Yesterday, Colorado Senate Republicans held a press conference to complain that a "disproportionate" number of their bills are being sent to the Senate State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee, known as the "kill committee" for its longstanding role in presiding over the death of bills unfavored by majority leadership. Since this is a longstanding and routine practice that in fact originated during Republican control of the legislature, it was a strange bit of political theater–even stranger on the heels of Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman's bizarre freak-out, and confused non-apology, over what turned out to be his own mistake about "deadlines" for a given piece of legislation.
After the press conference, as the Denver Business Journal's Ed Sealover reports, the "kill committee" went to work:
[W]hile Republicans are likely to continue to scream about partisanship based on those vote numbers, there also was an interesting twist to Wednesday’s action. On both of the bills, businesses who testified sided with the Democrats.
That was slightly apparent in the case of SB 40, an attempt by Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, to let Coloradans buy insurance policies that are sold in other states. The Colorado Association of Health Plans testified that out-of-state companies that are less regulated would be able to register a subsidiary in-state and put Colorado insurers at a market disadvantage. With Brophy bringing no witnesses to speak for SB 40, it died… [Pols emphasis]
It's critical that this be fully understood. After complaining that GOP bills are being "unfairly" killed, Sen. Greg Brophy brought his legislation to gut state-level consumer protections for health insurance to the State Affairs Committee with no witnesses. Whatever Brophy may think of his legislation being routed to this committee, how can he possibly complain about his bill dying when he made no effort to pass it?
As Sealover continues, Brophy wasn't the only one:
It was even more interesting in the case of SB 35, sponsored by Sen. Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, to overturn the 2013 bill that requires rural electric cooperatives to double their renewable-energy portfolio to 20 percent by 2020. Major business organizations joined forces with several of those cooperatives in 2013 to oppose the measure — and made enough noise that when Gov. John Hickenlooper signed it into law, he also appointed a committee to examine whether there are areas in the law that need to be fixed.
On Wednesday, however, the only businesses that come to the Senate committee room to testify were renewable energy companies and industry organizations asking that the law be kept in place… [Pols emphasis]
What can be said about Republicans who hold a press conference to complain about their bills being killed, and then march into the committee hearing the bills totally unprepared to argue for them?
Republicans are right about one thing: this isn't business as usual. In only one week, this legislative session, especially for Republicans in the Colorado Senate, has descended into rank absurdity and baseless theatrics–maybe unlike anything we've seen in all our years covering "Gold Dome High School." What's worse is that these theatrics rely on their target audience not knowing the facts. How many who read the extensive coverage of Cadman's meltdown Tuesday saw the follow-up where he so grudgingly admits he was wrong? How many who heard about yesterday's press conference on the TV news or today's paper know these Senators were making no real attempt to pass the legislation they were complaining isn't getting a "fair hearing?"
The only thing "disproportionate" here is the nonsense. It's objectively ridiculous. It needs to be called out.