Eco-Justice Ministries
Home Page: www.eco-justice.org     *     E-mail: ministry@eco-justice.org

Colorado Ballot Initiatives, 2008

In 2008, the Colorado ballot will be the longest in the nation, with 18 items placed on the ballot either by petition or by action of the legislature. Many of those items are complex and controversial.

Because Eco-Justice Ministries is located in Colorado, as are many of the congregations that we work with, our Board of Directors has approved recommendations on these ballot issues. Our recommendations are grounded in the eco-justice ethical norms that inform our ministry, and are informed by the stances of our close colleages in the Colorado faith community.

10/2/08 agreement simplifies ballot!
Seven of the ballot items were filed because of an escalating dispute between business and labor groups in Colorado, triggered by Amendment 47 and "right to work" issues.

On October 2, an agreement between labor unions and business groups has simplified the ballot. Proposed amendments 53, 55, 56 and 57 have been withdrawn. While they will still appear on all ballots, votes cast on these items will not be counted. Business and labor groups will be working together toward the defeat of proposed amendments 47, 49 and 54.

The October agreement deals with half of the items that were placed on the ballot by petition. In light of this agreement, Eco-Justice Ministries recommends a NO vote on all seven of the items involved (47, 49, 53, 54, 55, 56 and 57). On this year's long ballot, a no vote on the withdrawn issues, instead of not voting on the issue, may help to avoid confusion.

On three ballot items (46, 51 and 59), Eco-Justice Ministries concurs with the recommendations from our faith partners in the "Embracing the Common Good Coalition". (The coalition members are: Colorado Council of Churches, Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance, Hunger for Justice: Interfaith Voices Against Poverty, Jewish Community Relations Council, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-Colorado, Metropolitan Organization for People, Northeast Denver Islamic Center/ Greater Denver Interfaith Alliance, The Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, We Believe Colorado: People of Faith for the Common Good.)

Eco-Justice Ministries strongly recommends:
YES votes in favor of Amendments 51 58, 59 and Referendum O
NO votes against Amendments 46, 48, 52, 54

and Eco-Justice Ministries recommends:
YES votes in favor of Referenda L, M and N
NO votes against Amendments 47, 49, 50, 53, 55, 56, 57

 

=== PROPOSED AMENDMENTS PLACED ON THE BALLOT BY PETITION ===

Eco-Justice Ministries strongly recommends a NO vote on
Amendment 46: Discrimination and Preferential Treatment by Governments

Eco-Justice Ministries agrees with the statement by the Embracing the Common Good coalition:

We oppose Amendment 46 which would eliminate equal opportunity programs in Colorado. Faith leaders throughout Colorado support equal opportunity as necessary to preserving human dignity and hope.

We believe Colorado's current equal opportunity initiatives are cultivating a society where all people have access to income and resources that help us all meet our basic needs, and these initiatives should not be eliminated.

More information on the faith-based campaign against Amendment 46 is available through the Colorado Council of Churches.


Eco-Justice Ministries recommends a NO vote on
Amendment 47: Prohibition on Mandatory Labor Union Membership and Dues

Under the October 2 agreement which led to the withdrawal of #53, 55, 56 and 57, a labor/business coalition is now urging the defeat of #47, 49 and 54.


Eco-Justice Ministries strongly recommends a NO vote on
Amendment 48: Definition of Person

This constitutional amendment would define a "person" to "include any human being from the moment of fertilization." According to this definition, a "person" would come into being before the start of a pregnancy (generally considered to begin when an embryo implants in the uterine wall). In many cases, questions of personhood and legal standing would be raised in situations where women are not pregnant, or not aware of being pregnant. This new definition would outlaw many common forms of birth control, and call into legal question many medical treatments unrelated to pregnancy (such as cancer treatments or the use of medications that might impact an undetectable early pregnancy). This expansive definition certainly has legal ramifications for in vitro fertilization and stem cell research, where eggs that have been fertilized are not implanted.

