- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Durango Herald, Oct. 11, on marijuana tax revenues:

The country lost Yogi Berra a couple of weeks ago, otherwise he would have had something to say about question BB on this fall’s ballot, the only statewide issue.

Colorado voters have seen it before, should marijuana be available and taxed, and they responded by saying “yes” both times.

The answer to BB should be the very same “yes.”

BB is on the ballot because the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights requires that at the time of the election, two estimates be made in conjunction with establishing a new tax: how much that tax will generate in its first year and what the state’s total tax revenues will be. No low-balling is allowed.

State economists got one right - the marijuana taxes generated $66.1 million instead of the estimated $67 million - and one wrong. Actual overall state revenues subject to the spending limit exceeded the estimate, $12.35 billion rather than $12.08 billion.

Thus voters are required to confirm that yes, they want the state to retain the revenues from the first year of the new tax.

Voters like to know where their taxes are going, and that was mostly true for the marijuana taxes. $40 million of the $66 million raised will go to school construction, and another $12 million will be spent on programs to discourage marijuana abuse, for treatment programs and to benefit at-risk students. That includes drop-out and anti-bullying grants, substance-abuse treatments and for related 4-H and FFA programs at the State Fair.

The balance does go to the state’s general fund to be allocated by the Legislature.

If BB does not pass, a big winner is the marijuana industry and marijuana consumers. The industry would receive $24 million and consumers $17 million through a temporary reduction in the 10 percent retail tax. Taxpayers would receive a refund of $25 million, estimated by the Legislative Council of the Colorado General Assembly to be between $6 and $32 (for example, those filing a joint return with an adjusted gross income of $116,800 will receive $20).

We believe that when Coloradans so decisively approved the cultivation and sale of marijuana they were looking forward to having the associated tax revenues used as promised, providing for school construction and for programs combating drug-abuse and for aid to at-risk students. Voters did not vote in favor of marijuana in order to personally receive a few dollars in return.

At its core, TABOR’s requirement that new taxes must be approved by voters makes good sense.

But other TABOR language has prevented the state from climbing out of an economic downturn and has unnecessarily sent voters back to the polls. BB is an example of the latter.

Vote yes on BB for the state to retain the tax revenues as voters intended.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/1GGRSYk


The Gazette, Oct. 7, on reforming the juvenile corrections system:

The quality of Colorado’s future has everything to do with how our youths develop, and adults will have great influence on that outcome. So, we should thoughtfully guide and care for honor students and delinquents alike to brighten our future. As such, we must monitor and improve the state’s troubled Division of Youth Corrections.

Some of society’s more successful adults were juvenile delinquents steered right by adults. Dr. Ben Carson was uncontrollably violent as a child on the streets of Detroit, known for hurting other kids at the slightest provocation. He became a world-renowned neurosurgeon and a leading contender for his party’s presidential nomination. From the NBA’s Allen Iverson to country music’s Merle Haggard to rap music’s Snoop Dogg, society is blessed with juvenile-offenders-gone-good.

Any child is a terrible thing to waste. So it is disturbing to learn of ongoing problems, including apparent violations of law, at the state’s 10 juvenile detention facilities.

A Gazette investigation published Sunday, the second in less than two years, uncovered lingering abuses. Most disturbing is the continued use of extended solitary confinement. In some cases, youths have endured recent confinements similar to those of hardened convicts in high-security adult prisons.

Youth corrections officials say new policies enacted in June 2014 have allowed extended solitary confinement only in extreme conditions involving emergency concerns of a juvenile presenting an immediate threat to self or others. But The Gazette’s most recent investigation discovered kids had been in solitary for days, since the policy change, when there was no emergency. One confinement lasted 49 hours.

As The Gazette conducted its new investigation, the youth corrections division updated its policy again Oct. 1. The newest adjustment puts a four-hour limit on solitary, with stipulations. After four hours, confinement can continue only if upper tiers of leadership are notified each hour it continues and behavioral health experts are involved. The Oct. 1 change says solitary can be used only in cases of emergencies defined as “a serious probable, imminent threat of bodily harm to self or others.”

As a result of The Gazette’s investigations, and findings by the ACLU, Colorado lawmakers want greater transparency from the Division of Youth Corrections. State Rep. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, requested more data Monday on the continued use of solitary confinement. He also wants access to use-of-force reports that detail when guards have physical contact with youths who are acting out. Lee said he mostly wants to know how legislators can help youth correction officials better implement and obey new policies.

“It sounds like their new administrative seclusion policy is consistent with best practices,” Lee said. “The proof is in how they implement it.”

State Sen. Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, and state Rep. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, improved transparency of youth corrections in 2014. They ran a bill, signed into law, that facilitated the release of 1,600 incident reports from all state-run youth corrections facilities. Lambert said Monday that he plans to seek more information to help ensure youth corrections officials follow all policies and procedures.

