Important topics drawing attention

Statewide topics drawing attention
Topics List
Topics List

An alphabetical listing of Colorado issues.

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> AMENDMENT 23—Is it constitutional? Funding for K-12 education deteriorated after TABOR passed, and Colorado voters responded by passing Amendment 23, which guarantees minimum levels of funding for education. Under Amendment 23, per-pupil funding is required to keep pace with the rate of inflation. Additionally, between 2002 and 2011 an extra one percent is added each year in order to restore cuts

> ANNEXATIONS BY MUNICIPALITIES—Cities swallowing up uncooperative unincorporated areas creates tensions and clashes of interest, as reflected by the Poundstone Amendment and the Greenwood Village/Centennial sagas.

> BANKS IN DANGER OF FAILING—Many Colorado banks, congruent with the national and global financial climate, are financially weak and vulnerable to failure. Weiss, a leading bank rating service, lists 52 Colorado banks with a "D" grade, and eight banks with an "E" grade. (Five Colorado banks have failed in 2011 as of July 22.) (1)     (2) (3)

> ELECTRONIC WASTE UNREGULATED IN COLORADO—Toxic electronic components are improperly ("dangerously and illegally") disposed of and recycled. A 2011 legislative measure to regulate electronic recycling was postponed indefinitely. (1) (2)

> BEER SALES—Should full-strength beer sales be allowed in grocery and convenience stores? Would such a law push out the success craft beers have had in a liquor store-only friendly market? A bill allowing such sales died in the Colorado legislature amidst outcries of a liquor store monopoly.

> CHILD POVERTY SKYROCKETING--Colorado has the fastest-growing child-poverty rate in the nation (2010). (1)

> CHILDHOOD OBESITY in Colorado has increased the second-fastest in the nation, Effects include higher rates of diabetes, heart disease, a shortened lifespan, with an increased burden on the state's healthcare resources and the economy. What are the causes and what can be done to combat it? (1)

> CIVIC ENGAGEMENT, VOTER ENGAGEMENT—What are the impediments and barriers holding back citizen engagement in local and national issues, and how can they be addressed? Grassroots organizations such as The Colorado Civic Engagement Roundtable, FRESC  and those in the links section of this site are devoted to optimizing citizen education and involvement.

> “CLIFF EFFECT” SOLUTIONS—Low-wage workers and their families are penalized for increased earnings, defeating attempts to lift them out of economic hardship. What Colorado policies can be changed to help individuals and families get ahead? (1)

> COLORADO MINORITIES EDUCATION ACHIEVEMENT GAPS—According to the State Accountability Report, the academic achievement gap among minorities in Colorado is unsatisfactory. (1)

> CONCEALED WEAPONS BAN—Does the university campus fall under the umbrella of Colorado’s Concealed Carry Act of 2003, which prohibits local governments from establishing gun bans? Does a ban on concealed weapons on a university campus make sense in terms of preventing mass shootings such as at Virginia Tech? (1) (2)

> CONSOLIDATED CITY/COUNTY GOVERNMENTS—Are Broomfield and Denver better or worse off as consolidated cities/counties? Aurora has considered such a type of government—is such a change be advantageous?

> THE CONSTITUTION & THE INITIATIVE PROCESS—Should the initiative process be changed so that amending the state Constitution is made more difficult? A change to the process would require more than a simple majority to approve any future amendments. The 2011 state legislature is considering whether the proposal should be placed on the 2012 ballot.

> CONSTITUTIONALITY OF FINANCIAL AID TO CHARTER SCHOOLS & STUDENTS ATTENDING PRIVATE SCHOOLS—Helping provide access to pervasively sectarian, religious schools and colleges with public funds in the form of student vouchers and financial aid and funding and tax credits to non-locally controlled schools has been hotly challenged in the Colorado courts (1) (2), involving both the federal and state constitutions.

> CONSTITUTIONALITY & ANTI-IMMIGRATION LAWS—Can one argue that an "Arizona-style” anti-immigration law is unconstitutional? An Arizona-style anti-immigrant bill was withdrawn from the Colorado legislature in 2011 because of fears of costs of defending against legal attacks against the bill’s constitutionality

> DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES FAST TRACK PROSECUTION—A desirable legal procedure or a violation of constitutional rights and integrity of the justice system, an unfair treatment of poor defendants, women defendants, and a suppression of alternative sentencing?

> DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAWS—Are domestic violence laws interpreted too broadly by authorities in Colorado? Should law enforcement officers have more discretion in domestic violence arrests? Is the defense of domestic violence cases muddled by serious misinformation in Colorado? Are many Colorado domestic violence arrests frivolous on their face?

