Democrats run roughshod over GOP with partisan, anti-business bills
Most readers won’t have an opportunity to be a member of western Colorado’s legislative delegation to the Statehouse in Denver, so I thought I’d give a suggestion for those interested in getting the sensation of this session.
Imagine you’re in a parking lot being pursued by a couple of those clown cars from the circus — you know the kind: tiny, bright yellow vehicles stuffed full of clowns with big red noses and wide floppy shoes. About 20 to a car and they all have seltzer bottles, chasing you around and blasting you endlessly while honking horns and being cheered on by their own peanut gallery.
That’s about the experience, except that real clowns probably have a better sense of what they’re trying to accomplish.
And for western Colorado Republican legislators this session, with the Democrats running the show at the Capitol and the governor’s mansion, the light at the end of the tunnel just keeps on being a train.
While Republicans have done some less-than- tactful things when they were in charge, no one can remember such an onslaught of partisan-driven legislation. There’s so much that we don’t even hear about all of it, despite the importance.
A good example is House Bill 1304, sponsored by a Commerce City Democrat and passed out of the Colorado House on a 37-27, party-line vote.
Ed Sealover, at the Denver Business Journal, has been doing a great job of tracking these bills in the waning days of the session and reports on this fluffy pillow for union bosses that allows workers during a lockout by employers, as a defensive move in a strike situation, to collect unemployment.
The Business Journal reports this comes as United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7 is gearing up to begin negotiations with Safeway and King Soopers in 2015. The Journal indicates the bill for this change could hit $3.4 million a week if there is a lockout.
The fact that such unions are the biggest supporters of Democratic candidates is purely a coincidence and this surely isn’t an expensive, taxpayer-funded lollipop for supporters.
Colorado small business also reportedly received a nice rabbit punch from the House of Representatives, who voted to lower the employee threshold number for small businesses to be sued for various forms of discrimination to 14 and below. That bit of legislation is House Bill 1136 and will now be considered by the Democrat-controlled Senate.
The Business Journal also reports on an important bill that was killed in the Senate Judiciary Committee, legislation that would have limited lawsuits involving construction defects on condominiums and townhouses.
The law, as presently configured, allows townhouse and condominium homeowner associations to sue the builder-developer if as few as two of the units have defects.
This is despite a survey that showed between 2006 and 2007, 26 percent of housing starts in the Denver Metro area were condominiums or townhouses, but by 2012 only 2 percent of them fell into that category even though there was a dearth of affordable housing.
These types of housing units are often the bridge between renting and owning a single-family home for middle-class families.
The Business Journal quoted developers saying they were being sued on virtually every multifamily development they had built and the townhouse and condo development portion of their business had been reduced from 50 percent in 2006 to 0 percent in 2012.
It’s not that there aren’t problems and people shouldn’t be entitled to redress them, but it’s how far down you drill into a business’ expense-and-risk profile.
Much of this sort of legislation is attributed to special-interest groups, but often it is a result of a simple-minded approach to solving problems that supposes legislative action is required in every difficult situation.
There is also a total lack of understanding of consequences. For instance, if an entire housing development is sued over a small percentage of units, it might cause all the homeowners to be affected with disclosure requirements in the resale of their own homes, even if they were untouched.
Shoving through a partisan and special-interest-driven agenda in the hope that voters will forget next year may result in another example of the consequence some legislators don’t expect.
Rick Wagner writes more on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.