Colorado voters received ballots this week, which contain a number of complicated initiatives affecting taxes, elections, health care, and more. To help Coloradans decide how to vote on these measures, many public interest groups, including ProgressNow Colorado, The Bell Policy Center, the Colorado AFL-CIO, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, and the Colorado Fiscal Institute (CFI), released ballot guides.
Here’s where these five groups, all with a progressive-orientation, stand on the 2016 ballot initiatives:
Amendment 69: Statewide health care system
What it does: Establishes a single-payer health care system called ColoradoCare.
- ProgressNow is opposed to Amendment 69, despite the initiative’s progressive goals, because of independent research suggesting problems with its implementation. It is also concerned about restrictions on reproductive health care because of the state funding ban on abortion.
- The Bell Policy Center opposes ColoradoCare. While it supports better, cheaper health care, it believes the system could have unintended consequences because it leaves implementation to be decided in the future.
- NARAL is opposed to 69. While NARAL does support universal healthcare, it believes ColoradoCare isn’t truly universal because it does not include the full range of reproductive health services. Because of the state funding ban on abortions, it could severely limit reproductive care options for low-income women.
- The CFI opposes ColoradoCare. While it supports universal health care, it believes that it should be done at the national level.
Amendment 70: State minimum wage increase
What it does: Raises Colorado’s minimum wage gradually from $8.31 to $12 by 2020.
- ProgressNow supports Amendment 70 because it believes full-time minimum wage workers shouldn’t be living in poverty.
- The Bell Policy Center is a major proponent of raising minimum wage. It has concluded through its research that a wage hike won’t cost jobs, and could even stimulate the state’s economy as low-wage workers spend more of their earnings at local businesses.
- The AFL-CIO supports this initiative.
- NARAL supports raising the minimum wage because it mostly benefits women and their families.
- The CFI is an ardent supporter of a wage increase, which it believes to be a “no-brainer” due to the large body of evidence suggesting it would have little to no effect on jobs and would likely stimulate the economy.
Amendment 71: Increase requirements for constitutional amendments
What it does: Makes it harder to amend the state’s constitution by requiring that ballot initiatives collect signatures from all 35 senate districts and receive a 55% vote, rather than the simple majority currently required.
- ProgressNow is opposed to the initiative, billed as Raise the Bar, because it believes it would make it so only wealthy special interests and corporations could afford to place measures on the ballot.
- While The Bell Policy Center does agree that the state’s constitution is too easy to amend, it opposes 71 because it would make it more difficult to reform TABOR. It also believes it would place a substantial financial burden on groups that wish to propose a ballot issue but aren’t well funded.
- The AFL-CIO is opposed to Amendment 71, which it believes puts “big money and special interests ahead of Colorado voters.”
- NARAL opposes the measure because it would make it nearly impossible to overturn the ban on state funding for abortion.
- The CFI opposes Raise the Bar on the grounds that it would make the ballot initiative process “exorbitantly expensive,” allowing only the wealthy to shape the state’s constitution.
Many other Colorado organizations have come out in opposition to Amendment 71 as well.
Amendment 72: Increase cigarette and tobacco taxes
What it does: Raises taxes on cigarettes and tobacco, and requires that the added revenue be spent on medical research, tobacco cessation programs, youth mental health services, veterans health services, and other health-related programs.
- ProgressNow supports 72 because of the state’s comparatively low existing tobacco taxes, and the increase in smoking over recent years.
- The Bell Policy Center supports raising tobacco taxes because the added revenue goes toward currently underfunded programs.
- The CFI supports this measure due to the research that suggests raising tobacco prices results in fewer smokers, which then lowers medical costs for all and stimulates the economy.
Proposition 106: Access to medical aid-in-dying medication
What it does: Allow terminally ill, mentally competent patients to shorten the dying process by taking prescribed medication.
- ProgressNow is in favor of end-of-life options because the measure is modeled after a similar law in Oregon that has been proven successful. It also ensures patients have total control over the decision and protects them from abuse.
- The Bell Policy Center is neutral on this issue. While it supports the protection of vulnerable populations, it also supports the initiative’s goal to keep those same populations from suffering.
- NARAL supports 106 because of its stance that citizens should be permitted to make personal medical decisions with their doctor.
Proposition 107: Presidential primary elections
What it does: Restores the state’s presidential primary elections, replacing the current caucus system.
- The Bell Policy Center supports returning to presidential primary elections because it believes it will increase voter turnout.
- The AFL-CIO is opposed.
- NARAL is opposed to 107 because it believes it will eliminate proportional representation.
Proposition 108: Unaffiliated voter participation in primary elections
What it does: Creates an open primary for all non-presidential elections where unaffiliated voters could vote in the primary. They would receive a combined ballot with candidates from every party.
- ProgressNow is opposed to 108 because it believes it makes the process more confusing, and could result in more invalidated ballots. It also thinks it could open the door for outside special interests to manipulate party primaries.
- The Bell Policy Center is neutral. While it agrees that unaffiliated voters should be given more choices, it also fears 108 will result in more rejected ballots.
- The AFL-CIO is opposed.
- NARAL shares the fears of other groups who think this ballot measure is too confusing, and could result in invalidated ballots for a disproportionate number of unaffiliated voters.
Amendment T: No exception to involuntary servitude prohibition
What it does: Removes antiquated language in the constitution allowing slavery if used as the punishment for a crime.
- ProgressNow thinks it is necessary to remove language that is contradictory to other state and federal laws.
- The Bell Policy Center supports Amendment T because it supports the rights of all people, including those who are incarcerated.
- The AFL-CIO supports this measure because it reflects their core values of freedom and equality.
- NARAL supports this initiative, which it believes to be common sense and uncontroversial.
- The CFI believes this to be an important symbolic action.
Amendment U: Exempt certain possessory interests from property taxes
What it does: Eliminate property taxes for individuals or businesses that use government-owned property for a private benefit that has a market value of $6,000 or less.
- ProgressNow Colorado supports Amendment U, which it calls a “constitutional ‘clean up’ measure.”
- The Bell Policy Center supports the measure because it could save time and money for county assessors and tax collectors.
- The CFI supports this initiative.