Jerry Kopel

Ballot Issues from 1972 

October 16, 2006
By Jerry Kopel

Fourteen ballot issues? Pessimists are certain voters will throw up their hands and vote "no" on everything. Optimists believe voters will, in general, make common sense decisions.
I agree with the optimists although not everything "good" will pass and not everything "bad" will  lose. Let's look at the 12 issues on the 1972 ballot and how they turned out. Only persons 50 and older will likely remember the 1972 election issues.
No 1 and No. 6 dealt with sweepstakes and lotteries. On No. 1, a "yes" vote would permit the Colorado Racing Commission to conduct one or two sweepstake races per year. Proceeds, after administrative expenses, would be used for state and local parks and recreation purposes. Defeated 408,704 to 417,149.
(A later sweepstakes statute became law only to the thrown out by the state Supreme Court as violating the constitution. In 1980, voters added lotteries dependent on legislative decisions, to the state constitution.)
No. 6. A :yes" vote would grant an exclusive 10-year license to a private corporation to operate not less than six, nor more than 60 lotteries per year under state supervision; one lottery per year to be held for charitable purposes; proceeds for the rest to be divided as follows: 30 percent to the private corporation, 40 percent to prizes, 30 percent to the state general fund. Defeated 161,281 to 647,817.
No. 2. Student loans. A "yes" vote would permit the legislature to establish a loan program for students in educational institutions. Passed 443,660 to 375,948.
No. 3. Equality of the Sexes. A "yes" vote would add to Article 2 of the state constitution: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the state of Colorado or any of its political subdivisions on account of sex." Passed 513,415 to 295,254.
This amendment began in the legislature as being applied everyone. But private discrimination was eliminated from the measure before it was put on the ballot.
No. 4. Higher Education: A "yes" vote would place all state colleges and universities on equal constitutional basis; increase the number of Regents of the University of Colorado from 6 to 9; remove the CU president as ex officio member of the board. Passed 418,825 to 386,645.
No. 5. Salary Increases: A "yes" vote would allow the legislature to increase or decrease the salaries of certain state and county officers, other than state legislators, during their term of office; allow the appointment, rather than election of county coroners and surveyors; allow abolition of the county school superintendents and surveyors. Defeated 223,678 to 571,083.
No. 7 and 12. Property taxes. A "yes" vote for No. 7 would limit property tax levy to one and one half percent of actual value of property except as permitted by a vote of qualified electors. Defeated 192,913 to 627,007.
No. 12 would prohibit taxes on property from being used to pay for schools; limit property tax levy to one and one-half percent of actual property value; create a State Tax Evaluation Commission for uniform assessment on real property; replace the property tax (for schools) with severance tax, a graduated corporation income tax, a progressive graduated income tax on earnings, and sales and service tax. Defeated 167,882 to 628,201.
No. 8. State funding of Olympics: Prohibited the state of Colorado from raising funds or aiding, directly or indirectly, the funding of the 1976 Winter Olympic Games in Colorado,. Passed 514,228 to 350,964. (This provided a boost for Dick Lamm's election in 1974 as governor.")
No. 9.  Lobbyists, Open Meetings, Public Official Disclosures: Would require public officials to disclose their financial interests, require lobbyists to file periodic statements indicating amount and sources of income and expenditures; require open public meetings of all state policy and rule-making bodies. Passed 491,073 to 325,819.
No. 10. Public Consumer Counsel: Would  create a Public Utility Consumer Counsel to protect interests of consumers of utility services; require utilities to disclose specific information on earnings, investments, large stockholders, etc. Defeated 350,264 to 468,154.
No. 11. No-fault Insurance: Would establish a system of compulsory insurance and compensation regardless of fault for  victims of automobile accidents; require owners of cars to purchase insurance to provide (1) liability protections, (2) coverage for medical expenses and (3) lost earnings to be paid to owners regardless of fault in an accident. If medical expenses exceeded $2,000, the act would not apply. Defeated 208,155 to 595,887.
A form of No. 11 did later become a statute, only to be repealed in recent years.
Putting No. 1 and No. 6 (lotteries) and No. 7 and No. 12 (property taxes) together, there were five wins and five defeats in 1972. Perhaps we will do as well in 2006.
  (Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House


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