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November 18, 2023 04:15 PM UTC

Dems Flex Majority Muscle As GOP Tries Again To Derail Progress

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  • by: Colorado Pols
Sens. Paul Lundeen and Sen. Bob Gardner (R).

As the Denver Post reports, the Republican minority in the Colorado Senate succeeded in stretching after a lengthy parliamentary controversy the special session of the General Assembly that convened yesterday into at least Monday if not later, thwarting what Democrats had hoped to be a minimum-expense three days in and out to wrap up a single year’s worth of property tax relief along with a few other timely matters following the defeat of Proposition HH earlier this month:

Colorado lawmakers are convening for the second day of a special session Saturday as they advance legislation that aims to provide property tax relief, flatten state tax refunds and provide more aid aimed at preventing evictions for renters.

Friday’s opening day featured quick work by committees to advance the majority Democrats’ bills — while also rejecting Republican-sponsored legislation. Tangling over the expedited three-day schedule erupted in a Senate floor dispute Friday night between Republicans and Democrats, resulting in contested rules votes and a delay that will likely extend the session into Monday…

Despite yesterday evening’s spat in the Senate over rules, which featured obstructionist stalwarts like Sen. Bob Gardner complaining laughably that their antics were being dismissed as “political theater,” what was the biggest bone of contention from Republicans going into the session is already off the table: Democrats do not intend to tap TABOR refunds to help school districts and other public services that will lose out on revenue from reducing the rate of property tax increase. In theory, that would have left Republicans with substantially less to complain about–but if you thought this major concession would even slow the roll of this nothing-if-not cantankerous GOP minority, you don’t know these people like we do.

In Colorado as is the case throughout the country, today’s Republican minority in the General Assembly is not interested in allowing normal business to be carried out, manufacturing controversy even in a situation where they are largely getting their way. Even though tapping TABOR refunds to make local governments whole is off the table, Republican objections have simply moved on to attempts by Democrats to include any kind of relief for renters, via assistance funds or increasing the earned income tax credit to help lower-income households directly. Republicans are also pushing to raid the state’s emergency fund for additional property tax relief, which is neither necessary nor the responsible choice. Proposition HH failed for a variety of reasons, but the failure to incentivize the deal for renters who have borne increases in many cases much greater than the projected increase in property taxes was part of why traditional Democratic support was muted.

After years of pointless obstruction by the dwindling Republican minority in both chambers, culminating in an ostentatious “walkout” by House Republicans at session’s end this year as frustration over their own powerlessness boiled over, Democrats have nothing to lose from pushing right past Republican obstruction tactics in this short special session. The people playing games last night in the Senate were obstructionist Republicans, not Democrats who used their majority power to shut the obstruction down. Republicans have cried foul so many times, and as in this case with such flimsy pretexts, that no one is going to care about this episode by next November–or even by January when the legislature reconvenes to do their real work. Voters will get equal TABOR refund checks, homeowners will see a slower rate of property tax increase, and everyone will move on with their lives.

As the old saying goes, the minority gets their say but the majority gets their way. Colorado Republicans in recent years have tried to unbalance that essential paradigm because they believe their righteous political will should have the power to overcome majority rule. As much as the peaceful transfer of power itself, it is of overriding importance to ensure that these attempts do not succeed.

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