Elections

Unpacking the ballot initiatives

Lakewood legislators start off 2016-17 season

Posted 10/4/16

The first Lakewood legislative group town hall of the 2016-17 session provided attendees an insight into questions they’ll see on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot.

Sens. Cheri Jahn (D-22) and Andy Kerr (D-20) and Reps. Brittany Pettersen (D-28) and Max Tyler (D-23) were all on hand to participate in a discussion on the Jefferson County School bond and mill override (3A and 3B), open primary elections, constitutional amendments and medical aid in dying.

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Elections

Unpacking the ballot initiatives

Lakewood legislators start off 2016-17 season

Posted

The first Lakewood legislative group town hall of the 2016-17 session provided attendees an insight into questions they’ll see on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot.

Sens. Cheri Jahn (D-22) and Andy Kerr (D-20) and Reps. Brittany Pettersen (D-28) and Max Tyler (D-23) were all on hand to participate in a discussion on the Jefferson County School bond and mill override (3A and 3B), open primary elections, constitutional amendments and medical aid in dying.

Some of the measures didn’t have for and against representatives present. But here are two initiatives that did, and what the debate was like:

1. Proposition 106 — A statutory measure that would give mentally competent, terminally ill people with six months or less to live a right to access Medical Aid-in-Dying medication. A patient must ask for the medication three times and two physicians must sign off before it can be prescribed. The medication must be self-administered.

In favor — Rep. Lois Court (D-6) said a vote of the people seemed like the right move after a similar bill failed to make it through the legislature in 2015 and 2016.

“I’ve seen polling saying 60 to 65 percent of Colorado wants this in place,” she said. “It is all about psychological and physical comfort at the end of life.”

Opposed — Peggy O’Keefe spoke on behalf of the No on 106 organization. She said the propositionmultiple flaws, including the fact it does not require a physician to be present at the time of medicine administration and doesn’t require either of the physicians who approve of the prescription to be experts in the disease the patient has.

“We, as voters, don’t often get to vote on an initiative that is life or death,” she said. “Thirty states have seen similar initiatives and have rejected them.”

2. Amendment 71
— Makes it more difficult to amend Colorado’s constitution. Amendments would need to collect signatures from 2 percent of registered voters in each of the state’s 35 Senate districts, and amendments would require 55 percent of the popular vote. Existing amendments could be repealed in whole or part with a 50 percent majority, but the 2 percent signature requirement would still apply.

In favor — Pat Steadman (D 31) said it’s too easy to make a change to the state’s governing document. He said the fact that most amendment initiatives focus on getting the proper number of signatures only along the Front Range leaves the rest of the state out of the conversation.

“I wish we treated the document with more respect,” he said. “I think people need to set their own agendas aside and ask themselves what should be the best policy to change the government for everyone.”

Opposed — Becky Long, advocacy director of Conservation Colorado, said a wide swath of policy groups across the spectrum and state are opposed to the idea. She said one of the problems is that a single district could hold up an amendment, even if every other district was in favor of a measure.

“Philosophically, this is an idea we really share, but digging into the initiative, there are problems,” she said. “This measure makes amending the Constitution prohibitively harder.”

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