It’s a record-setting avalanche season in Colorado, and not just in the high country.
After experiencing divided government for six of the past nine years with all of the legislative obstruction that inevitably produces, the Democrats are not about to squander a majority. So, they’ve unleashed a torrent of bills through the Capitol this session.
Consider some of the ambitious measures on the agenda: outlawing the death penalty, expanding sex education to include such controversial things as consent, empowering the state to require the oil and gas industry to protect public health and safety, lowering the price of insulin for diabetics, and giving free sanitary pads and tampons to women in local jails.
At roughly the halfway point in the 17-week session, it’s not clear where all this is going, especially since the minority party is gleefully plotting ways to shut down the legislative process and run out the clock to May 3.
Still, the possibility of something — anything — passing is refreshing. In fact, quite a few measures actually appear destined to become law.
Repealing the death penalty is close, but far from a sure thing, even though the state has executed only one man in the past 50 years and juries are notoriously loathe to impose capital punishment.
Some folks, particularly District Attorney George Brauchler, argue that certain crimes are “extraordinarily evil” and call for nothing less than state-sponsored killing.
Since I was a little kid in Wisconsin undergoing indoctrination at St. John Vianney School, I’ve strenuously opposed the death penalty. I was taught that a government of the people should be better than that.
But even I can see how a lot of women might think it would be an appropriate sentence for jailers who require indigent inmates to order tampons and other menstrual hygiene supplies through the commissary, scrape together the money to pay for them, and then wait 10 days or more for them to be delivered.
That is definitely evidence of an extraordinarily evil kind of sociopath.
With 45 percent of the legislative seats held by women and a whole lot of men plenty eager to avoid talking about this subject at all, Rep. Leslie Herod’s HB-1224 should sail through the process to approval.
A bipartisan bill that requires schools that provide sex education to base their lessons on science rather than mythology has turned into a circus of misinformation, a sideshow of homophobia. As a result, the prospect for passage is regrettably uncertain.
But the bill to address apparent price-gouging for insulin just may survive the shock and awe of high-dollar lobbying from the pharmaceutical industry. Since the cost of this essential drug has spiked 300 percent in recent years, even President Trump has called for action.
So industry toadies surely realize that to vote against HB 19-1216 could be characterized as supporting the death penalty for diabetics — not exactly a message you want to send in future re-election campaigns.
And while we’re on the topic of toadies, despite strenuous lobbying by former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, the oil and gas reform bill appears on its way to likely passage in the state Assembly and on to the governor’s desk for his signature.
It’s too bad previous legislatures were incapable of addressing the concerns of Coloradans living with the pollution, noise and risks of deadly explosions from oil and gas development, and left powerless to do anything about it.
The dilly-dallying cost everyone — even the industry — dearly.
In 2018 alone, oil and gas reportedly spent $41 million to defeat an initiative to create greater setbacks for drilling and fracking operations near schools and neighborhoods.
Just think of the tens of millions the industry could have saved on smacking down ballot measures if the legislature had only acted sooner.
But there’s more.
We haven’t even mentioned proposals for all-day kindergarten, a public option to make health care more affordable, measures to reach the governor’s celebrated goals for renewable energy, undercutting the insanity known as the Electoral College, authorizing courts to take guns away from people experiencing a mental health crisis, providing paid leave for people who need to care for family members, and other measures to keep the many campaign promises from last year.
But then, as I mentioned, we’re only halfway through the session, and bills — like the snow — are still swirling furiously around us.
Brace yourselves. This session it’s bombogenesis in the usually moribund Colorado Legislature.
And here you thought you had to hit the slopes to experience the thrill of an awesome adrenaline rush.
Diane Carman is a Denver communications consultant.
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