Ask Eartha: Explaining tough choices on Summit County ballots | SummitDaily.com

Ask Eartha: Explaining tough choices on Summit County ballots

Eartha Steward
Special to the Daily

Dear Eartha,

I always participate in the presidential elections but am ashamed to admit I shy away from voting on amendments and propositions. These issues intimidate me. How can I make an informed decision and best serve my community and conservation efforts?

— Pam, Blue River

Remember the very first time you cast a vote? For most of us it was a student council election. This may not be a year to choose our country's next president, but this year's ballot measures will directly influence the voices of others and their ability to express their opinions. I recommend learning the facts and understand what is being asked on the ballot.

Amendment 67

Advocacy groups, A Voice for Brady, Colorado Right to Life and Personhood Colorado say they want to protect mothers from criminal offenses. In 2012 an eight-months pregnant Heather Surovik was injured when her car was hit by a drunken driver. Heather's unborn son, Brady, was killed in the incident, but the driver could not be prosecuted for murder since the unborn baby was not yet, in the eyes of the law, considered a person.

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According to the opponents of the amendment, this would ultimately ban abortions, including in cases of rape and incest. It could also limit access to emergency contraception and forms of birth control. The No On Personhood – Vote No 67 Campaign Committee believe difficult decisions regarding family planning should be made by women, their doctors, their families and in accordance with her own faith and values. It's a difficult decision, to say the least. Amendment 67 could give a voice to unborn children, but opponents fear it may take away a woman's freedom to decide what is in her best interest.

Amendment 68

Coloradans for Better Schools Inc. advocates in support of the amendment. By allowing the Arapahoe Park horse racetrack to expand into gaming, over $100 million would be generated in the first year and placed directly into the K-12 Education Fund. The fund would be distributed by the State Treasurer on a per-pupil basis to every school district and to state charter schools. The funding must go toward education-improvement programs. Limited gaming could also create a new revenue stream to boost local economies and create jobs.

The Arapahoe Park horse racetrack is currently the only one that would be able to expand to limited gaming, based on the state defined qualifications. The amendment would eventually permit Mesa and Pueblo counties to open one limited-gaming horse racetrack each.

Don't Turn Racetracks Into Casinos is the committee opposing Amendment 68. The No on 68 Campaign believes the amendment would ignore the current constitutional requirement that protects the ability of local communities to hold a public vote before a casino is forced on them by a statewide ballot measure. Another concern is that casinos on the Front Range will pull money from existing mountain casinos. They also feel the amendment is too vague and its proceeds will not benefit the school children of Colorado.

It is also worth noting that Mile High USA Inc., the primary contributor to the Coloradans for Better Schools campaign, is a subsidiary of Rhode Island's Twin River Casino and the owner of Arapahoe Park. Don't Turn Racetracks Into Casinos finds it is hard to believe casino owners are truly concerned with the state and funding education programs. However, its campaign has largely been financed by casino companies in Black Hawk and Cripple Creek.

Proposition 104

Proposition 104 would allow taxpayers to observe negotiations between school boards and teachers unions. The Sunshine on Government committee endorses this initiative because these are the meetings in which 85 percent of the school districts' spending is determined.

Educators, superintendents and other education advocates comprise the Local Schools, Local Choices committee opposing Proposition 104. For them the bill is a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn't reflect the different needs of each unique school district. Several school districts have already chosen to open certain meetings to the public; among them is Colorado Springs District 11. President Kevin Vick, of the Colorado Springs Education Association, said negotiations were opened to the public a few years ago and haven't gone well since.

Proposition 105

Last week's Ask Eartha article was dedicated to covering the details and debate surrounding Proposition 105. Check it out on the Summit Daily's website.

Bear in mind, this election will decide Colorado's next senator, state representatives, governor, treasurer, attorney general and a regent of the University of Colorado. County officials also will be up for election. I urge readers to consider the candidates' stances on land use, water supply, air quality and public lands.

Submit questions to eartha@highcountryconservation.org.