Anti-abortion advocates have, for the third time, brought to voters the question of how Colorado defines “person” and “child.” As with previous efforts in 2008 and 2010, this year’s Amendment 67 – should be defeated.
The measure would confer upon personhood upon “unborn human beings” without defining the term. That omission means that any potential future human being – from fertilized egg on – would be protected from any crime, including wrongful death. Of course, if any potential life is a person, any loss of that life is potentially wrongful: birth control that prevents implantation, emergency contraception, abortion.
The amendment is purportedly designed to provide a mechanism for prosecuting those who commit crimes that result in a terminated pregnancy – such as drunken driving or assault. The legislature, however, passed just such a measure in 2013: The Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act, which created a class of crimes under which offenders can be prosecuted for a mother’s loss. It excludes medical care and procedures the mother consented to endure; Amendment 67 fails to do so. The measure is neither needed nor appropriate. Vote no on Amendment 67.
Amendment 68 is a transparent attempt to use Colorado’s initiative process to benefit a single, out-of-state company, almost certainly at the expense of existing Colorado businesses and jobs. It would allow casino gambling at the Rhode Island-based Arapahoe Park horse-racing track near Aurora. It would also allow gambling at as-yet nonexistent tracks in Pueblo and Mesa counties.
The selling point is that Arapahoe Park’s backers wrote into Amendment 68 a provision for a 34 percent tax on gambling revenue, to be devoted entirely to education. Supporters claim it would yield $100 million per year in funding for K-12 and charter schools.
Opposition comes largely from owners of Colorado casinos in Cripple Creek, Blackhawk and Central City. They fear Denver-area gamblers would rather make the short drive to Arapahoe County than the longer one to their casinos. They are probably right. Arapahoe Park would be the only casino in the Denver metro area, and it would be large. The worry is that while Arapahoe Park might offer new jobs, they would come at the expense of jobs at existing casinos. Likewise, the money for education is unlikely to appear out of thin air. Much of it will be money that would already be collected by other casinos. What Amendment 68 would do is put existing jobs at risk, threaten historic towns and clutter up Colorado’s Constitution for no other reason than to boost an East Coast company. We do not need it.
Colorado Proposition 104 would require that school board negotiations with teachers’ unions be conducted in open meetings. Because these are critical conversations about public resources, inviting the public to the process makes sense. Vote yes on Proposition 104.
The measure’s purpose and meaning are simple and clear: School board negotiations relating to collective bargaining must be conducted in open meetings, not in executive session. The idea is the brainchild of the libertarian anti-tax think tank, Independence Institute and its president, Jon Caldara. Schools are a big part of everyone’s property taxes and teachers’ union contracts make up a huge part of schools’ budgets. Not only should how that money is spent be transparent to the taxpayers, so, too, should be how that was decided.
The opposition comes from those who would be directly affected: mainly teacher unions and school district administrator groups. A lot of their worries are the same complaints always voiced in opposition to openness. Public scrutiny will interfere with and complicate the collective-bargaining process. But doing the right thing right often complicates matters. Vote yes on Proposition 104.
Proposition 105 would require all food sold in Colorado to carry a label if it was “produced with genetic engineering.” On its face, the proposal is a good one. Consumers should be armed with as much information as possible about what they are eating, and because the health effects of genetically modified organisms are very much in debate it is reasonable to make their whereabouts in the food supply known. Doing so on a state-by-state basis, however, is impractical and inefficient.
Estimates show that GMOs are used in more than 80 percent of the food in North America. It is a safe bet, then, that most food has had some degree of genetic engineering in its background. Adding a labeling requirement that applies only to foods sold in Colorado, and carries with it no penalty for failing to adhere to the rule, would be somewhat redundant.
Ultimately, this is a problem that the Food and Drug Administration must address. Crafting a patchwork labeling and regulatory process for GMO materials creates an onerous environment for state agencies and food producers alike. Vote no on Proposition 105.