Statewide Ballot Initiatives: Just What Are Those Amendments on the 2016 Ballot?

Nov 3, 2016

Still need to cast that ballot?  For many voters in Colorado, it's a long one.  If you're still weighing state issues, 91.5 KRCC wants to help.  Here you will find information and links on how to vote, as well as information on the nine statewide issues facing Colorado residents this November.

Jump to any of the issues by using these links:

Amendment T Amendment UAmendment 69 • Amendment 70Amendment 71Amendment 72Proposition 106Proposition 107Proposition 108Voter Resources

Voter Resources

This year, ballots were sent in the mail to all active, registered Colorado voters who registered on or before October 31. You can check your status with the Colorado Secretary of State's Office. You can also register to vote and cast a ballot at any Voter Service and Polling Center until 7 PM Tuesday, November 8.

If you have lost or damaged your ballot, you can go to a polling center and obtain a ballot there.

All ballots must be received by 7 PM on Tuesday, November 8th. At this point, election officials strongly recommend you deliver your ballot to an official drop-off location to ensure your ballot is received on time.

Having trouble deciding how to vote on retaining judges?  The Colorado Office of Judicial Performance Evaluation can help. You can select your county for a full listing of recommendations and see detailed information on each judge.

The state Ballot Information Booklet, also known as the Blue Book is available here.

Additional county specific resources:

Amendment T • Amendment U • Amendment 69 • Amendment 70 • Amendment 71 • Amendment 72 • Proposition 106 • Proposition 107 • Proposition 108 • Voter Resources

Amendment T: No Exception to Involuntary Servitude Prohibition

The Colorado Constitution currently contains a passage that allows convicted criminals to be forced to work in prison without pay.  It says, "There shall never be in this state either slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted."  The way this provision is worded means that anybody convicted of a crime in the state of Colorado can be forced into labor without their consent.  If passed, Amendment T would remove the exception, making it unconstitutional to force labor upon anybody, including convicted criminals.

The proposed constitutional amendment was referred to the ballot during the 2016 legislative session [.pdf] after passing the statehouse unanimously.
 

A YES on Amendment T means that you would like the exception removed, so that involuntary servitude of any kind is unconstitutional.

A NO vote on Amendment T means that you would like the wording to remain the same, allowing convicted criminals to possibly be subjected to involuntary labor.

Arguments in Favor:

People who support Amendment T argue [Blue Book .pdf] that the current language of this passage in the Colorado Constitution is outdated, and that passing Amendment T would be important symbolically.

Arguments Against:

The Colorado State Blue Book cites [.pdf] arguments against Amendment T as stating that the current prison work programs for offenders "provide structure and purpose [...] while enabling skill building and helping to reduce recidivism," and by changing the provision, it could result in "legal uncertainty" concerning the current work practices of convicted criminals.  The argument suggests, if passed, current community service and work programs for convicted criminals could be at risk.

Amendment T • Amendment U • Amendment 69 • Amendment 70 • Amendment 71 • Amendment 72 • Proposition 106 • Proposition 107 • Proposition 108 • Voter Resources

Amendment U: Exempt Certain Possessory Interests from Property Taxes

The right to operate a private business on government-owned property is called a possessory interest.  Currently, the value of a possessory interest is taxed at a rate of 29%.  If passed, Amendment U would create a new threshold, so that possessory interests valued at less than $6,000 would be exempt from that tax.  These exemptions would begin in the 2018 tax year; then, beginning in tax year 2019, the $6,000 limit would change every two years based on inflation.

The proposed constitutional amendment was referred to the ballot during the 2016 legislative session [.pdf].

A YES vote on Amendment U means you would like to exempt from taxes all possessory interests valued under $6,000.

A NO vote on Amendment U means you would like all possessory interests to continue being taxed.

Arguments in Favor:

According to the state's Blue Book [.pdf], most possessory interests in Colorado are for agricultural leases, and many of those leases are charged less than $10 in property taxes.  The argument suggests the logistics of collecting that money often costs more than $10.

Arguments Against:

The argument in the Blue Book against Amendment U suggests that the tax exemptions give an unfair break to those who benefit financially from the use of government-owned land.  Such a tax break, according the the argument, places more tax burden on others to cover local government services.
 
Amendment T • Amendment U • Amendment 69 • Amendment 70 • Amendment 71 • Amendment 72 • Proposition 106 • Proposition 107 • Proposition 108 • Voter Resources

Amendment 69: Statewide Health Care System

Credit Flickr User: Pictures of Money / Creative Commons

Amendment 69 is commonly referred to as "ColoradoCare" and, if passed, would create a universal healthcare system for residents of Colorado, funded through a 10% increase in income taxes and governed by an eventual 21-member elected board of trustees.

The proposed constitutional amendment [.pdf] was petitioned onto the ballot and approved [.pdf] by the Secretary of State's Office.

91.5 KRCC capitol reporter Bente Birkeland has previously explored Amendment 69:

A YES vote means you would like ColoradoCare to be implemented.

A NO vote means you would like healthcare in Colorado to stay the way it is.
 
Amendment T • Amendment U • Amendment 69 • Amendment 70 • Amendment 71 • Amendment 72 • Proposition 106 • Proposition 107 • Proposition 108 • Voter Resources

Amendment 70: State Minimum Wage

Credit Andrea Chalfin / 91.5 KRCC

The current minimum wage in Colorado is $8.31 per hour.  If passed, Amendment 70 would raise the minimum wage each year until it reaches $12.00 per hour in 2020.  On January 1, 2017, the minimum wage would go up to $9.30. The following year, it would rise to $10.20. In 2019, $11.10, and then $12.00 an hour in 2020.  After 2020, the minimum wage would be adjusted based on the cost of living in Colorado, instead of being tied to inflation as it currently is.  Amendment 70 would also prevent a drop in the minimum wage should the cost of living drop.

The proposed constitutional amendment [.pdf] was petitioned onto the ballot and approved [.pdf] by the Secretary of State's Office.

91.5 KRCC capitol reporter Bente Birkeland has previously explored Amendment 70:

A YES vote on Amendment 70 means you would like the minimum wage to go up incrementally each year until it reaches $12.00 per hour in 2020.

A NO vote means you would like to leave the minimum wage unchanged, currently set at $8.31 per hour and adjusted annually to match inflation.
 

Amendment T • Amendment U • Amendment 69 • Amendment 70 • Amendment 71 • Amendment 72 • Proposition 106 • Proposition 107 • Proposition 108 • Voter Resources

Amendment 71: Requirements for Constitutional Amendments

Currently, in order for a signature-driven proposed constitutional amendment to make it onto the ballot, proponents must collect signatures from 5% of the total number of people who voted for the office of Colorado Secretary of State in the previous race for the seat.  Those signatures can come from anywhere in the state.

Amendment 71, the so-called "Raise the Bar" amendment, would require signatures to come from each of Colorado's 35 state senate districts.  The question would then require 55% of the vote to pass, rather than a simple majority.

The proposed constitutional amendment [.pdf] was petitioned onto the ballot and approved [.pdf] by the Secretary of State's Office.
 

A YES vote means you would like petitioners to be required to get signatures across all 35 of Colorado's senate districts and require 55% of the vote to ultimately pass.

A NO vote means you would like to keep the current process in place.
 

Arguments in Favor:

Supporters of Amendment 71 argue that Colorado's constitution is currently too easy to amend, and as such, it becomes a testing ground for outside special interests.  According to the Colorado Blue Book [.pdf], Amendment 71 ensures citizens from across the state would be included in the process of determining which amendments appear on the ballot.

Arguments Against:

Opponents of Amendment 71 argue that the changes would make Colorado's constitution too difficult to amend and would limit the voice of the people by making it too costly for grassroots groups to obtain the necessary signatures, as The Colorado Independent has reported.
 
Amendment T • Amendment U • Amendment 69 • Amendment 70 • Amendment 71 • Amendment 72 • Proposition 106 • Proposition 107 • Proposition 108 • Voter Resources

Amendment 72: Increase Cigarette and Tobacco Taxes

The current tax on a pack of cigarettes in Colorado is $.84. If passed, Amendment 72 would raise that number so that the total tax on cigarettes would be $2.59 per pack.  Other tobacco products would see an increase from 40% to 62% of the purchase price.  The revenue generated from the new taxes would go to health-related programs, including tobacco-use prevention, doctors in rural and low-income areas, and veterans' services, without diminishing funding levels already allocated to such programs.

The proposed constitutional amendment [.pdf] was petitioned onto the ballot and approved [.pdf] by the Secretary of State's Office.

A YES vote means you would like the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products to be raised.

A NO vote means you would like the tax on cigarettes and other tobacco products to remain the same.

Arguments in Favor:

According to the Colorado Blue Book [.pdf], higher prices for tobacco products deter their use and provide additional funding for health programs. The last time cigarette taxes were increased was in 2005, which led to a drop in the number of cigarettes smoked per person by 12.6%.

Arguments Against:

According to the Colorado Blue Book [.pdf], Amendment 72 would have a disproportionally negative impact on low-income people.  Amendment 72 also amounts to a tax increase, where the revenue would be spent on sometimes unproven and unnecessary health programs.
 
Amendment T • Amendment U • Amendment 69 • Amendment 70 • Amendment 71 • Amendment 72 • Proposition 106 • Proposition 107 • Proposition 108 • Voter Resources

Proposition 106: Access to Medical Aid-in-Dying Medication

Matt Larson and his wife, Kelly, have struggled through a diagnosis of brain cancer. Now they seek options should the cancer return.
Credit Matt Larson

Proposition 106 would allow terminally ill patients with six months or less to live the right to access and self-administer medical aid-in-dying medication. The measure would also allow doctors to prescribe the medication.

The proposed measure [.pdf] was petitioned onto the ballot and approved [.pdf] by the Secretary of State's Office.

91.5 KRCC capitol reporter has previously explored Proposition 106:
 

In September, Colorado Public Television hosted a debate on the issue:

A YES vote means you would like medical aid-in-dying to be legal for patients with a terminal illness.

A NO vote means you would like medical aid-in-dying to remain illegal in Colorado.
 
Amendment T • Amendment U • Amendment 69 • Amendment 70 • Amendment 71 • Amendment 72 • Proposition 106 • Proposition 107 • Proposition 108 • Voter Resources

Proposition 107: Presidential Primary Elections

In this March 1, 2016 file photo, voters wait in line for hours to participate in the Colorado Democratic caucus in Boulder, Colo.
Credit Brennan Linsley / Associated Press

Proposition 107 (Initiative 140) would establish a presidential primary election that would allow both party-declared voters and unaffiliated voters to participate. Historically, Colorado's major-party presidential nominees were selected through either a primary election or a caucus process, both limited to affiliated voters.

The initiative [.pdf] was petitioned onto the ballot and approved [.pdf] by the Secretary of State's Office.

91.5 KRCC capitol reporter Bente Birkeland has previously reported on this, in conjunction with Prop 108:
 

A YES vote means you would like Colorado to institute a presidential primary process and that it should be open to all voters.

A NO vote means you would like the system to remain the same.
 
Amendment T • Amendment U • Amendment 69 • Amendment 70 • Amendment 71 • Amendment 72 • Proposition 106 • Proposition 107 • Proposition 108 • Voter Resources

Proposition 108: Unaffiliated Voter Participation in Primary Elections

Proposition 108 (Initiative 98) would open the primary election process for nonpresidential primaries to unaffiliated voters and also allow parties to opt-out of a primary election in favor of a convention.

The initiative [.pdf] was petitioned onto the ballot and approved [.pdf] by the Secretary of State's Office.

91.5 KRCC capitol reporter Bente Birkeland has previously reported on this, in conjunction with Prop 107:
 

A YES vote means you would like non-presidential primaries to be open to all voters, and allow parties to be able to opt out of using a primary in favor of a convention or assembly.

A NO vote means you would like non-presidential primaries to remain mandatory and closed to unaffiliated voters.

Amendment T • Amendment U • Amendment 69 • Amendment 70 • Amendment 71 • Amendment 72 • Proposition 106 • Proposition 107 • Proposition 108 • Voter Resources