Gov. Hickenlooper recently signed an executive order directing his appointees at the Air Quality Control Commission to promulgate a new rule adopting California’s Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) standards for new vehicle sales in Colorado beginning in 2022. If successful, the governor’s plan will very likely cost Coloradans billions of dollars in higher vehicle prices and taxpayer subsidies.

Colorado has in recent times been very successful in developing sensible clean air policies that work for our state. Finding “Colorado solutions” has been the bipartisan watchword guiding clean air goals and policies. Now, however, at the very end of his term, our governor suddenly has discovered the virtue of California “solutions” that just don’t make sense for Colorado.

Does Colorado really need to become more like California, when we’re well ahead of meeting already agreed-upon federal clean air standards? Is it appropriate for the governor to unilaterally be pushing such a radical agenda, in the last months of his term, without bothering to consult lawmakers or the people we represent?

The short answer is “no, these mandates aren’t appropriate or necessary.”

Colorado’s current EPA-approved emission goals and industry-adopted innovations have gone a long way toward helping us fight air pollution – for example, eliminating the infamous “brown cloud” that once could be seen along the Front Range. That’s why it’s puzzling that we are now considering importing unrealistic and unnecessary emissions standards from California.

Jack Tate, a Centennial Republican, represents District 27 in the Colorado Senate and chairs the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee.

  





Colorado voters have set the stage for the fall election — and the Colorado Politics team was in the thick of the primary-election-night action.

Here’s a roundup of our election night coverage. And stay with us over the next few days as we unpack the election results and explain what they mean for the fall campaign.

> PRIMARY 2018: Polis, Stapleton to face off in November for Colo. governor

> PRIMARY 2018: DeGette, Crow, Neguse win congressional primaries

> PRIMARY 2018: Doug Lamborn wins in 5th Congressional District primary

> PRIMARY 2018: Questions remain in races for state House and Senate

> PRIMARY 2018: Democrat Young advances in treasurer’s race; AG contest uncertain

> LIVE BLOG: Minute-by-minute Colorado election night results

> PRIMARY 2018: Nearly a million Coloradans voted by election-day afternoon

> PRIMARY 2018: No contest — these candidates have already won

> PRIMARY 2018: A Colo. county’s ballots to be hand counted

> PRIMARY 2018: The winners’ list

> State GOP plans Unity Tour across Colorado after the primary

Mark Harden is managing editor of Colorado Politics. He previously was news director at the Denver Business Journal; city editor, online news editor, state editor, national editor and popular music critic at The Denver Post; and an editor and reporter at newspapers in the Seattle area and San Francisco.





Hey kids, want to know how not to be the coolest kid in high school? Do what I did! Go down to your county court house right on your eighteenth birthday to proudly register to vote as a Republican. Yep. That’ll get you voted most likely to make it with the prom queen.

I’ve been a registered Republican ever since, well, until about a week ago that is. Now I’m a shameful unaffiliated. I went to GoVoteColorado.com, run by our efficient Secretary of State, Wayne Williams, and it took all of ten seconds to leave my Republican Party.

Prior to this year if you weren’t affiliated with a political party, you were ignorant. If you haven’t noticed, unaffiliated voters just love feeling superior, like somehow they’re above the small-minded fray of the petty people who limit themselves to be boxed in by a party.

You know the guy at the barbecue who self-righteously asserts, “Oh me? I vote for the person, not the party… I’m an independent.” To which I dryly reply, “No. No you’re not. You’re not a member of the Independent Party. You know there is one, right? An official Independent Party. I think what you meant to say is you’re not affiliated with any party at all, and therefore your vote becomes very weak. Your ballot barely counts at all compared to those of us affiliated with a party.”

I don’t get invited back to a lot of barbecues.

Until now smug “independents” could only vote in the very last step of an election process. Yet they oddly felt superior about disempowering themselves. It’s kinda cute, like a little kid with a pretend steering wheel thinking he’s actually driving.

