Trimpa And Unions Finesse Grand Ballot Compromise

Update by DavidThi: SoS office has confirmed that they are withdrawn!

Just in the nick of time, as the Rocky Mountain News breaks the story:

Colorado labor unions agreed late Wednesday to pull four initiatives from the statewide ballot, just hours ahead of today’s withdrawal deadline.

The decision ends weeks of intense negotiations between labor and business interests to defuse what would have been an all-out brawl leading up to November’s election.

The details will be announced at an 11:00 a.m. press conference Thursday and were still being worked out late into the evening after the parties met for several hours Wednesday toward a resolution.

The agreement will allow unions to spend all of their campaign resources fighting three potentially damaging ballot measures aimed at weakening labor activity in the state. Sources declined to say exactly how business leaders would coordinate their efforts with the labor community. But those details will likely become clearer after the measures are formally withdrawn from the Secretary of State’s office.

The measures that will not be put to a vote include: mandatory employee healthcare premiums, a safe workplace proposal, a just cause measure that limits employers’ ability to fire workers and a corporate fraud initiative that makes executives criminally liable for wrongdoing.

For those of you who don’t know about Hogan and Hartson’s Ted Trimpa, well, you should. He’s the one who brought this pact, the most unlikely partnership since Referendum C, together, helping reinforce his growing waterwalker mystique. It’s also true that labor wasn’t really looking forward to taking the blame for the potentially serious unintended consequences of a couple of these proposals. The infusion of cash to fight the anti-labor initiatives will help, as will the new and respected business community spokespeople getting out the message–that while the idea of Amendment 47 (and 49 and 54) “sounds good,” the details are devilish.

Best news of all: your wait time at the polling place just shortened by four agonizing choices.

37 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. cologeek says:





    Really nothing to worry over.  This just saves me maybe half a minute of filling in the ovals.

    • bob ewegen says:

      which is bad for business and unions both.

      • DonkeyEars says:

        Should Pols’ analysis say 54 instead of 59?

        • bob ewegen says:

          A victory for 59 will lead a chorus of angels to the West steps of the capitol, ensure a Broncos superbowl victory and raise Libertine’s IQ by five points, thereby doubling it!

          • Libertad says:

            If we wish to defeat the corrupt worker’ws compensation courts, we will have to shoulder a ballot initiative without the unions, it seems. The unions will always back down if they fear their futures will be in doubt. Instead of running a campaign, the union bosses spenttheir time listening to the opposition and getting scared. I guess that’s what they will always do? They didn’t get 47 pulled, they justgot a payoff.

            Paula Rhoads

            Joined: Dec 16

            Points: 3504 Permanent link to this commentPaula Rhoads (aka paula rhoads) | 10:18 AM on Thursday Oct 2

  2. Libertad says:

    Any deal involving cash to labor interests goes too far

    By By Jack Fox, Special to the Rocky

    Friday, September 26, 2008

    Stop! That is the message to Gov. Bill Ritter, Sen. Ken Salazar and business and labor leaders who are working on a compromise to remove the four anti-business initiatives from this year’s ballot.

    An attempt to have these measures pulled is critical. However, the idea that businesses would contribute millions of dollars to an effort to defeat three other anti-labor measures is so flawed and problematic that everyone involved needs to stop for a minute and take a gut check.

    With this compromise we are truly standing on the shores of a Rubicon in Colorado politics. The very notion that an opposing party, regardless of the issue, could essentially pay millions of dollars to the other side to drop something from the ballot flies in the face of everything we stand for in this country.

    Politics is often a contested sport and sometimes even a war, but what sets us apart as Americans is that we play by the rules. Under those rules, you can accuse, cajole, berate, intimidate and even threaten, but the one thing you can’t do is buy off the other side.

    Can you imagine the uproar if the oil and gas companies went to the governor and paid him – via a multimillion-dollar contribution to some other cause he cared about – to remove the severance tax issue from the ballot? People would go to jail and there would be the proverbial hell to pay.

