Repeal agenda

Throughout the 2013 session of the Colorado Legislature, Republicans were amassing a juicy bunch of sour grapes. And with no election – save for a recall that unseated two state senators and prompted a representative to resign – to significantly change dynamics, that taste has not receded with the 2014 session’s beginning. It is time to get over it and move on lest the partisan rancor infect this year’s gathering of lawmakers.

Republicans, though, are hanging on to the bitter memories of yesteryear, beginning this session with a repeal agenda aimed at undoing the things they hate most about the 2013 Legislature. If the first attempt – scrapping a mandate that rural electric cooperatives provide 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020 – is any indication of how these repeal efforts will fare, Republicans would be better served, and serve better, to just let it go.

The Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee made short work of the renewable-energy mandate repeal, quickly dispensing with it and measures that would prohibit recreational marijuana purchases with food stamp debit cards, and allow people to purchase health-insurance plans from out of state.

That was the appropriate amount of attention to be paid to these needless measures designed to stake a political position and little else. While the latter two measures may have been less a reaction to 2013 goings-on, the renewable-energy repeal attempt was very much in response.

After all, this measure was among those that triggered a secession movement by counties in Northeast Colorado. Ending the repeal attempt expeditiously will help all parties – legislators, counties and rural co-ops – get on with their lives.

So far, that has not happened. Republicans are bristling that the repeal measure was assigned to the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, known colloquially as a “kill committee” because of its ability to consider just about any legislation – dispense with it.

Their outrage is more than a bit disingenuous, though, because Colorado Republicans first drummed up the idea when they were in the majority. Turnabout is not fair play, it would seem. It is at least good for a crabby news conference, if nothing else.

Despite the fruitlessness of the repeal efforts, we are likely to see at least a few more before long – the most contentious of which will surely be those related to last year’s gun-related legislation. In order to move beyond the political and personal viciousness that overshadowed the debate and enactment of those measures, lawmakers and Coloradans would be better served by collaborating on how they could be fine-tuned to address legitimate concerns about how to effectively enforce various components.

The policy process is just that – a process – and, as such, requires constant evaluation and adjustment. Wide pendulum swings – which include recalls and repeals – do little to build effective laws or demonstrate effective lawmaking.

There is a reason that legislative sessions begin and end – to set, discuss and execute an agenda, and then move on. Colorado legislators need to stop sucking on sour grapes and move forward to address the issues at hand today.

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