Before now, as a registered Republican or Democrat you got go to your precinct caucus, meaning your vote was one of just a handful of people. I was one of five lonely Republicans in my Boulder precinct, or 20 percent of the vote. We then voted for people to represent us at the county and state assemblies, where your vote is one of only some 4,000 ballots. And there you decide who gets on the primary ballot.

As a registered Republican or Democrat you got to vote in the primary, no matter if you voted in the caucuses or assemblies. There we choose who “independents” get to vote for in the general. If you voted in the 2016 primary, you were one of only around 250,000.

But if you were a smug “independent” you could only vote in the fall’s general election to select between the candidates we registered folks chose for you. We also got to vote in the general, and nothing stopped us from voting for the guy in the other party.

Almost 2.8 million Coloradans voted in the last general election. So, your “independent” vote was only one of 2.8 million, or 0.00000035 percent of the total. Not much power.

So, we got to vote in potentially three more elections than you where our votes were massively heavily weighted. But you got to sound pretentious.

Well, that was then, this is now, and now you have all the power, if you choose to use it that is. With the passage of propositions 107 and 108, all unaffiliated voters can mess around in either the Democrat or Republican primary (but not both).

So, if you’re not into party caucuses, there’s no real reason to remain in any party. Become unaffiliated and get two ballots! You can choose the best candidates to win in the fall from your team, OR vote for the guys on the other team you think will be easiest for your team to beat. And that’s just what I did. I voted in the Democrat primary.

By the way progressives have been playing this game a while. With no contested Democrat race for governor in forever, they spent their money and votes helping Republican candidates who had no chance in the general election. Think like Dan Maes. So now I know what it feels like.

According to a recent poll 46 percent of unaffiliateds say they’ll vote in the Democrat primary, compared to only 19 percent who say they’ll vote in the GOP primary. Personally, I’ll be surprised if 15 percent of unaffiliateds vote in any primary at all, but that’s more than enough to swing an election.

The little kid just got hold of the real steering wheel.





Xcel Energy is promoting its Colorado Energy Plan (CEP) like a snake oil salesman selling his magical elixir. As advertised, it’s supposed to solve Colorado’s environmental problems while saving ratepayers money. But don’t think for a second the CEP won’t procure the regulated monopoly a hefty profit, so if the benefits it’s touting sound too good to be true, they probably are.

Because Xcel is a regulated utility, its year to year profit margins are determined when the Public Utilities Commission sets the company’s rate of return—usually near 10 percent. Its profits might not be as high as other corporations’, but this capping mechanism is a tradeoff for operating with little to no risk. That is, unless Xcel bypasses the capping mechanism through increasing the value of its asset base by building and owning powerplants, transmission lines, and in the near future, industrial size batteries. Not to mention, if the utility retires a power plant before its scheduled closure, it has the ability to make customers pay the remaining balance.

Simply put, if Xcel is willing, it can cheat the system and operate with no risk while procuring massive returns on its investments. And to be frank, it is willing. [Emphasis mine — ed.] Just look at the utility’s proposed plan, where it wants to prematurely shut down two coal plants and move toward a portfolio made up predominantly with intermittent energy sources, solar and wind. Xcel claims the CEP will eventually save us money, but we aren’t likely to see these savings because intermittent energy sources have notoriously short lifespans.

John Balfour, President and CTO of AstroPower Corporation, admitted it’s a problem the industry faces because it inhibits solar power development. On average, wind turbines and solar panels operate 20 to 25 years. Contrast this with a coal plant’s 40 and a gas plant’s 30 years, and you see why it’s an issue. According to Balfour, under current technology, investment into wind and solar generation is short minded and would put a utility in a financially fragile position.

For utilities operating in a deregulated market, where they can’t rely on government officials guaranteeing them a return, investing in a coal or gas plant is less risky because it will operate for half a century. Just look at Comanche Units 1 and 2, the coal powered generating stations Xcel wants to close. They began commercial operation in the 1980s and are still functioning today.

Xcel doesn’t face the same problems unregulated utilities face, though. Because of its regulated monopoly status, the utility understands that replacing power stations every 20 years translates into consistent, larger profit margins. And instead of making real time business decisions, Xcel simply has to convince our Public Utilities Commission its plan is both economical and beneficial for Colorado.