    I understand that sometimes you have to compromise for the greater good. However, in this case, there is an ethical line and – out of desperation – good people are poised to cross it. The unions went too far and pulled the pin on an economic grenade that will truly have catastrophic consequences on the Colorado economy (and, in case they missed it, their members as well). The right to work proponents won’t back down either, setting up an impasse. Those involved in the issue are scrambling to find a way to prevent the ticking bomb from going off. In their desperation they have lost sight of the bigger picture.

    The sad reality is that there are two clear messages from this attempt to stave off a disaster. The first is the presumption that with enough money one can actually buy an election. After all, why would the unions support pulling their measures in return for a big check to fight the measures that they oppose unless they thought they could beat them with money?

    While skeptics have long said that elections can be bought, I don’t think that has always been the case in Colorado. In our recent history there are a number of instances where extremely well-funded candidates haven’t won their contests. However, starting with issues races in the late ’90s (and more recently with Statehouse seats and perhaps even the 2nd Congressional District race this year), there is starting to be a disturbing pattern of the ability to purchase political success.

    The second message from this folly is that there is way too much garbage on the ballot. We continue to frivolously amend what is supposed to be our sacred document with the trivial and arcane. The idea that our state constitution can be changed at whim and that dueling measures can be easily wielded as a weapon against an opposing party is absurd (again, they can be bought – it only takes about $200,000 to gather the requisite signatures to put anything on the ballot).

    Let us hope that cooler heads prevail and an attainable and ethical solution is found. If there is anything good that comes from all of this, may it be that the citizens of Colorado get fed up with these abuses and recognize that we need to reform our ballot process.

    Jack Fox is a Denver businessman who has been involved in a number of campaigns to defeat ballot initiatives in the state.

    В© Rocky Mountain News


  3. DavidThi808 says:

    The people of the state of Colorado. A big thank you to all involved.

    And yes, there were compromises and people having to do things they’ld prefer to not do – but that’s politics.


  4. colorado76 says:

    When you say 53 and 59, do you mean 49 and 54?

    Yes, its all just that confusing.

  5. mAH! says:

    It disturbs me to think that organized labor would slap together a bunch of ballot measures on very important issues and put them up just to get even.  Although all of these may have been poorly drafted, they are on issues that are very important and pulling a stunt like this makes a mockery out of the issues, labor unions, and the entire initiative process.  The voters are smarter than to have been hoodwinked by crafty anti-union measures.  How does muddying up the ballot with for the most part poorly drafted measures in an effort to one-up the opponent make things better for the citizens of Colorado?  

    While the wording in some of the propose measures was too vague, Amendment 53 was from what I could tell well drafted.  It is a shame that 53 had to die with the rest of them this late in the game after gaining a lot of support.  

    • Colorado Pols says:

      And if you want to be mad at someone, be mad at the people behind Amendment 47 – that’s what started this whole thing.

      • mAH! says:

        I don’t think 47 got us in this mess because I think 47 was responsibly drafted and it is an issue that the voters should have a say in.  

        I will say it again: I am a dues paying union member and I have not yet heard a convincing argument against 47.  I don’t think people should be forced to pay dues to a union in order to maintain their job.  If the unions aren’t doing enough for the workers,  then the unions don’t deserve dues.  47 would make unions more accountable to the members they represent.  

        • cdsmith says:

          Believe me, I certainly don’t like the idea of mandatory union dues.  But it turns out that, contrary to any rhyme or reason, we have federal legislation that requires that the results of negotiations by labor unions must apply equally to people both inside and outside the unions.  Given that, it’s silly to then tell people they’ll get the same benefits either way, but it’s their choice whether to pay union dues.

          That’s the world we’re in.  And in that world, 47 is just a thinly veiled attempt to cripple the power of unions to do anything at all.  Members can already request that their contributions don’t go toward political activities, which is the main concern here.  This is now just an attempt to handicap the union by having some workers’ every day job safety and fairness supported by other workers’ money.

