3 ballot propositions that should be on students’ radars

Coloradans will cast their vote in November on 11 statewide ballot measures, six of which are voter-initiated propositions.

UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy stressed the importance for students to vote on these propositions. “Voting is one of the most important rights a person can exercise, and voting for local issues is one of the best ways for an individual person to make an impact on the place where they live,” Reddy wrote in a recent email to the study body.

While all propositions will be impactful for students at UCCS, here are three that students should be looking at. The Scribe took all information found below from the Ballot Information Booklet released by the Colorado General Assembly.

Proposition 122, Natural Medicine Health Act

Proposition 122 will decriminalize the personal use and possession for adults 21 and older of the following hallucinogenic/entheogenic plants and fungi: dimethyltryptamine (DMT), ibogaine, mescaline (excluding peyote) and psilocybin.

Proponents of the proposition argue that all of these medicines are supported by an extensive and growing body of research that point to the efficacy of their use as a treatment for depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, end-of-life distress and other conditions.

The proposition argues that Colorado’s “current approach to mental health has failed to fulfill its promise” and wants to provide other natural medicines to address mental health issues in hopes of providing treatment, recovery and wellness for Coloradans.

These natural medicines will be administered by the Regulated Natural Medicine Access Program, which will permit licensed healing centers to distribute the drugs.

“The Natural Medicine Health Act puts the well-being of patients and communities first. It was purposefully designed, with a multi-phase implementation process that sets clear safety rules, while allowing the details of the regulatory structure to be developed by the community and regulators working together,” said Josh Kappel, chair of Natural Medicine Colorado, in the Ballot Information Booklet.

On top of decriminalizing the drugs, anyone with a prior conviction due to the personal use or possession of these drugs can file a petition with the court asking for the conviction to be sealed on their record.

Some have spoken in opposition to the proposition, claiming that the initiative is too quick and should wait for further research.

Luke Niforatos, executive vice president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, said, “We should not replay the public health harms that surrounded the rush to legalize marijuana. Instead, we should learn from history and wait for researchers to learn more about potential harms and benefits. … The costs of getting this wrong are too steep for us to proceed without understanding all the potential side effects.”

Proposition 123, Statewide Affordable Housing Fund (SAHF)

Proposition 123 dedicates 0.1% of state income tax revenue to fund affordable housing programs and projects.

Brian Rossbert, executive director of Housing Colorado, supports the proposition, and is quoted in the Ballot Information Booklet, saying, “Too many Coloradans can no longer afford to live in the neighborhoods where they set down roots. That’s forcing families to make difficult relocation decisions, robbing our communities of essential services and intensifying our homelessness crisis. This measure is desperately needed if we want future generations of Coloradans to thrive.”

Forty percent of the money will go to the Affordable Housing Support Fund. The fund will create programs that provide down-payment assistance for first-time homebuyers with incomes less than or equal to 120% of the area median income; assist homeless people by providing rental assistance, housing vouchers, eviction defense assistance and case management; and create grants that go to local governments to increase the land use capacity for housing projects.

The other 60% of the SAHF money will go to the Affordable Housing Financing Fund. The fund creates affordable housing equity programs to invest in low and middle-income multi-family rental developments and existing affordable housing projects to keep rent prices less than 30% for households at or below 90% of the area median income.

The fund would also create a loan banking program to provide nonprofits and local governments the money to acquire and preserve land to develop affordable housing.

The drawback is that the bill would tap into The Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights tax revenue, making it so that taxpayers wouldn’t receive as much of a refund at the end of a fiscal year

Natalie Menten, a TABOR Foundation board member, argued against the proposition, saying, “If this passes, the number on that TABOR refund check is going to be smaller. And potentially in some years, there won’t be a check coming to you because this will take all of it. I oppose this on multiple levels. Many of us don’t want to live in downtown. But what this measure is driving us to do is get more high-density housing and that is not what I want to see more of, frankly.”

Proposition 126, Alcohol Delivery Service Initiative

Proposition 126 permits alcohol retailers and liquor-licensed businesses such as convenience stores, bars and restaurants to offer third-party services such as DoorDash to deliver alcohol beginning March 1, 2023.

Colorado Restaurant Association chairman and co-owner of Los Dos Potrillos Daniel Ramirez came out in favor of the initiative. “If third-party delivery companies can deliver alcohol with our food, that helps us continue providing deeper hospitality to our customers who wish to have their food delivered,” Ramirez is quoted in the Ballot Information Booklet.

To deliver alcohol, businesses will be required to obtain a permit, take on liability insurance and create a certification program to identify and prevent sales to people who are underage or have fake identification.

Some worry there will be a lack of accountability for the stores and tech companies if the proposition passes. Keep Colorado Local is one of them:

“If this initiative passes, neither the store that sold the alcohol nor the tech company (Door Dash, UberEats, etc.) that arranged the sale and delivery will have any liability. This would result in a huge increase in access to alcohol by teens and people who should not be having alcohol delivered to them. Independent locally-owned liquor stores have invested in the time and training necessary to perform this service safely and effectively for their communities.”

Photo caption: Photo from theheraldtimes.com.