Ballot Proposals: Making an informed vote

To help you better make an informed vote, here’s a breakdown of all the ballot proposals that will appear on your ballot this year.

Denver Catholic Staff
Amendment A

Amendment A would repeal a constitutional exception on the ban of slavery that allowed for slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for a crime. In other words, in Colorado’s constitution, there is still a provision that keeps slavery legal in certain circumstances. This is one of two ballot proposals Colorado’s bishops have taken an official stance on, which is to vote “yes” on Amendment A, effectively removing that exception and outlawing slavery in all circumstances.

Amendment V

Amendment V would lower the required age to serve in the Colorado General Assembly as a representative or senator from age 25 to 21. It also adds female pronouns to section 4 of article V of the Colorado Constitution.

Amendment W

The Colorado Constitution currently requires county clerks to write separate retention questions on the ballot for each judge or justice standing for retention. Amendment W would change that language so that county clerks can write a single ballot question for each level of courts, which would shorten the ballot.

Amendment X

Amendment X would remove the definition of “industrial hemp” from the Colorado Constitution and instead require that industrial hemp have the same definition as in federal law. Federal law does not allow states to define industrial hemp as of May 2018. Industrial hemp is comprised of parts of the cannabis sativa plant containing low levels of THC and is used for a variety of products. This amendment was designed to provide the state legislature with more flexibility in regulating industrial hemp.

Amendment Y

Amendment Y would create a 12-member independent congressional redistricting commission that would be responsible for redistricting Colorado’s seven U.S. House districts. The commission would include four members from the state’s largest political party, four from the state’s second largest political party, and four that are not affiliated with any political party. The final map would require the approval from eight of the 12 members, including at least two members that are not affiliated with a political party, as well as the Colorado Supreme Court. The amendment also requires that the districts be competitive, meaning they have a reasonable potential to change parties once every 10 years.

Amendment Z

Amendment Z mirrors Amendment Y, except applies it to state legislative redistricting. The independent state legislative redistricting commission would be subject to the same processes and approvals as outlined in Amendment Y.

Amendment 73

Amendment 73 is a ballot initiative that would establish a tax bracket system rather than a flat tax rate and raise taxes for individuals earning more than $150,000 per year, raise the corporate income tax rate, and create the Quality Public Education Fund. The Quality Public Education Fund would fund preschool through 12th-grade public education and increase base per-pupil funding to $7,300 and increase funding for the following programs: special education, English language proficiency, gifted and talented, and preschool.

Amendment 74

Amendment 74 is a ballot initiative that would require property owners to be compensated for any reduction in property value caused by state laws or regulations. It was submitted as a response to proposed setback requirements for new oil and gas development (see: Proposition 112). While Colorado law already compensated property owners for any property that was taken or damaged, this amendment would ensure property owners are compensated if the value of the property is reduced because of government law or regulation.

Amendment 75

Amendment 75 would mandate that if any candidate for state office directs (by loan or contribution) more than one million dollars in support of his or her own campaign (or candidate committee), then every candidate for the same office in the same primary or general election may be entitled to accept five times the aggregate amount of campaign contributions normally allowed.

Proposition 109

Proposition 109 proposes authorizing $3.5 billion in bonds to fund statewide transportation projects, including bridge expansion, construction, maintenance and repairs, and requires that the state repay the debt from the state budget without raising taxes.

Proposition 110

Proposition 110 would authorize CDOT to issue bonds up to $6 billion to fund transportation to be repaid through a sales tax increase with a maximum repayment cost of $9.4 billion. It would increase the state sales and use tax rate from 2.9 percent to 3.52 percent for 20 years starting Jan. 1, 2019. Revenue generated from the increased sales tax would be allocated to three different funds and be spent on bond repayment, state transportation funding such as highway construction and maintenance, municipal and country transportation projects, and mass transit and paths for walking and biking to reduce vehicle usage.

Proposition 111

Proposition 111 is an initiative that would reduce the annual intern rate on payday loans to a yearly rate of 36 percent and eliminate all other finance charges and fees associated with payday lending. The bishops of Colorado recommend voting “yes” on Proposition 111.

Proposition 112

Proposition 112 is an initiative that would mandate new oil and gas development projects, including fracking, be a minimum distance of 2,500 feet from occupied buildings such as homes, schools, hospitals and other areas designated as vulnerable, which is five times the distance of what’s currently required. This would effectively ban oil and natural gas development in Colorado, and it’s highly likely that its passage would cost tens of thousands of jobs, both inside and outside of the oil and natural gas industry, which would have a negative effect on the economy.

Know your candidates

There are several Church-approved online resources at your disposal to better educate yourself on the gubernatorial candidates and where they stand on issues.

