If there is one thing that sums up the overall sense pervading the state capitol as we slog through the 2021 legislative session, it is that we are losing Colorado.

It is at the point now, with liberal Democrat control of every lever of power in the state, that we are not merely “on a downward swing”, or a slippery slope; our next stop as a state is to become a replica of California — or “East California” as I call it.

In every issue that impacts public (and more and more even private) life — law and order, jobs, education, road and bridge safety, religious and civil liberties — our state is being pushed in a wrong and terrifying direction with a speed that almost defies comprehension.

Perhaps the worst thing the Democrats are doing is eroding the safety of our communities. For instance, a bill passed the Senate recently that will degrade the crime of felony murder. It has long been a pillar of our justice system that if you were present and committing a felony while someone was murdered by your cohorts, you were guilty of murder, even if you didn’t pull the trigger. This reflects the value that we as a society put on human life, and the recognition that individuals need to bear responsibility for their choices. By passing this bill, the Democrats are not only saying that those things matter less, but that the rights of the victims are less important than the rights of the criminal.

The soft-on-crime approach is pernicious in the state capitol this year. On top of bills that statutorily reduce the charges and penalties associated with serious crimes, we narrowly missed passing a bill, SB-182, that would prohibit School Resource Officers from enforcing the law on school grounds, and severely limit discipline in schools. Fortunately, there was enough of an outpouring of opposition from the community that the “Kid’s Gone Wild” bill failed in the House. But it is terrifying how close that came to becoming law, and we know that it will be introduced again, in some form, next year. And we have only begun to see the bills that aim to handcuff the police in carrying out their duties, at a time when crime, including violent crime, is up all over the state. We’re losing our streets, and our children. No wonder parents don’t want to send their kids to public schools anymore!

Another target of the liberal Democrats is, of course, small businesses. For example, they again introduced a bill this year, HB 1102, to run pet stores out of business, part of a radical animal rights agenda that also aims to eliminate meat from our tables. Fortunately, most of the worst parts of that bill were stripped out, leaving only some unnecessary “transparency” requirements. But this was just a small victory in a sea of regulations being passed that will sink entrepreneurs and small-business owners. What industry might they next decide needs to be eliminated? Heating and air conditioning? Movie theaters? Your business? We’re losing our family-owned small businesses.

Along similar lines is SB-173, a bill which dictates to property owners how they can manage their tenants, including what they can charge in late fees and making it even harder to evict nonpaying tenants. You’re losing your property rights.

Of course, they are not content with just telling you how to buy your pet and what you can eat, but how you carry home your groceries and your favorite take-out. A bill is in the works that will ban plastic grocery bags and polystyrene take-out containers, at a time when restaurants are just barely getting back on their feet. What’s next, telling you how to drive to work?

Yes, and that one is not even going through the Legislature, but is an agency rule that will force businesses to cut their employees car trips to and from work. We are losing our basic liberties.

They are not done yet. We still have at least a month and a half to go and are facing more bills to micromanage your life, including one to mandate use of solar panels on buildings, and several that give unelected state agencies even more power over your life.

This is the result of unchecked single-party rule, and we still have at least two years of that left.

One-party rule is not working. In a few short years, we will look like the worst of California. While there is precious little we can do to stop this runaway train this year, it is worth remembering that we have an election in 2022.

It’s time to end one-party control in Colorado; because if we do not change course and install a legislative check, we will become East California.

Larry Liston is state senator for Senate District 10.

Larry Liston is State Senator for Senate District 10.

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