          • bob ewegen says:

            And yes, it requires unions to bargain for pay and benefits to all members of the bargaining unit, not just dues paying members.  The moochers who take those benefits but don’t contribute to the cost of negotiating them are free riders.  Anti-Union firms like Wal-Mart promote so called “right to work” laws to weaken unions, hoping ultimately to break them completely.  I actually had a free rider who was fired demand that I represent him and get his job back.  I told him the requirement was vested in the union corporately, not me as an unpaid steward and refused to do so.  I did give him the name of a lawyer who basically won him the unemployment benefits I could have lined up for free. (my masters degree was in labor relations for those who haven’t seen me mention that before. I was a union member and officer for 14 years before being demoted to management;-) As a supervisor, I have since had 22 years dealing with unionized employees.

    • colorado76 says:

      has made a mockery of itself over the past several years.  Direct democracy has its place, but the bar has to be higher so that success requires a measure with truly wide support.  Currently access to the constitution is so easy that initiative strategy has become a basic part of Colorado politics.  The result has been that all that is infuriating about the political process now often hits the constitutional level.

      • We could change the process in a couple of ways without making it all that harder for citizens to have a voice.

        Require measures that effect the Constitution to be certified two years out. If they are changing the Constitution, then 2 years is not a long wait, and it gives time to examine the flaws and educate the voters.

        Without raising the number of signatures required, it would weed out a lot of the momentary wedge issues and poorly written measures.

        • colorado76 says:

          But changing the U.S. Constitution is a nearly insurmountable task and it has done the nation fairly well.  At the current rate the state constitution is going to collapse on itself.  Now it may be that we’ve already gone too far down the road we’re on, but that’s another problem altogether.

          Maybe a two year period would help, but seeing as it doesn’t seem like voters are going through and reading these now, the odds of them doing so a year ahead of time seem long.

          I guess I just don’t see it as particularly undemocratic that the elected legislature sort out most questions.  Its only when the legislature refuses to implement the will of a clear majority of people that we should override the system.

          Either that or hire staff for each household to prepare summaries of information that will be important to the voters that live there.

      • Bondo says:

        It seems insane to me that our state constitution can be changed by simple majority vote. Though I’m wary of direct democracy as a whole, at the least, we should restrict it to statutory changes on a simple majority and constitutional changes with a super-majority (2/3 probably). And I think that needs to take effect retroactively, undoing those constitutional initiatives that did not win a super-majority in the past.

        • DavidThi808 says:

          An amendment must pass with 60% of the vote.

          Then the legislature passes all enabling legislation over the next two years contingent upon…

          It is on the ballot again and must pass with 60% again.

          • Precinct854 says:

            Ideally I’m right there with you, as usual. But I think voters won’t go for such a change. Way back in 1996 Referendum A would have made it 60% with the exception of previous amendments which could have been amended or repealed by a simple majority until 2003. It was rejected by voters 59.1% to 40.9%, or an 18.2% margin.

            I think it would be very hard to get approval for a 60% twice level. What might work is incrementally changing the constitution with provisions that would allow going back to the previous system if desired.

            So, for example, we could have a Ballot Initiative in 2010 that would change the direct amending of the constitution to 55% for 6 or 10 years and then a second vote where it would have to pass by 55% to remain in effect. This, I think, would reassure the voters that we’d have a chance to go back to the old way if the effect was to freeze out good ideas that the legislature won’t take up.  Plus it seems right if the requirements are going to be raised that the amendment would take the same level of support as it would require of all the other ones.

            Or in 2010 there could be a ballot initiative requiring that all future amendments to the constitution by direct initiative would go into effect for 10 years and then require a second vote to remain in the constitution. And perhaps a second one to apply the same measure to past amendments in a rational way over the course of ten years. In these things I think it is good to make each issue as straight forward as possible.


        • Precinct854 says:

          Yes, but on the other hand it is very hard to get people educated. If the requirement were raised to 2/3 this is what would have passed since 1972. (Not all these are constitutional amendments, I think, but I don’t have the right spreadsheet to hand right now to figure out which is which.)


