Legislature shows little interest in boosting Colorado’s brand

Earlier this year, Gov. John Hickenlooper launched an effort to “rebrand” Colorado to make it a more attractive place for businesses and skilled-professionals to come and, ideally, stay.

  By the time the current legislative session is over, though, Hick won’t need a Madison Avenue marketing guru to improve the state’s brand. He’ll need a magician.

If Colorado was hoping to position itself as the place-to-be for business, you’d have a hard time knowing it by what’s happening in the state Capitol.

This is a Legislature that seems focused on literally anything and everything other than the state’s business environment and jobs.

As Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal reported last week: “(The) limited advancement of jobs bills ... has created a divide in what began as a bipartisan effort for the Legislature to do what it could to improve the economy.”

The “limited advancement of jobs bills” is a generous description. The economy, by the looks of it, isn’t on the mind of anyone in a seat of power in the Legislature at all.

In fairness to the Democrats who retain large majorities in both the House and Senate, there’s only so many hours in the day.

And in the first 60 days, Democrats have spent the lion’s share of their time, energy and capital on gun control.

(Full disclosure: The company I works for has done consulting work for gun-rights groups.)

It isn’t that Democrats don’t care about jobs. They just seem to care about gun control more.

This, I must say, is surprising. It’s easy to understand the impulse that elected leaders feel to “do something” after tragedies like Sandy Hook and Aurora.

But no one — not the public and, if you take them at their word, not even a lot of the Democrats carrying these anti-gun bills — believes that more gun control scribblings in a statute book will affect the behavior of criminals — or save many lives.

Overlay the well-documented ineffectiveness of gun control in preventing violent crime (see Chicago and Washington, D.C. after dark) with the fact that the graveyard of American politics is full of politicos who miscalculated the political potency of guns and the only thing you can wonder is: Why?

The Democrats’ wealthy elites spend millions and millions to capture an entire state and their boldest play is to pass a bunch of bills focused on limiting the rights of gun owners?

Know this: Gun control is a powerful cultural issue that, when mishandled, has always cost Democrats votes among working-class Americans.

Put it this way: There’s a reason that Democrats named Salazar, Udall and even Obama talk a good game on guns during election season.

In the meantime, this break-neck push to pass the most restrictive gun laws in America must, to the outsider, make Colorado seem like the hyper-reactionary, screwball kind of place that some are trying to make us into.

Sure, we haven’t tried to ban soda pop yet. But one gets the clear impression that it is only a matter of time before we do.

For Colorado, the story gets worse.

The same Legislature that earlier this week passed far-reaching gun control in the name of “protecting the children” is, according to various media reports, about to take up legislation in the last 60 days of the session that would commute the death sentence of a couple of monsters who gunned down “the children.”

One of these people is named James Holmes, author of the Aurora theater massacre last summer. The other is Nathan Dunlap, the death-row bile who perpetrated the Chuck-e-Cheese slaughter in 1993.

Banning large magazines one week while demanding leniency for butchers who break gun laws in the commission of mass murder the next — what in the world is Colorado doing?

Sadly, this is what our state is becoming.

A state whose legislative leaders attack law-abiding gun owners at the time they coddle those who commit heinous and illegal atrocities with guns. A state with priorities so messed-up, mixed-up and crossed-up that it is starting to feel more like California than our own.

The accumulation of these self-inflicted changes will, inevitably, impact Colorado’s brand. Truth be told, our brand has major league problems.

But it’s going to take a lot more than a slick marketing program to hide the sad truth about the direction this state is heading. Somebody needs to steer this state back on course.

Otherwise, that magician may be the best hope we’ve got.

Josh Penry is a former minority leader of the Colorado Senate. He is a graduate of Grand Junction High School and Mesa State College.


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