Guide to 2016 Colorado ballot measures

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The FOX31 Problem Solvers and Colorado’s Own Channel 2 break down everything you need to know as a Colorado voter in Election 2016.

DENVER — When ballots begin to be mailed to voters in Colorado sometime during the week of Oct. 17, you’ll be able to cast your votes and send them back to your local election office.

While voting for the candidates and their respective party can be relatively easy to understand, that is not always the case when it comes to ballot measures.

Amendments change Colorado’s Constitution, while propositions change state statute.

Statewide amendments

Amendment T: Removing slavery from Constitution

Yes: Voting yes removes slavery as a punishment from the constitution.

No: Voting no keeps slavery in the constitution.

Analysis: Lawmakers put this on the ballot last General Assembly session. Obviously, since most people are against slavery, analysts expect this to pass.

Amendment U: Eliminating some from paying a property tax to the state

Yes:  When an individual uses government-owned land for private purposes, a possessory interest is created. Examples include a person running a snack bar in a government park. There are about 7,000 such interests in the state — owing about $125,000 each year, collectively.

Supporters argue the property tax is so small (many pay just $10) that it is more expensive to administer the tax than it is to collect it.

Voting yes eliminates this tax and gives the snack bar operator more money in their pocket and saves the state resources.

No: Voting no keeps this tax in place. Opponents argue that more of a tax burden will be placed on businesses that don’t operate on government-run land if this goes through.

Analysis: Lawmakers put this on the ballot last General Assembly session and it only applies to those individuals whose interest value is less than $6,000. No public polls have been released on this topic.

Amendment 69: Creating state-run government health insurance.

Yes: Voting yes 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.

No: Voting no would keep the current way in which health insurance is administered in the state.

Analysis: While single payer health care is often championed by Democrats, a large number of top Democrats, including Gov. John 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

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

No: Voting no would keep current minimum wage laws on the books — which means 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.

Analysis: Polls show a majority of voters supporting a minimum wage increase. But the business community is rallying together to raise a ton of money in opposition.

Amendment 71: Making it harder to change the state constitution

Yes: Voting yes 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.”

No: Voting no would keep the current requirements for getting on the ballot the same. Opponents argue this keeps citizens engaged.

Analysis: A number of top officials on both sides of the aisle have come out in favor of this, including Hickenlooper. Currently, advocates need more than 96,000  signatures to get a measure on the ballot. This would make it so 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.

Amendment 72: Increasing cigarette taxes

Yes: Voting yes increases 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. The money would go to medical research, veteran services and prevention programs.

No: Voting no would keep current tobacco taxes in place. 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.

RELATED: Fact-checking the opposition’s TV ad

Analysis: This is a massive $315 million tax on smokers. Opponents have launched a campaign not advocating smoking but instead 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

Yes: Voting yes 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.

No: 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 may request the medication on the patient’s behalf, if they are unable to make the decision.

Analysis: This measure is expected to be close. While Hickenlooper has come out in favor of this, many religious groups, including pastors, will be advocating against voting for this from their pulpits.

Proposition 107: Primary elections in presidential years

Yes: Voting yes 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.

No: Voting no would keep the caucus system in place for the next presidential election, unless lawmakers at the Capitol change it by passing a law on their own. Unaffiliated voters would remain ineligible to participate unless they declare loyalty to a certain party. Voting No would save taxpayer money as this would cost around $5 million a year to implement.

Analysis: After Super Tuesday, there was momentum at the State Capitol to change the law without a ballot measure but that failed. Questions over unaffiliated voters remain controversial as some fear that independents would have too much power. However anyone who stood in line for hours on Super Tuesday would likely cast a yes vote as it would improve convenience. All of the living governors of Colorado endorse this measure.

Proposition 108: Primary elections in nonpresidential years

Yes: Voting yes would allow for primary elections in non-presidential 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.

No: Voting no would still keep unaffiliated voters out of primary elections. Opponents say this is too costly for the state.

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

Local propositions

Local Measure 4B

Yes: Voters in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson counties will vote on this measure. Voting Yes will keep the current sales tax in place funding art and cultural venues like the Art Museum, the Zoo, and the Botanic Gardens. For every ten dollars you spend this tax costs you a penny.

No: Voting no would save taxpayers money however it would likely mean higher ticket prices to get into venues like the Gardens or the Zoo.

Analysis: This measure is expected to pass. Since it is not increasing any taxes but merely keeping the same taxes in place it has drawn little opposition. This was last approved about ten years ago and if it is approved again it will last until 2030.


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