Chamber board revises stance | SteamboatToday.com

Chamber board revises stance

Group now opposed to a 'right to work' amendment

Blythe Terrell

— Steamboat Springs Chamber Resort Association board members have reversed their position on proposed Amendment 47 and continue to support Referendum O.

The board initially supported 47, known as the “right to work” measure. That position resulted from four proposed amendments introduced by labor groups, said Sandy Evans Hall, Chamber executive vice president. The labor groups later agreed to remove the measures, Amendments 53, 55, 56 and 57, from the ballot.

“Really, the only reason they had voted to support 47 was because they were opposing those other initiatives,” Evans Hall said. “Without the other initiatives, they felt the Labor Peace Act that was done was adequate.”

The board voted Thursday on its positions, she said. The Chamber group already was pushing Referendum O, which would make it more difficult to amend the Colorado Constitution.

Chris Diamond, president of Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. and a Chamber board member, said he was unable to attend last week’s meeting. But he sees the referendum as one of the most important measures on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Diamond was on the University of Denver’s Strategic Issues Panel for 2007. The group addressed the future of the state constitution and issued a report.

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“Many of the recommendations that we came up with wound up eventually being incorporated in Ref. O,” Diamond said.

Outside interest groups easily can put a proposed amendment on the ballot, he said, suggesting that those groups sometimes pay for petition signatures.

“It’s one of the cheapest states to go buy a spot on the ballot,” Diamond said, adding that the state often doesn’t have enough time to review the language and title of proposals to make sure they’re fairly worded.

The referendum would require petitioners to submit their initiatives earlier. It also would require petitioners to get 8 percent of their signatures from each congressional district. That amounts to 7,480 signatures from each of the seven districts.

Board member Steve Hitchcock, who owns Soda Creek Pizza, said he disagrees with the board on Amendment 47 but supports Referendum O.

“We end up with a document that’s supposed to be pretty high-level guidance for the state : with a bunch of proportionally speaking small issues,” Hitchcock said.

Another result of state rules is that conflicting amendments sometimes pass, Diamond said.

“A train wreck is coming with this,” he said.

– To reach Blythe Terrell, call 871-4234 or e-mail bterrell@steamboatpilot.com

Addressing measures

Referendum O would amend the state constitution to:

– cut the number of signatures required to put a statutory initiative on the ballot and increase the number required for constitutional initiative;

– require that 8 percent of signatures for constitutional initiatives be gathered from each congressional district;

– require that drafts of proposed constitutional initiatives be submitted for review earlier in the year;

– extend the time period for collecting signatures for statutory initiatives;

– increase the number of votes required for the Legislature to change a statutory initiative for five years after the statute takes effect; and

– allow the public and state legislators to comment on proposed initiatives at a public meeting.

Amendment 47 would amend the state constitution to prohibit requiring an employee to join and pay any dues or fees to a labor union as a condition of employment.

Source: State Ballot Information Booklet from the Legislative Council of the Colorado General Assembly