book, Amendment U “eliminates property taxes for individuals and businesses that use government owned property for a private benefit.” While small monetary amounts, this amendment does not adhere to the Vision of the Declaration that all individuals are created equal. When government starts to pick winners & losers, we chip away at equality of opportunity for all. “We the People” need to push back whenever presented with proposals that treat individuals and businesses unequally and give preferential treatment to entities doing business with the government.
TEXT: Shall state taxes be increased $25 billion annually in the first full fiscal year, and by such amounts that are raised thereafter, by an amendment to the Colorado constitution establishing a health care payment system to fund health care for all individuals whose primary residence is in Colorado, and, in connection therewith, creating a governmental entity called ColoradoCare to administer the health care payment system; providing for the governance of ColoradoCare by an interim appointed board of trustees until an elected board of trustees takes responsibility; exempting ColoradoCare from the taxpayer’s Bill of Rights; assessing an initial tax on the total payroll from employers, payroll income from employees, and nonpayroll income at varying rates; increasing these tax rates when ColoradoCare begins making health care payments for beneficiaries; capping the total amount of income subject to taxation; authorizing the board to increase the taxes in specified circumstances upon approval of the members of ColoradoCare; requiring ColoradoCare to contract with health care providers to pay for specific health care benefits; transferring administration of the Medicaid and children’s basic health programs and all other state and federal health care funds for Colorado to ColoradoCare; transferring responsibility to ColoradoCare for medical care that would otherwise be paid for by workers’ compensation insurance; requiring ColoradoCare to apply for a waiver from the affordable care act to establish a Colorado health care payment system; and suspending the operations of the Colorado health benefit exchange and transferring its resources to ColoradoCare?
While proponents for Amendment 69 opine that ColoradoCare is a healthcare system for all, it is not health insurance. There is no contract. It is a health care payment system where a board of trustees will make all health payment decisions for Coloradoans.
Proponents tout the ability to control costs. How will they do this? Look at Section 1. (2) of the initiative. It says they will “control per capita cost of healthcare.” These are other words for “rationing.” This means that an unaccountable board of trustees will decide the $$$ allocated for YOUR healthcare. If you hit the limit, then what?
If Amendment 69 passes, COLORADO WILL HAVE THE HIGHEST STATE INCOME TAX IN THE UNITED STATES: 14.63%. The positive is individuals and businesses will flee the state, thereby alleviating our traffic challenges.
Amendment 69 is a 10% increase on payroll taxes (6.67% by the employer and 3.33 % by the employee). Businesses are already squeezed. Employers will delay hiring new employees. Amendment 69 is a jobs killer.
It also raises taxes on all non-payroll income by 10%. This will include a 10% tax on dividend income, capital gains, rental income, some social security, etc. And amazingly enough, many of the seniors who rely on such income will still be covered by Medicare with no benefit from Amendment 69 (ColoradoCare.) Individuals who have saved and invested for retirement will see a 10% haircut on their income. Ouch!
The bureaucratic trustees of ColoradoCare can vote any of the other trustees “off the island” however Section 5. (2) (c) states that “trustees are not subject to recall elections.” Whew, if the citizens are unhappy with the trustees, tough luck. There is virtually no way to hold these trustees accountable. Cronyism on steroids.
And what about your data? Section 5. (4) (l) (ll) states: “facilitate creation of efficient medical records and billing records systems that can easily be accessed by providers and beneficiaries; allow ColoradoCare to maintain a central database of medical records for management and research purposes.” Good grief, what ever happened to the private doctor/patient relationship? And what about the hacking of records? Or what about a medical employee sharing your private records? Dr. Linda Gorman, in her issue brief from The Independence Institute, states, “all personal healthcare data will be deposited for publicly available research. No penalties are specified if ColoradoCare fails to adequately protect personal data.” Whew!
This is the one we really love: Section 5. (5) “The board may: (a) authorize reasonable compensation and expense reimbursement for the trustees;” (determine what they pay themselves) $$$???
“(b) Seek waivers from state and federal laws, rules and regulations; and” (bypass our state and federal laws)
“(c) Seek and accept gifts, grants, and donations on behalf of ColoradoCare.” (kickbacks)
Unbelievable. This language is in the initiative. We recommend a resounding “NO!”
TEXT: Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution increasing the minimum wage to $9.30 per hour with annual increases of $0.90 each January 1 until it reaches $12 per hour effective January 2020, and annually adjusting it thereafter for cost-of-living increases?
