Powerful Christian-right group aligned with 33 Colorado Republicans against Planned Parenthood

(Must read – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

prolifevsprochoiceThirty-three Republican members of the Colorado legislature joined last year with the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a national anti-choice and anti-LGBT organization, in demanding the Colorado health department investigate Planned Parenthood, according to a letter released by ADF via Colorado State Sen. Kevin Lundberg’s office.

Considered to be one of the most powerful Christian right organizations in America, ADF is well-known at the Colorado legislature for pushing legislation and testifying in favor of the social-conservative agenda.

But it’s rare to see ADF form a direct alliance with so many legislators, as it did in advocating for a Planned Parenthood investigation.

“I’m not surprised to see ADF branching out into working alongside state legislators,” said Robert Boston, author of Taking Liberties: Why Religious Freedom Doesn’t Give You The Right To Tell Other People What To Do, via an email. “While I’m not aware of efforts on this scale in other states, I do know that ADF has of late been sending unsolicited ‘advice’ to state and local lawmakers concerning issues like the ability of government clerks to refuse service to same-sex couples. The influx of Tea Party-style Republicans in state governments since 2014 has given the group a host of natural allies in the state capitols, and it’s not surprising to see this relationship growing.”

While its work directly with legislators isn’t widely seen, ADF has a longstanding and multi-pronged history of attacking Planned Parenthood, including efforts to defund the health-care organization and to organize grassroots opposition among people and businesses. The organization’s anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ stances are widely documented.

In a 2015 handbook designed to help religious entities discriminate without facing legal repercussions, ADF equates bestiality and incest with being LGBTQ, participating in adultery, and using pornography.

“We believe that God wonderfully and immutably creates each person as male or female,” states the handbook. “These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. (Gen 1:26-27.) Rejection of one’s biological sex is a rejection of the image of God within that person.”

The handbook continues: “We believe that God intends sexual intimacy to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other. (1 Cor 6:18; 7:2-5; Heb 13:4.) We believe that God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. We believe that any form of sexual immorality (including adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, and use of pornography) is sinful and offensive to God. (Matt 15:18-20; 1 Cor 6:9-10.)”

ADF, which did not return a call for comment, campaigned in support of a 2003 Texas lawsuit, arguing that it’s “clearly” true that “same-sex sodomy is a distinct public health problem.” ADF has backed efforts to criminalize homosexuality abroad, according to a report by Media Matters for America.

ADF has gained attention more recently for providing legal defense for anti-LGBTQ business owners who refuse to serve same-sex patrons.

“ADF and its allies are attempting to reverse something like 50 years of social progress,” wrote Boston, who serves as communications director for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, a national progressive organization. “They are essentially at war with modernity. Some might argue that this is alarmist, and it won’t happen. But the fact is, reproductive rights have been under constant assault since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, and opponents of legal abortion have made a lot of progress.”

In the September 25 letter to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), GOP lawmakers requested the “standards or criteria that are required to initiate an investigation” of Planned Parenthood, and it asked how a heavily edited video that falsely purported to show illegal dealings in fetal tissue donation would not be investigated.

The video and others like it, part of an undercover series by the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), has been discredited and their creators indicted, but the videos have spawned local and national Republican-led hearings and investigations of Planned Parenthood. No evidence has shown Planned Parenthood to have broken any laws.

The ADF letter, which has not been previously reported on, came after CDPHE, in an August 31 letter, rejected a demand by many of the same state legislators to “initiate an investigation” of Planned Parenthood.

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Monday Open Thread

“The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close-up.”

–Chuck Palahniuk

“After serving with [Keyser] for a mere year in the legislature, it is still pretty clear he isn’t ready for prime time….”

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Justin Everett (R).

Rep. Justin Everett (R).

In its report on a Denver judge’s decision to allow U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser on the Republican primary ballot, after the Secretary of State had rejected his petitions, The Denver Post’s John Frank and Mark Matthews reported:

Once considered a favorite in the race, Keyser must now overcome other challenges that are injecting questions into this campaign not least among them, the fact he needed a court ruling to keep his campaign alive. [BigMedia emphasis]

It’s unclear just how much of a liability Keyser’s signature-gathering fiasco will be, but the reporters were correct to write that it raises questions–as yet unexplored in detail by journalists–about whether Keyser’s short stint on the campaign trail and in public service has shown him to be competent not only to run a campaign but to be an effective U.S. Senator, to replace Democrat Michael Bennet.

