10 October 2008

Colorado Ballot Issues - Amendments 46, 47, and 48

I've had a look at the Colorado Blue Book online, and I am rather intimidated by the shear number of ballot issues. Over the next week, I'm going to try to give my views on the various amendments and referendums on the Statewide ballot. For the purpose of this blog, I'll be quoting the measures as they will appear on the Adams County ballot.

Amendment 46
Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning a prohibition against discrimination by the state, and, in connection therewith, prohibiting the state from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting; allowing exceptions to the prohibition when bona fide qualifications based on sex are reasonably necessary or when action is necessary to establish or maintain eligibility for federal funds; preserving the validity of court orders or consent decrees in effect at the time the measure becomes effective; defining "state" to include the state of Colorado, agencies or departments of the state, public institutions of higher education, political subdivisions, or governmental instrumentalities of or within the state; and making portions of the measure found invalid severable from the remainder of the measure?

Proponents of Amendment 46 claim that it removes affirmative action. Opponents say that it would cripple many outreach programs (especially those sponsored by universities) from targeting minorities and women. This would also include scholarships and similar programs. Propenents say that we have reached a point in our society where race, ethnicity, and gender are no longer the relevent deciders about economic status. They claim that instead, economic class should be used as the primary determinative factor in the allocation of scholarships and outreach programs.

My opinion will have to be limited to gender issues because it is the one I am most familiar with due to my field of study. Women are underrepresented in the maths and sciences. This is a fact.
This chart from the WISEM program at Mines.

CSM Female Students Percent of Total Enrollment Fall 1992 - Fall 2004
Year% of Total Undergrad Students% of Total Grad Students% of Total Females

Source: Fall 1992-2004 CSM Registrar’s Reports

In terms of anecdotes, most of the girls that I went to school with would have been perfectly qualified to pursue careers in science and technology. There is a fairly well reported phenomenon of girls losing their interest in science and math during middle school, primarily due to pressure to not be perceived as "too smart". This is generally a group that should be targeted and that is distinctly not related to their socio-ecomonic status. This effect is seen in all women regardless of their family's income.

For reasons such as these, I must oppose this amendment. Certainly, economic status should be taken into account in recruitment programs etc., but we should not remove gender and race from the equation either.

Amendment 47
Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution concerning participation in a labor organization as a condition of employment, and, in connection therewith, prohibiting an employer from requiring that a person be a member and pay any moneys to a labor organization or to any other third party in lieu of payment to a labor organization and creating a misdemeanor criminal penalty for a person who violates the provisions of the section?

I've had a bit more difficulty in my thinking about this one, and I still have not made a solid decision either way. On one hand, I feel that participation in any organization should be voluntary. If you work at a place, you should not be required to participate in the company picnic or what not. On the other hand, Unions do a lot of work to advocate for their members, not limited to collective bargaining for wages. If Union enrollement at traditionally Unionized trades is not required, enrollment may drop, and the ability of the Union to help the workers could be lessened. My other inclination is to say that things are working as they are. Another thought is that this is an amendment and if it passes is very hard to remove or change. Things which I might not be opposed to becoming some sort or law (ie referendum or bill brough forth through the general assembly), I am against they idea of them being a part of the State constitution. With all of those qualifiers, my current inclination is No for this amendment. I will be looking in more detail at the arguments for and against before I make a final decision on this, and I encourage anyone reading this to do the same.

Amendment 48
Shall there be an amendment to the Colorado constitution defining the term “person” to include any human being from the moment of fertilization as “person” is used in those provivions of the Colorado constitution relating to inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law?

This amendment is primarily designed to challenge abortion rights as designated in Roe v. Wade. One problem with the amendment is that it is scientifically absurd. There is no medical or scientific way to know the moment of conception or fertilization. Further, a recent study on in vitro fertilization has shown that roughly 40% of fertilized embryoes created have genetic issues, ussual missing or extra chromosomes, and would likely not become implanted in the womb. In other words, 40% of fertilized eggs are likely to result in miscarriage. This makes the law very difficult to enforce. This amendment gets a No.

So far, three amendments and three "no" votes for me. For those who are looking at this through Facebook, please come to forscience.blogger.com, so that you can have a look at the various links contained throughout this post. Comments are welcome, especially in regards to 47.

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