With the general election less than a week away, we offer the following summary of the Pilot & Today's positions on state and local issues:
n Amendment 34 is a proposed amendment to the state's constitution that effectively would repeal House Bill 1161, which placed limits on construction defect lawsuits. We do not support House Bill 1161. But the way to remedy that legislation is through the Legislature. This niche issue has no place in the Colorado Constitution, and we urge residents to vote no on Amendment 34.
n Amendment 35 would increase Colorado's tax on a pack of cigarettes 320 percent, from 20 cents to 84 cents. It also would double the tax on other tobacco products from 20 percent to 40 percent of the purchase price. The new taxes would raise an additional $175 million per year, which the amendment designates for specific purposes. We agree with advocates of the amendment -- Colorado should not be last in tobacco taxes. But the constitution is not the place for a narrowly defined, spending-specific tobacco tax. For that reason, residents should vote no on Amendment 35.
n Under Amendment 36, Colorado would change the way it awards electoral votes. Currently, whomever wins the state earns all nine electoral votes, which is the practice in 47 other states. The amendment would award electoral votes proportionately by popular vote. We are intrigued by Electoral College reform, but we think it should happen on a national scale. Without other states making a similar change, this amendment would marginalize Colorado's role in presidential elections. Vote no on Amendment 36.
n Amendment 37. This amendment would require the state's utilities to get 3 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources -- wind, solar or biomass technologies -- by 2007, 6 percent by 2010 and 10 percent by 2015. Power companies oppose the measure, saying it is not economical. But because this amendment is statutory, not constitutional, the Legislature has the opportunity to revise the amendment in the future if problems arise. Amendment 37 sets a reasonable standard for using renewable energy and includes important safeguards to protect utility companies and consumers. Vote yes on Amendment 37.
n Referendum A involves a reform of the state's civil service system. The measure is complex; however, it was developed by a committee that gathered input from civil service workers across the state. It was approved by the state House and Senate. The measure has the potential to make state government more efficient and less bureaucratic. Vote yes on Referendum A.
n Referendum B is largely a housecleaning measure for the state's constitution that removes outdated provisions. It should be approved.
n Referendum 2B is a city of Steamboat Springs initiative that would change the city's charter regarding election dates to coincide with the state's constitution. It should be approved.
n Ballot Issue 2A would create a local marketing district inside the city limits. Within the district, a 2 percent tax on lodging would be imposed, raising about $1.2 million per year for airline flight guarantees. Such guarantees ensure more tourists come to Steamboat and offer local residents more options and better fares for flying in and out of our regional airport. This is a plan that benefits us all. Vote yes on Ballot Issue 2A.