Keyser’s Republican colleague in the Colorado State House, Rep. Justin Everett of Littleton, jumped on Facebook last week to write that Keyser “isn’t ready for prime time,” as evidenced by Keyer’s fundraing troubles, problematic petitions, and other bungles.

Everett: Not to say he won’t cure, suers gonna sue. But what’s interesting here is how close he was in Congressional District 1 (20 signatures), in heavily Republican CD5 (a mere 76 signatures), and CD 6 (75 signatures). If another candidate were to contest the validity of those Congressional Districts, he may be deemed insufficient in other areas. Not to mention his announcement claim that he had $3 million pledged to his campaign but only raised $200K, while contributing $100K of his own money. After serving with him for a mere year in the legislature, it is still pretty clear he isn’t ready for prime time…

“After serving with [Keyser] for a mere year in the legislature, it is still pretty clear he isn’t ready for prime time….”

If you couple that statement with the campaign lapses, you have a bunch of unanswered questions about Keyser’s basic competency that need to be addressed by reporters as the campiagn gears up.

Weekend Open Thread

“Next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is a battle gained.”

–Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Colorado Pols Q&A: The State of the GOP Senate Race

UPDATE 5:00PM: Stay granted, GOP U.S. Senate primary screeches to a halt:

Release from Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams (R):

Two Senate candidates, Colorado Springs businessman Robert Blaha and former Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier, sought the delay after they were notified Thursday they hadn’t collected enough signatures from Republican voters to make the June 28 ballot.

Their campaigns were holed up in a Secretary of State’s office conference room today, poring over their ballot petitions as they prepare to file protests, likely on Monday…

The Secretary of State’s office will certify today to the county clerks the candidates for other races, such as state House, state Senate and district attorney. Clerks will be instructed to leave a blank space for the Senate candidates and will be notified as soon as possible when the Secretary of State’s office has a complete list of GOP hopefuls.

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UPDATE 4:15PM: Ryan Frazier and Robert Blaha file for an injunction to prevent the finalization of the primary ballot:

This afternoon in Denver District Court, the Blaha for Colorado and Frazier for Colorado campaigns filed a joint petition seeking to enjoin the Secretary of State from setting the Republican US Senate ballot today as per the statutory deadline.

“I feel confident that this step will lead us to a positive outcome for our campaigns and for Colorado voters.The thousands of individuals that desire to see us on the ballot should be recognized and affirmed. I look forward to the real race once the ballot is set,” said Robert Blaha, who is represented by Michael Francisco of MRD Law.

“By taking this action today, I’m standing up for the thousands of voters that signed our petitions because their voice should count too. We are requesting the Secretary of State give our respective teams the time, allowed under law, to correct their action. I do so because we are confident we have more than enough validated signatures from real Colorado voters who want to have a choice in June.” Frazier is represented by Scott Gessler and Geoff Blue.

With this joint action, both Blaha and Frazier preserve their rights to file separate lawsuits challenging the insufficiency determination made by the Secretary of State’s office.

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Today is the official deadline for the Colorado Secretary of State’s office to finalize the names that will appear on the June 28th Primary ballot, but with so many last-minute decisions about ballot access, it wouldn’t be a surprise if a legal motion delays that process.

To help you understand what is happening in the Republican Senate race, and what to expect next, we put together a nice little Q&A with ourselves. Enjoy:

Jack Graham (L) and Darryl Glenn

Jack Graham and Darryl Glenn

Q: The Republican field of candidates for U.S. Senate once included 13 different names. How many candidates will ultimately end up on the ballot for the June 28th Primary?

A: As of now, there are three candidates on the ballot: El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, former Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham, and former half-term legislator Jon Keyser. Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier learned from the Secretary of State’s (SOS) office on Thursday that they had failed to submit enough valid signatures for ballot access; Frazier is pursuing legal action and has hired former Secretary of State Scott Gessler as his legal representative, while Blaha has yet to announce whether or not he will challenge the SOS ruling.

