Colorado Democrats went mad with overreach during the 2019 legislative session, attempting an overnight cultural-political revolution with a barrage of extreme partisan legislation. Lawmakers attacked oil and gas production. They took local control from public schools to impose one-size-fits-all indoctrination in sex education, history and civics curriculums.
The left imposed a bucket list of life-changing laws without a modicum of bipartisan support.
Then came the embarrassing Republican backlash. Rather than focus on honing strong messages and grooming impeccable candidates, party activists stole the spotlight by trying to overturn the 2018 election with futile recall efforts.
Last month, the debacle ended with the fifth failed attempt to fulfill minimum petition requirements, with organizers turning in four of the 13,506 signatures needed to force a recall vote on Senate President Leroy Garcia.
In the wake of bipartisan buffoonery, Colorado voters gave resounding affirmation to the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights last week. By rejecting the latest attack on TABOR by the political class, voters said they don’t trust politicians. The governed will determine the size and scope of Colorado government for the foreseeable future.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle need to get the message, loud and clear. Coloradans are not hyperpartisan. That is why unaffiliated voters outnumber Republicans and Democrats and represent the fastest-growing voting bloc. Residents want results, not the spectacle of one party pounding chests in the end zone.
A recent announcement by Garcia, the Democratic Senate president, should give hope for a more measured — less politically divisive — legislative session in 2020.
As reported last month by Colorado Public Radio, Garcia wants bipartisan cooperation. He speaks of a “renewed commitment to work together.” He leads the Senate, so it is largely up to him. If he succeeds in this vision, he will get credit. If he fails, he will get blame.
Garcia’s two main priorities for the session are remarkably bipartisan and noncontroversial. He wants to focus on school safety and mental health.
After the trouncing of anti-TABOR Prop CC, Gov. Jared Polis also sounds ready to govern for all of Colorado.
“It’s clear that voters want elected officials to do more with their existing tools and legal authority,” Polis said. “I look forward to working with Republicans and Democrats to develop new and innovative approaches to respond to the need to reduce traffic and congestion.”
That’s three of five issues the Legislature should focus on when the session convenes in January: school safety, mental health and transportation.
Republican leadership can round out this vision by adding K-12 education and health care.
Imagine what can get done if legislators plan from now until January a session that enhances school safety, improves mental health care, increases health care supply and competition and prioritizes spending of record-setting revenues on transportation and K-12 education. We don’t need hundreds of weird bills that control the way we live. Just focus on a few basics and get it done right.
The government should facilitate the practical needs of the governed, which never includes pursuits of extreme doctrinaire agendas. Coloradans want to focus on their families and communities. That requires the government to assist with good schools, roads, and physical and mental health care.
Give us government of, by and for the people — not the government of, by and for the last party to win an election.
The Gazette editorial board