Election season is here and at the Colorado Cross-Disability Coalition (CCDC) we have one message. VOTE AS IF YOU LIFE DEPENDS ON IT….BECAUSE IT DOES. CCDC does not endorse or oppose any candidate.
We say NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US…EVER! In order to participate we must exercise our right and responsibility to vote. Democracy is not a spectator sport and only works when we participate. We have no excuse not to vote. Our ballots come in the mail. If we want to go to a vote center we can, there are accessible voting booths at the voting center. If we need help understanding or filling out our ballots we can get that help from your local voting center, a friend you trust, or an advocate (including CCDC staff).
This guide will do the following:
We are voting for a new Governor. The Democratic candidate is Jared Polis and the Republican Candidate is Walker Stapleton . Both are currently holding other elected positions. Jared Polis is a congressman for the second congressional district and Walker Stapleton is our state Treasurer. CCDC has given both candidates our expectations for a new Governor
The Governor gets to decide who runs every state agency including Health Care Policy and Financing, Human Services, Labor and Employment, etc. If there are changes to the federal Medicaid program a Governor might be able to decide if we accept a block grant for Medicaid—something CCDC strongly opposes. How much a Governor supports Medicaid is important to us.
Governors also are able to appoint people to boards and commissions including rule making bodies like the Medical Services Board, the Human Services Board, etc. We want a Governor that will listen to us about appointments and will appoint knowledgeable advocates who have direct experience with the various systems. We want people appointed that are connected with the community that will seek out diverse opinions and make an effort to listen to our community.
The Governor is the CEO of the state and sets the tone with state agencies. The Governor decides if state agencies are there to support people with disabilities to full participants in the state, or treat us as if we are errant children, in need of protection, punitive measures to keep us compliant, or both. A Governor can choose to keep an open door to hear us if we have problems with state agencies or can assume that longtime agency staff always know best and stonewall any efforts we make raise issues.
We will also vote for Congressional Candidates in all 7 congressional districts. Here are the CCDC requests of our Congressional Delegation. Research candidates directly—do not just rely on 30 second TV commercials.
We also get to elect a new Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Attorney General. All of these positions are important. You can read more about these races here!
Many people will get to elect a Colorado Legislator —all seats are up for re-election but some areas do not have two candidates. Many Colorado Senate seats are up as well, and in some tight districts a few votes might determine control of the Senate. Never doubt that your vote counts. You should be able to have a personal conversation with anyone running in your district. To find out who is running look here. Reach out to candidates in your district and ask them about their disability platform. Ask if they will support Medicaid, and expand programs that allow us to control our lives such as Consumer Directed Attendant Supports. We want consumer/participant direction for all Long Term Services and Supports. Ask if they will support Medicaid Buy-In allowing us to work and get out of poverty. Many of the issues outlined on our Gubernatorial paper are relevant to a Representative or Senator. Most important, ask them to make a commitment that if someone asks them to run a bill that will affect people with disabilities that they will ask the person if people from the disability community have been involved with the bill. If the answer is no then please do not support the bill unless or until they have fully involved our community. Real and Meaningful engagement of people with disabilities at all levels of government must be a priority.
People with disabilities have the right to vote, the right to accessibility and the right to vote in private. Disability Law Colorado is the lead organization that protects these rights. If you have a concern about access to your ballot, or if someone says you are not allowed to vote, please contact Jennifer Levin at email@example.com or 303-722-0300. Their website has complete information on our voting rights.
As always there are a lot of ballot initiatives.
Below are the ones where there are possible effects on disability and where appropriate, the CCDC position. These are statewide ballot initiatives. There are local initiatives all over the state, such as a measure in Denver to fund mental health treatment. CCDC does not take positions on local issues but encourage you to listen to all sides, read the proposal, talk to people you trust and vote. Here are the statewide ballot initiatives that have a disability component or are about overall governance:
Amendment V: Lower the age from 25 to 21 for someone to be a state legislator or senator. CCDC has no position on this issue.
Amendments Y and Z: Both of these amendments change how go about redistricting to make the process less partisan. Y is for congressional (federal level) redistricting and Z for (state level) legislators. There will be a process to select commissioners using specific criteria and there will be an equal number of commissioners from each major political party and independent/unaffiliated weapons. When the census is taken and the population changes we get more or fewer congressional seats (probably more). This requires the congressional districts be redrawn. This is a very political process because the parties each want to use the district boundaries for their advantage. The same process has to happen at the state level. In the past partisan processes have caused districts to be drawn based on race keeping people of color in certain areas which reduces the power of the minority vote. The same thing can happen with lower-income communities—keeping everyone living in poverty in one area to dilute the power of the low-income vote. It is in the interest of everyone to have fair elections and to have districts be created using non-partisan, objective criteria. CCDC SUPPORTS THESE AMENDMENTS.
Amendment A: Removes language in the Colorado constitution that allows slavery and involuntary servitude to be used as punishment for someone convicted of a crime. Because many people in jails and prisons are people with disabilities, and because we are a social justice organization, CCDC SUPPORTS THIS AMENDMENT. It is outrageous that slavery of any form is still allowed under any circumstances.