Forced minimum wage proposals hurt those that proponents say they want to help. Minimum wage jobs are first jobs for our kids and individuals just entering the workforce. These entry level jobs help workers gain experience and teaches them valuable skills to springboard them to the next level. When we set the minimum wage at $9.30, we are denying someone worth $8.00 an hour a job. How compassionate is that? A business can only pay wages on money they have first collected from their customers. In order to stay in business, employers will automate or do more of the work themselves. Forced minimum wages take away opportunity, the dignity of work and ability for businesses & individuals to thrive and prosper. This mandate will force many mom & pop shops and non-profits out of business.
TEXT: Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution making it more difficult to amend the Colorado constitution by requiring that any petition for a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment be signed by at least two percent of the registered electors who reside in each state senate district for the amendment to be placed on the ballot and increasing the percentage of votes needed to pass any proposed constitutional amendment from a majority to at least fifty-five percent of the votes cast, unless the proposed constitutional amendment only repeals, in whole or in part, any provision of the constitution?
Big money politicians and bureaucrats on both sides of the isle like this amendment. Initially, it sounds great. However it is very sneaky. Big government politicians and bureaucrats say they want to give rural Colorado a voice, however Amendment 71 virtually shuts down the voices of rural Colorado and any grass roots initiative. By requiring 100% participation of all Senate districts in Colorado, we are assured that the citizen initiative process is dead. When have you ever agreed 100% with anyone? We’re not sure we even agree with ourselves 100% of the time. It will be nearly impossible to get all Senate districts to agree to put something on the ballot.
Secondly, the benchmark to get a new amendment on the ballot is a 55% super majority vote of the people. Again, this will be very difficult. However to repeal something in the Colorado Constitution, look at the last line of the ballot question. It says that these new terms are not applicable if “the proposed constitutional amendment only repeals, in whole or in part, any (current) provision of the constitution.” This puts in place a lower bar to get something out of the Constitution. One must ask why?
It was the “little guy” who got Sunshine Laws, Term Limits and the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) into the Colorado Constitution. Amendment 71 is an end run around TABOR. Basically TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) says:
If politicians and bureaucrats want to raise your taxes, they have to ask you first.
If tax collections are higher than a formula of growth and revenue, politicians and bureaucrats have to ask the citizen if government can keep those excess tax venues.
While it does seem like we have an inordinate number of proposed amendments to the Colorado Constitution, Coloradoans have a history of rugged individualism and participation in their governmental process. It is up to the engaged electorate to say “no” to amendments instead of big money/government politicians & bureaucrats proposing Amendment 71 that takes away the voice of the people.
TEXT: Shall state taxes be increased $315.7 Million annually by an amendment to the Colorado constitution increasing tobacco taxes, and, in connection therewith, beginning January 1, 2017, increasing taxes on cigarettes by 8.75 Cents per cigarette ($1.75 Per pack of 20 cigarettes) and on other tobacco products by 22 percent of the manufacturer’s list price; and allocating specified percentages of the new tobacco tax revenue to health-related programs and tobacco education, prevention, and cessation programs currently funded by existing constitutional tobacco taxes; and also allocating new revenue for tobacco-related health research, veterans’ programs, child and adolescent behavioral health, construction and technology improvements for qualified health providers, educational loan repayment for health professionals in rural and under served areas, and health professional training tracks?
However you feel about smoking, embedding a tax in the Colorado Constitution on behavior is antithetical to the American Idea of personal liberty and responsibility. If this tax is successful and indeed reduces smoking, revenue for the proposed programs will be reduced. These embedded Constitutional programs would either need to go away or need funding. Politicians & bureaucrats seldom cut programs once they are in place, therefore, they will look for new ways to fund these programs. Hold onto your “non-smoking pocketbook.”
Per the link below, “Colorado has already received more than $1.6 billion from tobacco companies that could be used for tobacco prevention and treatment. But the state has spent most of that revenue on unrelated government programs.”
Say “NO” to this blank check.
TEXT: Shall there be a change to the Colorado revised statutes to permit any mentally capable adult Colorado resident who has a medical prognosis of death by terminal illness within six months to receive a prescription from a willing licensed physician for medication that can be self-administered to bring about death; and in connection therewith, requiring two licensed physicians to confirm the medical prognosis, that the terminally-ill patient has received information about other care and treatment options, and that the patient is making a voluntary and informed decision in requesting the medication; requiring evaluation by a licensed mental health professional if either physician believes the patient may not be mentally capable; granting immunity from civil and criminal liability and professional discipline to any person who in good faith assists in providing access to or is present when a patient self-administers the medication; and establishing criminal penalties for persons who knowingly violate statutes relating to the request for the medication?
Proponents of 106 pull on compassionate heartstrings in order to get a really bad proposition into law. While assisted suicide talk may invoke thoughts of a loved one on their death bed and alleviating their pain, this amendment actually allows anyone with a prognosis of “six months to live” to get a prescription to take home and kill themselves. We already have palliative care in the U.S. to alleviate pain at the end of life.
