House Minority Leader, Rep. Hugh McKean (R-Loveland) speaks on Monday, June 7, 2021 in the House Chamber during the final days of the 2021 legislative session. (Olivia Sun, The Colorado Sun)

In this session of the Colorado General Assembly, Democrats rammed through a far-left agenda using deception and misdirection. Two of the worst bills this session — House Bill 1266 and Senate Bill 260  — reveal the lengths Democrats will go to advance destructive policy.

HB 1266, “Environmental Justice Disproportionate Impacted Community,” was passed on the last day of the legislative session. Just 24 hours prior, Senate Democrats introduced a 25-page amendment to what was initially a 14-page bill.  

Rep. Hugh McKean

By the time my House colleagues and I had the chance to debate the amendment, we were each allotted only 10 minutes to speak; and because the Senate had already adjourned, the House was unable to pass amendments for the Senate’s consideration and concurrence.

The amendment that Democrats rushed through the legislature was essentially Senate Bill 200, a highly controversial, economically devastating climate-change policy.

SB 200, “Reduce Greenhouse Gases Increase Environmental Justice,” would have imposed heavy regulations on Colorado’s top five industries. It would have given the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission unilateral authority to implement rules and regulations as it saw fit and encouraged the commission to base policy on vague notions such as the “social cost of climate change.” 

SB 200 was a rare example of legislative Democrats going too far left for even Gov. Jared Polis, who had said he intended to veto it had it gone through. He described it as giving “dictatorial” power to the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission. 

Polis’s opposition to SB 200 was consistent with his comments to local journalists that he would not place heavy regulations on the top five industries in the state.

Faced with an impending veto, legislative Democrats killed SB 200. Instead, they waited until the 11th hour to introduce it as an amendment to HB 1266. 

The amended HB 1266 includes many of the same powers that would have been granted to the Air Quality Control Commission in SB 200. It keeps the heavy regulations on three (electric, industrial, and oil and gas sectors) of the top five energy sectors and explores “the social cost of greenhouse gasses” and “climate justice.”

By forcing through this massive legislation at the last minute, Democrats prevented the serious opposition it would have rightly received and gave Governor Polis political cover to approve in amendment form a bill he had promised to veto. 

Senate Bill 260, “Sustainability Of The Transportation System,” provides another example of a Democrat political trick: disguising taxes as “fees.”

The Taxpayer’s Bill Of Rights (TABOR) prevents the state legislature from raising taxes without a vote by the people. Rather than listening to your voice, Democrats decided they would take your money another way. 

Most of SB 260’s $5.4 billion fiscal note comes through myriad new and increased fees, including food delivery, ridesharing services, and new car purchases. Most inexplicably, there is a gas fee, which you will pay in addition to the gas tax you already pay.

Simply replacing would-be taxes with fees is no simple task, however. Last year, voters approved Proposition 117, which requires any new fee enterprise that expects to raise over $100 million to be voted on by the people. 

Not interested in hearing your voice, legislative Democrats created four new fee enterprises in one bill to circumvent the $100 million cap requirement. 

In the case of both HB 1266 and SB 260, legislative Democrats employed political schemes at your expense to get their way. Their schemes are an unfortunate trend that continued all session long. 

At a time of economic turmoil, with skyrocketing cost of living, inflation, and high unemployment, Democrats’ policies are prolonging the pain. They are attacking our major industries and hiking up fees when we should be driving down costs and helping to bring our economy back.

Your legislators should be working for you, and Democrats just spent the last six months fighting against you.

Rep. Hugh McKean, Republican of Loveland, is the minority leader of the Colorado House of Representatives.

The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to (Learn more about how to submit a column.)

Read more opinion. Follow Colorado Sun Opinion on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.