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State Policy News
Proposition 105, “Labeling Genetically Modified Food,” Qualifies for November Ballot
Proposition 105 would require the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to oversee a regulatory system that would require labeling of food products deemed to contain genetically engineered materials. (The acronym GMO, which stands for “genetically modified organism,” has long been associated with such efforts across the nation in both legislation and ballot initiatives.)
Here’s the ballot title and submission clause as approved by the Title Setting Board:
The title as designated and fixed by the Board is as follows:
A change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning labeling of genetically modified food; and, in connection therewith, requiring food that has been genetically modified or treated with genetically modified material to be labeled, “Produced With Genetic Engineering” starting on July 1, 2016; exempting some foods including but not limited to food from animals that are not genetically modified but have been fed or injected with genetically modified food or drugs, certain food that is not packaged for retail sale and is intended for immediate human consumption, alcoholic beverages, food for animals, and medically prescribed food; requiring the Colorado department of public health and environment to regulate the labeling of genetically modified food; and specifying that no private right of action is created for failure to conform to the labeling requirements.
The ballot title and submission clause as designated and fixed by the Board is as follows:
Shall there be a change to the Colorado Revised Statutes concerning labeling of genetically modified food; and, in connection therewith, requiring food that has been genetically modified or treated with genetically modified material to be labeled, “Produced With Genetic Engineering” starting on July 1, 2016; exempting some foods including but not limited to food from animals that are not genetically modified but have been fed or injected with genetically modified food or drugs, certain food that is not packaged for retail sale and is intended for immediate human consumption, alcoholic beverages, food for animals, and medically prescribed food; requiring the Colorado department of public health and environment to regulate the labeling of genetically modified food; and specifying that no private right of action is created for failure to conform to the labeling requirements?
The final draft of the legislature’s Blue Book analysis is now available.
Right to Know Colorado, the organization pushing the measure, had raised $178, 841 as of Tuesday, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Contributors of note include:
- $65,000, Food Democracy Action, Clear Lake, Iowa;
- $25,000, Presence Marketing, South Barrington, Illinois;
- $10,000, United Natural Foods, Keene, New Hampshire; and
- $7,000, from three individuals at Boulder Brands, Boulder.
Meanwhile, the ballot measure is opposed by the “Coalition Against the Misleading Labeling Initiative.” As of Tuesday, according to the Secretary of State’s Office, the Coalition had raised $199,170. Notable contributors include:
- $101,000, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Washington, D.C.;
- $54,150, Monsanto;
- $38,500, Pioneer Hi-Bred Research Center, Evans, Colorado; and
- $10,160, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Washington, D.C.
CACI members interested in opposing Proposition 105 should contact Sara Froelich, Coalition spokesperson, at 303.534.4399.
According to Reuters, a similar ballot initiative also will go before Oregon voters this November. In May Vermont became the first state to mandate GMO labeling. GMO laws in Maine and Connecticut will only go into effect when other New England states adopt GMO laws. Across the U.S., many other state legislatures have debated GMO bills in recent years.
CACI, in recent past legislative sessions, has opposed GMO labeling measures. CACI, however, has not yet taken a position on Proposition 105. The CACI Executive Committee will discuss the measure at its September 15th meeting. If the Executive Committee recommends a position, then the recommendation will go to the full CACI Board of Directors for consideration.
For more on this issue, read:
“GMO food labeling initiative approved for Colorado’s November ballot,” by Kristen Skovira, KMGH ABC-7 Denver, August 21st.
“GMO labeling measure makes Colorado’s November ballot,” Niraj Chokshi, The Washington Post, August 20th.
“GMO food labeling initiative approved for Colorado ballot,” by Jesse Paul, The Denver Post, August 20th.
“GMO labeling movement garners possible spot on November ballot,” by Shaul Turner, KDVR Fox 31 Denver, August 4th.
“Potential for real food fight if GMO labeling makes ballot,” Peter Marcus, The Colorado Statesman, July 11th.
CACI’s Furman Again Named Finalist in “Power Book” Competition by The Denver Business Journal
For the second straight year, CACI’s Loren Furman, Senior Vice President, State and Federal Relations, has been named a finalist in the “Economic Development and Government” category by The Denver Business Journal for its annual “Power Book” awards.
The nominees in this category also include Governor John Hickenlooper, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and two state legislators: Senate Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso and Representative Angela Williams.
CACI congratulates Loren for making the Power Book cut for the second year in a row because the DBJ has again recognized Loren’s tireless work at the State Capitol as CACI’s chief lobbyist seeking to protect and improve the state’s economic climate for all Colorado businesses.
