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Ballot issues

by Susan Simons

    We are finally near the end of the fourteen ballot iniatitives and four referenda.  If you have your ballot, these final ballot issues are on the back of the second page.  If approved, Referendum L would amend the state constitution so that a person who was 21 years old could serve in the state legislature.  The constitution has required a legislator to be 25 years old since 1876.  All 50 states have age requirements ranging from 18-30 years old.

    Referendum M would change the state constitution to remove a law that is out-of-date.  It says that the legislature need not tax an increase in land value from the planting of  trees on that land.  In 1876, the legislature wanted to encourage the planting of forests, but the law is not used today.

    Referendum N would remove parts of the state constitution which require the state to regulate the sale of impure alcohol.  The federal government regulates the sale of alcohol, and this provision is no longer useful.

    Referendum O would change the constitution to make it more difficult to put amendments to the Colorado Constitution on the ballot and making it a little easier to put amendments to Colorado Statutes on the ballot.  Amendments to the consitution can only be changed at the next election by approval of the state’s voters.  Amendments to the statutes can be changed by the state legislature with approval of the governor.  Citizens can suggest changes to state law or new state laws using either method.  The idea is to test new laws in a form that allows them to be adjusted more easily and to keep the constitution a document which expresses time-tested principles.

    Voters will decide on two ballot issues for Huerfano County.  Ballot Issue 1A  asks voters to approve a 1% general sales tax to fund dispatch services for the county.  The City of Walsenburg has been funding dispatch services, and the three local governments have been meeting to plan how to improve those services.  If 1A is approved, about $500,000 will be raised each year to improve response to citizen emergencies.

    Ballot Issue 1B asks voters to remove term limits on the Sheriff’s position so that the current Sheriff may continue to serve if voters re-elect him.