Amendment 73: Funding for public schools which increases funding for K-12 education through an income tax increase for people with incomes over $150,000 and setting a property tax assessment at 7% for residential properties and 24% for non-residential properties. This is reduction of current property taxes. The measure also encourages the legislature to change the school funding formula. The measure does require the Colorado Department of Education to review how the funds are spent and identify best practices. The legislature should review the funding formula ten years after implementation and make modifications if necessary. CCDC agrees that schools must be well funded. CCDC is not an expert in educational financing measures or taxes and therefore is not taking a position on this bill. For a liberal analysis check out the Bell Policy Center and for a conservative analysis check out the Independence Institute.
Amendment 74 requires a state or local government to compensate a property owner if a law or regulation reduces the fair market value of his or her property. CCDC has no position on this proposal.
Amendment 75 allows candidates to accept 5 times the current campaign contribution limits if any candidate in the race loans or gives his or her campaign more than $1 million. The purpose is to level the playing field between a candidate with personal wealth and his or her opponent. CCDC has no position on this proposal. CCDC generally has concern about the influence of money in politics.
Proposition 109 changes Colorado statutes to require the state to borrow up to $3.5 billion in 2019 to fund 66 highway projects and directs the state to pay back the bonds without raising taxes. It also limits how much interest can be paid back and sets a timeline of 20 years for repayment. CCDC STRONGLY OPPOSES THIS PROPOSAL. Our two primary reasons for opposition are:
Proposition 110 authorizes a slight increase in sales and use tax from 2.9% to 3.52% for transportation projects for 20 years and allows the state to borrow up to 6 billion for transportation projects to be paid back over 20 years. The funding would be allocated as follows
45% to the state
40% to local governments
15% to multimodal transportation projects
CCDC STRONGLY SUPPORTS THIS PROPOSAL because the funds will also fix the highways, which are deteriorating but will not leave out transit projects. Local governments can prioritize their needs as transportation needs vary widely around the state. This funding will not be taken out of another source, such as Medicaid or education. This is a sustainable and inclusive solution that will enable our state to meet our diverse transportation needs to have safe and usable roads and to continue to expand transit options.
Proposition 111 reduces the cost of a payday loan to 36 annual percentage rate and expands what is considered to be a deceptive trade practices for payday lending. Payday loans are usually small loans with hefty repayment fees that do not require a credit check. They are popular with low wage workers and people on fixed incomes. People can get in trouble because the fees are so high and most people that use these loans are low-income and did not have the money in the first place and end up in perpetual debt. 36% is still a very high interest rate. Opponents say that this could cause the payday loan industry to stop doing business in Colorado. CCDC SUPPORTS THIS PROPOSAL. If an industry is going to leave the state because they cannot make money with a 36% interest rate that means that they are currently getting much more. If companies need more than 36% interest leave the state that is OK. It would be a better use of our collective time and energy to focus on fair lending practices, reduce income inequality, increase wages, and reduce the cost of housing and health care so that people are not struggling so desperately.
Proposition 112 requires that new oil and gas developments are at least 2500 feet away occupied structures like homes or businesses, water sources and areas designated as “vulnerable”. CCDC has no position on this proposal.
In closing, please remember to vote. Vote your ballot as soon as it comes so you do not forget. If you experience barriers call Disability Law Colorado. You can also call CCDC with questions or concerns. If you want to help do phone banking to get others to vote please reach out to Dawn Howard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-839-1775.
Many people experiencing homelessness are PWDs (people with disabilities). Each year CCDC supports DHOL’s (Denver Homeless Out Loud) legislative efforts to reverse the camping ban. The ban prevents people experiencing homelessness from sleeping or resting in public spaces as well as sleeping in legally parked cars. I wanted to better understand what motivates Terese Howard to be an important leader within DHOL Terese and a small group of individuals started DHOL in September 2012 because no one was continuing the fight to reverse the camping ban and its devastating effects. Terese firmly believes everyone has something to contribute! Some can raise money, others make signs, others drive individuals to appointments. People experiencing homelessness have a wisdom of what really will make their lives better. Currently, they are collecting signatures for the Denver Right to Survive Initiative so voters in Denver can decide whether the camping ban should stay in effect. For more information, please visit DHOL’s website Denver Homeless Out Loud
Terese and members of DHOL currently work on several projects. They are part of the new group Colorado Village Collaborative which is building tiny homes for individuals who were homeless to live in. Right now people are living in a village of eleven tiny homes. The locker project is an effort to place artistically decorated lockers throughout Denver so people can safely store their processions. Thank you, Terese, for organizing the wise voices of those experiencing homelessness!
Lucinda Rowe is a CCDC Certified Non-Attorney Advocate who assists with outreach for CCDC. This mother of three is also a full-time CNA for her 20-year-old daughter, Estrealla, who lives in their home, with severe Cerebral Palsy. (more…)