Few would ask state corrections officials to create cozy environments for offenders of any age. No one is advocating the state get soft on crime.

Rather, critics of the state’s Division of Youth Corrections want rational, constructive and lawful practices. Reform should trump reprisal and punishment, especially when we deal with kids. Young people can quickly change when adults help them find trajectories of success. Conversely, as explained by one offender’s parent in Sunday’s expose, cruel and unusual punishment stands to make an angry and violent teen more angry and violent.

We must detain our state’s worst youth offenders if they pose threats to themselves and others. But a Division of Youth Corrections must first and foremost correct. These are children. How we manage them when they fail will affect our future.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/1LNmX45


The (Grand Junction) Daily Sentinel, Oct. 13, on honoring indigenous peoples on Columbus Day:

There’s no denying that Christopher Columbus changed the world.

His famous voyage opened the floodgates of European exploration and touched off a land grab that shaped the future of the Western Hemisphere.

In that vein, a day set aside to observe his so-called “discovery” of the New World is fitting based on impact alone. But he’s emerged as a controversial figure - as much for the waves of European conquest he touched off as his own brutal treatment of native peoples.

Some cities have moved to change the focus of the federal Columbus Day holiday from the explorer to the people who were vanquished by the waves of colonialism that followed him.

Denver and Colorado surprisingly factor into the history of Columbus Day. A first-generation Italian in Denver lobbied for a legal holiday honoring Columbus. Colorado Gov. Jesse F. McDonald proclaimed the holiday in 1905 and it was made a statutory holiday in 1907 - well before Congress followed suit.

According to Wikipedia sources: “In April 1934, as a result of lobbying by the Knights of Columbus and New York City Italian leader Generoso Pope, Congress and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed October 12 a federal holiday under the name Columbus Day.”

Understand that the movement to recognize Columbus was primarily a reaction to the disproportionate power held by “WASPs,” or White Anglo-Saxon Protestants at the time. The move recognized the contributions of Italians and Catholics at a time when both were marginalized politically.

The genesis of the holiday doesn’t mesh with today’s political climate, leaving individual communities to debate how to observe a turning point in human history. This year, nine cities across the U.S. chose to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day instead of the traditional Columbus Day.

Recent events suggest Colorado could be ripe for a similar shift.

Last year, on the 150th anniversary of the Sand Creek Massacre, Gov. John Hickenlooper apologized to the descendants of the 160 Cheyenne and Arapaho people who were killed by the Colorado Territorial militia.

Last week, Hickenlooper signed an executive order creating a special state commission to study the use of Native American mascots in public schools.

South Dakota, another state with a history of skirmishes between white settlers and indigenous tribes, renamed Columbus Day to Native American Day 25 years ago.

Whether a similar change could transpire here, we think it’s well worth the discussion. The history of the Ute people and their impact on the settlement of the Western Slope has as much bearing on today’s Colorado as Columbus did.

Editorial: https://bit.ly/1jyheCx


The Denver Post, Oct. 12, on the governor’s climate plan:

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Colorado Climate Plan may not be popular with some (not all) environmentalists, but it actually provides a more detailed roadmap for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions than Gov. Bill Ritter’s highly touted Climate Action Plan of eight years ago.

True, the plan doesn’t pledge to transform the state economy overnight by executive fiat or the power of wishful thinking. It is rooted instead in the real world, where collaboration is key to democratic progress. But the document is neither complacent nor short of ideas on how to proceed on a wide spectrum of fronts, from water to transportation.

Colorado couldn’t sit on its hands even if it wanted to. The largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions are power plants, and the state is plunging forward with an effort to meet the federal government’s Clean Power Plan mandate. As the climate plan notes, Colorado’s targets for 2030 “represent a 38 percent reduction in the rate of carbon dioxide emissions or a 31 percent reduction in the mass of emissions” from the baseline of 2012. Those are challenging goals and likely represent the single most significant climate initiative of the next decade and a half.

Another regulatory hurdle driving state action against a variety of emissions is the federal ozone standard, which was just lowered to a level that will keep regulators busy for a long time.

One of the challenges for a growing state like Colorado is that fairly impressive progress in such areas as renewable energy (which made up a trifling 0.54 percent of power in 2004 in Colorado and now accounts for 14.36 percent, with that figure steadily growing) can be offset by additional people and their activities. So, for example, even though the climate plan notes that “by 2030, (greenhouse) emissions per unit of Gross State Product will be reduced by nearly 37 percent over the 2005 baseline” - an impressive performance - a graph elsewhere in the document estimates that total greenhouse emissions in 2030 in Colorado will still exceed what they are today.

But that only underlines the immense challenge that transitioning out of fossil fuels entails, and why Colorado has no choice but to emphasize adaptation, too. Adaptation is particularly important since in a global context, even the most aggressive state plan would have very little impact on the overall rate of climate change.

Editorial: https://dpo.st/1LNn8fN

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide