In today’s Unaffiliated newsletter from the Colorado Sun, which we highly recommend subscribing to if you don’t already, Colorado House Republican lawmakers including ex-House Minority Leader Patrick Neville complain bitterly that the obstruction tactics which had in previous years resulted in some amount of negotiation from majority Democrats–or failing that, at least some base-pleasing headlines about Republicans slowing progress to a crawl–didn’t work in the 2021 legislative session most likely wrapping up today.
This year under new House Minority Leader Hugh McKean, the “performative obstruction” fell flat:
“It seems like when we’ve done it, there hasn’t been a sense of purpose behind it. There’s been no objective,” Neville, the former House minority leader, said of the delay tactics.
First-year Reps. Richard Holtorf of Akron and Ron Hanks of Fremont County were among the Republican representatives who most readily deployed the delay measures. They asked for bills to be read at length and delivered long floor speeches, keeping Democrats, and their fellow Republicans, at the Capitol late into the night.
But even Holtorf admits he didn’t accomplish much. [Pols emphasis] On Friday, Republicans — led by Holtorf, who spoke at great length and detail about cows giving birth — stretched debate over a bill to expand labor rights for agricultural workers until about 11 p.m. The payoff was a few “soft amendments,” Holtorf said.
Tension became high enough between the hard-right members of the GOP minority and Leader McKean that Rep. Ron Hanks threatened to break McKean’s neck over continuing a then-nine hour filibuster against a business property tax bill. It is interesting to note that the obstruction campaign in the House has been spearheaded by two of the most embarrassing freshman members of the GOP House minority. But as today’s Unaffiliated continues, it wasn’t just far-right Reps. Richard Holtorf and Hanks getting burned by ill-advised obstruction tactics:
Even Rep. Colin Larson, a more moderate Republican from Littleton who is well-regarded by Democrats, jumped in on the delay tactics at one point, slowly reading aloud a legal opinion related to a Democratic bill to cut tax breaks for the wealthy and expand tax credits benefiting working families…
He thought Democrats might take it to heart if a moderate member of the GOP launched a mini filibuster. But instead of winning concessions, Larson lost the respect of some of his Democratic colleagues, they say. [Pols emphasis]
It’s a huge contrast from the 2019 session of the Colorado General Assembly, which ended with Republicans at least rhetorically fired up and preparing to launch a round of (failed) recall attempts against targets of opportunity in the legislature and Gov. Jared Polis. This year, Colorado Democrats have enjoyed the most productive legislative session since at least 2013, while Republicans have simply been too mired in infighting and confusion to mount anything like that level of opposition.
As the old saying goes, “the minority gets their say, and the majority gets their way.”
This year, the GOP minority couldn’t even get out of its own way enough to have their say.