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Where we stand on the ballot initiatives



Amendment 20 -- Medical marijuana


Ten other states have already enacted similar common sense, compassionate laws. This proposal would enable doctors to provide individuals who are diagnosed with certain serious or chronic illnesses with access to marijuana, which has been shown to relieve the pain, nausea, vomiting and/or lack of appetite often associated with chemotherapy, AIDS/HIV or glaucoma.

Amendment 21 -- The caveman tax slash proposal


Amendment 21 would mandate massive tax cuts, which might sound nice until your local library branch closes its doors. Or until your local fire district begins charging for house calls, your local school district suspends extracurricular activities, or you have to wait a half-hour for a 911 emergency response.

Amendment 21 will quickly slash the revenue available to provide each of these services.

The amendment's proponent, Douglas Bruce, who stands to personally gain hundreds of thousands in property taxes if voters approve his measure, claims that the state Legislature will bail out local tax districts that are hard hit. But the idea that the state can and will bail out local districts is highly suspect.

Just ask any legislator who already has to choose between prison and school funding each year, only to realize there's not enough for the needs of either.

Amendment 21 is the caveman approach to tax reform. We say "Ugh," vote No.

Amendment 22 -- Closing the gun show loophole


Currently background checks are only required when a gun is purchased from a licensed firearms dealer.

Today in Colorado, underage youth, mentally impaired individuals and convicted criminals are able to easily obtain lethal weapons at unregulated gun shows. For example, the guns used by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in the Columbine massacre were initially obtained from unlicensed private sellers. This measure is a simple, minimally-invasive step which will not only help keep guns out of irresponsible hands, but will also help law enforcement authorities obtain convictions whenever guns are used illegally. We concur with the Colorado Association of Police Chiefs, Colorado Parent-Teacher Association, the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado and numerous others that Amendment 22 is a needed measure to help reduce gun violence.

Amendment 23 -- Funding public schools


Colorado's funding of public education hasn't kept pace with inflation for 10 of the past 13 years. We currently spend $500 less per pupil (in inflation-adjusted dollars) than we did during the 1980s. In 1982, Colorado ranked 13th nationally in per pupil funding. Today we rank between 37th and 49th, depending on the formula used.

Amendment 23 would reverse this downward spiral by requiring state funding of public education to increase at a rate of one percent more than the rate of inflation for the next 10 years. Thereafter, funding would have to keep pace with inflation.

The measure would also channel one-third of one percent of the state's annual income-tax revenues into a State Education Fund that would help pay for six state-mandated programs, including special education, English as a Second Language, vocational education, health education, gifted and talented programs, and programs for at-risk students. Public education is being asked to educate every student at standards higher than ever before at a time when enrollments are exploding, class sizes are ballooning and school buildings are aging.

Our schools and our students deserve this support.

Amendment 24 -- Controlling sprawl


Despite the record breaking $5.1 million (and counting!) scare campaign funded by developer interests, Amendment 24 is in fact a modest measure designed to help direct and channel growth, not to stop it.

Its main requirements are twofold. First, that local governments provide its citizens with basic information about the costs and benefits of new development projects. (Counties with less than 25,000 population and cities of less than 10,000 can exempt themselves.) Second, that voter approval would be required before an area not currently designated as a growth area is developed.

Amendment 24 would for the first time give regular citizens input into where future development should take place. Since all sides agree that more than most of the land within the City of Colorado Springs is in zones already approved for growth, the impact on our city would be relatively minor. If a developer wants to build in an area not currently approved for growth, they would need to win community support for their proposal. If they can make such a case, than the citizens will support it. If not, we won't.

In Colorado Springs, development issues are largely decided by our elected city counselors, every one of whom are beholden to development interests, which contributed more to their past election campaigns than all other groups combined. In El Paso County, the Board of Commissioners decide on growth issues. They too benefit greatly from developers' special-interest campaign cash. Our state legislators are also beholden to these same interests and have refused to enact needed growth and planning measures, despite the fact that two-thirds of Colorado citizens strongly support such measures. Stop the unchecked sprawl, which -- as has been proven in other cities that grew too fast, like Houston -- will only increase congestion and pollution and decrease our quality of life. Support this move, which will result in a more comprehensive, deliberate process for Colorado.

Amendment 25 -- Women's Health Care


Amendment 25 would introduce an unprecedented level of government interference into a very private and personal decision by requiring a 24-hour waiting period before women are allowed to obtain abortions, ostensibly so they could receive information about the procedure they have decided to undergo.

But the fact is that medical professionals, as they do with all surgical procedures, already provide resources on all options.

The unhidden agenda of Amendment 25 supporters is to further harass doctors who are willing to perform abortion and make the process even more emotionally and financially draining for women who have decided to end an unwanted pregnancy.

If the measure passes, doctors would be required to give the government detailed information about the abortions that they have performed. In addition, the measure would place doctors at risk of criminal prosecution and civil lawsuits for any alleged violations of the various procedures mandated by this proposal.

By effectively delaying a woman's decision to have an abortion, Amendment 25 could also lead to an increase in the number of second trimester abortions. Data from Mississippi, where a similar measure is in effect, indicates that the number of second trimester abortions there have increased by 53 percent.

Finally, by presuming that women faced with an unexpected pregnancy do not already think long and hard about their options before approaching a clinic, Amendment 25 is patronizing.

For these reasons, we join the Colorado Medical Society, Colorado Public Health Association, the League of Women Voters, the Colorado Nurses Association, among others, in opposing Amendment 25.

Colorado Springs 3B --

Colorado Springs District 11 mill levy increase


Last year, the Independent opposed District 11's request for a mill levy increase because far too much of the money would have gone to ill-defined computer and technology programs. We also could not support the bogus promise to refund money to taxpayers if test scores didn't improve by 15 percent, which would have just intensified efforts to teach the limited nature of what a standardized multiple test can measure.

In the year since, D-11 has gone through a traumatic year of massive budget shortfalls, administrative cuts and a change in superintendents. An independent audit paid for by the local business community affirmed that D-11 is in a state of financial crisis, and that the district "absolutely must win the mill levy election this November if it hopes to continue providing a first-class education."

Fortunately, this year we can support the D-11 request because the funds will go to very real needs, including smaller class sizes, increased teacher pay, teacher training, expanded student assessment and better instructional materials.

If 3B doesn't pass, D-11 will face a budget shortfall of $8 to $12 million that will necessitate debilitating cuts in teachers and school programs, along with a projected 8 to 12 school closures.

Failure to pass the mill levy request this time around would be catastrophic for D-11 students.

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