This week, the Business Journal looks different — and there’s a reason for that. For the first time, we’re devoting an entire issue to an election.

We’re talking to candidates about their plans for business growth and discussing the pros and cons of the initiatives that could affect businesses.

We give you both sides of Amendment 69, the single-payer health care system proposed by ColoradoCare, along with the move to increase the state’s minimum wage and efforts to make it harder to amend the state’s constitution.

There’s a group pushing higher taxes for cigarettes, and El Paso County is promoting an initiative that will exempt it from Senate Bill 152, allowing local governments to form public-private partnerships to provide affordable and high-quality broadband services to more rural areas.

While we’ve discussed business issues and political decisions in the past, this is the first time we’ve devoted an entire issue to an election. The sheer number of ballot initiatives, many of which could impact our everyday lives, makes it vitally important that we all pay attention to the local and state level — especially as the national dialogue continues to take an ugly turn during the campaign’s final stages.

These are issues that affect business — health care benefits are one of the biggest expenses of a running a business, with salaries a close second. Investing in people — and how to do it — means that business owners are taking sides on both these constitutional amendments.

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We’ve examined the major issues that stand to affect businesses and economic development, and presented you both sides of the ballot initiatives.

As the economic recovery strengthens, it’s vitally important to take part in the election process. Regulations that both help and harm businesses occur at every level of government, and business owners of all sizes must pay attention to what’s happening in the political arena.

Ask any banker about the burden of Dodd-Frank, put in place after the housing crisis, or check with any consumer about the necessity of laws that protect them from illegal debt collection practices.

The Colorado Springs Business Journal is committed to covering the regional business community. We strive to be a resource for local business. Our goal is also to reflect the business climate, its successes — but also where there’s room for improvement. We believe in being a partner with businesses, working together to create a vibrant, successful economy where businesses small and large can thrive. We want to present the issues in a fair, honest way that helps the business community make decisions about the future.

So we’ve done our part. We’ve researched the issues, talked to the opponents and the supporters, and laid it all out on the following pages.

Now it’s your turn.

Ballots went out in the mail Oct. 17. Take the time to fill them out, put them in the mail or drop them off at the Citizens Service Building on Garden of the Gods Road or other balloting locations. Or you can vote in person at the designated polling places from Oct. 24 to Nov. 8.

Some pundits are advocating voting as a privilege, saying that not everyone should be allowed to vote — people should have to prove they are aware of the issues and the candidates’ stances before casting a ballot. Voting is a responsibility of living in a democracy, a duty that must be performed. The idea of that kind of literacy test should have died with Jim Crow.

And in the past few elections, Millennials have decided to attend rallies, listen to the debates — and then stay home. Not this time. Everyone should take the time to fill out a ballot — these issues are too important.

The CSBJ has made it easy to learn about candidates in hotly contested races, about the issues at the state and local level that could change the way your business operates.

Read this week’s Business Journal to learn which initiatives stand to improve your business, which ones could make it harder to operate in the state and then be sure to vote on or before Nov. 8.