Union paybacks, overreaching mark 
the start of 2013 legislative session

The Colorado legislative session for 2013 is getting under way, and we are able to get a sense of the broad outlines of what’s going to happen. It’s unpleasantly madcap.

Now that Democrats have their hands and feet on the legislative rudder in both houses, as well as the governor’s mansion, they are approaching the session with the same level of judiciousness as a 5-year-old who just ate half his body weight in sugar cubes approaches his toy box.

One example in support of this is Senate Bill 25, which drags back a hoary bit of big-union payback into the Capitol dome. This bill is another attempt to get statewide legislation to unionize public employees, in this case firefighters. But it’s pretty clear this would be the first step toward pushing unionization on everyone who gets a government paycheck.

This should be a familiar topic, since it has been rejected as a concept here in Grand Junction. Just to show what a bad idea it is, a similar bill was passed and actually vetoed by Democrat and union-beholding Gov. Bill Ritter in 2009.

History and local control be darned, as this bill would override the ability of local governments to decide on how they wish to interact with their public safety employees and would apparently even supersede existing agreements on collective bargaining.

The Denver Post even editorialized against the bill, pointing out, “Carefully crafted collective-bargaining agreements that honor local charters could be tossed out the window, to be replaced by broad provisions in SB 25 addressing everything from strikes to dispute resolution.” The Post editorial even called such legislation for labor interests “… The first of what we expect to be a steady stream of thank you notes.”

The Daily Sentinel has also weighed in against this bit of pro-union tinkering.

But because unions, as the recipients of these aforementioned notes, did much of the heavy hauling for the Democrat’s party machine this last election, they will not happily go away without their carrots.

As usual, legislators also feel the need to take action in the name of tragedy, with laws that have little to do with preventing another calamity but a lot to do with political agendas — gun-control legislation falls in that category. It’s reminiscent of a scene from the movie “Caddyshack”, where a fight breaks out and Chevy Chase’s character leaps into action by placing a noncombatant bystander into a headlock.

The silver lining to this activity is that it allows those of us still interested in the Constitution an opportunity to see which of our representatives share the impulse. It’s one thing to deliver a pivot kick to the spirit if not to the letter of the Second Amendment when you’re from a safe district, but there are a number of legislative seats coming up in 2014 that are not from those safe neighborhoods. A substantial loss in those areas for Democrats could swing the balance of power back to Republicans.

Some may remember that the 1994 loss of the House of Representatives to Republicans by the Democrats was laid at the feet of President Clinton’s assault weapons ban, which Democrats supported.

One of the ways progressives have made inroads in Colorado is by splitting moderate Republicans, conservatives and libertarians on issues and candidates. Second Amendment concerns have a strong tendency to bind those groups together and make them quite difficult to splinter.

It’s not difficult to see the similarity between overreaching gun-control legislation that seems to be in the wings and the issue of Obamacare, which was a similar glue that held groups together and gave rise to the 2010 wave of conservative victories in Congress and statehouses across the nation.

Legislative paybacks and constitutional overreaching may be just the sorts of things that pull warring voting blocs back together and make a significant change in the Colorado Statehouse in 2014.

Even the governor’s mansion is in play if the veto pen is misplaced, Republicans, however, would still need to come up with a first-rate candidate who can make the right arguments and not create an argument among possible supporters. An overbearing Legislature might just make that easier.

Rick Wagner writes more on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.


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