I’ve been away for the past two weeks, a combination of work the first week and play most of the second week. It was the first real vacation I’ve taken since at least 2008. I was mostly unplugged.
I came back to find that Obama’s car bottomed out in Ireland, he blew a simple toast to the Queen that even I could have managed (and did, come to think on it), and threw Israel under the bus.
Prime Minister Netanyahu made a great speech to Congress which, thanks to the wonders of the internet, I was able to listen to in its entirety yesterday.
Not a bad couple of weeks.
In Colorado, however, craziness from the left goes on. A group sues to overturn TABOR–on the books for almost twenty years, now it occurs to them it may be unconstitutional. At least they’ve discovered a thing called the Constitution. Another group of lefties readies an initiative to raise taxes and Brandon Shaffer from Boulder is planning to run for Congress in a district he wants to create for himself with the new gerrymandered map.
Vacation’s over; tyranny never sleeps.
On Thursday, May 12th, the Citizens’ Legislative Action Committee will host a first-ever Citizen Town Hall meeting for Northern El Paso County. The meeting will be a legislative wrap-up following the close of the 2011 Colorado State legislature. Key topics of discussion will include SB11-200, Health care exchanges for Colorado, and redistricting.
Since the summer of 2009 citizens across the country have packed legislator-led town hall meetings seeking answers. In response to this surge of interest, many legislators have responded by canceling meetings, or else strictly controlling them either by invitation, by procedure or by holding “tele-town halls” where the conversation is strictly one-way. Democrat Diana DeGette has scheduled one of the latter on May 17th to discuss insurance coverage of abortion and the health insurance exchanges that will be created under health care reform. Republican Amy Stephens held a town hall on March 22nd where she strictly controlled the agenda and even objected to being recorded.
Now it is the Peoples’ turn. In a return to the tradition of New England town hall meetings, the Citizens’ Legislative Action Committee, a small group of activists, have organized this meeting with the assistance and cooperation of a number of liberty groups and citizen legislative watch groups. The event will be held at:
The Classical Academy
1655 Spring Crest Road
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
6:30 – 8 pm
Don’t be late: we start promptly on time. Citizens don’t keep other citizens waiting.
Senate Democrats refuse to budge from their far-left, massive gerrymandering plan for state redistricting. This is what you get when you vote for almost any Democrat in Colorado. Senate Republicans just released this:
This evening Senate Democrats voted to kill House Bill 11-1319, the Colorado Communities redistricting map, in the Senate State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee. The bill’s presentation came hours after Senate Republicans forced Democrats to assign the bill to a committee after enacting a procedural move to have every bill read at length until Democrats conceded to hold a public hearing.
“This is the second redistricting bill Senate Democrats killed in less than 24 hours, including one they authored,” said Senator Greg Brophy, R-Wray. “Despite the fact that we have a constitutional duty to redraw Colorado’s congressional districts, Democrats chose to punt and give this task to the courts.”
The Democrats’ decision to kill yet another redistricting proposal guarantees Colorado’s congressional districts will once again be drawn by unelected members of the court system.
“House Bill 11-1319 respected communities of interest, avoided unnecessary divisions in cities and honored the organic testimony heard at the statewide redistricting hearings,” said Brophy. “It’s clear the Democrats had no intention of passing a redistricting map and intended to give this to the courts the entire time. Their actions show a clear pattern of deception to the people of Colorado.”
Senator Brophy went on to point out several actions taken by Democrats that demonstrated their intention to give the redistricting process to the courts. Brophy referenced as evidence: House Bill 10-1408 which repealed congressional district criteria, the Democrat filibuster of their own redistricting proposal, their refusal of Republican offers to draw a bipartisan map in public, and tonight’s committee hearing.
“While Republicans were willing to concede to several of their points to draw this map, we were absolutely unwilling to compromise the Eastern Plains and communities of interest across the state to get their support. Unfortunately this means the redistricting process is now out of the hands of the General Assembly,” concluded Brophy.
House Bill 11-1319, the Colorado Communities map, died on a party-line vote. Democrat Senators Rollie Heath, Bob Bacon and Betty Boyd voted ‘no’ while Republican Senators Bill Cadman and Kevin Grantham voted ‘yes.’
The Democrat Party claims to be a party of diversity. They can reel of a list of groups, classes, races, and genders who they claim to represent. The one thing they cannot claim is diversity of opinion. There is a definite party line–and they all spout it. It’s bottom line is collectivism.
The Republican Party, I’ve always believed, is the polar opposite. There aren’t any talking points, there is instead a common belief in the founding principles of this country and robust debate on how they apply in any given situation. As for people, we represent anyone who subscribes to the principles–regardless of race, class or gender.
The controversy last week over a resolution introduced in the El Paso GOP Central Committee suggests to me that I may have been somewhat mistaken. At least one of our state representatives believes she and her policies are above criticism and caused this resolution to be introduced that sought to stifle criticism and open debate.
How are we to remain the party of ideas unless we can freely discuss those ideas? How can she expect lockstep support of a policy that she failed to sell to liberty activists, party members or even a majority of her caucus? If we had a parliamentary democracy, someone would have called for a vote of no confidence. I expect she will not remain Majority Leader in the next session; indeed, she may not even retain her seat.
