Republican leaders in the State Senate spent much of their morning on Tuesday in a Denver courtroom after suing Democrats for using computers to read the text of a 2,000-page bill last week; Sen. John Cooke (R-Weld County) requested a full reading of HB-1172 in an effort to bring Senate business to a standstill over the GOP’s inability to stop an oil and gas regulations bill (SB-181) from moving forward. It was estimated that reading the entire text of the bill out loud would take at least six hours to complete – during which time no Senate business could be conducted on the floor.
Late Tuesday, a Denver judge ruled in favor of Republicans that computers cannot be used to read the text of bills at fast speeds, which is a minor victory for Republicans struggling to deal with their newfound impotence in state government. The implications of that ruling could be significant should Republicans decide to press their luck on this strategy.
Republican lawmakers could ask for any legislation to be read in its entirety before business is conducted, which would devour most of the time in a legislative session that comes to a close in early May.
As 9News reports, Republican leaders aren’t even pretending that they have a strategy other than just gumming up the works at every step:
After the hearing, Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert (R-Parker) told 9NEWS political reporter Marshall Zelinger that this was the only tool Republicans had at their disposal in an effort to slow legislation.
“Right now we have one party control of the legislature, and again, this is the one tool where we can raise our hand, as the minority, and say slow down,” he said.
“Slow Down! Do Less!” As slogans go, it’s no “Hope and Change.”
Republicans are intentionally wasting time and money in the State Capitol. The electoral repercussions are not difficult to imagine. It’s hard for Republicans to make a strong case to 2020 voters when the GOP aggressively sought to impede legislative movement at every step of the way. “We have a proven track record of making sure that nothing happens in the State Senate – vote for us for State Senate!”
These stalling tactics are completely obvious to anyone paying even a lick of attention:
Before the final votes in the 2018 were even counted, Republicans were screeching “overreach” predictions about new Democratic majorities in the state legislature. There is a sad irony, then, that a political party obsessed with this singular narrative would be so blind about its own overreach.
Instead of trying to negotiate with majority Democrats on important issues, Republicans have threatened recalls, inflamed calls for “secession,” and organized “sanctuary counties” by encouraging local governments to refuse to obey proposed gun safety measures. In their zeal to protect their oil & gas industry overlords from SB-181, Republican lawmakers have stalled and filibustered and demanded that Democrats drag out a process that already includes six different committee hearings and two floor discussions.
As we have written before in this space, Republican lawmakers never had any intention of trying to govern now that they are in the minority. The House Minority Leader, Rep. Pat Neville (R-Castle Rock), is leading efforts to recall his colleagues while the legislature is in session. This sentence from a recent email from Neville about recall attempts speaks volumes about how little Republicans actually understand their current situation:
“The truth is – Democrats are completely out of touch with Colorado voters.”
If this were at all true, you’d have to come up with an explanation for 2018; Democrats won every statewide office for the first time in decades — including a double-digit victory in the race for Governor — expanded their House majority to a record number, took control of the State Senate, flipped a Republican-held Congressional seat (CO-6), and wiped out GOP candidates in local county races across the state. This is basically the exact opposite of being “out of touch with Colorado voters.”
Republican legislators are in the midst of a full-fledged political tantrum based on a bizarre and completely indefensible belief that Colorado voters want the GOP to stop the very party that they overwhelmingly elected just four months ago. In response, Democrats have no choice but to keep plugging along. You can’t negotiate with someone who won’t even show up to the table.