By: Lance Thibert
Several recent developments have lightened the massive Colorado ballot, however there are sill a huge number of initiatives and amendments to be voted on.
First off, several amendments have been pulled from the ballot by their sponsors.
Amendment 53:Criminal Liability of Executives when their businesses are found liable for criminal conduct.
Amendment 55: Employers must find Just Cause to terminate the employment of a worker.
Amendment 56:Businesses employing 20+ employees must provide health insurance for employees and employee dependents, would also set up heath care oversight organization.
Amendment 57: Would require employers to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.
These Amendments were primarily put forth by labor unions attempting to hit back against the backers of Amendment 47, the right to work initiative that would prohibit mandatory union membership. The reason the union sponsors pulled these amendments was that they reached an agreement with business groups, who agreed to raise 3 million dollars to opposed Amendment 47 in return for Amendments 53, 55, 56, an 57 to be dropped from the ballot.
“In an alliance born in part of fear, corporate executives across Colorado pledged to contribute at least $3 million to help organized labor defeat ballot measures that many in the business community might normally support. More than 75 chief executives — including the heads of major companies such as Xcel Energy Inc. and Qwest Communications International Inc. — agreed to donate money and time to the union cause.”
However, not all business leaders decided to throw their support behind labor.
“Not every business leader could stomach the compromise. Tim Jackson, president of the Colorado Automobile Dealers Association, said he was glad to see the union-backed measures off the ballot. But he couldn’t bring himself to back labor’s ballot agenda. “We just wouldn’t do that,” he said.”
There are still a large amount of amendments on the ballot, I will provide the amendment, a brief description, and a “controversy rating”. These are my take on the amendments, with a bend towards the informative rather than my opinion. Bias however, can probably still be found.
Amendment: 46 “Discrimination and Preferential Treatment By Governments”
Description: Would make all affirmative action programs in the state of Colorado illegal, using the language of anti-discrimination. Ward Connerly is leading the fight for amendment 46 in Colorado, with similar initatives in Missouri, Oklahoma, Arizona and Nebraska.
Level of Controversy: High, as it effectively ends affirmative action in Colorado.
Amendment: 47 “Prohibition on Mandatory Labor Union Membership and Dues ”
Description: Amendment 47 would prohibit unions from negotiating “union shop” contracts under which employees would be required to pay union membership. This is the infamous amendment that would effectively break union power in Colorado, well, whatever power it had to begin with. Business leaders oppose Amendment 47 as per the deal with the unions.
Level of Controversy: High, Millions have been, and will be spent for and against this Amendment.
Amendment: 48 “Definition Of Person”
Description: With both Bob Schaffer and Mark Udall against this amendment, and a large campaign to defeat it, the chances of it passing are low. However, legally defining a person as a fertilized egg has provoked a firestorm of controversy in the home of Focus on the Family. Would effectively outlaw abortions and most stem cell research in Colorado, as a start.
Level of Controversy: High, for obvious reasons.
Amendment: 49 “Allowable Government Paycheck Deductions”
Description: Amendment 49 would bar automatic union dues deductions from public employee payrolls, tentatively labelled as “ask first”. Amendment 49 is part of the attack on labor that was launched at the beginning of the year. Business leaders now opposed 49 as part of the deal with labor struck earlier this month.
Level of Controversy: Medium, not as visible at Amendment 47, but works with it to dismantle unions.
Amendment: 50 “Limited Gaming in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek”
Description: Fairly straightforward, would allow gaming (read: gambling) in Central City, Black Hawk and Cripple Creek. Raising the maximum bet from 5 dollars to 100 dollars. Opponents are generally of the anti-gambling variety.
Level of Controversy: Low, with the economic state of the state and country, any extra revenue without a direct tax is welcome.
Amendment: 51 “State Sales Tax Increase for Services for People with Developmental Disabilities”
Description: Would raise sales taxes in 2009 and 2010 to fund services for the developmentally disabled. With a massive base of support and little to no opposition, it will almost certainly pass.
Level of Controversy: Low, no real campaign against it. Die-hard fiscal conservatives may oppose it at the ballot box.
Amendment: 52 “Use of Severance Tax Revenue for Highways”
Description: Amendment 52 would allow the use of severance tax revenues to fund highway construction an maintenance, apparently not allowed currently.
Level of Controversy: Low, as I have no idea why this would provoke controversy anywhere outside of a highway enthusiast club.
Amendment: 54 “Campaign Contributions from Certain Government Contractors”
Description: Amendment 54 would prohibit those who have contracts with the government worth over 100,000 dollars from making political campaign contributions for two years after that contract has expired. Business leaders now oppose Amendment 54, as part of the deal with the unions.
Level of Controversy: Medium-high, as it is part of the 2008 attack on labor that provokes so much controversy and the aforementioned war between business and labor.
Amendment: 58 “Severance Taxes on the Oil and Natural Gas Industry”
Description: Amendment 58 would increase a severance tax, and eliminate a property tax deduction that allows the oil and gas industry to write off 87.5% of their taxes. Proceeds from the elimination of the tax deduction would be funneled into scholarships, wildlife habitats, and clean energy projects. Opponents charge that it is a tax increase, a charge led by the oil and gas industry and anti-tax advocates. Governor Ritter supports the Amendment and has taken fire for his support.
Level of Controversy: Medium-high, Ad wars have exploded around this issue.
Amendment: 59 “Education Funding and TABOR Rebates”
Description: Amendment 58 would deal a heavy blow to TABOR, which has had public opinion as well as legislative opinion growing against it as the economy worsens. Bypasses TABOR’s restrictions on spending by creating a new State Education Fund. Has heavy support from democrats and moderate Republicans.
Level of Controversy: Medium, Douglas Bruce and the Club for Growth types that originally pushed for TABOR obviously oppose it.
I was originally going to delve into the referendums, but now that this post is past the 1000 word mark (sorry), I think i’ll save that for the next one or something.