It is not specifically against House rules to threaten to kill a fellow lawmaker.
This is one of the takeaways from an incredible story via Marianne Goodland of the publication formerly known as the Colorado Statesman. The bigger point: House Minority Leader Hugh McKean might be the most impotent legislative “leader” we’ve seen in decades in Colorado.
As Goodland reports, tempers got heated on Friday evening during a strategy session within the House Republican caucus. The GOP had spent the previous nine hours staging a “filibuster” of sorts against House Bill 1312, which involves raising the exemption for business personal property taxes through an increased tax on insurers, oil and gas companies, and the coal industry.
Ultimately House Republicans agreed to return to the House floor for continued debate, but this decision did not go over well with Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Cañon City), one of the GOP’s most prominent lunatics and someone who was literally right there in Washington D.C. during the January 6 insurrection. As Goodland reports for Colorado Politics:
…when the caucus returned to the House floor, sources said Hanks told McKean he would “break your neck.” As of Monday morning, Hanks had not apologized. [Pols emphasis]
“I have no comment on any conversations I may or may not have had within the Republican Caucus,” Hanks told Colorado Politics on Monday.
At least five other lawmakers in the Republican caucus, in addition to Hanks and McKean, heard the threat. Rep. Terri Carver of Colorado Springs stepped in to referee, said Rep. Matt Soper of Delta, one of the GOP witnesses.
Goodland notes that Hanks’ threat “doesn’t appear to violate any rules of the House,” although lawmakers probably never thought it necessary to explicitly prohibit making death threats against another legislator.
And what did Minority Leader McKean do about this disgusting display from one of his caucus members?
Again, from Goodland:
On Monday morning, McKean told Colorado Politics that “I don’t think the occasional times that tempers get a little frayed on the floor” matters as much as “what we do as a group.”
He declined to comment on Hanks’ exact words or whether Hanks had apologized for his threat.
On one hand, it’s not entirely surprising that McKean would shrivel up in response to Hanks’ threatening behavior; this is the same McKean, after all, who doesn’t even have the courage to speak out against colleagues who insist on regularly making racist comments on the House floor.
McKean has been an absolute disaster as House Minority Leader, a position he earned in November following another tough election full of GOP losses. Earlier in the legislative session, McKean promised that opposing a health care plan seeking to lower premiums for Coloradans by 20% would be “the hill we die on.” This was a weird line to draw in the sand, particularly when you consider that McKean doesn’t have the votes to come anywhere close to making good on such a promise.
McKean’s incompetence as House Minority Leader has been almost amusing if you aren’t interested in Republicans being successful, but this interaction with Hanks is different. It’s sad to watch such an impotent, bungling mess staggering around the State Capitol.
McKean spent much of last week complaining about being denied a “do-over” after he says he mistakenly voted YES on a bill that would make it harder for people convicted of a violent crime to legally purchase a gun in Colorado — an error that earned him the wrath of some Republican colleagues and the firearm enthusiasts at Rocky Mountain Gun Owners. We’ve even heard rumors of an attempt to oust McKean from leadership altogether, though a vote of “no confidence” on McKean’s leadership would be fairly redundant.
As for HB-1312, it passed out of the House on a party-line vote on Saturday and will next be taken up in the State Senate.