  





President Donald Trump and his administration’s approach on immigration took center stage as the four Republicans battling for a chance to be Colorado’s next governor faced off Tuesday evening in their final debate before the June 26 primary.

Each candidate at the showdown hosted by The Denver Post, Denver7 and the University of Denver voiced support for Trump, but they hedged on his policy of separating immigrant parents crossing into the U.S. illegally from their children.

Only one offered a full-throated rejection, despite mounting pressure from Republican leaders nationwide.

Colorado Treasurer Walker Stapleton did not denounce the president’s action. “The last thing anyone wants to see is families broken up,” he said while blaming federal lawmakers for the problem.

“I think Congress needs to fix this policy,” he said. “I call on Congress to fix this policy.”

Businessman and former state lawmaker Victor Mitchell took a similar tact [sic], saying “from a humanitarian standpoint, of course, no one wants their kids separated.”

But, Mitchell said, “I think the president is on the right track when it comes to comprehensive immigration reform.”

Former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez said parents are putting their children in harm’s way, but he is upset by what he’s seeing. “I truly believe that separating kids from their parents is not something we ever want to see,” he said.

Businessman and first-time candidate Doug Robinson was the only one of the four to fully push back on the president’s highly controversial action.

“I do not support the president’s policy,” he said. “These scenes from the border are heart-wrenching. This is not who we are as Americans. It’s not who we are as Republicans.”

After the candidates differentiated themselves over immigration, the debate became a contest of who could align themselves most closely with the president. Polls show Republican voters in Colorado remain loyal to Trump.

Mitchell is the only gubernatorial candidate who didn’t vote for Trump for president, opting instead for independent candidate Evan McMullin.

He nonetheless had high praise for the job Trump’s done so far — and even said he was most like the president among the GOP gubernatorial candidates, citing their business backgrounds and relative lack of political experience.

“I think the president has done by and large what he promised to do, and I support what the president is doing in many respects,” he said. “I mean, just take a step back and step away from his demeanor at times and look at what’s actually happening.”

But he expressed concern about Trump’s trade policies and damaged relationships with U.S. allies. “I worry a great deal about him getting into a trade war with our friendly neighbors,” Mitchell said.

Stapleton, who has been tying himself to Trump in television ads, continued his embrace of the White House. “I think it’s actually helpful for the governor to work with the president,” he said, vowing to still push back against Washington when Colorado’s values are at stake.

Lopez called Trump a true leader. “I think he is a good role model” for children, he added. But he criticized his decision to sign the omnibus spending bill raising the national debt.

Robinson said he was a big fan of Trump’s tax cuts, but raised concerns about the president’s trade decisions, however, saying on that issue he’d “stand up and be bold about that.”

“I think he’s done some really great things for Coloradans,” Robinson said.

  





Well, it’s officially campaign season. Politicians are selling their sell-out votes as a sign of tough character. None may be more entertaining as State Representative Dan Thurlow, who wants to become a state senator, selling his anti-gun vote as a “thoughtful process.”

In his latest campaign email he claimed his thoughtful process on guns lead him to vote to strip people of their Second Amendment right without due process. The so-called “Red Flag” bill had no protection for people whose firearms are wrongly taken to get them back, or to challenge someone’s false allegation. Thank goodness Senate Republicans, including Ray Scott, Thurlow’s primary opponent, stopped the flawed Red Flag bill.

But it fits in with Thurlow’s world view. He voted to raise your taxes some millions of dollars a year without the due process of letting you vote on it, you know, like our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights requires.

If you’re happy that President Trump and the Republican Congress voted to give you a tax cut, you need to know that State Representatives Dan Thurlow, Polly Lawrence and Senator Owen Hill worked with 100% of the Colorado Democrats to take it all away.