 

Q: It was announced this morning that Keyser has successfully appealed his case and will be placed on the Primary ballot after all. What does this mean for Blaha and Frazier?

A: That’s a difficult question to answer when there is very little precedent here; prior to 2012, Colorado held its Primary elections in August, which left plenty of time to figure this out before ballots were finalized. Because Primary ballots are supposed to be completed by the SOS office today, Blaha and/or Frazier probably need to file some sort of injunction to stop that process from happening. We’d be surprised if there were no injunction filed today; Frazier hired Gessler to help him challenge the petition decision and seems to be fairly confident about his chances from what he has said publicly.

There are a lot of directions this could go from a legal standpoint, but it stands to reason that both Frazier and Blaha would benefit from the ruling in Keyser’s case. None of these three candidates submitted enough petition signatures to give them wiggle room if there were any problems – only Jack Graham was wise enough to turn in double the required amount of signatures – so if a judge is inclined to let Keyser on the ballot anyway, it would seem to create an opening for Frazier and Blaha to get the same shoulder shrug from a Denver judge.

 

Q: Is Keyser the frontrunner to win the Senate nomination?

A: Are you kidding? Of course not. Keyser supporters are celebrating their legal ruling as though his campaign accomplished something significant. In truth, Keyser did only what he was supposed to do: He made the ballot, and he had to file a lawsuit to do it. By failing to initially make the ballot, Keyser picked up more media coverage than he has had for his entire campaign – but all of it was bad. He now must convince potential Republican donors that his campaign is not already dead, despite what they may have seen or read earlier this week. That’s not a position of strength by any means, especially for a candidate who was already struggling to raise enough money just to keep the lights on.

 

Q: Okay, so if it’s not Keyser, then who is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination?

A: That’s an easier question: It’s the two candidates who didn’t have to spend the last week wondering if they were even going to be on the ballot in June. Colorado Republicans are going to be receiving their Primary ballots in the mail in 5-6 weeks, which isn’t much time for a bunch of unknown candidates to raise their name ID. Only Graham and Glenn have been able to campaign as full-fledged candidates for the last week or two, and both have a sizable advantage so long as they have the resources to run a solid campaign.

A low-information, low-turnout Primary certainly benefits Glenn, the man whose name will appear at the top of the ballot thanks to his victory at the Republican State Convention on April 9. But if we had to pick one name to be the favorite right now, it would be Graham; as of today, he is literally the ONLY Republican candidate whose name is on the ballot and has demonstrated an ability to generate significant campaign funds.

Get More Smarter on Friday (April 29)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowHow do the Broncos replace 6’7″ QB Brock Osweiler? No problem — just draft another humongous quarterback in Paxton Lynch. It’s time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols! If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here’s a good example).

TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► In. Out. Off. On. The Republican race for the U.S. Senate nomination in Colorado has been crazier than Ted Cruz in gym class. Darryl Glenn and Jack Graham were officially on the Primary ballot as of yesterday, and today, Jon Keyser managed to convince a judge to let him on the ballot as wellRobert Blaha and Ryan Frazier are not on the Primary ballot — not right now, anyway — but Frazier has already hired former Secretary of State Scott Gessler to assist him in the legal department.

Confused? Then check out this Colorado Pols Q&A on the State of the GOP Senate Race.

 

► Remember that so-called “alliance” announced last Sunday by Ted Cruz and John Kasich as part of a coordinated effort to stop Donald Trump from winning the GOP nomination for President? Yeah? Well, that’s over now. This “alliance” didn’t just fail spectacularly; as the Washington Post reports, it actually backfired:

The agreement, and the way it was announced, has fed perfectly into Trump’s argument that party bosses are trying to rig the system to steal the nomination from him. Many supporters of Cruz and Kasich do not like the other, and  the deal rubs them the wrong way.

