One Month In: What’s Happened – and What’s Yet to Come – in the Legislature

With the inaugural month of the new Democratic super-majority in the Colorado Legislature now under our belts, it’s a good time to review what has happened, and avert our gaze with trepidation to what is yet to come.

The Blue Wave rode in to Colorado last November on a crest of expensive promises, and  a bit of revolutionary fervor, intent on transmogrifying the state away from its oppressive, inequitable, racist, misogynistic, and generally backwards past, towards an enlightened, egalitarian, carbon-free, vegan utopia.

So how are we doing so far?

The most incandescent story of the session so far is that much of the new progressive agenda remains in waiting. But that does not mean that nothing has been advanced; herewith, a sampling of the boldest to date:

The National Popular Vote. Right out of the starting gate was one which fulfils a fantasy held dear by many on the left for years, and by virtually all Democrats since Election Day 2016. SB 042 would commit Colorado to an inter-state compact to assign our electoral college votes to whichever Presidential candidate wins the popular vote nationally, effective once enough states join to collectively make up a deciding number of electoral votes. That means, among other things, that if a majority of Coloradans vote for, say, Molly Jones in the 2024 Presidential election, but the majority of the nation votes for John Smith, then Colorado’s nine (probably 10 by that time) electoral votes go to Mr. Smith. That’s offensive enough; but when one stops to consider that the population of Los Angeles or New York alone is far greater than the population of the entire state of Colorado and our neighboring states combined, the sobering reality quickly sets in that reliance on a popular election for President would consign most of the country to governance by the largest population centers clustered in the north-east and west coasts. That America’s founders knew precisely what they were doing when they rejected such a scheme in favor of a system which dilutes power to the individual states is as telling of their grasp of political reality as it is of the Democrats barely concealed contempt for political arrangements that are not conducive to the imposition of their program.

Importation of Drugs from Canada. Meaning pharmaceuticals, not narcotics, at least for now. This was identified as a priority of Governor Polis’, even earning upfront mention in his inaugural State-of-the-People’s Republic-Address. To be fair, it is, at least ostensibly, an attempt to reign in what is seen as exorbitant prescription drug prices. One needs only gaze across the border (the northern one, where no one is fighting as of yet over a wall) to feel a twinge of envy at the lower prices offered for medications. But it bears a bit more contemplation; where, for instance, were those drugs initially developed? And why are they cheaper in Canada? The answer to the first question, almost invariably, is the United States. The answer to the second, absolutely invariably, is because the government of Canada imposes price controls. In other words, part of the reason we pay so much for medication in the U.S. is because we are subsidizing them in compassionate realms like Canada. Re-establishing the impartial pricing of a free market on the pharmaceutical industry is apparently as far-fetched as sending the 101st Airborne to Ottawa to convince Parliament to reconsider policies which drive our consumer prices up, so this option seems reasonable.

Sex Education. Denizens of the Capitol were impressed by the attention the National Popular Vote bill received in the opening weeks of the 2019 session, until the public outcry generated by HB 1032, Comprehensive Human Sexuality Education, packed the building with enough angry parents, teachers, religious leaders, and others that the beleaguered Sergeants-at-Arms had difficulty finding enough rooms to accommodate everyone. The bill is a little complicated, but the upshot is that it requires all public schools – including charters and those in rural areas – to include instruction within their sex education curriculum which, among other things, “prohibits instruction from explicitly or implicitly teaching or endorsing religious ideology or sectarian tenets or doctrines, using shame-based or stigmatizing language or instructional tools, employing gender norms or gender stereotypes, or excluding the relational or sexual experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender individuals.” Now there is a lot packed into that summary, and it is difficult to distill which is more troubling, how subject to interpretation it could be, or how explicit its meaning. Either way, there is little question that the intent is to normalize through educational instruction activity which has traditionally been subject to the realm of moral teaching, the domain of the family or the church. Perhaps even more disturbing is what amounts to the nationalization of the intensely intimate, and the deliberate public exposure of the carnal to the youngest, formerly most innocent, members of society. More even than that is the offense it offers to even private religious instruction, and the relegation of religion to something akin to a second-class right at best. The effects on liberty are chilling.

Several other introduced bills deserve at least honorable mention: a proposal for implementing a state-backed public option for health insurance; a bill to prohibit employers from inquiring about a criminal record in a job application; the perennial “Right-to-Rest” bill which will allow anyone to camp out on any public area anywhere, anytime; one to prohibit restaurants from handing out plastic straws unless explicitly requested; and even one to require a minimum two-person crew on freight trains (thank God we have government to conquer such pressing societal issues!)

What everyone awaits, of course, is the other shoe (or shoes) to drop. We have not yet seen hide nor hair of the long promised anti-oil and gas bills, which we know are coming, nor the most egregious of the anti-business bills.

But be patient; once we ensure that Colorado’s electoral votes are directed by New York and Illinois, and that freight trains have at least two souls on them, we can look forward to the dismantling of our largest economic drivers.