The following are the Steamboat Pilot & Today's stances on proposed state Amendments 40 through 42:
No on Amendment 40
Amendment 40 would limit Colorado Supreme Court justices and Court of Appeal judges to no more than 10 years on the bench. It also would require judges to stand for retention more frequently. Finally, it would be applied retroactively, forcing as many as a dozen judges off the bench.
At best, Amendment 40 is unnecessary. At worst, it's political retribution by former state Senate President John Andrews, the author of the amendment and the author of a 2003 redistricting plan that was tossed by the state Supreme Court. It seems a little too coincidental that Amendment 40 would force five of seven judges who shot down Andrews' redistricting plan off the bench.
Our current system contains checks on judicial power - all judges must go through a review process and stand for retention after two years and again at 10 years. The voters have the opportunity to remove a judge whose decisions stand contrary to legal or community standards. Also, the state's judges are forced into retirement at age 72.
There is perhaps no other profession in which experience is as important as it is in the judiciary. Why would we want to cap that experience? Why would we want to take a good judge off the bench after just 10 years? Vote no on Amendment 40.
No on Amendment 41
This amendment sounds good on the surface - it would put in place strict ethics requirements for state lawmakers and require the creation of an outside ethics commission.
However, it would duplicate existing state law and put in place bans on gift-giving and lobbying that are nearly impossible to comply with. For example, the new law would ban not only gifts to state lawmakers but gifts of more than $50 to government employees, "except from a relative or personal friend on a special occasion." What defines special occasion? Does that mean that Mom can only give her son, the state government worker, a $100 watch on his birthday or Christmas?
Perhaps some of these rules could have passed muster as a referendum that lawmakers could adjust over time to accommodate unanticipated consequences and changes. But as written, this amendment simply attempts to do too much and has no business in our state Constitution. Vote no on Amendment 41.
No on Amendment 42
Amendment 42 would raise the Colorado minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $6.85 an hour and increase the minimum wage for workers who regularly receive tips from $2.13 to $3.83 an hour. It also would require the wage to be adjusted annually for inflation. The minimum wage has not been increased since 1997, and we can sympathize with the plight of the minimum-wage earner. But fewer than 5 percent of Colorado workers fall into this category, and we suspect that few stay there for long.
Amendment 42 would be particularly hard on service-sector resort economies like Steamboat's. The nearly 100 restaurants in Steamboat Springs would be hard pressed to absorb an 80-percent increase in wages for their primary employees - those who earn tips. We fear the net result would not be an increased standard of living for restaurant workers, but fewer job opportunities for them and higher food prices for customers.
Also, the state Constitution should not dictate the minimum wage. If the economy shifts, this amendment could have a negative impact on the economy, but it would be time-consuming and difficult to change the amendment to fit changes in the economy. Vote no Amendment 42.