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: Why 42 had to be impeached twenty years ago

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Twenty years ago this month, I found myself seriously double-booked, so to speak.

The editing of the first volume of my John Paul II biography, Witness to Hope, was entering the ninth inning, and I was furiously engaged in exchanging edited and re-edited copy with my editors in New York. At the same time, the Clinton impeachment drama was cresting. And as I had long done speechwriting for Congressman Henry Hyde, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, I spent week after week of split time, working on John Paul II from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., then switching to impeachment for a couple of hours before returning to Witness to Hope in the evening.

It was not the optimal way to work but it had to be done, even if it seemed likely that the president would be acquitted in a Senate trial. On December 19, 1998, the House of Representatives voted two articles of impeachment and senior House members, including Mr. Hyde, solemnly walked the two articles across the Capitol and presented them to the Senate’s leaders. On toward midnight, Henry Hyde called me and, referring to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, said, “We’re not going to make it. Trent won’t fight; I saw it in his eyes.” After a long moment I replied that, if we were going to lose, we had a duty to lay down a record with which history would have to reckon.

Which is what the great Henry Hyde did during the January 1999 Senate trial, where he bent every effort to prevent the proceedings from descending into farce.

For Hyde, the impeachment of President Bill Clinton was an unavoidable piece of nasty business. It was not a matter of partisan score-settling, nor was it a matter of punishing a president for gross behavior with an intern in the White House. It was a matter of defending the rule of law. As Henry put it to me when it seemed clear that the president had perjured himself and obstructed justice, “There are over a hundred people in federal prisons for these crimes. How can the chief law enforcement officer of the United States be guilty of them and stay in office?”

Impeachment is a political process and it was clear by mid-fall of 1998 that the politics were not breaking toward removing the president from office. They had been pointed that way over the summer, though. And as the pressures built, it seemed as if the Clinton presidency might end as Richard Nixon’s had: Party elders, in this case Democrats, would go to the White House, explain that it was over, and ask the president to resign for the sake of the country. Then around Labor Day that year, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times and other columnists began suggesting that, if Clinton were impeached and convicted, the sexual revolution would be over, the yahoos of reaction would have won, and we’d be back to something resembling Salem, Massachusetts, during the witchcraft insanity.

That was preposterous. It was also effective. And within days, at least in Washington, you could fill the templates shifting: This wasn’t about the rule of law, it was about sex and the yahoos couldn’t be allowed to win. (That Henry Hyde was the leader of the pro-life forces in Congress neatly fit this storyline, of course, abortion being a major plank in the platform of the sexual revolution.)

So once the game was redefined — Are you for or against the puritanical yahoos? — there was little chance to wrench the political process back to what it was really about: the rule of law. In his opening speech during the president’s trial, Henry Hyde tried valiantly to refocus the argument, insisting that high office did not absolve a man from obeying his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the laws of the United States and his oath swearing to tell the truth to a federal grand jury. To suggest that it did was to “break the covenant of trust” between president and people, dissolving “the mortar that binds the foundation stones of our freedom into a secure and solid edifice.”

It wasn’t a winning argument. But it was the right argument. And on this 20th anniversary, the nation should remember with gratitude those like Henry Hyde who, under fierce assault, stood for the rule of law.

Featured image by Gage Skidmore | Flickr