An election year not only provides an opportunity to vote for candidates for various offices, but also presents several ballot initiatives for voters to decide. The consideration given to these proposals is of great importance. Each has a significant impact on our state, individual lives and our future.
We often hear the adage, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” It is important not to “judge a ballot initiative by its title.” What may sound good on the surface is often found quite different when the depths of the details are explored.
As a state legislator I was used to being confronted with all kinds of ideas and recommendations for proposed legislation. On the surface many of these sounded like they were good ideas. But I found the truth in the proverb of old that says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” (Proverbs 18:17)
Before you “jump to a conclusion” on a proposed ballot initiative, it is important to ask some questions to the proponents or to yourself. Questions like:
- What problem is this proposal attempting to resolve? Is it a verified or perceived problem?
- How does this proposal solve the problem?
- What are the details of the proposal? (“The devil is in the details.”)
- What are the direct and indirect costs associated with the proposal?
- Who benefits and who his harmed by the proposal?
- Is the proposal of state-wide concern or just a local issue or special interest cause?
- Does the proposal merit the magnitude of an amendment to the state’s constitution?
- Who is behind the proposal and what is their primary objective?
This list may not be exhaustive, but it will go a long way in getting behind the title and finding out the real issues underneath the proposal. You will then be able to make an informed decision as a member of the most important legislative body.
This year there are four proposed ballot initiatives that relate to oil and gas production in our state. I encourage you to apply these questions to petition gathers and others. I will discuss each proposal in detail in future articles. What you will find is that each of them while sounding like they have degree of merit on the surface, underneath the title they designed to stymie if not stop oil and gas development in our state. They will hurt our state-wide economy and have a significant impact on revenues that come to local communities, and our energy independence as a nation.
Rep. Ken Summers, Co-Chair
Larimer Energy Action Project