Voters asked in fall ballot to guide policy

Nov. 6 choices will affect marijuana, political spending and state jobs

DENVER – Colorado voters will see their shortest ballot in years this November, but it still takes five pages of fine print in this morning’s paper to print the ballot questions.

Just three state constitutional amendments appear on this year’s ballot, in contrast to nine questions in 2010 and 14 in 2008.

Today’s advertisements in The Durango Herald reprint the full proposed amendments in technical, legal language.

The three amendments would change the way the state hires and fires employees, legalize marijuana for recreational use, and symbolically oppose a Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations to spend unlimited money on elections.

Referendum S is Gov. John Hickenlooper’s drive to remake the state personnel system. It gives managers at state departments greater flexibility in identifying finalists for jobs and hiring them. Much of the amendment’s text is devoted to detailing the tests and evaluations managers use to pick new employees.

It also removes several senior positions from the personnel system’s protections, including deputy directors, spokespeople, lobbyists and chief financial officers for state departments.

Only voters can approve the changes, because much of the law over the personnel system is in the state constitution.

Amendment 64 would legalize marijuana use by people age 21 and older. It also directs the state to set up a system to regulate marijuana sales similar to laws about liquor sales. Adults could possess an ounce or less or marijuana and up to six plants, and licensed stores could sell pot.

Regardless of the vote, marijuana will still be illegal under federal law.

Amendment 65 directs Colorado’s congressional delegation and Legislature to support a U.S. Constitutional amendment to allow Congress and the states to regulate political spending. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that corporations and people can spend unlimited sums on political ads.

Amendment 65 cannot overturn the high court’s ruling. It is simply calling on state officials to support a future constitutional amendment to undo the ruling.