Colorado races and issues to watch on Election Day

DENVER — As the results start to come in on Election Day, these are the races and issues to watch in Colorado.

U.S. Senator

Republican Daryl Glenn is challenging Democrat incumbent Michael Bennet. If Glenn pulls off the upset, it would be nearly impossible for Democrats to regain control of the Senate in Washington. Bennet has maintained a strong lead throughout much of this campaign.

Representative to the 115th U.S. Congress — Colorado District 6

Democrat Morgan Carroll is challenging Republican incumbent Mike Coffman. This is a district that President Barack Obama and Gov. John Hickenlooper have previously won, but Coffman, in those years, still continued to win.

This year, Coffman has separated himself from GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump by saying he wouldn’t vote for him. While Carroll, through attack ads, has tried her hardest to connect Coffman’s policies to Trump’s. Coffman is the most vulnerable Republican in Colorado in this election.

Colorado Senate — District 19

Democrat Rachel Zenzinger is challenging Republican incumbent Laura Woods. This is a rematch of two years ago, when Woods defeated Zenzinger by just about 600 votes.

The race has attracted outside attention because if Zenzinger wins, and all other districts currently held by Democrats stay in their control, Democrats would take over the Colorado Senate, and in all likelihood, control all facets of our state government.

Colorado amendments

Amendment 69: Creating state-run government health insurance.

If it passes, Amendment 69 would likely cause current health insurance to cease to exist in the state. Instead, a 21-member elected board would administer the coverage on behalf of the government.

It would cost more than $30 billion and it would be paid for with a 6.6 percent increase in employers’ payroll taxes and a 3.3 percent increase in employees’ payroll taxes. Supporters argue the taxes are cheaper than current health premiums. Co-pays and deductibles would be eliminated under Colorado Care.

While single payer health care is often championed by Democrats, a large number of top Democrats, including Hickenlooper, have come out against this plan, concerned over costs. Conservatives remain firmly opposed.

Most polls have Amendment 69 being voted down.

Amendment 70: Increasing the state’s minimum wage

Passing Amendment 70  would increase Colorado’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020. Currently, the minimum wage is $8.31 an hour and in 2017 minimum wage would become $9.30 if this becomes law.

If it fails, minimum wage would increase next year, but only slightly, and based on inflation.

Opponents of an increase say raising the wage puts a burden on business owners.

Polls show a majority of voters supporting a minimum wage increase. But the business community has rallied together to raise a ton of money in opposition.

Amendment 71: Making it harder to change the state constitution

If Amendment 71 passes, it would make it harder to change the state’s constitution.

Supporters say Colorado makes it too easy for advocates to get controversial measures on the ballot — which is why the name of the campaign is “Raise the Bar.” Opponents argue the current rules keep citizens engaged.

Currently, advocates need more than 96,000  signatures to get a measure on the ballot. Amendment 71 would require 2 percent of voters from each Senate district in the state are needed. It also would require 55 percent passage on Election Day to get something in the constitution, not 50 percent.

A number of top officials on both sides of the aisle have come out in favor of this, including Hickenlooper.

Amendment 72: Increasing cigarette taxes

Amendment 72 would increase the taxes on a pack of cigarettes from 84 cents to $2.59. It would also increase the cost of other tobacco products between 40 percent and 62 percent of that price.

It amounts to a $315 million tax on smokers. The money would go to medical research, veterans services and prevention programs.

Opponents argue this does not need to go into the constitution as it would force another constitutional change to amend the tax or how the money is spent.

Opponents launched a campaign focused on encouraging voters not to change the constitution. There appears to be support to pass this, as evidenced by the governor’s endorsement.

Statewide propositions

Proposition 106: Medical aid in dying

Proposition 106 would allow terminally ill patients to request a prescription from their doctor to peacefully die. You must have a terminal diagnosis of six months or less in order to ask for the medication.

Opponents say the government should not allow “right to die” legislation. Religious groups are firmly opposed, as are some doctors who say they should not be forced to comply.

There is also concern that family members might request the medication on the patient’s behalf, if they are unable to make the decision.

While Hickenlooper has come out in favor of this, the measure is expected to be close.

Proposition 107: Primary elections in presidential years

Proposition 107 would create a presidential primary in Colorado. Supporters say the state has outgrown the caucus system, as evidenced by the long lines on Super Tuesday.

Ballots would be mailed out and unaffiliated voters would be allowed to participating in the primary, receiving a ballot with all the candidates from both parties on it but they could only chose one to vote for.  Current law doesn’t allow unaffiliated participation.

Moving to a primary election would cost around $5 million a year to implement. All of the living governors of Colorado endorse this measure.

Proposition 108: Primary elections in nonpresidential years

Voting yes would allow for primary elections in nonpresidential years for other races, although political parties could opt out to elect their nominee by a convention, if they wish.

Unaffiliated voters would be allowed to participate in the primary, receiving a ballot with all the candidates from both parties on it but they could only chose one to vote for.  Current law doesn’t allow unaffiliated participation.

Opponents say implementing primary elections in nonpresidential years is too costly for the state.

Limited polling has come out on this issue, but if Proposition 107 passes,  Proposition 108 will likely pass as well. All of the living governors of Colorado endorse this measure.

Boulder’s sugary drink tax

Healthy Boulder Kids is behind the effort to get the tax approved. It claims it will increase access of healthy foods for kids at risk for obesity.

If approved, it will place a 2-cent per-ounce tax to all sodas and sugary drinks. That means a 12-ounce can of soda will cost an extra 24 cents. A six-pack would add $1.44.

Opponents of the tax said the petitions gathered by the group were illegal and the levy would be a violation of Colorado’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights.