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Thoughts and advice on Colorado ballot questions

October 15th, 2014

Because several of you have asked for my opinion on the four ballot measures, I put together the following explanation to try to be more illuminating that the commercials on television.

Amendment 67 – Definition of person and child to include unborn human beings.

If you are pro-life, Amendment 67 is heartbreaking and hopeless.

The constitutional amendment says that in criminal law and wrongful death civil law the words “person” and “child” must be defined to include “unborn human beings.”  The idea is ostensibly to provide recourse for women like Heather Surovik, who was eight months pregnant when she was hit by a drunk driver and lost her unborn baby boy.  Colorado law offered her no legal recourse because it did not give legal status to the unborn at any stage of pregnancy.

The proposed definitional change also opens the door to criminal charges and civil lawsuits in any abortions that are legal under current law – if Amendment 67 passes and if it isn’t immediately overturned by courts that tread very cautiously on changes to abortion law.

This is the third “personhood” initiative on Colorado ballots in the past four elections.  The previous two efforts both received less than 30% support.  Does that mean 70% of Coloradans are callous toward the unborn?  Not necessarily.

These measures are written in such a way that virtually invites groups like Planned Parenthood to exploit them to convince women they will be denied birth control or will be prosecuted for having an abortion.  So, the abortion industry spends millions to undermine support for these measures and to bludgeon pro-life candidates who believe that life begins at conception and so state their support for “personhood.”

Meanwhile, the proponents of Amendment 67 barely have two nickels to rub together ($20,000 this year) and can’t afford to tell their story, so they inadvertently contribute to the perception that Coloradans do not care about the unborn.

 

Amendment 68 – Horse Racetrack Casinos

If Amendment 68 passes, Arapahoe Park racetrack southeast of Aurora would be allowed to build an on-site casino that would operate very much like the existing limited-stakes casinos in Blackhawk, Central City and Cripple Creek.  Two other racetrack casinos would be allowed – one each in Mesa and Pueblo counties – but could only open after conducting 30 days of horse racing for five consecutive years, so it’s debatable if that would happen.

A racetrack casino would pay a much higher tax rate (34%, compared to 18%) than existing mountain casinos.  Tax revenue from the racetrack casino would be distributed by the state to all Colorado public school districts on a per-pupil basis “to address local needs, including” class size, technology, school safety and school facilities.  State legislature staff economists estimate this tax would produce $114 million or $132 per student in the first full year.

The existing casinos, which are overwhelmingly operated by large out-of-state corporations, have a virtual monopoly and want to protect that monopoly by defeating Amendment 68.  Protecting their monopoly is not one of my priorities.

In the interest of full disclosure, know that one of the things we do on our farm is to breed and raise thoroughbred racehorses, so something that would be beneficial to the state’s only horse racetrack would probably be good for that portion of our farm.  That said, I had hoped this initiative would be as favorable to the horse industry as racetrack casinos in other states.

I will be voting “yes,” and my advice to you depends upon your priorities.  If you’re open to a more convenient location for limited stakes gaming or if you want to direct more money toward public schools without mandatory taxes, then vote “yes.”  If you’re completely opposed to any expansion of legal gambling, then vote “no.”

 

Proposition 104 – School Board Open Meetings

Proposition 104 would require that negotiations related to collective bargaining between local school boards and teachers unions be conducted in open meetings rather than in closed session.  That’s a good idea because it forces unions to make their requests – which have a direct impact on school budgets and classroom learning – in broad daylight rather than behind closed doors.

This is not a constitutional amendment, which is good because, frankly, the text needs to be clarified if Prop 104 passes.  The “Blue Book” distributed to all voters by Legislative Council of the Colorado General Assembly says, “It is unclear whether the measure requires school boards to discuss their negotiation strategies in public.”

That issue must be clarified to ensure that school board members can discuss their strategy among themselves – just as teachers unions can do since they are private organizations that aren’t governed by open meetings laws except when they are meeting directly with a school board.

 

Proposition 105 – Mandatory Food Labeling

Deceptive and dishonest – that’s Proposition 105.  It creates a hodge-podge labeling bureaucracy to identify food with components produced through genetic engineering – except it doesn’t really.

We put labels on products to inform the public.  However, those labels already exist.  Prop 105 would require something akin to a warning label to, according to proponents, “protect the public’s health, safety and welfare” because “consequences of growing genetically modified food are not yet fully researched.”

That’s abject hogwash.

A warning label would lead consumers to believe – incorrectly – that foods containing genetically-engineered components are dangerous despite nearly unanimous scientific evidence that they are perfectly safe.

According to the July 2014 edition of Popular Science, “[M]ore than 1,700 peer-reviewed safety studies have been published, including five lengthy reports from the National Research Council, that focus on human health and the environment.  The scientific consensus is that existing GMOs are no more or less risky than conventional crops.”

ConsumerAffairs reported in August 2014 that the director of the Organic Consumers Association “freely adits that labeling GMOs is not meant to provide consumers with free-market choice . . . but rather to drive genetically engineered crops off the market.”

“The science will remain unchanged,” wrote former USDA organic inspector Mischa Popoff, “GMOs have never caused any harm to anyone or anything.”

Prop 105 is ignorance and hysteria run amok.  Please vote “NO” and encourage all of your friends and neighbors to do the same.

 

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Udall’s narrow view of choice is a bad joke

July 16th, 2014

Fortune cookies and Mark Udall have more in common than Colorado’s Democrat U.S. Senator might like to admit.

You probably know the juvenile prank of reading the message inside a fortune cookie – like “Now is the time to try something new” – and then adding “. . . in bed” to give it an off-color twist.

Sadly, Udall’s campaign rhetoric is strikingly similar.

The 64-year-old Udall hasn’t had a for-profit job in more than 30 years. But he’s made a political career by telling ordinary Americans that he and his Washington cronies know better than the rest of us about everything from educating our children to the type of vehicle we drive.

Ironically, he says in his campaign commercials that “each of us has the freedom to make our own choices, to live life on our own terms.  That you have the right to be an individual.”

If Udall were honest, he would have added “. . . about sex” after each of those clauses because he doesn’t seem to appreciate freedom elsewhere. [Read more →]

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A dim view of ‘rights’

July 7th, 2014

Liberty is something you would expect liberals to understand.  Instead, the liberal view of liberty is backward, confusing rights with entitlements.

Rights and freedom should be synonymous.  Authentic rights can be enjoyed without someone else’s permission and without imposing a burden on someone else’s liberty – including their liberty to use the fruits of their labors however they please.

Liberals also believe that they enjoy the sole prerogative to define which freedoms are truly important – primarily those related to sex and drugs.  Other freedoms, they say, are not so important – e.g., the right to self-defense, freedom of religion, the right to own and enjoy your property, freedom of association, educational choice, or freedom to support the candidate or cause of your choice. [Read more →]

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Let’s not be The Stupid Party, again!

June 16th, 2014

It’s been said there are two political parties – The Evil Party and The Stupid Party.  Take a few minutes to read the following, and then decide which label fits.

Four years ago, a group backed by Democrat billionaires Tim Gill and Pat Stryker spent $500,000 to help a virtually-unknown candidate, Dan Maes, rise from obscurity to win the Republican primary for governor.

Maes narrowly upset former Congressman Scott McInnis, 50.7% to 49.3%.

So why did Democrats – even very wealthy ones with money to burn – spend a half-million dollars to influence the Republican primary?  Obviously, because they thought Maes would be easier for the Democrat candidate to beat.

They were right. [Read more →]

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Mark Steyn: Tolerance enforcers won’t tolerate dissent

March 4th, 2014

Here’s the correct link for the excellent Mark Steyn piece on the intolerance of the Left.

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ObamaCare chains more of U.S. to government dole

March 4th, 2014

What sets Americans apart from people in so many other countries is that we actually like working.  No, every job isn’t fun, but Americans understand the dignity that comes with work.  We achieve a sense of self-reliance by producing something worthwhile, creatively using our unique talents, and providing security and opportunity for ourselves and our families.

When the Congressional Budget Office reported that ObamaCare would push 2.3 million people out of the workforce, all but the most blindly partisan understood this to be bad news.

The ObamaCare spin machine then proceeded to tell us that bad news is good news, up is down, and less is more.

“Think of an economy where people could be an artist or a photographer or a writer without worrying about keeping their day job in order to have health insurance,” lectured Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat leader in Congress.

Well, Ms. Pelosi, why stop at health insurance?  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people didn’t have to work in order to eat, own a home, or drive a car?  Then we could all just go fishing.

Except that somebody has to pay for all of this.

Under ObamaCare that “somebody” is increasingly young people.  Already burdened by the costs of college loans, home mortgages and car payments, young people now see their health insurance premiums increasing (often by 60 to 250 percent) and their out-of-pocket costs soaring, too. [Read more →]

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Public grows skeptical about cost of ‘Affordable Care’

October 8th, 2013

Nobody likes the unknown, so it’s easy to understand why Americans are growing increasingly wary as the implementation of ObamaCare or, as it is formally known, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, draws near.

Although the law passed in 2010, many of the key components take affect within the next 15 months:

• Health insurance exchanges open on Oct. 1 and are supposed to help people compare competing plans and discover whether they qualify for a taxpayer-funded subsidy.

• Beginning in 2014, all Americans are required to be covered by health insurance which is approved by the federal government. (Many popular high deductible plans, which are less expensive, are not government-approved.)  Those who choose not to be covered will be required to pay a tax penalty to the IRS.  That penalty begins at $95 but grows to $695 or 2.5% of your income by 2016.

• Businesses with more than 50 fulltime employees are mandated to provide health insurance coverage to all employees who work 30 hours a week or more.  The law says that mandate begins in 2014, but President Obama issued an executive order stating that his administration would not enforce that provision until 2015.

Still, the public grows skeptical.  A USA Today/Gallup poll found that Americans disapprove of the health care law 53%-42%, with 41% describing themselves as “strongly opposed.”  Another poll found that 77% want the individual mandate delayed or repealed, including 49% who want the mandate killed outright. [Read more →]

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What ObamaCare means for rural Colorado

September 29th, 2013

Whether by design or coincidence, rural residents can expect to take it in the pocketbook as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka “ObamaCare”) takes effect over the next 15 months.

Insurance exchanges, for those wanting to buy insurance, open on October 1 of this year.  In 2014, everyone is required to buy “qualified” insurance coverage or pay a penalty to the IRS.

However, the new law’s impact on for people in rural areas isn’t the same as for those in urban areas.

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, rural residents are more likely to purchase their own coverage through the individual market or to be covered by employers with less than 50 employees.

Individuals under 35 are now experiencing premium increases of 40% and higher.  Others are finding that insurance plans they’ve used for years are being discontinued because politicians and bureaucrats have deemed them inadequate.

Rural residents are also more likely to be covered by PPO plans because HMOs are seldom offered in rural areas.  Under ObamaCare’s health insurance tax (or “HIT” tax), PPOs pay double the tax charged to HMOs and self-funded plans aren’t taxed at all. [Read more →]

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Freedom flickers in recall of senators

September 12th, 2013

After the stunning recall of two Democrat state senators who led the legislature’s lurch to the loony left, maybe there’s still hope for freedom in Colorado after all – but only if more Coloradans become fierce defenders of their freedoms.

The ouster of Senate President John Morse (D-Colorado Springs) and Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) was remarkable on many fronts. Never before has a sitting Colorado legislator been recalled. Even more impressive were overwhelming odds that recall proponents faced.

With very little outside help and ample skepticism from observers, two motivated groups of local citizens – Basic Freedom Defense Fund in Colorado Springs and Pueblo Freedom and Rights – worked their tails off on a shoestring budget to collect enough signatures to force two incumbents to justify why they should remain in office.

Those citizens later received substantial support from gun rights groups and others but were outspent 7-to-1 by backers of Morse and Giron. The incumbents’ machine unleashed a torrent of frivolous lawsuits to try to derail the election and raked in more than $3 million, including a personal check of $350,000 from gun-grabbing New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Dethroning the senate president is satisfying mostly due to Morse’s unbounded arrogance, but the Pueblo result was refreshing because it re-affirms that Democrats in some locales still value core freedoms – unlike the Denver-Boulder variety who so often behave as if the only freedoms worth fighting for involve sex and drugs. [Read more →]

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Hickenlooper: the governor that might have been

June 6th, 2013

John Hickenlooper had a chance to bring a breath of fresh air to the governor’s office.

Imminently likable and with a charmed political career, he could have been the rare maverick moderate Democrat – strong enough and bold enough to be a governor for all Colorado.  He could have been the adult in the room when liberal legislators ran amok on the lunatic fringe.

For two years, he largely fit the bill.  With a Republican majority in the state House offset by Democrats controlling the Senate, playing the centrist required little effort.

This year, however, he has been all too reminiscent of his feckless predecessor, signing virtually any bill on the wacky wish list of the loony Left. [Read more →]

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