Oh boy: We can keep our own rainwater!
The 2016 Colorado Legislature passed a bill that allows Coloradans to use barrels to collect rain from their roofs. Sadly, that may be this Legislature's biggest accomplishment in what some are calling a "do-nothing" session.
We're just glad that nobody suggested outlawing children from looking up, opening their mouths and drinking rainwater.
Four months of lethargy, topped off with a heavy and useless flurry of last-minute activity under the dome, and what do Coloradans have to show for it? The headline is what didn't happen, such as:
• Passing a $3.5 billion bond package for much-needed transportation fixes. How critical is this? The Colorado Department of Transportation has an $8 billion backlog of roadway fixes. Yet legislators again kicked the can down the road, no doubt one that needs repair.
• The legislators failed to solve the construction-defects problem, which prevents many builders from putting up condos due to fear of lawsuits. Right now, condos comprise less than 4 percent of the state's new housing.
Also, 14 cities in Colorado are ahead of this do-nothing Legislature by having already passed construction-defects reform bills.
The Legislature also failed to pass a bill that was introduced early in the session, which appeared to have bipartisan support and would not have cost the taxpayers one dime. The bill was designed to make it easier for median-income families to obtain affordable housing: the lack of resolution only worsens the state's affordable-housing shortage.
• Deciding to reclassify how Colorado collects fees from hospitals, which would free up $700 million annually for higher education, transportation and other needs. The money would be moved from the state's general fund, where it is subject to Taxpayer Bill of Rights caps, into an enterprise fund that's not under TABOR's thumb.
• Creating a presidential primary for the 2020 campaign. One would think that no legislators witnessed the debacle of this spring's Republican and Democratic caucuses.
• Pinnacol Assurance hoped to expand outside of Colorado, but that bid went nowhere. Pinnacol Assurance is the state-chartered workers' compensation insurer for nearly 60 percent of Colorado business.
• Creating regulatory reform for small businesses — though a cause touted on the Legislature's opening day — also went nowhere.
But hey, we can capture rainwater, which never should have been an issue to begin with. Ask the other 49 states that already allowed this practice.
The Legislature's ineffectiveness mirrors what we see on the federal level, with Congress earning record-low approval ratings.
So we can expect citizens and lobbyists to take things into their own hands, and generate a boatload of ballot initiatives for their pet causes. Some initiative pushes will last slightly longer than a mayfly. But figure on about one dozen surviving to make the November ballot — pushed by an endless series of breathy, over-the-top commercials that make you want to throw something at your television.
Why does this happen every year? Politics, of course.
First, it's an election year, always a more difficult time to create bipartisan legislation. Some "message" bills are proposed more for show rather than to solve problems. Often, legislators figure they can make favorable impressions by killing bills rather than compromising on them.
Second, with Republicans holding an 18-17 majority in the Senate, and the Democrats with a 34-31 House majority, many bills immediately were marked for death.
Middle-of-the-road measures found more favor in both chambers. One example was a bill that directs state agencies to study and develop policies that will show ways to improve employment and educational opportunities for those with disabilities. Geez, who would be against that?
Now, here's an example of legislators actually cooperating to pass a bill, and it addressed a hot issue that made yet another annual appearance in the Legislature. After a lot of compromising, the House and Senate approved a bill to allow limited expansion of liquor, wine and full-strength beer sales at more grocery and convenience stores. We'll drink to that.
Or not, as it's rumored that Gov. Hickenlooper might not sign the bill.
Of course, we could always just drink rainwater.
So we're calling upon all state legislators to take their jobs more seriously — and they may be forced to do so, as it's rumored that a special summer legislative session looms. Voters are increasingly dissatisfied with the current political system — as anyone who watches the presidential primaries knows — and would welcome legislators who operate more on principle.
The 2016 legislative session should receive a grade of incomplete, at best.
Email: [email protected]
Our editors found this article on this site using Google and regenerated it for our readers.
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