Penry sets his sights on monumental task

Don’t let anyone tell you Sen. Josh Penry plans to coast through his final session as a member of the Colorado Legislature. The Grand Junction Republican who is also the Senate minority leader, has nothing less in mind this year than remaking state government.

Penry has always been a politically astute lawmaker. No doubt he is aware that expecting a total remodel of the state bureaucracy — through a measure sponsored by a Republican when Democrats control both legislative houses and the governor’s mansion — is a tad overly optimistic.

But, as Penry told The Daily Sentinel’s Charles Ashby, the broad nature of the bill’s title allows for many potential measures to be added and, equally important, it will stimulate “a discussion about reducing the size of government.”

There may be a bit of political calculation in notion, as well. After all, getting members of the opposition party to declare in open debate how they feel about reducing the size of government could be useful for Republicans running against them this year. And Penry has made it clear one of his goals this year is to assist other Republicans running for the Legislature.

Still, the idea of re-examining how our state government is structured is sensible, regardless of the politics involved. State government has evolved haphazardly, like a tiny house to which additions have been repeatedly tacked on, with little thought of how they all fit together.

There are few specifics accompanying Penry’s proposal as yet, so we are not prepared to endorse it or reject it. But some of the things Penry is proposing appear reasonable enough.

For instance, there is the possibility of granting the governor new authority to consolidate boards and commissions, which have become numerous over the decades. And there is the plan to expand the responsibilities of the lieutenant governor. Currently, Colorado’s lieutenant governor has only one constitutionally mandated duty — to serve as director of Indian affairs for the state.


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