 

► We wish we could say, “At Least He’s Not Your District Attorney,” because, well, he might be. Democrat Bruce Brown is the District Attorney in the 5th Judicial District (Clear Creek, Eagle, Lake, and Summit counties) and is running for re-election in 2016. Apparently Brown took 6.5 weeks of paid vacation in 2015 alone. In a follow up with reporters, Brown made sure to go heavy on the stupid:

“I don’t answer to anybody within the office,” he said. “The reason why I take time off is because I’m a public servant, and I’m not a public slave.”…

…Employees in Brown’s district can accrue up to 22 vacation days each year if they’ve been on the job at least 10 years. But Brown said the taxpayers didn’t elect him to be present. They elected him, he said, to oversee an efficient and responsive office, which includes monitoring and mentoring 13 deputy district attorneys.

“Brown said the taxpayers didn’t elect him to be present.” All this vacation time must have turned Brown’s political brain into meatloaf.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Senate GOP Kicks Rural Colorado When Its Down

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Its not news that Colorado’s economic recovery has been uneven.  As the Front Range booms much of the Western Slope has been left behind. Consider this article from the Daily Sentinel, today:

Colorado’s population rate ranked as the nation’s second-fastest in growth in 2014 and 2015, with most of the increases on the Front Range. While the state saw an increase of 101,000 people, most of those people located or were born on the Front Range.

The Front Range’s explosive population growth may not be news to some people, but Mesa County also experienced a modest growth rate of 3 percent, or 456 people, during that time.

That’s important to note because some counties in the state, like Delta County, experienced a population loss those years, said Elizabeth Garner, a demographer for the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.

And while the article works to put a good spin on that disparity (500 people!) the conclusion is unavoidable, communities in western Colorado that have long been linked to extractive industries are struggling.

For instance, this happened today.

 

 

The silo at Oxbow’s Elk Creek mine, which sat above the former ‘company town’ of Somerset came down.

Although the Oxbow mine was shuttered due to a mine fire (and not due to Democrats as much as some fossil fuel advocates claim otherwise) when it comes to coal the writing is on the wall. And natural gas and oil prices remain depressed. By fits and starts the era of fossil fuels is making way for something different.

This is certainly true in Colorado, where even conservative counties are realizing the key to future economic prosperity is diversifying the economy, not doubling down on the ways of the last century.

So it was rather upsetting, if not altogether surprising, when the Republicans in the Colorado Senate killed, for a second time, a widely supported bill (SB 81) put forward by Sen. Kerry Donovan to aid struggling rural economies with the transition that even they have come to realize is underway.

Why did they kill the bill? According to Sen. Ray Scott because “grants don’t create jobs, people do.”

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Loan Shark Liability: Dems Take Aim at Larry Crowder

Sen. Larry Crowder.

Sen. Larry Crowder.

A press release yesterday from the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund calls out Sen. Larry Crowder, in a hot race against Democratic Las Animas County Sheriff Jim Casias, for his support of Senate Bill 16-185: the bill that passed the Senate this week on a party-line vote to jack up interest rates on subprime personal loans.

“In a session in which helping working people should be the focus, my opponent is co-sponsoring a bill that would enlarge profits for the wealthy at the expense of the working class. We need to be looking at how to reward people who work hard and play by the rules, not giving big breaks to Denver special interests at the expense of working people.” said Jim Casias, Candidate for Senate District 35.

Crowder’s senate district has struggled to regain footing since the Great Recession and many people in his district have taken note. During his first-term, Crowder has voted to gut retirement benefits for teachers, state patrol, correctional officers, and other public employees (SB15-80) while voting to give a pay raise for politicians like himself (HB15-1256). Additionally, he has been under fire for voting down a rural economic bill that would bring broadband Internet to rural districts like his (15’ Cow Budget #34).

District 35 resident Paula Lucero said, “I don’t see how helping loan sharks benefits our district. Who is putting Larry Crowder up to this and what is he getting out of it?”

…Non-partisan experts on local and state economy and finance, including AARP Colorado, Colorado Fiscal Institute, and Colorado Center for Law and Policy, testified that the measure is a solution in search of a problem. The bill would allow interest rates up to 36% for loans.

