Thoughts on Amendment 70
By Forrest Whitman
A generation or so ago, workers on the railroad in Salida and in the mines in Crested Butte earned the equivalent of $15 an hour. Those wages built Colorado. The workers were the backbone of the lower middle class. They worked hard and made a decent life for themselves and their families.
Unfortunately, many workers I know can seldom hope for that life. They work two or three jobs and still end up making around $25,000 a year. They often pay half what they make in rent. They’re only one bump away from bankruptcy.
We know these folks. They only buy gas $10 at a time, and their kids don’t have the grooviest shoes. They use food stamps ahead of us in the grocery line. Amendment 70 will assist folks we know, our neighbors.
This year we vote on Amendment 70. That amendment raises minimum wages from the current $8.31 to $9.30 and then raises the minimum wage by $.90 an hour until it reaches $12 an hour in 2020. Not the $15 an hour they have in California, but it’s a start.
Colorado history is full of bloody fights for a livable minimum wage. Read the names on the Ludlow massacre mine strike monument if you want a history lesson! The argument against a livable wage is still the same: Jobs will go away.
Statistics for cities and states that have raised the minimum wage show little evidence that job numbers were influenced at all. In fact, more money in the pockets of workers helps the economy thrive.
The ruling philosophy of far too many leaders in business and government hasn’t changed. It’s still “shareholder value above all.” But Amendment 70 will modestly change that. Colorado was built on $15 an hour wages. Time to move toward that goal.
Proposition 106: The End of Life Options Act
By Mike Rosso
Proposition 106 is the Colorado End-of-Life Options Act, found on this year’s statewide ballot. If passed, it will authorize the medical practice of aid in dying. It will allow a terminally ill, mentally capable person who has a prognosis of six months or less to live to request, obtain and – if his or her suffering becomes unbearable – self-administer medication that brings about a peaceful death.
A petition containing 155,676 signatures was submitted to the Colorado Secretary of State to get the proposition on the ballot, the culmination of months of signature gathering by volunteers and some paid gatherers. Salida had six residents volunteer to collect signatures in Chaffee, Fremont and Gunnison counties.
Currently, other states with similar laws include: Washington, Montana, Vermont, California and Oregon, which has had the law on the books for 19 years with no proven cases of abuse or coercion. Colorado would be the sixth state to authorize aid in dying. The measure has failed in two previous legislative attempts in the past two years, which is why supporters felt the need to get it on the ballot this year.
To qualify, an individual would need to:
Be a Colorado resident aged 18 or older;
Be able to communicate an informed decision;
Have a terminal illness with a prognosis of six months or less to live;
Have that prognosis confirmed by two physicians;
Be determined mentally capable by two physicians and
Voluntarily express his or her wishes.
Patients would need to make two oral requests, at least 15 days apart, and one written request, to a physician. The written request would need to be witnessed by at least two others, and those witnesses would need to attest that the patient is mentally capable and acting voluntarily.
Even more specifically, one witness would be prohibited from being a relative, an heir or someone who works at or owns a health care facility where the individual is receiving care. The primary physician or someone who has power of attorney would also be prohibited from being a witness to the written request.
Physicians would be required to provide information to the individual about their diagnosis and prognosis, as well as alternative treatments. Physicians would also be required to refer patients to therapy if they feel the individual is not mentally capable.
Patients would be allowed to withdraw their request at any time.
Much of the opposition – in Colorado and in states where aid in dying has been considered or authorized – is from the Catholic Church. There is also a disability group in Colorado, Not Dead Yet, that opposes the measure, according to Holly Armstrong with Yes on Colorado End-of-Life Options. An independent survey by Colorado Mesa University Center for Opinion Research reported on Sept. 22, 2016, that 70 percent of Colorado voters support Prop 106.
On Nov. 9, Colorado residents will find out if that statistic is accurate.