> DRIVER FATIGUE LAWOnly a handful of states have laws that make it illegal to drive while fatigued. Colorado is not one of them. Driver fatigue is one of the top causes of accidents--the leading cause for truck accidents.

> EX-OFFENDERS' RE-INTEGRATION—Colorado ranks among the worst states in removing barriers for ex-offenders to re-integrate themselves into society, according to a study. Should criminal records be kept a secret?

> FISCAL POLICY—Is Colorado hampered by inconsistent and contradictory fiscal mandates? Should constitutional fiscal limitations be removed?

> GANGS—A significant problem in Colorado communities? What can be done about it?

>> GRADUATED DRIVER LICENSING FOR TEENS--Teens in Colorado have restricted driving privileges based, in great part, on their "lack of experience." Are these restrictions fair to most teens, in view of studies that show a large number of accidents are caused by teens with identifiable mental disorders, such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)?

> GROWTH—The state's population growth is perennially in the top ten in the nation, creating urban sprawl, impacting agriculture, transportation, the environment, and various services and resources. What measures must be taken for "smart growth"?

> HELMET LAWS—Bicycle and motorcycle helmet laws in Colorado are not mandatory, as in many other states. Should they be, in view of rising accident rates? (However, the law is mandatory of motorcycle riders 17 and under.)

> HEALTH—The health of many Coloradans is on the decline, particularly children. Problem areas include obesity, binge drinking, mental depression, prenatal care, preventive oral healthcare, radon monitoring in schools, health insurance. How do health care reform issues impact the health of Colorado residents?

> HIGH SCHOOL EDUCATION—Colorado has the fifth highest high school dropout rate in the country; high school graduate rates attending college is only average nationally; achievement scores are mediocre on a national level.

> HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING—Colorado ranks 48th in the nation for local funding of higher education, although some dispute the ranking based on how the statistic is computed.

> HOSPITAL HEALTHCARE REFORM—Can and should the success in Grand Junction be replicated elsewhere? For the past decade, the high-quality, relatively low-cost health care delivered in Grand Junction, has led that community to outperform most others in the United States. Medicare patients in Grand Junction have fewer hospitalizations, shorter hospitalizations, and lower mortality rates after hospitalization than do Medicare patients in comparison hospitals.

> ILLEGAL VOTING--Republicans on the House Administration Committee want to shore up voter registration rules in the wake of a Colorado study that found as many as 5,000 non-citizens in the state took part in the 2010 election. Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), the panel’s chairman, called the study “a disturbing wake-up call” that should cause every state to review its safeguards to prevent illegal voting.“We simply cannot have an electoral system that allows thousands of non-citizens to violate the law and vote in our elections. We must do more to protect the integrity of our electoral processes.” (1)                                                              

> IMMIGRATION LAW LAXITY—Illegal aliens, undocumented workers are seen by many residents as negatively impacting the economy, crime rates, education, various services and resources. Thousands of illegal aliens have been allowed to vote in state elections. State subsidy programs for illegal immigrants are under fire, including a legislative proposal in 2011 to grant in-state tuition status to undocumented students. Denver has been accused of violating laws prohibiting "sanctuary cities." Others view illegal immigrants less critically, suggesting they benefit the economy and deserve rights not already given to them. An “Arizona-style” anti-immigrant bill was withdrawn from the Colorado legislature because of fears of costs of defending against legal attacks against the bill’s constitutionality. The Arizona anti-immigrant legislation passed in 2010 has suffered reversals in the courts.

> INCORPORATION OF MUNICIPALITIES—Lakewood and Centennial were large urban areas that decided to incorporate as cities—what are the pros and cons of such a change?

>  INFRASTRUCTURE—Roads, bridges, and drinking water are serious trouble spots, spelled out in the Colorado Infrastructure Report Card.The Colorado Department of Transportation, which has 124 bridges rated poor, is projecting that more and more bridges will slip below the good and fair threshold into poor condition by 2019 without additional funding. As to roadway surface, CDOT has projected that without new revenue for its maintenance program, the share of highway mileage rated as good or fair would fall from 49 percent this year to 29 percent in 2019.

> JUDICIAL REFORM—-Should how judges are appointed be changed, and the length of their terms changed, such as Supreme Court justices limited to two-year terms?

> LIGHT RAIL & MASS TRANSIT—Is Light rail and the FasTracks regional transit plan an unnecessary waste of public funding, over budget and underused? Is investment in buses and highways a more cost effective use of taxpayer money? Or does light rail benefit employment, the economy, and the environment?

> LIQUOR SALES—Should liquor sales be allowed in grocery and convenience stores?

> MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION—Should the legalization of marijuana as a recreational drug be a ballot issue? How would legalization impact Colorado?

> MARIJUANA DISPENSARIES—Are they desirable or necessary in our state? Are they too numerous? Are they misused, abusing the law, functioning illegitimately?

> MARIJUANA IMPAIRMENT DRIVING LIMITS—A recent legislative bill is criticized amidst claims that there is no proven correlation between THC blood levels and impairment; that medical marijuana patients will be unfairly banned from driving.

> MARRIAGE & DIVORCE DATABASE--Should a publicly-accessible database of Colorado marriages and divorces have been removed due to public complaints of invasion of privacy?

> MOVIE-MAKING INCENTIVES IMPORTANCE—Do state incentive programs for film-makers significantly benefit states economically? Does public money in the form of rebates translate to money for the state, or does most of the money generated leave the state? Should Colorado’s modest incentive program be ramped up to compete with other states? (1)

> NATURAL GAS DRILLING HYDRAULIC FRACTURING (FRACKING) DAMAGE TO ENVIRONMENT—Fears of fracking contamination of groundwater dismissed by Gov. Hickenlooper. (1)

> PAINKILLER ABUSE—The number of deaths in Colorado from prescription drug abuse has risen at an alarming rate in the past decade, almost doubling at 95 percent. Because of privacy issue concerns, the State is considering discontinuing a prescription-monitoring database that health officials as well as the Colorado Medical Society say is needed to help limit prescription drug abuse.

> PAY EQUITY—Women and minorities in Colorado make less than their white male counterparts. A Colorado Pay Equity Commission report offers remedial strategies.

> PERA—Is the Colorado public employees' pension plan close to collapse, a Ponzi scheme (in the words of one legislator), and liable to a bailout by taxpayers?

> PAYDAY LOAN REFORM--With exorbitant interest rates, payday loans trap borrowers in an unanticipated and costly cycle of long-term debt they cannot easily escape.

PERA ON SHAKY GROUND--Is PERA (Public Employees Retirement Association) a misguided taxpayer liability and, in the words of one state legislator, "a Ponzi scheme"?

> POLICE BRUTALITY rates in Colorado are among the highest in the nation. Some rankings have Denver as the worst.

> POLICE STRESS MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS LACKING—The Denver Police Department and other departments don’t provide stress management programs for officers, according to the Denver Police Protective Association. The FBI collects statistics on deaths of officers in action, but not on police suicides, which are estimated to be four times higher.

> POVERTY, FOOD INSECURITY & HOMELESSNESS is increasing in the state, impacting individuals, families, children, and the elderly. The number of Colorado children living in poverty has increased 85% since 2000. A 2009 report ranked Colorado 35th in providing assistance to homeless children.

> PRISON POPULATION GROWTH in the state is exponentially out of control, ameliorable with reforms in the use for-profit prisons, sentencing, alternatives to incarceration, increased funding for prevention and treatments of individuals and reintegration into the community.

> PROSECUTION OF "JOHNS"--Should prostitution “johns” be liable to stiffer prosecution than now in place? Should they be compelled to go to “john schools”? (Proposed bill in Colorado legislature.)

> PUBLIC VIDEO SURVEILLANCES in the state violate individual privacy rights stated or implied in the Constitution?

> RED-LIGHT TRAFFIC CAMERAS—Are opponents' assertions well-founded that these cameras' effectiveness is not proven, that they can increase rear-end collisions, are cash cows, and that they infringe on privacy? (1) (2)

> REDISTRICTING OF CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS—Every decade congressional boundaries have to be redrawn by the legislature due to population shifts. Difficulties often ensue in creating a map of districts that is not felt to be unfair to a particular party or region of the state. Often the Western Slope and rural areas of the state end up at odds with the Denver metro area, resulting in heated legislative battles and even lawsuits.

> RENEWABLE ENERGY—Legislative bills introduced in Colorado in 2011 would roll back existing renewable energy initiatives on the premise that these standards hurt the economy and negatively impact jobs, suppositions hotly disputed by clean energy advocates. The Colorado Renewable Energy Standard (RES) was passed by referendum in 2004 and has been increased by the legislature since, but has been criticized and even challenged in court for its constitutionality. In particular, wind energy has been criticized as being economically and environmentally harmful to the state.

> ROCKY FLATS NUCLEAR CONTAMINATION—One of the nation’s largest-ever nuclear-contaminated areas, amidst protests and lawsuits, was cleaned up and turned into a wildlife refuge amidst lingering contamination concerns.

