BY FREDA MIKLIN
Micki Hackenberger, veteran Republican lobbyist, described the environment at the capital as “toxic” when she spoke to the Arapahoe County Republican Breakfast Club (ACRBC) April 4 at Maggiano’s DTC. She said that many of the new legislators, mostly Democrats, feel empowered and excited to make Colorado a better place for the homeless, address climate change, and fix other perceived problems like energy industry safety and the “red flag” law. Most of those subjects hold significantly less appeal for most Republicans at the capital.
Hackenberger shared that, bucking tradition, many newly elected Democrats have openly said they would not necessarily follow party leadership on issues with which they differ. Likewise, she believes Gov. Jared Polis is not indebted to his party because his campaign was self-funded.
Addressing SB181, which changes the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to a full-time regulatory body and gives new powers to local governments to institute rules for operating in their jurisdictions, Hackenberger reported that it has been modified and improved from its original form. The final version requires that new regulations be “reasonable and necessary,” which is a win for the industry.
She warned that HB1261, “Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution,” will be the next hot issue. House Speaker K.C. Becker is one of its four prime sponsors, all of whom are Democrats. The bill’s ultimate goal is to “reduce 2050 greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado by at least 90 percent” from those that existed in 2005” via polices and rules of the air quality control commission.
Hackenberger said that this year’s “red flag bill,” the Extreme Risk Protection Order, is “more egregious” than last year’s version. Expressing his strong displeasure with the proposed law, Steve Sheiner, a member of the board of directors of the National Rifle Association stood up to say, “Free men have guns. Slaves don’t.”
Hackenberger then went through a list of proposed laws that she said, if passed, would create a framework leading to a single-payer health care system in Colorado.
A proposed family leave bill, SB188, Hackenberger said, makes sense in theory, but what is good about it is lost due to the very broad definition of a family member it includes. In addition to immediate family members and a covered individual’s domestic partner, it can be used for paid time off to care for “any other individual with whom the covered individual has a significant personal bond that is like a family relationship, regardless of biological or legal relationship.”
She talked about SB1025, known as “ban the box.” It would prohibit employers from asking applicants whether they’ve been convicted of a crime on an initial job application so that they are not eliminated from consideration early.
Candidate Mike Coffman greets the crowd
Former Rep. Mike Coffman told the party enthusiasts that he was running for mayor of Aurora because he’s lived there since he was 9 years old and he wants to see it developed the right way. As the third largest city in Colorado, it has great capacity for growth, and wants to see it done correctly, subject to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) that doesn’t allow new or raised taxes without a vote of the people. Coffman closed his remarks with, “Under my leadership Aurora will never become a sanctuary city.”
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