The news is not all bad. The resolution did not pass until it was amended to make it more reasonable. There was concern about civility and about party unity but also equal or greater concern about freedom of speech. Here’s how County Party Secretary Sarah Anderson sums it up:
“This Resolution, proposed by House District 20 Chairman Bob Denny, forces an immediate and public debate on the future of the Republican Party. Its content suppresses the right of the Officers of this party as well as Executive Committee members to voice their opinion on issues debated within the party. A battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party is raging, which will determine whether or not we are worthy of regaining the trust of the public. For too long, Republicans have not been seen as those who say what they mean or mean what they say. On one side, we have those fighting for a party grounded in principle and on the precept that while Republicans may not agree with each other on everything, there are core values we share (limited government, free market economics, personal responsibility and lower taxes) – and on everything else we should stick to our guns and have a vigorous, open debate. On the other side, we have those fighting to protect, insulate and continue the reign of power for incumbents and elected officials at all costs, including sacrificing our core principles.”
I’m on the side of open debate. That’s a principled Republican Party I can support.
Last night at the El Paso County party Central Committee meeting Bob Denny, HD-20 leader, supported by Jeff Hays of HD-20, introduced a measure on behalf of Rep. Amy Stephens designed to stifle opposition to SB-200. It prevented party officers and Executive Committee members from criticizing elected officials and their policies.
There was some debate over whether the resolution violated the free speech rights of members. Eli Bremer felt that he could not be perceived in the public square as anything but the County Chair and felt the ban was fair if applied to officers: chair, vice-chair, secretary and treasurer. As it applied to other Executive Committee members, the ban would not apply if they made it plain that they were speaking in their own capacity and not as a party representative.
While remaining neutral in primaries is written into the bylaws, there has never been a prohibition on weighing in on policy positions. It was clearly understood by all–and explicitly discussed–that the genesis of this resolution by Denny and Hays was the vocal opposition to SB11-200 by many in the party.
In any case, when a Republican official sides with Democrats, the measure said, the ban did not apply–but first the Executive Committee will have to pass a resolution allowing dissent. It seems to me that any House Republican voting against Senate Republicans and voting to support Senate Democrats with SB11-200 would fall into that category. But don’t get out ahead of the Executive Committee or you could be censured.
In the end, cooler heads prevailed, and the measure passed with amendments that made it clear that county officers should remain neutral but were not absolutely prevented from speaking out. A big thanks is due to those on the committee who, while recognizing the need for civility in discourse and party discipline and unity, also balanced that with concerns for free speech and reasoned, open debate. You can read the measure for yourself, with my handwritten edits, here.
But watch what you write on Facebook, Twitter or your blog–all mentioned specifically in the measure–Big Sis is watching. Clearly name-calling and personal attacks are simply rude and uncalled for, but no one in public office should have a problem with honest disagreements on policy. We’re not Democrats after all.
In a letter to Republican legislators, Tony Gagliardi, state director for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, said Republicans need to line up behind Senate Bill 200. He said passage of the bill is “the largest issue facing Colorado small business in at least a decade.”
Indeed it is; I have no doubt that business is behind SB-200. It is good for business because, as I’ve written before, it gets small business out from behind the mandates of Obamacare. But it is not good for citizens and taxpayers.
There are three tired arguments used in favor of SB-200. All have been debunked but supporters continue to flog them.
- It’s a free-market exchange like Utah’s. There is nothing in the bill that says anything about what the exchange will look like. And Utah’s exchange is at best a failure of limited impact on the overall insurance pool in the state.
- It won’t be taken over by Obamacare–it’s pre-emptive and will prevent Obamacare. In 2014, if upheld, it will be the Secretary of Health’s decision whether the state exchange meets muster or not. If not, no federal money. Colorado’s Department of Healthcare Policy is already using federal money.
- We have to do something. Doing nothing is not an option. Why not? They can’t answer that question. Nor have they explored other options. They have let the Senate Democrats own the agenda.
As reported in the Denver Post, Gagliardi also wrote “Many of our Colorado legislators fear the wrath of Tea Party activists who have made support of Senate Bill 200, which would establish a health-care exchange similar to Utah’s, a needless ideological litmus test on which to oppose Republican lawmakers in primary elections.”
Legislators should fear the wrath of Tea Party activists. The difference between a free-market solution and socialized, state-run medicine is in no way a needless ideological distinction. We all agree that we want free market solutions. It’s just that the House Republican leadership has failed to convince us that SB-200 is free market.
They have also failed to convince Senate Republicans who, while in the minority, have stood firm against it. If we could have won only one chamber last November, we could wish that we had won the Senate instead of the House.
But wishes don’t get things done, any more than hoping this bill will create a free market will make that a reality.
If you can, go up to Denver this week as this bill is heard in the House, look the legislators in the eye and tell them you don’t want this bill. It may not prevent the bill from being passed if leadership want it bad enough, but they will not be surprised when they are opposed in the next election.
GOP House Leadership bases their support for SB-200 establishing health care exchanges, in part, on the support they feel the Heritage Foundation has given the concept. I copy here the concluding paragraphs from Heritage’s newsletter, The New Common Sense, from April 19. The topic was transparency:
“An open process was missing in the Obamacare debate; and many members of Congress lost their jobs because of it. The American people were informed of the issues in the health care bill. They rejected the bureaucratic control of medical treatment. They held the individual mandate to be a gross violation of liberty and the Constitution. They told their Representatives and Senators not to vote for the bill. They marched to the Capitol to protest the bill. In the end, the House and Senate pushed it through anyway. When the American people came to the polls in 2010, they remembered who had violated their consent.
Consent of the governed is first expressed in elections, but it does not begin and end on Election Day. It is a continuous process expressed through the legislative branch, where the American people voice their opinions on policies, persuade their members to vote for or against legislation, petition their government for redress of grievances, and remain engaged in the political debates.”
In Colorado, the People have been energized. They are paying attention and remaining engaged. What does leadership think will happen to them in 2012 if they conspire to push through healthcare exchanges?