> SAME-SEX CIVIL UNIONS—A Senate-approved bill that would have allowed certain legal rights for gays and lesbians in Colorado was killed by a Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee in 2011. A same-sex marriage initiative had been defeated by Colorado voters in 2006.

> SEAT BELT LAW—Colorado is one of 18 states where the seat belt law is a secondary offense, meaning a driver cannot be stopped and ticketed solely for not wearing a seat belt (however, children not properly restrained is a primary offense). Should Colorado make the seat belt law adults a primary offense?

> SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS trying to buy elections with violations of campaign finance laws?

> SUICIDE—Perenially Colorado’s suicide rates are in the top ten in the nation; the Rocky Mountain region has the highest suicide rate in the nation for all ages. Over the past eight years the prevalence of high school students reporting depressive symptoms has remained troublingly high—fluctuating between 25 percent and 31 percent

> SUPREME COURT justices in Colorado--a liberal majority--are the most activist and partisan in the nation?

> TABOR—Is the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights constitutional? Has TABOR's stringent restrictions been a mistake, with unjust negative effect on the Colorado economy?

Colorado's TABOR amendment, passed in 1992, restricts revenues for all levels of government (state, local, and schools). Under TABOR, state and local governments cannot raise tax rates without voter approval and cannot spend revenues collected under existing tax rates if revenues grow faster than the rate of inflation and population growth, without voter approval.

Under TABOR, the state has returned more than $2 billion to taxpayers rather than using these funds to pay for K-12 education, higher education, transportation, public health services, public safety and other services.

In 2005, Colorado voters approved Referendum C, which suspended the revenue limit in TABOR from 2006 to 2010 and modified it for future years.

> TAX INCREASES—Colorado's state taxes for sales, alcohol, cigarettes, and gasoline are in the low to medium range nationally, leaving room, it can be argued, for increases. Are increases justified? Would such increases be fair and progressive, or unfairly regressive?

> TAX POLICY TRANSPARENCY—Colorado is remiss in making clear to taxpayers how taxes are used in the state. A bill (House Bill 11-1104) was introduced in 2011 requiring the State Department of Revenue to prepare an annual tax expenditure report.

> TAX REFORMS—Should income tax be changed to a graduated system? Itemized deduction tax reform could save taxpayers millions, make State tax system less unfair?

> TAXES: BUSINESS PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX—Business personal property tax: should it be eliminated? ("Colorado's most hated tax" according to one newspaper.)

> TAX/FEES DECEPTION—Is the creation of “fees” a deceptive tactic of raising taxes without voter approval and a circumventing of the Colorado Constitution?

> TERM LITMITS--GOOD OR BAD IDEA? In 1990, Colorado started the term limits movement, but not everyone, especially the power elite, is pleased with those changes.   (1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

> TOXIC ASPHALT SEALANTS—Made from cancer-causing industrial waste, this pollutant (also called "coal tar") has seeped into homes, streams, lakes, and elsewhere, enough to alarm government researchers. Washington has become the first state to ban this substance, while communities around the nation have taken similar measures, requiring safe alternatives to this product. What is the status of Colorado in regards to this issue and  what, if anything, is being done? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

> TRANSPARENCY IN GOVERNMENT—Colorado has been criticized for shortcomings in transparency, inadequate information disclosures of government operations. One source has given Colorado a grade of "C" for transparency of government spending. A citizens’ site monitors transparency issues: Colorado Spending Transparency. A state site has been mandated to address transparency issues: The Transparency Online Project (TOP) System  From the TOP site: TOP “pulls together many of the ways that Colorado State Government demonstrates accountability. The TOP system was created by an Executive order of the Governor in April 2009 and endorsed by the legislature in House Bill 09-1288. The citizens of Colorado have chosen through the electoral process to provide a wide range of goods and services to the public using, taxes, fees, and grant resources. It is the job of every elected state official and state employee to maximize the value of those goods and services. Accountability is the process of demonstrating the value provided, and it can only be achieved when the sources and uses of public funds are transparent to the citizens.”

> WOMEN'S PAY EQUITY--Women in Colorado still earn just $.77 to every dollar a man earns. (1)

> WOMEN'S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS--Should women be given more healthcare access? (1)

> WORKPLACE DISCRIMINATION LAWS—Colorado is one of nine states that has not filled perceived holes in existing state workplace discrimination laws, and proponents are enlisting support for the Job Protection and Civil Rights Act of 2011.

> ZONING clashes and conflicts occur regarding such things as marijuana dispensaries, food-vendor trucks, rights of certain individuals’ or businesses’ proximity to schools. How can these issues be prevented and resolved?

An overview of issues for an informed citizenry
This page was last updated: May 19, 2012


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