Updated: January 9, 2014 at 10:59 am
Gov. John Hickenlooper will deliver his fourth State of the State address today, one day after the 2014 legislative session began.
We hope he remembers his roots as an entrepreneur and small businessman whose commercial ventures helped pave the way for renewal and gentrification of Lower Downtown Denver (LoDo). He established Colorado's first brewpub there (Wynkoop Brewing Company), and other businesses, which helped make Denver the country's top attraction for the coming-of-age millennial generation that other cities and states fight to attract. Although effective as Denver's mayor, Hickenlooper probably helped the city more as a businessman than as a politician. In fact, his business ventures have helped the state by leading a high-end brewing renaissance in Colorado.
In Colorado Springs, Hickenlooper's Phantom Canyon brewery led others to open great restaurants and bars along Tejon Street.
The strength of Colorado has always been small business, not local, state or federal government. Yet, Gov. Hickenlooper signed so much anti-business public policy into law—after last-year's Democrats-gone-wild legislative session—that it's hard to view him as businessman first, politician second.
It's not too late to get Colorado back on track. Hickenlooper should tell the Legislature he will veto bills that kill jobs or prevent establishment and growth of companies. He should encourage the Legislature to overhaul or repeal SB252, which doubled renewable-energy requirements at a heavy cost to rural Colorado. A group of voters spoke when they recalled then-Senate President John Morse, the man most responsible for putting SB252 on Hickenlooper's desk.
Hickenlooper should ask the Legislature to undo the "Sue Your Boss Bill" (HB1136), which is nothing more than a law to help trial lawyers profit at the expense of employers. It's the classic definition of a silent jobs killer, turning employees into liabilities who can financially ruin employers, even with frivolous claims. It makes Colorado unattractive to Californians, and other Americans from overregulated states, looking for friendlier business climates.
The governor should tell legislators to roll out the welcome mat for businesses. Do it for the sake of the unemployed. This should be the state that minimizes expenses and risks for those who create good jobs and products that import capital. We need economic growth, not more extreme social engineering from ideological politicians trying to radicalize our state.
Meanwhile, Hickenlooper should announce plans to hold firm in his defense of Colorado-based oil and gas production. He should ask legislators to waste no time on anti-energy bills he will instantly veto. He should tell legislators to spend no more time on guns, the social agenda that's an albatross for the Democratic Party.
The governor's speech should inspire state politicians to put their faith in businesses and individuals, minimizing concerns about more control and revenue for government. Yes, government needs money. Education needs money. We need better roads and bridges. We need more protection from wildfires. Almost anything state government can coordinate for the people of Colorado requires money.
Gov. Hickenlooper knows that government funding originates with private-sector innovation, production and trade. Private enterprise is the primary vehicle for improving Colorado, as proved by the governor's life and career. Governor, do not follow your party. Lead it. Inspire the Legislature to make Colorado the most business-friendly state in the union. Big money will follow. It's a nonpartisan fact of life.