Our View: Vote 'no' on amendments 48, 50

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Editorial Board, September 2008

  • Suzanne Schlicht, general manager
  • Brent Boyer, editor
  • Mike Lawrence, city editor
  • Tom Ross, reporter

Contact the editorial board at (970) 871-4221 or editor@steamboatpilot.com. Would you like to be a member of the board? Fill out a letter of interest now.

— Amendments 48 and 50 amount to political stunts undeserving of inclusion in our state constitution. Voters should reject both measures.

Amendment 48 would amend the Colorado constitution to define a person as "any human being from the moment of fertilization." The definition would apply to sections of the constitution that deal with inalienable rights, equality of justice and due process.

In actuality, the amendment and its supporters seek to ban abortions. But so long as the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision stands, a change to the state constitution would do little to outlaw abortions in Colorado. State voters who want to take a stand on Roe v. Wade stand to have a greater impact through how they vote for U.S. president, with candidates Barack Obama and John McCain having opposing views on abortion, the Roe v. Wade decision, and what kind of justices they would appoint to the Supreme Court.

While Amendment 48's impact on abortion law would be minimal and likely shot down by the courts, its narrow definition of a person could have a significant impact on issues including birth control methods, medical procedures and stem-cell research, among others. The "personhood" amendment also could have far-reaching impacts on other state laws that include the term "person."

Whether pro-life or pro-choice, voters would be wise to reject Amendment 48 and its misguided attempt to define a person.

In the same vein, Amendment 50 is a misguided attempt to raise the betting limits in Colorado casinos.

The measure would allow the gambling towns of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple Creek to raise single bet limits from $5 to $100, as well as extend casino operating hours and approve additional games.

The amendment could generate $300 million in additional revenue in its first five years, and more than 75 percent of that money would be funneled to the state's community colleges.

We agree the state's community colleges need money - as do many state programs. But providing additional funds through increased gambling is the wrong approach.

In a time of economic uncertainty, the last thing state voters should support is a measure that encourages residents to gamble away their income. Gambling all too often destroys families and lives, and it has an overall negative effect on society.

Not surprisingly, some of the biggest supporters of Amendment 50 (outside of community colleges) are the casinos themselves. They stand to make a lot of money if bet limits are raised, and they're using community college funding as a guise to gain voter support.

We shouldn't be so easily fooled. If Colorado citizens want additional funding for their community colleges, then we should demand that our lawmakers make it a priority. But raising bet limits and adding casino games isn't a responsible way of supporting higher education. Rather, we fear it will hurt those who can least afford to take a hit in their pocketbooks.

Vote "no" on Amendment 50.

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