Last week we told you about the two amendments that Colorado voters will be deciding on this November’s ballot. Today we will tell you about the two propositions that Coloradoans will see during this heated election cycle. Voters have already begun receiving their mail-in ballots this week, so it’s crucial that people are well informed on what it is they are deciding.
The first is Proposition 104, which would be a statute requiring all instances of school boards or representatives of schools meeting with representatives of their employees to be open to the public. This would allow citizens to see exactly how the collective bargaining agreements that we as taxpayers are decided.
Primary opposition to this comes from groups that would profit from keeping the negotiations secretive and away from any sort of oversight from the public. Most of it seems to stem from the teachers’ unions, who are not keen to let the public know exactly what it is they do with the millions of dollars they receive each year while keeping their hand out for more.
The ballot initiative was brought forward by Jon Caldara, who politically astute Coloradoans will recognize as the ornery president of the Independence Institute, a Libertarian leaning free-market organization based out of Denver. Caldara has a long history of exposing government waste, secrecy and general foolishness, though his tactics are sometimes called into question. Most of Colorado’s major newspapers have also come out in support of the measure, including The Denver Post, normally a left-of-center newspaper that has taken a bit of a right turn in this election cycle.
The bottom line is that most Coloradoans are supportive of an increase in accountability for our tax dollars. That’s the reason we have the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR), and one of the easiest methods of constitutional amendment in the United States. Polling data has been difficult to come by, as this initiative has mostly flown under the radar to some of the other issues on the ballot, not to mention a contentious gubernatorial race and U.S. Senate race. However, it seems likely to pass as there has been no real opposition to the measure aside from some grumblings from the unions.
Proposition 105 is an entirely different animal, however. The initiative would require labelling on any and all Genetically Modified Organisms that are used for food. All, that is, except for animals that have been fed GMOs but are not GMO themselves, alcohol, food not packaged for retail sale intended for immediate consumption, animal foods, and medically prescribed foods. Apparently you have the right to know if something is a GMO, but only in very specific circumstances. The issue has been a very contentious one, with companies and organizations of all sizes lining up on either side.
The group putting forward the initiative is Right to Know Colorado, a naturalistic group that subscribes to the theory that GMOs are somehow bad. Unfortunately for this group, that’s simply not true; thousands of studies will tell you that GMOs have no harmful effects on people. In addition to that, most foods that are actually GMOs would not be covered under the new law with all of the exemptions listed in the wording.
Primary opposition comes from farmers and the chambers of commerce of the state. Their main concern is the increase in cost and detrimental effects it will have on business and the price of food in the state. However, when it comes to informing consumers, wouldn’t it make sense to err on the side of caution?
The answer, flatly, is no for now. This particular initiative will have little to no impact on the actual informing of consumers, while increasing the cost to producers of food such as farmers and the price of food to the average person. Add to that the shaky science that would make even functionally illiterate anti-vaccine activists blanche, and you have a recipe for a bad law.