After some friends asked for my opinion on the four ballot measures, I put together the following explanation to try to be more illuminating than the commercials on television.
Amendment 67 – Definition of person and child to include unborn human beings
If you are pro-life, Amendment 67 is heartbreaking and hopeless.
The constitutional amendment says that in criminal law and wrongful death civil law the words “person” and “child” must be defined to include “unborn human beings.” The idea is ostensibly to provide recourse for women like Heather Surovik, who was eight months pregnant when she was hit by a drunk driver and lost her unborn baby boy. Colorado law offered her no legal recourse because it did not give legal status to the unborn at any stage of pregnancy.
The proposed definitional change also opens the door to criminal charges and civil lawsuits in any abortions that are legal under current law – if Amendment 67 passes and if it isn’t immediately overturned by courts that tread very cautiously on changes to abortion law.
This is the third “personhood” initiative on Colorado ballots in the past four elections. The previous two efforts both received less than 30% support. Does that mean 70% of Coloradans are callous toward the unborn? Not necessarily.
These measures are written in such a way that virtually invites groups like Planned Parenthood to exploit them to convince women they will be denied birth control or will be prosecuted for having an abortion. So, the abortion industry spends millions ($1.8 million, this year) to undermine support for these measures and to bludgeon pro-life candidates who believe that life begins at conception and so state their support for “personhood.”
Meanwhile, the proponents of Amendment 67 barely have two nickels to rub together ($20,000) and can’t afford to tell their story, so they inadvertently contribute to the perception that Coloradans do not care about the unborn.
Amendment 68 – Horse Racetrack Casinos
If Amendment 68 passes, Arapahoe Park racetrack southeast of Aurora would be allowed to build an on-site casino that would operate very much like the existing limited-stakes casinos in Blackhawk, Central City and Cripple Creek. Two other racetrack casinos would be allowed – one each in Mesa and Pueblo counties – but could only open after conducting 30 days of horse racing for five consecutive years, so it’s debatable if that would happen.
A racetrack casino would pay a much higher tax rate (34%, compared to 18%) than existing mountain casinos. Tax revenue from the racetrack casino would be distributed by the state to all Colorado public school districts on a per-pupil basis “to address local needs, including” class size, technology, school safety and school facilities. State legislature staff economists estimate this tax would produce $114 million or $132 per student in the first full year.
The existing casinos, which are overwhelmingly operated by large out-of-state corporations, have a virtual monopoly and want to protect that monopoly by defeating Amendment 68. Protecting their monopoly is not one of my priorities.
In the interest of full disclosure, know that one of the things we do on our farm is to breed and raise thoroughbred racehorses, so something that would be beneficial to the state’s only horse racetrack would probably be good for that portion of our farm. That said, I had hoped this initiative would be as favorable to the horse industry as racetrack casinos in other states.
I will be voting “yes,” and my advice to you depends upon your priorities. If you’re open to a more convenient location for limited stakes gaming or if you want to direct more money toward public schools without mandatory taxes, then vote “yes.” If you’re completely opposed to any expansion of legal gambling, then vote “no.”
Proposition 104 – School Board Open Meetings
Proposition 104 would require that negotiations related to collective bargaining between local school boards and teachers unions be conducted in open meetings rather than in closed session. That’s a good idea because it forces unions to make their requests – which have a direct impact on school budgets and classroom learning – in broad daylight rather than behind closed doors.
This is not a constitutional amendment, which is good because, frankly, the text needs to be clarified if Prop 104 passes. The “Blue Book” distributed to all voters by Legislative Council of the Colorado General Assembly says, “It is unclear whether the measure requires school boards to discuss their negotiation strategies in public.”
That issue must be clarified to ensure that school board members can discuss their strategy among themselves – just as teachers unions can do since they are private organizations that aren’t governed by open meetings laws except when they are meeting directly with a school board.
Proposition 105 – Mandatory Food Labeling
Deceptive and dishonest – that’s Proposition 105. It creates a hodge-podge labeling bureaucracy to identify food with components produced through genetic engineering – except it doesn’t really.
We put labels on products to inform the public. However, those labels already exist. Prop 105 would require something akin to a warning label to, according to proponents, “protect the public’s health, safety and welfare” because “consequences of growing genetically modified food are not yet fully researched.”
That’s abject hogwash.
A warning label would lead consumers to believe – incorrectly – that foods containing genetically-engineered components are dangerous despite nearly unanimous scientific evidence that they are perfectly safe.
According to the July 2014 edition of Popular Science, “