Small business owner Janelle Sullivan believes Colorado’s minimum wage should be raised but says a proposed increase on this year’s ballot goes too far.
“It’s too much, too fast,” said Sullivan, who has owned Hot Pots Studio on Main …
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Small business owner Janelle Sullivan believes Colorado’s minimum wage should be raised but says a proposed increase on this year’s ballot goes too far.“It’s too much, too fast,” said Sullivan, who has owned Hot Pots Studio on Main Street in Littleton since 2003.But Patty Kupfer, campaign manager at Colorado Families for a Fair Wage, said her group worked with small businesses before settling on the phased-in $12-per-hour goal, believing it will have minimal impact on employment levels and prices of goods and services.“There were tough conversations around that,” she said, acknowledging that many activists wanted to push for a $15 wage floor.Amendment 70, one of nine statewide ballot questions, would incrementally raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour by January 2020, with continuing increases to adjust for cost of living.It would initially raise it from the current $8.31 per hour to $9.30 on Jan. 1, with 90-cent increases on Jan. 1 of 2018, 2019 and 2020. The wage would continue to be adjusted annually based on the consumer price index for the state. The minimum wage for tipped workers is $3.02 below the minimum wage. That would stay the same, meaning the minimum wage for tipped workers would rise to $8.98 in 2020.The current minimum wage of $8.31 amounts to about $17,000 per year for full-time workers. It has risen from $6.85 since 2006 to account for increases in the Consumer Price Index.The wage hike has drawn opposition from chamber of commerce groups and restaurant and hotel organizations, as well as some small businesses.Sullivan employs three to five part-time workers at any given time who are paid between $10 and $13 per hour. Although some of her employees make above what the proposed minimum wage would be, there would be a secondary effect, she believes, leading to her higher-paid employees wanting to be paid more as well. She often employs students on a temporary basis and said she may not be able to hire as many workers if the wage rises.Economist Eric Fruits, in an analysis prepared for free-enterprise think tank Common Sense Policy Roundtable, wrote that the increase would decrease employment by 2 percent by 2020. However, an analysis by two University of Denver faculty members, economist Jack Strauss and graduate school of social work professor Jennifer Greenfield, disputes this, citing a 2015 paper that found a minimal effect on employment rates from rising minimum wages over 15 years.Here’s a look at the eight additional questions that made the ballot:Amendment 69: ColoradoCareAmendment 69 would establish a statewide single-payer health care system called ColoradoCare. The system would be funded by new income taxes of 3.33 percent on employees and 6.67 percent on employers.It would be governed by a 21-member elected board of trustees. The election procedure will be determined by an interim 15-member board appointed by state legislative leadership and the governor.Parker activist Richard Turnquist was one of the early opponents of Amendment 69, registering the Committee to Stop Colorado Care in November 2015.“It represents a massive increase in government and in our state income tax burden,” he said.Turnquist is also skeptical of the quality of single-payer health care.The Colorado Medical Society board of directors also voted to oppose ColoradoCare, citing “complexity (and) uncertainty.”The measure has also split the left, with NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado coming out against it in June, citing concerns the state constitution ban on public funding for abortion would limit access to it.Morgan Carroll, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Mike Coffman in the 6th Congressional District, also declined to support ColoradoCare, saying rising health care costs must be solved at the national level.Democratic House District 38 hopeful Robert Bowen is one of a handful of candidates in the state actively supporting Amendment 69.“I think it’s something we ought to be doing, and it’s in the party platform,” he said.Bowen said he believes the system would actually decrease health costs for businesses but he said the health insurance industry wields a lot of power in the state.Proposition 106: Aid in dyingProposition 106 would allow a terminally-ill person with a prognosis of six months or less to live to self-administer aid-in-dying medication.The proposition would create the Colorado End-of-Life Options Act. In order to obtain the medication, the patient’s terminal prognosis must have been confirmed by his or her primary physician as well as a consulting physician, and the patient must be determined to be mentally capable, voluntarily express a wish to receive the medication and be a Colorado resident 18 or older.The measure also makes it a felony to tamper with a request for aid-in-dying medication or knowingly coerce a terminally-ill person to request it, and also prohibits insurers from issuing policies with conditions about whether people can request the medication.Littleton clinical social worker Libby Bortz, who used to teach biomedical ethics, said she strongly favors the act, an opinion formed by her experience working with terminally ill people.“We are able to help our pets when they’re suffering,” she said. “Why we can’t help a human being is beyond me.”The Centennial Institute at Colorado Christian University has opposed the measure, saying it doesn’t have necessary safeguards.“It opens the door for insurance companies and government to be invloved in everybody’s end-of-life decisions,” Director Jeff Hunt said.Hunt said he and the Centennial Institute also oppose assisted suicide on philosphical grounds.If Proposition 106 passes, Colorado would join Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana and California as states that allow terminally-ill people to end their lives. Only Oregon and Washington passed those laws by ballot initiative.Proposition 107: Presidential Primary ElectionProposition 107 would re-establish the state’s presidential primary elections. Colorado held presidential primaries in 1992, 1996 and 2000, but has used the caucus system since. Both Republican and Democratic voters criticized the caucus this year as being chaotic, and many Republican voters were upset that the party did not conduct a straw poll to determine the preferred presidential candidate.Proposition 107 would also allow participation by unaffiliated voters.Proposition 108: Unaffiliated voter participation in primary electionsProposition 108 would open Colorado’s primary elections to unaffiliated voters. Under current law, a voter must be affiliated with a political party to vote in that party’s primary.Amendment T: No exception to involuntary serviceAmendment T would amend the state Constitution, removing an exception allowing the use of involuntary servitude as a punishment for crime. This could be interpreted to prohibit work requirements in the criminal justice system.Amendment U: Exempt possessory interests from property taxAmendment U would eliminate property tax for businesses and individuals who derive a benefit of $6,000 or less from the use of government-owned real property and adjust the exemption amount every two years to keep up with inflation. Currently, the state does not tax government-owned property but does impose property tax on those who rent, lease or have other rights to use a government property, such as cattle-grazing rights.Amendment 71: Raise the bar for constitutional amendmentsAmendment 71 would create new requirements for placing a constitutional initiative on the ballot.Currently, to get a citizen initiative, backers must collect enough signatures to equal 5 percent of the votes cast in the most recent election for Secretary of State in a six-month period. In 2016, the requirement was 98,492 signatures. Amendment 71 would require that some of the signatures be collected in each of the state’s 35 Senate districts, in the amount of 2 percent of the registered voters in that district.It would also require a 55 percent super-majority of votes to adopt a change to the Constitution, rather than the current simple majority.Amendment 72: Increase in tobacco taxAmendment 72 would raise the state tax on cigarettes from 84 cents to $2.59 and increase the tax on other tobacco products from 40 percent of the retail price to 62 percent.The revenue would be distributed to various health programs that are already funded by tobacco taxes, as well as research grants studying tobacco-related health issues, tobacco-use prevention programs and others.
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