Colorado Ballot 2012

The tradition continues of laying out my thoughts and opinions on key Colorado ballot issues, just like I did in 2008 and 2010. Here is more about who I am in case you want a better idea of where I’m coming from. Two of my primary sources for information on the ballot measures are the official Colorado blue book produced by the state legislative staff and Ballotpedia.

Thankfully, this year’s ballot is shorter than any even-year election in recent memory, while at the same time there is only one (low-profile) statewide race up for grabs. All in all, it means the job is relatively easier. (Disclaimer: All opinions belong to me personally and not to any group with which I happen to be affiliated.)

So without further ado, here we go. There are three proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot, the first unanimously initiated by the legislature and the last two initiated through the collection of citizen petition signatures:

  • Amendment S, State Personnel System: YES. A needed modernization that, if anything, should save taxpayers money.
  • Amendment 64, Use and Regulation of Marijuana: NO. Taking a position on this initiative by and large comes down to a view of whether state policies should treat alcohol and marijuana differently (I don’t partake of either substance). The primary problem with this measure is that I don’t see it meeting the threshold of changing the state constitution. But the debate about the need to decriminalize marijuana is one that needs to continue forward.

    The issue itself doesn’t loom large for me, but I encourage any of my open-minded conservative friends who may be sitting on the fence to read the remarks of Tom Tancredo and watch the accompanying video of Milton Friedman. Read the No on 64 arguments and the initiative proponent’s response.

    Finally, consider that the proposed amendment would require the state legislature to enact a marijuana excise tax to fund school construction (though the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights would require voters to approve the tax measure before it could take effect). The amendment would continue to prohibit driving under the influence; would decriminalize pot only for those 21 and older; and would empower schools, hospitals, and local governments to prohibit or regulate the substance. Still, a potential tax on pot to fund construction of K-12 schools that serve minors — who rightly should not be ingesting cannabis — would send a weird mixed message.
  • Amendment 65, Colorado Congressional Delegation to Support Campaign Finance Limits: NO. Ari Armstrong does a fine job of explaining how this ill-designed proposal would infringe on free speech. Voluntary political campaign contributions from corporations shouldn’t be limited any more than those from unions, associations or individuals.

The only local ballot issues on which I have an informed opinion are the Jeffco Schools 3A & 3B. To help inform your vote, I invite you to read my BRIEF and colorful issue backgrounder highlighting the economic recession’s current effects on school district revenues vs. household incomes. Also check out Jeffco Students First and Sheila Atwell’s op-eds for the Denver Post and Ed News Colorado.

A fabulous resource to learn about a variety of other local proposals is the Independence Institute’s Colorado Tax Increase website.

Next, there are some nonpartisan candidates on the ballot this fall. If you’re looking for principled fiscally conservative leaders to serve on the board of the Regional Transportation District (RTD) — one of Colorado’s largest government budgets — then (depending on where in the metro area you live) voters may be able to cast a ballot for one of the following:

  • David Williams
  • Natalie Menten
  • Jeff Ilseman
  • Kenny Mihalik
  • David Elliott

Finally, there remains the perennially thorny (pun intended) issue of retaining judges. If you’ve only read the blue book analyses, you’re not getting enough information. Clear the Bench Colorado has a good evaluation of state judges. Finding valuable info on local judges beyond the blue book is next to impossible. More still needs to be done to improve the system of information available to voters in deciding whether to retain judges, but it’s the best source available for now.