The Durango Herald | Purple Mountain Politics

Bipartisan boneheadedness: The 2011 Legislature’s worst moments

Colorado has a citizen Legislature, and sometimes itís painfully apparent that not all of our lawmakers are full-time, professional politicians. With the 2011 legislative session (mercifully) over, hereís a look back at the most politically tone-deaf moves of the last four months.

No breakfast for you: Republican members of the Joint Budget Committee promised to be fiscal hawks, but they might have gone a step too far in January when they voted to hold back $125,000 for free school breakfasts for needy kids. A Republican senator, Keith King, bailed out the GOP by restoring the money.

Lights, camera, taxes: Republican Rep. Tom Massey proposed a 10-cent fee on movie tickets to pay for incentives to make movies in Colorado. The opposition was immediate. Not only was it an easy-to-understand fee hike, but the bill undercut Republican arguments that only the voters can raise fees. Massey quickly converted it to a voluntary donation program.

Whatís the matter with Kansas? Democrats revealed a map of new Congressional districts last month that broke the Western Slope in half and created a new district that spread across the southern half of the state. Had their plan succeeded, you could have driven from Towaoc to the Kansas border without leaving the 3rd Congressional District. It was no surprise that activists and editorial pages around the state savaged the map.

Suicide by filibuster: Speaking of redistricting, after Democrats redrew their Western Slope Congressional map, they killed it Monday night by talking so long that they missed a midnight deadline to vote. Although they tried to blame Republicans for the filibuster, it was obvious that it was the Democrats who spent the last hour talking after deciding to take their chances in court. Both parties have now sued the state to get a judge to draw a new Congressional map.

Payday payback: House Republicans made a last-minute move Tuesday to resurrect a payday lending bill by attaching it to the annual, must-pass rule review bill. The maneuver threw into doubt every rule passed by the state government in the last year, endangering everything from Medicaid to fishing licenses. Gov. John Hickenlooper called top Republicans and Democrats into the principalís office, and by Wednesday evening, Republicans backed down.