However ingratiating lobbyists for subprime personal lenders may be, the fact is that the industry does not have a good reputation among voters–especially voters in economically challenged areas like the sprawling southern Colorado district Crowder represents. Especially after every Democrat in the Colorado Senate held firm in voting no on Senate Bill 16-185, this is an issue that can be capitalized on to good effect in the upcoming elections.

sb185sponsors

And it won’t just be Crowder. Ahead of final passage, several Republican Senators added themselves as co-sponsors, including at least two in targeted races this year–Randy Baumgardner and Jack Tate.

We expect to see all of them in shark suits this fall.

Yes, Republicans Are Definitely Blowing Their Senate Chances in Colorado

The Colorado Republican field of U.S. Senate candidates, in a nutshell.

The Colorado Republican field of U.S. Senate candidates, in a nutshell.

UPDATE: Per Lynn Bartels of the Secretary of State’s office, Jon Keyser has apparently won his legal challenge and will be allowed on the June 28th Primary ballot.

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Amber Phillips of the Washington Post pens a long story today with the headline: “Are Republicans blowing their chance in the Colorado Senate race?”

Why, yes, as a matter of fact, they are. We’ll get into a bit more of our own analysis in a moment, but first, a few highlights from the Post story:

The past few months have brought on a slew of recruiting and campaign troubles for Republicans. They struggled to find an experienced and reputable candidate to take on Bennet. Now they’re trudging through a crowded nominating process with no obvious standout hopeful. And this week, the establishment’s preferred candidate — to the extent there is one — failed to qualify to be on the GOP primary ballot. So did two other candidates.

Senate Republicans’ campaign arm also hasn’t reserved airtime in Colorado for the fall, which some took as a sign they might just take a pass on the race altogether. (Senate Republicans caution against reading too much into that.) Taken altogether, Republicans’ missteps have given Bennet some much-needed breathing room in a race that his campaign perhaps rightly expected to be much more competitive than it is now…

…Like we said, it’s still too early to tell whether Republicans’ missteps have permanently altered the race. But for now, it seems like the Colorado Senate race is a lot less competitive than we thought it would be.

As of this writing, only two Republican candidates for U.S. Senate have actually made the ballot: El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn and former Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack GrahamJon Keyser is still waiting to hear from a Denver judge regarding his legal challenge of the Secretary of State’s ruling that he failed to submit enough valid petition signatures. Ryan Frazier is vowing the same legal fight and has hired former Secretary of State Scott Gessler as his legal representative. Robert Blaha has not yet indicated whether he will seek a legal remedy for his own failure to make the ballot, but he has been all over talk radio this morning and we can’t imagine that he would have come this far in the race to give up now.

 

Friday Open Thread

“The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and these are ignorance, superstition and incompetence.”

–Elbert Hubbard

BREAKING: Blaha, Frazier Both Disqualified from Primary Ballot

UPDATE #2: It sounds like Ryan Frazier will be challenging the Secretary of State’s ruling:

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UPDATE: It will be interesting to see if either Blaha or Frazier (or both) now get involved in Jon Keyser’s legal challenge. If Keyser remains off the ballot, then Blaha and Frazier would have a bigger list of signers to include on their lists (check here for more information).

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From the Secretary of State’s office:

U.S. Senate candidates Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier were declared insufficient to appear on the Republican primary ballot, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams announced today.

They were required to gather 1,500 signatures from Republican voters in each of Colorado’s seven congressional districts for a total of 10,500 signatures per candidate. The Secretary of State’s office conducted a line-by-line review of their petitions.

Blaha, a Colorado Springs businessman, submitted 17,844 petition signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. Of that, 10,507 were deemed valid. He was short in three congressional districts.

Frazier, a former Aurora City Council member, submitted 18,581 petition signatures. Of that, 11,108 were deemed valid. He was short in four congressional districts.

Signatures were rejected for a variety of reasons, including the signer was not a Republican, the signer’s address did not match voter registration records, duplicate signatures and notary errors.

Blaha came up short 151 signatures in CD-1, 169 in CD-3, and 49 in CD-6 (here is the signature report for Robert Blaha).

Frazier was short 52 signatures in CD-1, six in CD-2, 306 in CD-3, and 44 in CD-6 (here is the signature report for Ryan Frazier).

Blaha, Frazier Still Waiting to Hear About Primary Ballot

Robert Blaha.