Colorado Republican Party

National Republican Party

Colorado Democrat Party

National Democrat Party

Colorado Family Action Voter Guide

Faithful Citizenship 

COMING UP: Working to make our schools safer

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By Carol Nesbitt

The issue of school safety is always on the minds of parents. Parents want to know that schools have a plan in place for all types of emergencies, from fires to intruders to staff or students feeling unsafe for various reasons.
The Archdiocese of Denver is excited to share that they now have someone directly supporting the safety preparedness and plans of the 37 Catholic schools under its watch and care.

Matt Montgomery is a former police officer and award-winning school resource officer (SRO). He’s also a chemistry and forensic science teacher as well as Director of Security and Safety at Holy Family High School. And, as of Nov. 13, he is the new Interim Director of Schools Security and Safety for the Archdiocese of Denver Catholic Schools. The position is new and the first of its kind for the Archdiocese of Denver, but important.

“As a Catholic school community we believe the safety and wellbeing of our students comes first. Time and again we hear our parents rate school safety as one of the top reasons why they entrust the care and formation of their children to our schools. As such, we believe we have a duty and moral obligation in our schools to ensure we are doing everything we can to ensure our children are safe from any type of harm,” said Elias Moo, Superintendent of Catholic Schools. “Historically, each of our schools has had to take on the crucial task of defining and implementing their own safety and security plans and systems. While our schools have certainly gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure the safety of their school community, we believe it is critical in our current reality that we provide our schools with the expertise and qualifications of someone like Matt to support them in really analyzing their plans and assisting them in ensuring best practices are being implemented. It’s the least we can do for our school communities.”

“My role is really to lead a task force with the intention of identifying needs around school safety,” said Montgomery. He says there are a number of great models for school safety around the area, so it’s more about bringing it all together. “All public schools have someone overseeing safety and security, usually with staff members doing threat assessments, suicide assessments and emergency drills, building security, fire drills, and those kinds of things, but there really isn’t a position like this in other dioceses that we are aware of.”

Montgomery says that his job will be taking the variety of practices at schools and helping to bring consistency in efforts across the Archdiocese of Denver Catholic School community. He also says that the term ‘school safety’ is more broad than people realize. “When people think about school safety, they always gravitate to school shootings, but I think we really have to step away from that and realize that school safety and security is an umbrella. It encompasses everything from events prior to an incident all the way through recovery (post-incident).”

The five areas Montgomery is focusing on include:

Prevention
What do we do to create a loving and responsive Catholic community where students and staff feel safe and are empowered and given resources to report any behaviors or activity that is unsafe and counter to our values?

Protection
What systems and proceses do we have to vigilantly monitor for behavior or activity that is harmful to our Catholic community?

Mitigation
What procedures and policies are in place to mitigate issues?

Response
If an incident occurs, how do we respond to that incident? How do we support that school from an archdiocesan perspective? What tools are we able to provide to that school? What relationships do we have with law enforcement and first responders in that community?

Recovery
Recovery begins the second an incident occurs. How do we reunite students with families, provide counseling support and address staff issues in the case of a crisis?

Montgomery says his work will also help establish a plan for the archdiocese in the case of a larger emergency.

“What is our incident command structure going to look like so that we can respond to an incident, while also keeping in mind the unique structure of the various schools beneath the Office of Catholic Schools?”

He’d like to see the Standard Response Protocol — created by the I Love You Guys Foundation — used throughout the school system.

“One of the issues I noticed is that there are a lot of different agencies who respond to various incidents and they don’t know what the other ones are doing,” Montgomery said. “The crisis plan needs to be uniform, created for a specific age group. We need to standardize our crisis plans throughout the AoD and work with the schools to create private plans for each school that is specific to that school, simple plans that outline for administration on how they implement the plan at the moment of crisis.”

One of the biggest things Montgomery will be doing is identifying policies and procedures and training. “This is uniformly saying ‘This is what we’re doing, this is how we’re going to do it, and these are the amount of times we will practice it each year.’” This also includes training of staff on mandatory reporting, the importance of documenting things, and threat assessments that ask the right questions to get a non-biased, vetted approach to assessing threats. “There are a lot of things we can do to mitigate the chance of someone being hurt at a school. That’s by good training, good policies and procedures, and hardening our targets, meaning the physical security of our school buildings,” said Montgomery.

As a teacher, Montgomery says he has a unique perspective. “I’m not just some cop or just an SRO. My heart is in the classroom. I’m a Catholic educator who used to be a cop. My goal is to make sure kids can focus on being a kid and learning, not having to worry about being hurt at school or being bullied or having thoughts of suicide. I want them to feel that school is a safe place. That’s why I do it. I really love doing school safety.”