A Big Ballot

Every two years I'm asked my thoughts on the ballot issues. This year we have more proposals than usual, but my insight has not expanded accordingly. So I'm starting with those I most care about, and will get as far as I get. I expect you'll do the same.

In the Denver area, please reauthorize the Science and Cultural Facilities District - SCFD. Ten years ago when I was in the legislature I was pleased to help put renewal on the ballot and now it's time to pass it again. This is one of the best things we've ever done for the arts and sciences and makes us the envy of the nation. In Denver this is Ballot Issue 4B. Vote yes.

In Denver, 3A and 3B provide more money for schools. It would be well if we did more, but let's at least do this. Vote yes.

Now looking statewide -

Amendment 72 saves lives. The equation is simple. Consumption of cigarettes goes down when the price goes up. When consumption goes down, heart attacks and cancer go down. 72 increases cigarette prices. As a side benefit, the money 72 raises goes to good stuff - children's health care, smoking cessation, homeless vets, adolescent drug treatment, etc. But the main point is, we save lives. Vote yes.

Amendment 71 is a good idea at the wrong time. In 1992 Colorado's voters added TABOR to our Constitution by a narrow margin. TABOR imposes 20 some different impediments to efficient delivery of government services to children and adults in Colorado. Amendment 71 erects a near impenetrable wall shielding TABOR from even the most modest reform. After TABOR is modified we can talk about "raising the bar" on constitutional amendments. Vote no.

Proposition 106 won't save any lives, but it will ease the burden on those about to lose theirs. 106 offers physician authorized death for those within six months of passing on, but facing a painful road to get there. Vote yes.

Amendment 69 replaces a balkanized, fragmented health insurance world with a statewide health care payment system. Instead of paying insurance premiums to a hundred different insurance companies, we'll pay that same money as taxes to a single entity. Paying for health care is cumbersome, inefficient and expensive. 69 won't change expensive. It may do quite a lot for cumbersome and inefficient. Vote yes.

Amendment 70 raises the minimum wage; very gradually. By 2020 Colorado goes up to $12/hr. Folks at the bottom of the pile get a little help. It's not good for restaurants with tipped employees. On balance, it does more good than bad. Vote yes.

Before I leave, a final pot thought. Denver Initiated Ordinance 300 creates a public Cannabis Consumption Pilot Program. Read the text here. Allowing cannabis consumption in public places may or may not be a good idea. Most likely, there are places where it is a good idea and places where it's not. As drafted, 300 fails to provide a process to distinguish the good places from the bad. The appropriate city administrator may well create such a process on her own. But some legislative guidance would be much better. In liquor licensing, the administrator determines the reasonable needs and desires of the inhabitants of the neighborhood. This is a somewhat vague standard and can be difficult to apply. But 300 has no standard at all. Legislation is rarely perfect. Accommodating toke tourists seems, however, not so pressing an issue as to require approval of a proposal this weak. Vote no.

Find the State Blue Book here. The League of Women Voters has Denver info here.