Eco-Justice Ministries recommends a NO vote primarily on the basis of the eco-justice norm of sustainability because -- in a time when the rapid growth of the human population is a primary environmental concern -- this amendment would lead toward increased population growth by prohibiting established and commonly accepted options for family planning.


Eco-Justice Ministries recommends a NO vote on
Amendment 49: Allowable Government Paycheck Deductions

Under the October 2 agreement which led to the withdrawal of #53, 55, 56 and 57, a labor/business coalition is now urging the defeat of #47, 49 and 54.


Eco-Justice Ministries recommends a NO vote on
Amendment 50: Limited Gaming in Central City, Black Hawk, and Cripple Creek

Limited-stakes gambling ("gaming") is allowed in Colorado only in three "historic" communities. This item would establish mechanisms to expand the hours, bet-limits and types of games in those towns. Increased revenue would be allocated for community colleges in the state, and to the gaming cities and counties.

Eco-Justice Ministries opposes this item because:

  1. the primary beneficiary of this constitutional amendment would be the corporations which run casinos;
  2. the increases in gambling options and the higher bet limits would probably draw more money away from poor Colorado residents and from compulsive gamblers;
  3. specific funding within the state budget -- in this case, for community colleges -- should not be allocated through constitutional provisions; and
  4. increased gambling in these mountain communities would cause increased travel to those towns, with adverse environmental impacts, both locally and on the global climate.


Eco-Justice Ministries strongly recommends a YES vote on
Amendment 51: State Sales Tax Increase for Services for People with Developmental Disabilities

Eco-Justice Ministries agrees with the statement by the Embracing the Common Good coalition:

We support Amendment 51 which would provide funding for critical services needed by people with developmental disabilities. Funds would come from a phased-in increase in the state sales tax of two tenths of one percent (2 on a $10 purchase).

We believe all people deserve services that enable them to meet their basic needs. Public policies should be evaluated by their impact on the common good, and particularly on our vulnerable and marginalized neighbors.


Eco-Justice Ministries strongly recommends a NO vote on
Amendment 52: Use of Severance Tax Revenue for Highways

Amendments 52 and 58 both deal with severance taxes, in conflicting ways. This page will soon include a detailed comparison between the two amendments.

Eco-Justice Ministries opposes this item because:

  1. specific funding within the state budget -- in this case, for highway construction -- should not be allocated through constitutional provisions;
  2. the trasportation funding would be used only for highway construction and maintenance, and would not support other transportation options; and
  3. Amendment 52 would divert state funds from worthwhile existing projects, including municipal water systems, low income energy assistance programs and wildlife conservation.


Eco-Justice Ministries recommends a NO vote on
Amendment 53: Criminal Accountability of Business Executives

This proposed amendment has been withdrawn by the submitting group -- votes will not be counted on this issue. We recommend a NO vote instead of leaving the ballot blank for this issue.


Eco-Justice Ministries strongly recommends a NO vote on
54: Campaign Contributions from Certain Government Contractors

Under the October 2 agreement which led to the withdrawal of #53,55,56 and 57, a labor/business coalition is now urging the defeat of #47, 49 and 54.

Under this constitutional amendment, the "government contractors" who would be prohibited from campaign contributions include labor organizations holding a collective bargaining agreement with a state of local government. Based in the eco-justice ethical norm of participation, we believe that this amendment would substantially curtail the ability of groups of citizens to participate in democratic processes.


Eco-Justice Ministries recommends a NO vote on
Amendment 55: Allowable Reasons for Employee Discharge or Suspension

This proposed amendment has been withdrawn by the submitting group -- votes will not be counted on this issue. We recommend a NO vote instead of leaving the ballot blank for this issue.


Eco-Justice Ministries recommends a NO vote on
Amendment 56: Employer Responsibility for Health Insurance

This proposed amendment has been withdrawn by the submitting group -- votes will not be counted on this issue. We recommend a NO vote instead of leaving the ballot blank for this issue.


