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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Realtor Associations Take a Position on Several Ballot Measures

Although individual real estate agents like to keep their political opinions to themselves, the state and local Realtor associations do take an active interest in ballot measures, especially ones which could impact property rights and the real estate industry.

This year, both the Colorado and Denver Realtor associations have taken positions on Amendments 69 and 71 and on Propositions 107 and 108. 

Regarding Amendment 69, also known as ColoradoCare, the Realtor association urges a “No” vote. Not only does it impose a 10% tax on real estate commissions (and on passive income, including rents and the sale of investment properties), but it risks driving businesses out of Colorado, which would strike a serious blow to employment and the economy. The tax increase to support this single-payer health insurance system would by itself more than double our state’s budget and catapult Colorado to having the highest income tax in the country.

In addition, the Realtor association, like others, is concerned that the 21-member board created to manage ColoradoCare is unaccountable as it negotiates prices, decides coverages and reimbursement rates, and even increases its tax rate without voter approval.

Personally, I was a big fan of Bernie Sanders’ Medicare-for-all approach, and I know Bernie has campaigned for Colorado to take the lead by passing Amendment 69, but I agree with the Realtor associations that this would be a big mistake. If America is to get a single-payer healthcare system (like Medicare, but covering everyone), it needs to be done by Congress, not by an individual state like Colorado, in order to be fair and not economically disruptive.

Amendment 71 is the amendment that “raises the bar” on future constitutional amendments. The Realtor association urges approval. Perhaps you, like me, have wondered why it takes the same simple majority vote to approve both a statutory law and a constitutional amendment in Colorado. This make no sense.  By contrast, our federal constitution requires a two-thirds vote in Congress plus ratification by two-thirds of the state legislatures.
Under present rules, the petition requirements to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot is the same as for a simple law, and both require only a simple majority of the voters. A law passed by voters can be repealed or modified by the legislature, whereas a constitutional amendment can only be modified or repealed by a subsequent amendment.
Remember how Mr. Khan pulled a copy of the U.S. Constitution from his pocket and offered it to Donald Trump? He’d need a briefcase to hold a copy of our state constitution, and it gets bigger all the time.
Propositions 107 and 108, which the Realtor associations support, create a state primary for elections and allow the one-third of voters who are unaffiliated to participate in the primary of their choice. (The caucus system would remain for choosing party leaders on the precinct level.) By including unaffiliated voters in the primary, it is believed that the winners of each party’s primary would be less likely to be from their ideological fringes.
The Denver association declined to endorse school board measures 3A and 3B (as I do) but has endorsed the renewal of the SCFD sales tax, which amounts to 1¢ on a $10 purchase.  You won’t miss that penny, but collectively it makes a huge contribution to the artistic and cultural institutions of the metro area, which only enhances property values.
Consistent with its support of the Jefferson Parkway boondoggle, the Denver Realtor association has endorsed both incumbent Jeffco Commissioners. I prefer Marti Smith, who opposes it, over Libby Szabo.
You’ll want to vote early, because that will put a stop to the phone calls you might receive from campaigns soliciting your vote.

Published Oct. 27, 2016, in the YourHub section of the Denver Post and in four Jefferson County weekly newspapers.  It has been edited for accuracy concerning ballot issues 3A and 3B.

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