I know 100 reasons to worry about what might happen at the state legislature this year, and every one of them gets to carry about five bills each.
It’s that time again, when Colorado’s centum lawmakers meet furiously for 120 days to make our world a better place and improve their chances for re-election.
New for 2019 is total Democratic control of the state House, Senate and governor’s pen. It’s the political equivalent of mom and dad putting the smarmy, self-righteous older sister in charge for three months while the bratty little brother has to do what he’s told — as he plots his revenge.
Pundits are expecting big things and big partisan fights, that Democrats will always win this year. Here are few highlights about what to watch for:
Electoral Carnage: After Trump won the White House but not the popular vote, talk about finally ending Southern State Rule began in earnest. Senate Bill 19-042 by Democratic state Sen. Mike Foote and Dem state reps Jeni Arndt and Emily Sirota would end the Electoral College in Colorado and any other state that wants to play. Get enough states and it’s game over for presidents elected by states and not voters, i.e. George W. Bush and Donald Trump. Don’t get excited yet, however. The measure would not be retroactive.
Stay Out Of Jail Calling Card: Bipartisanship isn’t dead in Colorado, it’s just masquerading as nannyism. Senate Bill 19-36, sponsored by lawmakers all over the Capitol and the aisles, would require court systems across the state to give those charged with crimes a ring to remind them they have to go to court. It would appear that jails statewide are filled with folks who may or may not have done the crime, but they do the time on Failure to Appear warrants. The chief reason defendants don’t show up for court dates? They forgot. A court-date reminder could seriously reduce the jail and prison population, proponents say, which is something Dems and Republicans both like.
Don’t Bring Out Your Dead: State officials want you to own up to friends and family you don’t like and pay the price to have them roasted or relegated to six feet under. Current law says unclaimed dead people become wards of the local state government and have to be plugged somewhere. Just about anywhere is expensive these days. To help counties and towns deal with the costs of bodies nobody wants, bi-partisan pals Dem state Rep. Donald Valdez and GOP state Sen. Larry Crowder are sponsoring Senate Bil 19-27. The measure would allow counties to cremate anybody you don’t want to deal with for far less than it costs to plant them. Progress.
Cell Mates; Dem lawmakers state Rep. Jovan Melton and state Sen. Lois Court are determined to get you to put the damned phone down when you’re driving. For the millionth time, another legislative measure, this time Senate Bill 19-12, would make it totally illegal to use your phone to text or phone home while you’re driving everyone around you crazy. While your hands-free talking car would be OK, any phone in your hands, which should be on the wheel, will cost you dearly, if the measure is approved. The bill mandates a $300 fine and 4 points for a first offense. Getting busted twice would run you $500 and 6 points. A third time warrants a $750 fine and a whopping 8 points toward making you a permanent Uber rider in Colorado.
School of Hot Lead: Some things never change in Colorado. While every official arm of the state government has turned cool-blue liberal, that doesn’t stop local yokel gun nuts from firing into their own feet or the ether. State Rep. Patrick Neville, R-Mars, is sponsoring House Bill 19-1049: Oh Hell No. The measure would allow anyone with a concealed weapon permit to carry their heater to school. Two words: Lori Saine. That would be the state Rep. from Firestone who forgot she had a loaded concealed-weapon-approved gun in her purse when she went to Denver International Airport a couple years ago. In a state filled with liberals in charge, this has as much a chance of becoming law as Neville does becoming normal. Saine by the way, is sponsoring HB19-1021, which would repeal Colorado’s limit on firearm magazine, because she would know. Gat outta here.
Aiming for Workplace Success: From the school of Oh Hell No — The Sequel, GOP state Rep. Shane Sandridge of, you guessed it, Colorado Springs, brings back this gun-nut classic: Shoot any damned body you want at work. House Bill 19-1022 would make it legal to shoot dead, or as close as you can get, anybody that bugs you at work. Intended to let you blow away would-be robbers, this bill expands the notion so that if you even think someone with an accent or dark skin is thinking ugly thoughts when you’re working behind the counter, you can cap ‘em and still have time for lunch. Sandridge’s license to kill says you can whack anyone you “reasonably” believe “might use any physical force, no matter how slight,” against you or anybody around. Since there are plenty of people who “reasonably” believe anyone with a Mexican accent is a robber and a rapist, the United States president being Exhibit A, this is just a license to kill immigrants and people who wear hoodies. Go ahead, make Democrats’ nay and push this bill.
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