In the words of the acclaimed 19th-century lawyer and editor Gideon John Tucker, “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.”
Starting today, it is in session.
Nothing highlighted Tucker’s wisdom better than Colorado’s 2019 session, in which far-left Democrats recently had gained full control of the House, Senate, governor’s office, and all statewide agencies in the 2017 shellacking of Republicans at the ballot box.
Democrats rushed to impose a sweeping new and onerous regulatory system on oil and gas. They forbade Colorado law enforcement from working with federal immigration officials. They pursued the country’s most lax family leave bill. They told public schools how to teach sex education, emphasizing LGBTQ instruction while deemphasizing abstinence and the traditional curriculums taught in rural schools.
From start to finish, it was a race to impose a left-wing bucket list affecting commerce and culture.
As the Legislature convenes today, Democrats could embrace a new approach. They aren’t there to spike the ball — again — in celebration of the 2017 election. Voters, including enormous numbers of non-Democrat independents, entrusted them to serve the public and make Colorado an ever-improving place to live.
If they want Colorado to fail, all they have to do is continue in the governance traditions of California, Illinois and New York. All have long been led by solid liberal Democratic majorities. Each is mired in debt, hemorrhaging residents weary of excessive regulation and taxation.
If Democrats hope to maintain control, they should use this session to serve all of Colorado. A few suggestions, based on the likely legislative agenda:
• Address Colorado’s mental health care crisis: Consider screening guidelines for health care providers and educators to improve early detection; adjust insurance regulations to enhance coverage of mental illness; consider funding programs for health care professionals to respond with EMS providers to mental health emergencies; and address the mental health care needs of first responders suffering PTSD and other career-related mental health challenges.
• Ditch the idea of state health insurance option that imposes price controls on health care providers. Price controls backfire on consumers with shortages and rationing.
• Scrap the plan to impose rent control on landlords. Rent control, consistently throughout the country, leads to a shortage of rental properties.
• Consider a tobacco tax to discourage and reduce the lethal vaping epidemic.
• Prioritize school safety, focusing on secure access that screens out those who would harm children. Enact a minimum standard of screening to ensure schools don’t hire sexual predators. Make schools the safest environments for children.
• Let individual employers determine family leave policies for employers. Do not impose a program that places additional stress on the take-home wages of workers and on the money available for employers to pay them. Regulations on employer-employee relations typically kill good jobs.
• Do not cave to labor unions demanding changes to Colorado’s Labor Peace Act. Protect the requirement that gives union members a right to vote, by secret ballot, before a union enacts collective bargaining. Err on the side of workers; not union leaders.
• Fix Colorado’s highways and bridges for the sake of saving lives and enhancing economic growth.
• Restore transportation, public safety and education as the highest priorities of state government.
• Embrace policies that allow wind, solar, oil, gas, and other energy sources to freely compete. A plentiful, competitive energy market benefits consumers.
• Do nothing to endanger law enforcement personnel. Do not tie their hands with additional regulations that restrict their options for protecting themselves and others against armed suspects.
• Avoid temptation to further regulate employers. The good health of businesses, not the government, determines the quality of life enjoyed by Colorado residents.
• Make Colorado the best place to host military operations and veterans.
Colorado became the best state in the union through generations of balanced governance provided by Democrats and Republicans working together. This place was purple, long before it turned blue. With one-party reign, the balance is gone. The majority can, and should, protect its brand by governing down the middle in the interest of all who love this state and hope to remain here.
The Gazette editorial board