Many of us know of individuals who outlive a “six month” doctor’s opinion. In fact, I have a friend whose fiancé was given a “six month” prognosis a year ago. With a new innovative treatment, he is traveling, spending time with loved ones and going to college football games.
Take a look at these two links. Both talk about the state of Oregon’s Healthcare system refusing successful treatment options for Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup.
Proposition 106 has no guard rails for abuse:
What if grandma has a sizable estate and the family talks her into assisted suicide in order to get her estate?
What about a business that would buy out life insurance policies of individuals with a “six-month” prognosis? The business could agree to pay the individual a % of their life insurance with the agreement that upon the individual’s death, the business would receive all proceeds from the life insurance policy. What if a new, effective treatment came onto the market within those six months? Would the individual be denied treatment? Should they worry about a car driving by their house, really slowwwww?
The Blue Book says that the death certificate must list the underlying terminal illness as the cause of death. Death resulting from medical aid in dying is not subject to automatic investigation by the county coroner. Wow!
Prop 106 says that the medication “CAN be self administered.” CAN other people administer this? If so, who?
The list goes on.
TEXT: Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes recreating a presidential primary election to be held before the end of March in each presidential election year in which unaffiliated electors may vote without declaring an affiliation with a political party?
Those in favor of both Proposition 107 and 108, miss the point that political parties are private organizations like a private club. Would Catholics want Methodists to vote for the Pope? How about citizens forcing the Sierra Club to let the NRA vote for Sierra Club’s board of director’s or vice versa?
Any citizen in America can decide which club they want to join or whether or not they want to be a member of said club. These are free choices. It is also a responsibility. It is very easy to register with a political party in order to vote in their primaries. Both Prop 107 and 108 increase costs to the taxpayer for primary elections.
And, we know that political parties would not use this tool to “spoil” the other team’s primary. Right?
TEXT: Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning the process of selecting candidates representing political parties on a general election ballot, and, in connection therewith, allowing an unaffiliated elector to vote in the primary election of a political party without declaring an affiliation with that party and permitting a political party in specific circumstances to select all of its candidates by assembly or convention instead of by primary election?
See above, Prop 107.
While the intention is for all voices to be heard, many ballots may actually not be counted. Our understanding, under Prop 108, Democrats receive a Democrat ballot, Republicans receive a Republican ballot and Unaffiliateds receive a ballot with Democrats in one column and Republicans in another. Unaffiliateds can only vote for one party. If they cross over, their ballot does not count and will be thrown away.
TEXT: Ballot Issue 4B: Shall there be an extension until June 30, 2030, of the aggregate 0.1 Percent sales and use taxes currently levied and collected by the Denver metropolitan scientific and cultural facilities district that are scheduled to expire on June 30, 2018, for assisting scientific and cultural facilities within the district, while authorizing the district to continue to collect, retain, and spend all revenue generated by such tax in excess of the limitation provided in article x of section 20 of the Colorado constitution and while modifying the rates of the three individual sales and use taxes collected by the district as follows: for total annual revenues collected by the district up to thirty-eight million dollars, decreasing the .0655 Percent sales and use tax to .064 Percent; increasing the .021 Percent sales and use tax to .022 Percent; and increasing the .0135 Percent sales and use tax to .014 Percent; and, for total annual revenues collected by the district that exceed thirty-eight million dollars, decreasing the .064 Percent sales and use tax to .057 Percent; increasing the .022 Percent sales and use tax to .026 Percent; and increasing the .014 Percent sales and use tax to .017 Percent.
Hmmm, it is really difficult to say “NO” to the polar bears, music and art however we are doing just that. The reason, look at the second half of this ballot measure. Who can understand it? Bear (no pun intended) in mind that it is businesses (both large and small) who use their own resources to collect these taxes. To make something so complicated defies common sense. As we try to read the “tea leaves” on this, it looks like a potential tax increase masquerading as gobblygook. Say “NO” to the politicians and bureaucrats who thought this up.
Secondly, see this Colorado Independent article from earlier this year. Apparently, The Zoo is resisting an audit of their books.
There has been a trend among quasi-governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations that receive significant tax receipts to “stonewall” transparency to the public. We, as citizens, must say “NO” until the public has unfettered access to financial records of these organizations and hold them accountable.
Thirdly is really a philosophical question. A .1% sales makes products & goods more expensive. For a single mom trying to get by or the young man or woman just starting out, .1% on their purchases makes a difference. They don’t have time to partake of the different arts encounters that this .1% sales tax funds. Is it really fair that individuals pay for something that they won’t use? Perhaps each of these arts organizations should compete in the free market for customers. It would hold these cultural organizations more accountable and make them more efficient.