Sadly, Democrats in the state legislature concocted a scheme, called the Hospital Provider Fee, to raise your taxes nearly $600 million a year and put you in debt by $2 billion without asking your permission. And Dan Thurlow proudly betrayed conservative values and voted for this law. Not only does this more than wipe out your Trump tax cut, it provides a roadmap for future tax-grabbers like Thurlow to sneak around your consent before raising taxes by calling a massive tax hike a “fee.” [Emphasis mine — ed.]

Now that unaffiliated voters can vote in the Republican primary, Thurlow’s blast email makes perfect sense. His hope of victory depends on tempting unaffiliated voters who like stripping gun owners and taxpayers of their due process to vote in his Republican primary.

It will be interesting to see what the “thought process” of primary voters will be.





Relief is on its way … finally!

Since the Colorado State Legislature refuses to address our crumbling road system in Colorado, we are proud to bring the issue directly to the voters. I’m thrilled to let you know our Fix Our Damn Roads initiative is one step closer to reality.

The Title Board has approved our title, and the Colorado Secretary of State has approved our petition forms. Thousands of blank petitions are being printed as you read this and tomorrow we hit the streets to get the signatures we need to get this question on the fall ballot.

We’re told the only way to Fix Our Damn Roads is to raise taxes and raise fees. We’re told the only way to Fix Our Damn Roads is to pay ransom to ineffective transit schemes and pay off cities with slush funds. I’m here to say HELL NO! We’re not going to be played again!

We expect our lawmakers to Do Their Damn Jobs and fund this core function of state government. We expect lawmakers to STOP holding our roads and bridges hostage as a way to pay for their skyrocketing Obamacare Medicaid increases. If they wanted a tax increase for Obamacare, they should have asked for one instead on squeezing road funding so that 1 out of 4 Coloradans could be on Medicaid.

And now that the state has a MASSIVE budget surplus, thanks to the tax increase sell-out called the Hospital Provider Fee, we are going directly to the people. I am convinced voters will do what law makers refuse to do – Fix Our Damn Roads without raising taxes or fees, without siphoning off payola money to trolley cars and bike paths.

This is the year.

See you on the road!

Jon Caldara





A major stipulation of Xcel’s Colorado Energy Plan (CEP) is a reduction in the utility’s coal fired generation. If the Public utilities Commission approves the plan, Xcel will close Comanche Units 1 and 2, which combined are capable of providing 660 megawatts of electricity. In compliance with the CEP, Xcel hopes to replace this lost capacity with natural gas, solar, and wind generation.

Additionally, Xcel plans to continue the transition away from coal toward a portfolio powered predominantly by intermittent energy sources. With such an influx of solar and wind generation, natural gas will have to remain an integral part of the utility’s portfolio to ensure grid reliability.

The utility claims this transition will save ratepayers money. Don’t be fooled. According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the coal fired Comanche Power Station (units 1, 2, and 3), which is also the largest in the state, produces electricity at a lower cost than existing base load natural gas plants. In fact, it produces power at 42 percent less than the least costly natural gas plant. Yet, Xcel still wants to shut down and replace Comanche 1 and 2 with another more costly, base load generation source.

If you’re starting to think this switch is unnecessary, you’re correct. Simply put, the Colorado Energy Plan is a scheme. To raise its profits, Xcel hopes to increase the value of its asset base by shutting down two reliable, cost efficient coal fired units and replace them with intermittent energy sources and more expensive baseload natural gas plants.

When you hear that Xcel’s Colorado Energy Plan will save ratepayers, don’t believe it.





Setting up a lemonade stand without proper permitting in Denver makes entrepreneurial kids beverage outlaws, according to city code.

One Stapleton family found this out the hard way. Their Memorial Day weekend lemonade stand was shut down by Denver cops after several vendors at the nearby Denver Arts Festival called the police to complain the kids were undercutting their prices.

The three brothers, ages 2 to 6, didn’t have a temporary vending permit and that was a violation of city policy, mom Jennifer Knowles said. The permit allows people to sell food and non-alcoholic beverages at city-approved sites. The permit has a $100 one-day-only fee and comes with a list of rules regulating things like financial backing, health department regulations and hours of operation.