          82.8% Ballot #4 (1972)- [Municipal Energy Investment Allowed]

          82.5% Ballot #2 (1982)- [Denial of Bail to Some Capital Offense Defendants]

          80.2% Ref A (1992)- Rights of Crime Victims

          79.2% Ref E (2006)- Property Tax Reduction for Disabled Veterans

          78.0% Ref B (1992)- Obsolete Constitutional Provisions

          77.8% Ballot 3 (1990)- Obsolete Constitutional Provisions

          77.3% Ballot #3 (1982)- Membership and Appointment of Judicial Discipline Commission

          76.9% Ref C (1994)- Post-Conviction Bail

          76.1% Ref G (2006)- Obsolete Constitutional Provisions

          76.0% Ref C (1992)- Local Vote on Gaming After Statewide Vote

          72.7% Ballot #2 (1984)- Qualified Electors

          71.9% Ref D (2002)- Repeal of Obsolete Constitutional Provisions

          71.6% Ref D (2000)- Outdated Constitutional Provisions

          70.9% Ref C (2002)- Qualifications for County Coroners

          69.0% Ref B (2004)- Obsolete Constitutional Provisions

          67.2% Ballot #4 (1988)- Eight-Hour Workday Requirements


          72.0% Ballot #8 (1988)- Legislative Reform

          71.0% Ballot #5 (1990)- Term Limits [State Executive, General Assembly, and congress]

          68.7% Ballot #8 (1974)- [No Bussing for Integration]  

        • Precinct854 says:

          Under a 2/3 majority rule the following would not have passed.


          66.1% Ballot #1 (1978)- [Appointment County Commissioner to Vacancy]

          65.7% Ref A (1994)- Single Subject for Initiatives and Referenda

          65.5% Ballot #1 (1982)- [Gallagher Amendment, Property Tax Limitations]

          64.3% Ballot #3 (1972)- [Equality of the sexes]

          63.3% Ballot #3 (1974)- [Specific Treasury Report Requirement Elimination]

          61.8% Ballot #2 (1976)- [Motor Vehicle Taxes]

          61.3% Ref C (1998)- Creation of City and County of Broomfield

          61.2% Ballot #5 (1974)- [Boundary Control Commission, Denver]

          60.5% Ref B (2000)- Legislative Reapportionment Timetable

          60.1% Ballot #1 (1980)- [Registration to Vote Required to Sign Ballot Petitions]

          60.0% Ballot #6 (1974)- [Revision to State Office Vacancy Procedure]

          59.8% Ballot #2 (1980)- [State Lottery]

          58.8% Ballot #1 (1984)- Appointment of Insurance Commissioner

          56.1% Ref C (1996)- County Sheriffs – Qualifications

          56.1% Ballot #7 (1974)- [Taxes On Aviation Fuel Removed from Highway Fund]

          54.9% Ref B (1996)- Mailing of Ballot Information

          54.3% Ballot #4 (1982)- [Limitations on enactment of bills eliminated]

          54.1% Ballot #2 (1972)- [Establish Student Loan Program]

          53.4% Ballot #3 (1986)- Municipal Franchises

          52.3% Ballot #3 (1988)- Limitations on Legislative Sessions

          52.0% Ballot #4 (1972)- [CU Regents Changes]

          51.9% Ballot #5 (1988)- Unpatented Mining Claims [tax exemption]

          50.4% Ref B (1994)- Ballot Information Booklet


          60.2% Ballot #8 (1974)- [Colorado Reapportionment Commission Revised]

          59.4% Ballot #8 (1972)- [Banning Money for 1976 Olympics]

          58.4% Ballot #1 (1974)- [Poundstone Amendment, preventing annexation without a vote]

          58.2% Amendment 08 (1992)- Lottery Revenues for Parks, Recreation, Wildlife

          57.9% Ballot #10 (1974)- [No More ‘Plowshares’ Nuclear Detonations]

          56.7% Ballot #3 (1980)- [No Unilateral Annexation by Cities]

          51.9% Amendment 16 (1996)- State Trust Lands

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