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Ballot blur

Voters could face a lot of choices in November



You'd have to agree that Colorado voters will get a chance to shape their government this November. They actually could vote on as many as 19 ballot measures, ranging from gambling to gas drilling.

Some measures directly compete with each other. Amendment 46, the so-called Colorado Civil Rights Initiative, would effectively dismantle the state's affirmative action programs by banning discrimination and "preferential treatment." Opponents are hopeful that their Initiative 82, for which they turned in more than 115,000 signatures by Monday's deadline, will also be on the ballot. That initiative reads like a carbon copy of Amendment 46, except for language added to more narrowly define preferential treatment as "adopting quotas or awarding points solely on the basis of race, sex, color ethnicity or national origin."

Many of the 19 measures, including Initiative 82, await the Colorado secretary of state's declaration that backers collected enough valid signatures from Colorado voters to meet the threshold of slightly more than 76,000.

"Even for people who are into politics, a lot of [the initiatives] are pretty complicated," says Barb Van Hoy, executive director of Citizens Project, a Colorado Springs-based group that supports diversity and the separation of church and state. "Just by reading the language, you can't tell what [each] does. You need a lawyer to interpret it."

The names of groups supporting the measures are confusing. Amendment 46 proponents call their measure the Colorado Civil Rights Initiative, which opponents say is misleading. Coloradans for Equal Opportunity, the group backing Initiative 82, argues that Amendment 46 would end programs popular with residents that support, for instance, pay equity for women.

One measure worth noting, in light of all of the above: Referendum O, which would make it harder to continue amending the state's constitution, would actually make it easier to get some initiatives on the ballot.

The 19 measures voters could see in November, as compiled by the Pueblo Chieftain, starting with those already approved for the ballot:

Referendum L: Increases the age requirement for serving in General Assembly from 18 to 21.

Referendum M: Eliminates obsolete constitutional provisions regarding land value increase.

Referendum N: Eliminates obsolete constitutional provisions regarding intoxicating liquors.

Referendum O: Makes it harder to change the Colorado constitution, but easier to get a citizen's initiative on the ballot.

Amendment 46: Prohibits discrimination and preferential treatment by Colorado governments, also known as the anti-affirmative action measure.

Amendment 47: Bars a requirement to be in a union as a condition of employment.

Amendment 48: Defines a person as beginning at the moment of conception.

Amendment 49: Bars state and local governments from deducting union dues and administrative fees from workers' paychecks.

Signatures are still being counted for these:

Initiative 59: Bars campaign contributions from certain government contractors.

Initiative 74: Imposes criminal accountability on company executives.

Initiative 76: Requires employers to explain their reasons for firing an employee.

Initiative 82: Bans affirmative action quotas as an alternative measure to Amendment 46.

Initiative 92: Requires all employers to provide health coverage for their workers.

Initiative 93: Mandates employers to provide a safe working environment for their workers.

Initiative 113: Eliminates special tax break on severance taxes for oil and gas companies.

Initiative 120: Splits the revenues the state earns in severance taxes between transportation projects and local governments.

Initiative 121: Increases from $5 to $100 the maximum bet allowed in the state's three casino towns, using increased tax revenues to benefit community colleges in the state.

Initiative 126: Dedicates money to public education from future surpluses from the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.

Initiative 128: Raises the state sales tax to pay for programs for developmentally disabled.

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