In addition to the vendor complaints, Knowles had set up shop for Ben, 6, William, 4, and Jonathan, 2, across the street from their house on the sidewalk next to a neighborhood park. City rules prohibit non-permitted vendors with mobile vending units from being within 300 feet of a city park.

“I was very surprised and shocked that all this was necessary for a child’s lemonade stand,” Knowles said. “When I think back to my childhood, I had lemonade stands all the time. It never occurred to me that it wouldn’t be OK for my kids to do the same.”

Knowles and her boys wanted to donate their lemon aid to a nonprofit child-advocacy ministry, Compassion International, that allows people to sponsor children in poverty.

“I wanted this to be a learning opportunity for my boys,” Knowles said.

Denver police and the city both said they don’t go out of their way to regulate children hawking summer treats, but the city admitted a lemonade stand without a food peddler’s license for the sale of prepackaged goods or a temporary restaurant permit if the food or drinks were made in-house, would be technically against the law.

“Fostering the entrepreneurial spirit is something that we can all get behind, especially when it’s for a good cause,” read a Denver Police Department Facebook post in response to the incident. “Unfortunately, this past weekend, officers received several complaints from permitted vendors about a stand which lacked a permit, but was set up at the same event.”

Elizabeth Hernandez is a Denver Post reporter covering breaking news and a little bit of everything else, too. A former education reporter at both The Post and Boulder Daily Camera, Elizabeth is passionate about using her platform to tell the stories of underrepresented Coloradans in an accurate, compassionate, engaging manner. She started at The Denver Post as an intern in 2014 and just kept coming to work until they hired her.

  




Polis comes out strong for ‘universal health care’ in ad
This is a platform Sen. Bernie Sanders used in 2016.

Jared Polis has a new ad touting his strong support for universal health care. The 2016 election might suggest it’s a lost cause as far as the Colorado electorate goes.

The Democrat gubernatorial candidate and sitting congressman touts Medicare-for-All, a load-bearing pillar of universal health care. A similarly purposed Amendment 69, the so-called ColoradoCare single-payer plan, took a 4-to-1 thumping, just two years ago.

“Health care is a human right,” Polis says in the 15-second spot, explaining his years of support for the universal health care program.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because Sen. Bernie Sanders, a darling of the far left, made it part of his 2016 platform. “Health care must be recognized as a right, not a privilege,” he said, before losing the Democrat primary race to Hillary Clinton.

Still, playing to the far-left base, and getting that message out the loudest, could give Polis a lift in the four-way June 26 primary that includes former state Treasurer Carey Kennedy, former state Sen. Mike Johnston and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne.

Read more at Colorado Politics: https://bit.ly/2J5e36M

Copyright 2018 Colorado Politics



Denver Chamber of Commerce 'coalition' will seek sales tax for roads
[… 'think business 'leaders' are on your side?]

A Denver-led coalition hopes to ask voters in November for a 0.62 percent statewide sales tax to pay for transportation.

Members of the coalition made the decision in a closed-door meeting at the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce Friday morning.

Now the groups supporting the tax must collect 98,492 signatures from registered voters statewide by Aug. 6 to get on the ballot, where it could be joined by unrelated requests to hike property and income taxes for education, as well as local tax requests.

The Secretary of State’s Office approved the coalition to begin collecting ballot signatures Friday afternoon..

A potential competing ballot question, called Fix Our Damn Roads, is already collecting signatures to ask voters to force lawmakers to find money to repay $3.5 billion in bonds for transportation without a tax hike.

Instead, voters could instruct the legislature to use money already in the state budget, which was about $29 billion this year, to pay the bonds over 20 years.

The state highway department has said it has $9 billion in needs over the next decade and $20 billion over the next 20 years.

The anti-new tax effort is led by the libertarian-leaning Independence Institute in Denver.

“This is terrific!” the think tank’s president, Jon Caldara, said in an email to Colorado Politics Friday. “Now voters this fall will have a clear choice: fix the damn roads without raising taxes, OR a huge tax hike for more trolleys, transit with a slush fund for cities, and whatever’s left over going to roads.” [Emphasis mine — ed.]

New taxes, as Caldara notes, would be shared with local governments and alternative transportation projects.

  





When I was a kid in the early 1970s I remember my family driving up to Fort Collins on Interstate 25, which had two lanes in each direction. The population of the state was 2.2 million then. Today Colorado has swelled to 5.6 million people, and the drive up to Fort Collins is on the same meager two lanes. And we wonder why we're stuck in traffic?

RTD carries about a paltry 2 percent of all the commutes in the Denver-metro area yet spends 50 percent more than the entire Colorado Department of Transportation spends on roads throughout the whole state. And still we wonder why we're stuck in traffic.

A decade ago the state Legislature spent nearly 10 percent of the state budget on roads. Today that's closer to 6 percent. Still asking why we are stuck in traffic?

Instead of funding this core function of government, the social engineers in elective office have been playing bait-and-switch with our roads. As the state embraced Obamacare, via a massive expansion of Medicaid to the point 1 in 4 of us are now on the dole, they funded it by starving our mobility, and forcing us into traffic jams. Their end goal is to get us so road-raged we vote "yes" to raise taxes for roads as a way to actually fund Obamacare.

The crafty folks down at the Denver Chamber of Commerce are doing just that. As reported by ColoradoPolitics.com the Chamber is now playing Star Chamber by holding private, no-press-allowed meetings of elected officials and corporate cronies to put a massive sales tax increase on this fall's ballot for "transportation." (The quote marks are because "transportation" used to mean roads and bridges, but under the Chamber's tax scheme nearly a third of the loot would go to transit and slush funds for cities.)

The Legislature did take a step to add a few bucks to roads in the last days of the session that just ended. Senate Bill 1 looks like it could bring billions of dollars to aid our roads. Sadly, looks are deceiving.

In the good part of the bill, SB 1 puts an immediate $495 million toward "transportation" right away. But there are those darn quotation marks again. Again, nearly a third of that gets paid as tribute to transit and slush funds for cities, not roads.

And then under SB 1 voters will be asked if it's okay to bond for $2.3 billion for "transportation," but not this year. Get this — the vote will be postponed until next year, to give the Denver Star Chamber a chance to raise taxes on this year's ballot with their tax hike proposal. Clever huh?

  





Over the last 25 years, the Colorado courts have consistently legislated from the bench to weaken the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR), two prominent advocacy groups committed to limited government assert. A recent Colorado Supreme Court ruling is one among many that “weakened taxpayer’s rights,” they argue.

Voters approved TABOR on Nov. 3, 1992, which then became part of the state constitution after the governor issued a proclamation on Jan. 14, 1993.

TABOR requires voter approval of most tax and debt increases. It also requires each government to reserve a percentage of non-debt-service spending (an amount that has fluctuated) for emergency reserves. It states that TABOR “shall reasonably restrain most of the growth of government. All provisions are self-executing and severable and supersede conflicting state constitutional, state statutory, charter, or other state or local provisions.”

In his book, "The Colorado Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights," Rob Natelson, senior fellow in constitutional jurisprudence at the Independence Institute, points to numerous court rulings that weakened the provisions of TABOR, essentially demoting if from a constitutional bill of rights to “merely a set of administrative limits.” In the book, Natelson outlines the history before and after TABOR’s adoption, explains court cases and rulings, clarifies entities affected by TABOR, expounds on the principles of limited government and the reasoning made by unelected judges to redefine terms associated with “taxes.”

In the most recent battle, TABOR Foundation v. Regional Transportation District, the foundation argued that a law standardizing sales tax exemptions should have been presented to the voters on a ballot to reject or approve. Likewise, they argued the new law is not revenue-neutral but is really what TABOR defines as a “tax revenue gain.” The State Supreme Court rejected the foundation’s argument.

The justices ruled that the law did not fit TABOR’s definition of a “new tax” or a “tax policy change directly causing a net tax revenue gain.” Instead, they said the law’s intent was “to simplify tax collection and ease administrative burdens.” They rejected the notion that a percentage increase of .6 percent or $3 million was a “tax policy change” because the amount was so small. The judges argued that the law “only incidentally [increased] … tax revenues by a de minimis amount.”