The Power Book awards cover 14 categories, ranging from health care and law to energy-and-natural resources and architecture. A number of CACI members are represented in the various categories.
The winners will be announced at a luncheon on Monday, September 15th, at the Westin Denver Downtown Hotel. “These power players are Denver’s most influential business leaders, making the news in Colorado during 2013,” the newspaper said.
For the entire list of categories and finalists, read:
“Denver Business Journal names 2014 Power Book finalists,” by Boots Gifford, The Denver Business Journal, September 2nd.
Education Reform Group Release STEM Strategy for Colorado
The Colorado Education Initiative (CEI) released the Colorado STEM Education Roadmap on August 27th. The Roadmap is designed to address what many believe is a threat to America’s competitiveness: a lack of workers literate in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
The release event was attended by many of the state’s most prominent education, business, and civic leaders and included remarks from Lt. Governor Joe Garcia and Michael Gass, President and CEO Emeritus of United Launch Alliance.
According to the CEI:
Colorado is expected to see above national average growth in STEM occupations over the next decade as well as a rapid increase in the demand for STEM talent across non-STEM professions. However, Colorado’s students are not adequately prepared to compete for these jobs. Only 22 percent of 2009 high school graduates are on track to attain postsecondary credentials. And while Colorado does comparatively well in attaining postsecondary STEM degrees, national trends show that only about 50 percent of students who earn STEM credentials actually enter STEM fields. Further while diversity of people and ideas drives innovation, the STEM pipeline in Colorado is notable for its lack of diversity. Females and Hispanics are vastly underrepresented in STEM occupations, yet females make up nearly half of the overall workforce, and Colorado’s Hispanic population is the fastest-growing population in the state. Coupled with an aging STEM workforce (over 16 percent of Colorado STEM workers are nearing retirement) and declining in-migration of talent, it will be increasingly difficult for Colorado to meet current and future skill demand.
The lack of skilled workers is of constant concern to manufacturers who, according to the National Association of Manufacturers, have added jobs nationally in 11 of the last 12 months yet regularly struggle to fill open positions due to workforce shortages. STEM-literate workers are particularly attractive to the manufacturing sector due to their analytic and problem-solving abilities.
One of the most inspiring speakers of the evening was Leroy Williams, Jr., Vice President of Information Technology and Services for the Ball Corporation. Mr. Williams illustrated the problem well by comparing the lack of STEM-literate workers to carbon monoxide. Both, Mr. Williams said, go easily unnoticed: carbon monoxide because it is tasteless and odorless and STEM because its importance is broadly underappreciated. He continued by emphasizing that both can be deadly if not dealt with properly.
CACI members involved in raising awareness around STEM education include IBM, Lockheed Martin, Ball Corp., Xcel Energy, Comcast, CH2M Hill, JP Morgan Chase and the Colorado Technology Association.
For information on CACI’s Colorado Manufacturing Initiative (CMI), contact Patrick Pratt, CMI Program Manager, at 303.656.6915.
Federal Policy News
A Look Ahead at Congress This Fall
Congress heads back into session Monday to tackle a long, complex list of upcoming issues while laboring under the reputation of being the most inactive Congress.
The chief concern for both the House and Senate will be to address the Federal Government’s funding for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1st. Congress still needs to focus on the 12 appropriations bills necessary to keep the government running. It is very likely, however, that a short-term continuing resolution (CR) agreement will be reached to fund the Government until just a week after the November election.
Leaders of both parties say a government shutdown is not an option, and, in theory, this shouldn’t be a problem. Last year Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray brokered a spending deal to avoid sequester cuts and those funding numbers should hold through 2015. There are potential major policy riders on the CR, however, including a short-term re-authorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank.
In total, Congress has a calendar of seven full work days in September, two work days in October and a full campaign focus for the beginning of November. That leaves roughly nine pre-election work days and only 12 post-election work days to address non-controversial pending legislation plus the following pressing hot button items:
- Appropriations/CR to fund the Government (CR through Nov. 14 or until after the New Year to be determined);
- U.S. Ex-Im Bank authorization expires Sept. 30th and would need approval to prevent dissolution;
- Immigration reform and unaccompanied minor border crossings (unilateral Presidential action may spur a strong Congressional reactions);
- Creating a military and security approach to deal with ISIS;
- Iraq bombing and War Powers Act implications;
- Tax reform and tax” inversions,”;
- U.S. infrastructure needs; and
- Potential for continuing debates in the House on Benghazi and the IRS scandal
For information about these issues and the CACI Federal Relations Council, contact Leah Curtsinger, Federal and State Governmental Affairs Representative, at 303-866-9641.