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County and State ballots examined

by Susan Simons

    The 2008 ballot will have 14 statewide ballot initiatives and four referenda.

    If passed by voters, a ballot initiative changes the state constitution and can only be changed in the future by voters voting on another initiative.   Citizens who want to put an initiative on the ballot must go through a complicated process which this year required getting 76,047 signatures on petitions.

    A referenda proposes a change to state statute, often that outdated provisions be dropped from state law.  The legislature and governor can change these referenda in the future without asking voter approval.

    For every general election, the Colorado Legislative Council publishes the Blue Book to inform voters about the issues.  The Blue Book translates the legalese into plain language and tries to forecast the economic impacts if the measure passes.  The booklet also gives information on judges.  The Blue Book is mailed to every registered voter.  According to the website of the Secretary of State, Mike Coffman, the Blue Book for Huerfano County is still at the printers. The website for Secretary of State also prints a contact list for each proposed amendment so that you can learn who sponsored it and who is for and who against.

    Each week in October, the Journal will take a look at four or five of the statewide ballot issues to bring them to your attention and help you think about these before election day on November 4.

    Amendment 46 wants to prohibit Colorado governments from discriminating against any person (including preferential treatment) on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in public employment, education, or contracting.  The Blue Book forecasts that there may be costs or savings, especially in education, as agencies review criteria for admissions and grants.

    Amendment 47 wants to prohibit an employer from requiring that an employee pay union dues in order to work for the business.  Federal law already prohibits this, but an employer may insist that an employee pay dues equal to the cost of collective bargaining. Violation would be a misdemeanor carrying a fine or jail sentence.  According to the Blue Book, this could cost counties for jail space and judges if enough lawsuits go to trial.

    Amendment 48 wants to change the state constitution to define person from the moment of fertilization in the womb so that  life, liberty and property  would be protected from the moment of conception.  The Blue Book cannot determine costs at this time.

    Amendment 49 proposes to limit the kinds of payroll deductions that public employers in Colorado may offer. In other words, public payrolls should not be used to benefit private organizations or special interests.  The Blue Book expects that this measure will not cost a cent, if passed.

           continued next week