By doing so, TABOR Foundation Chairman and former state legislator Penn Pfiffner told Watchdog.org, the Supreme Court “reached into the constitution to find a de minimis argument that does not exist in TABOR. They legislated from the bench to add such a provision.”

Natelson argues that the court was “certainly wrong” and outlined four “crucial flaws in the court’s reasoning” in a column published by The Hill newspaper. He wrote: “A change in tax base is, in fact, a classic example of a tax policy change.” And, the law “unarguably increased tax levies.”

Natelson told Watchdog.org: “Voters adopt financial restrictions on their legislatures to keep their states free, prosperous and solvent. Unfortunately, state courts often do not understand the importance of such measures, and frequently weaken or even overturn them.

“That's what the Colorado Supreme Court did in this case. Colorado's state constitution clearly provides that if the legislature adopts a 'tax policy change' that raises taxes, Coloradans have a right to vote on it. In this case, the state legislature raised sales taxes by ending certain exemptions. But the court refused to require a public vote, and thus denied citizens ‘a say in what they pay.’ Regrettably, this is only the latest in a long line of cases where the Colorado courts have refused to protect this valuable constitutional right.”

Both Natelson and the TABOR Foundation point out there were other options the legislature could have pursued that would have been constitutional.

“If the law was such a good idea, why not bring it to the voters and let them decide?” Pfiffner asked.

Natelson warns in his book that “the rights of citizens to vote on certain hikes in government spending, taxes, and debt" are being diminished. "Unfortunately, each anti-TABOR court decision has become precedent for further anti-TABOR decisions. The Colorado courts are bootstrapping themselves toward ultimate destruction of Coloradans’ right to keep their state fiscally safe.”

And it’s not just the state legislature that is circumventing TABOR, Pfiffner argues. Rather than allowing citizens to vote on debt as required to issue bonds, local governments such as municipalities are renaming bonds as “certificates of participation” in order to avoid voting on them altogether. Another common abuse by the state government and local districts is to define new taxes as “fees,” which then allow those governments to avoid the required TABOR voter approval for tax increases, advocates who support limited government argue.

Another challenge facing TABOR is the judicial process itself, Pfiffner notes.

“The Courts at all levels have acted to weaken the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights over and over again,” he said. “It does not help that in Colorado, judges are appointed through a progressive/Left process in which experts select nominees and so the process avoids legislative advise and consent.”

Bethany Blankley is a former Capitol Hill staffer, Fox News Radio political analyst, public speaker and commentator on Christianity and politics in America. Her commentary has been published by The Washington Times (Axis Mundi), Townhall, Religion Today, Patheos (Hedgerow), Charisma News, Christian Headlines, and Beliefnet, among others. Her first book in a five-part series, What Every Christian Needs To Know About Islam, is forthcoming.





A Colorado university backed out of hosting a July “Unmasking Whiteness” privilege conference open to white people only.

The University of Colorado – Colorado Springs not only canceled its hosting of the event, citing its non-discrimination policy, but also erased a section of its website indicating that it would reward students with credits for attending it, reported Campus Reform Monday.

“Our commitment to academic inquiry must be open to all members of the university community who wish to participate, rather than send a message that only some are invited to participate in the discussion,” UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy told The Gazette. “We believe that inclusive academic exploration is the best outcomes for our students and we expect the same inclusivity from those with whom we partner.”

“Unmasking Whiteness” cost UCCS students $486 to attend and lists topics like “white privilege,” “guilt and shame,” “economic benefits” of whiteness, as well as “what it means to be white in today’s society” on its brochure. UCCS students could previously have applied credits from the conference to the school’s diversity, social justice and inclusion graduate certificate program. (RELATED: College Awards Students Who Attend White-Only ‘Guilt And Shame’ Conference)

The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to Mount Saint Mary’s University professor Shelly Tochluk, an organizer of the conference, but received no comment in time for press.

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