ARCHIVED  October 1, 1998

Business-related ballot issues abound in November election

A variety of ballot initiatives, referred measures, concurrent resolutions and the like will be on the ballot in November. Some of those that are likely to have the greatest impact on business in Northern Colorado are outlined here.

A pair of statewide initiatives addresses the matter of hog farms, a matter that has gained attention recently in many neighboring states as well. The Commercial Swine Hog Farms initiative (supported by Protecting Colorado’s Water and Economy Inc.) proposes waste-disposal guidelines for hog farms. The initiative proposed by the opposition (Citizens for a Strong Rural Economy), the Livestock Operations initiative, proposes that all commercial livestock operations be treated equally under the law, and suggests defining chickens, hogs and all livestock in terms of portions of a cow.

A referred measure, House Bill 98-1256, asks voters to decide about putting some excess state revenue toward highway maintenance and emergency school repair. This comes before the voters because of the Tabor Amendment to the state Constitution, which says excess revenues must be returned to taxpayers directly, unless voters decide that some portion of the money may be spent in other ways.

The bill proposes that a maximum of $200 million be put in a trust fund. Half of that amount would go to highways through a state highway fund. Thirty percent would go to public school districts that are badly in need of assistance because of low property-tax assessments. That money would be distributed through county treasurers. Another 20 percent would go to defray higher-education capital costs. That money would go through cities and incorporated towns.

Business has supported HB 98-1256 at the Capitol, according to state Sen. Stanley Matsunaka, D-Loveland, one of the bill’s sponsors.

“I think we all understand that we’ve got a highway problem. We’re behind the curve in maintenance and new construction,” Matsunaka said. “That causes difficulty of movement of goods and services. If you try to drive Interstate 25 some days it’s backed up from Denver to Longmont.” About money for schools, he reiterated that the money would cover only emergency repairs. It causes problems for the entire community, he added, when children can’t be educated in a decent environment.

Affecting the operation of public hospitals is House Concurrent Resolution 98-1008. HCR 98-1008 is a proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would allow public hospitals and other public health facilities to join with private health-care entities in contracts to fulfill their function of serving the public health.

“This measure gives more options to hospital districts,´ said state Rep. Bob Bacon, D-Fort Collins.

For reasons of competition and efficiency vital to the survival of public hospitals, many administrators want the option of joining with privately owned clinics, laboratories and the like. Currently, the state Constitution forbids public hospitals from making alliances with private health-care organizations or agencies, said Ed Egger, vice president of community affairs at Poudre Valley Health System in Fort Collins. The Poudre Valley Health District spun off operation of Poudre Valley Hospital to a private nonprofit several years ago.

“It was impossible under Colorado law for (Poudre Valley Health District) to engage in managed-care contracts with physicians or anyone else,” Egger said.

The issue is particularly vital to smaller, rural hospitals that are struggling to survive and provide a continuum of services where the population is less concentrated, he said.

Voters statewide will decide whether the city of Broomfield should become “the city and county of Broomfield.” Broomfield now straddles four counties, Weld, Jefferson, Boulder and Adams. Proponents (Citizens for Better Local Government) say the current state of affairs causes great confusion and inconvenience as building contractors, business people and consumers deal with different officials, courthouses, tax rates, building standards and other regulations. They say that eliminating the position of county sheriff, and making coroner and assessor positions appointed by the City Manager and City Council will make for greater efficiency and better-qualified officials.

Opponents (Vote No Broomfield County) chiefly object to having no vote on county coroner and assessor.

A variety of ballot initiatives, referred measures, concurrent resolutions and the like will be on the ballot in November. Some of those that are likely to have the greatest impact on business in Northern Colorado are outlined here.

A pair of statewide initiatives addresses the matter of hog farms, a matter that has gained attention recently in many neighboring states as well. The Commercial Swine Hog Farms initiative (supported by Protecting Colorado’s Water and Economy Inc.) proposes waste-disposal guidelines for hog farms. The initiative proposed by the opposition (Citizens for a Strong Rural Economy), the Livestock Operations initiative, proposes that all…

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