Robert Blaha.

UPDATE #2: Both Blaha and Frazier have been disqualified from the Primary ballot for insufficient signatures. More on this story here.

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UPDATE: At least one group of Republican voters in Colorado isn’t interested in this outcome.

For the first time in 13 years, the El Paso County Republican Strategy Forum decided to back the Libertarian candidate in the U.S. Senate race. Lily Tang Williams received the group’s support after a meeting on Wednesday, as the Colorado Independent reports:

[Republican Strategy Forum Chair Sheryl] Glasgow said her group has been disappointed with the large GOP field for U.S. Senate this year, especially after state Sen. Tim Neville was knocked out of the running at the Republican Party’s April 9 state convention.

None of the other candidates for U.S. Senate have spoken to the group about their bids, she said.

We don’t want to overstate the importance of this decision by the Republican Strategy Forum, but it is certainly interesting that an organization with “Republican” in its name has decided against supporting any Senate candidates with an ‘R’ next to their name.

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Caption This Photo: “Dirty Douggie” Lamborn!

Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, not generally known as a rugged manly-man politician, nonetheless got his “man card” renewed with a visit to the Magnum Shooting Center–perhaps a very good idea in advance of his unexpectedly stiff primary challenge from a charismatic young female opponent. Lamborn asks, do you feel lucky?

Well do you, punk?

unnamed (1)

Are we the only ones who find that look on his face a little…disconcerting? A few more photos of the all-new Badass Doug Lamborn® after the jump.

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“Rolling Coal”–Seriously Republicans, WTF?

Rolling coal--ladies, please don't encourage this.

“Rolling coal.”

Nick Coltrain at the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports on the death Tuesday of Rep. Joann Ginal’s House Bill 16-1319, legislation that would have outlawed the practice of intentionally modifying your diesel vehicle to spew black soot on unsuspecting pedestrians, Prius owners, and other such wussies:

Ginal, D-Fort Collins, said she wrote the bill to target the activity, not the modifications. She had input from Fort Collins law enforcement and city officials on the bill. The bill would have created a $35 fine for those who rig light diesel trucks to blast thick, black exhaust and use it to obscure roadways or harass pedestrians, referred to as rolling coal. It would have also tacked two points on the offender’s license. Too many points in a one- or two-year period will lead to license suspension.

The bill passed out of the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives on a bipartisan vote earlier this month. It failed on a party-line vote in the Senate transportation committee, with the three Republicans voting against it. A phone message to the chair of the committee, Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Cowdrey, was not immediately returned Wednesday.

Prius-RepellentLet’s have no confusion about about the plain language of HB16-1319:

The bill prohibits “coal rolling”, or “rolling coal”, which is the act of intentionally blowing black smoke through one or more exhaust pipes attached to a diesel vehicle after modifying, disabling, bypassing, or removing the vehicle’s pollution controls, for the purpose of harassing another driver, a bicyclist, or a pedestrian or obstructing or obscuring the view of another driver, a bicyclist, or a pedestrian. A person who violates the prohibition commits a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense, punishable by 10 to 90 days in jail or a $150 to $300 fine, or both, and is subject to 3 points assessed against the person’s driver’s license.

As you can see, we’re not talking about a new law to bust down poor people with old smoking vehicles. The citizens who would face penalties under this bill have intentionally modified their diesel vehicles to emit vast quantities of sooty diesel smoke from their exhausts at will. There are diesels on the road that emit more than their share of smoke already, but this is a modification that produces far more than any engine problem. If you’ve ever seen someone “rolling coal,” you know that the pall of smoke they generate can dangerously obscure an entire major boulevard–not to mention choke out anyone unfortunate enough to be walking outdoors nearby.

Safe to say, it’s a very bad practice that should most definitely not be legal–any more than it’s legal to defeat your emission controls in a regular car. And since it’s something done with the express purpose of harassing others and creating a nuisance…yeah. It’s ridiculous. Throw the book at ’em.

But no, Sen Randy Baumgardner and his Republicans colleagues on the Senate Transportation Committee chose instead to protect your God-given right to “roll coal.” So remember to keep your Prius’ windows rolled up tight and don’t make eye contact.