Give thanks for Colorado Republicans who care about the will of the people. Tell them to keep up their good fight for the working class, the poor, our public schools and Colorado’s economy.
Under the leadership of Rep. Patrick Neville, Colorado House Republicans are doing everything possible to slow or derail passage of a bill that would cause a legislated recession and leave thousands unemployed.
Neville, the House minority leader, recently made a reasonable request of Democratic leadership to attach a petition clause to Senate Bill 181. The bill would authorize local governments to impose setbacks and an assortment of arbitrary regulations on oil and gas production, which economists believe will run much of the energy industry out of Colorado. That would spell doom for hundreds of thousands of jobs directly and indirectly related to energy production. It would devastate tax revenues.
In addition to opening a floodgate of regulations, the bill would stack the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission with environmental activists hostile to fossil fuels.
In Colorado, bills typically pass with a petition clause or a safety clause.
When legislators attach a petition clause, they open the option for the public to petition onto the ballot a challenge to the law. It is an important check on the system that keeps politicians focused on governing in the interests of the governed. A safety clause, by contrast, means the bill takes effect the moment a governor signs it. The safety clause keeps a law “safe” from a challenge by the public.
Democrats want a safety clause on SB 181 because they already know the will of voters, and they simply despise it. Voters overwhelmingly defeated a ballot measure in November, Proposition 112, that would have imposed 2,000-foot setbacks on new oil and gas wells. The setbacks would have shut the industry down over time.
Voters and prospective petition signers have consistently rejected efforts to overregulate energy, but House and Senate Democrats plan to override their wishes no matter what. With a safety clause on SB 181, they all but ensure the public never gets to protect jobs and tax revenues from excessive oil and gas regulations.
“What the Democrats are doing is fundamentally unfair to the voters,” Neville said in a written statement. “They are attempting to ram through life-altering, job-killing legislation without giving people the ability to petition their government. But Coloradans have already spoken. They made their voice abundantly clear when Proposition 112 was defeated last year.”
Because Democrats will not agree to the request for a petition clause, House Republicans on Tuesday began stalling progress on the bill. They slowly and methodically read announcements on the House floor. They demanded a full reading of all bills going forward. They plan to use every legal maneuver available to slow things down and protect the public from passage of this bill and other attempts at aggressive legislative overreach.
Thank you, Rep. Neville and all House Republicans. We additionally thank Senate-side Republicans for gumming up progress on SB 181. This is a battle against reckless legislative audacity and arrogant disregard for those whom government supposedly serves.
Senate Bill 181 is, by far, the most dangerous legislative measure Colorado has faced in decades. The public does not want it, but legislative Democrats do not care. They are in charge, and get a charge out of proving it. When they legislate a recession, voters will not forget soon. They will likely remember and reward the Republicans who had their backs.
The Gazette editorial board