Eco-Justice Ministries recommends a NO vote on
Amendment 57: Additional Remedies for Injured Employees

This proposed amendment has been withdrawn by the submitting group -- votes will not be counted on this issue. We recommend a NO vote instead of leaving the ballot blank for this issue.


Eco-Justice Ministries strongly recommends a YES vote on
Amendment 58: Severance Taxes on the Oil and Natural Gas Industry

Amendments 52 and 58 both deal with severance taxes, in conflicting ways. This page will soon include a detailed comparison between the two amendments.

Eco-Justice Ministries supports this amendment because:

  • the state of Colorado will receive additional revenue by (1) removing a tax credit provided to the oil and gas industry, and (2) raising the severance tax rate to a level that corresponds more closely with surrounding states. We believe that this provides a more equitable return to Colorado citizens for the minerals which have be extracted.
  • increased revenue will provide additional funding for worthwhile projects, including college scholarships, wildlife habitat, clean energy, transportation projects and drinking water & wastewater projects in small communities;
  • funding details are set through changes in Colorado statutes, and can be adjusted by acts of the legislature.


Eco-Justice Ministries strongly recommends a YES vote on
Amendment 59: Education Funding and TABOR Rebates

Eco-Justice Ministries agrees with the statement by the Embracing the Common Good coalition:

We support Amendment 59 which would ensure that the state saves in good economic times so our kids aren't hurt in bad times. It creates a Savings Account for Education (S.A.F.E.) and invests state revenues above the TABOR limit in that savings account. While responsibly funding education, it also eliminates the requirement that spending on P-12 education increase at the rate of inflation each year after 2011.

We believe budgets are moral documents which must embody the common good and reflect our shared responsibility to each other. Just tax policies are investments in our future, ensuring that the benefits of society are broadly shared.

Resources in support of Amendment 59 for congregational use are available from We Believe Colorado.

 

=== PROPOSED AMENDMENTS REFERRED FROM THE LEGISLATURE ===

Eco-Justice Ministries recommends a YES vote on
Referendum L: Qualifications for Serving in the State Legislature

This amendment would lower the age requirement for serving in the state legislature from 25 to 21. The eco-justice ethical norm affirms decisions which broaden opportunities for participation in community decision-making.


Eco-Justice Ministries recommends a YES vote on
Referendum M: Obsolete Constitutional Provision Relating to Land Value Increases

If approved, this referendum would remove provisions in the constitution that the legislature believes to be obsolete. The sections to be removed date to 1876, and deal with the tax valuation of newly planted orchards and forests. Eco-Justice Ministries affirms the legislature's recommendation to remove obsolete provisions from the constitution.


Eco-Justice Ministries recommends a YES vote on
Referendum N: Obsolete Constitutional Provisions Relating to Alcohol Beverages

If approved, this referendum would remove provisions in the constitution that the legislature believes to be obsolete. Eco-Justice Ministries affirms the legislature's recommendation to remove obsolete provisions from the constitution.


Eco-Justice Ministries strongly recommends a YES vote on
Referendum O: Citizen-Initiated State Laws

This proposed constitutional amendment would change the requirements for the initiative process by which citizens place items on the state ballot. It would make it easier to file proposed changes to state statutes, and more difficult to file proposed changes to the state constitution. Under the current constitutional provisions, the process and requrirements for amending statutes and the constitution are the same.

Eco-Justice Ministries affirms the value of citizen participation and the right to petition. The current provisions, though, have led to many topics being set in the constitution which would be more appropriately defined in statutes, including many details about the state budget. The proposed amendment includes provisions that would preserve the integrity of statutory changes and voter intent, by making it difficult for the legislature to change initiated statutes for five years after the statutes take effect.


Eco-Justice Ministries   *   400 S Williams St, Denver, CO   80209   *   303.715.3873
Home Page: www.eco-justice.org   *   E-mail: ministry@eco-justice.org