Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Democrat-controlled Senate Committee Unwilling to Assure Adequate Public Testimony

The "circus" that took place during this past year in the Congress in order to pass Obamacare angered citizens across the country. The public's strong rejection of government health-care, was also caused by Congress ignoring of public opinion and ignorance as to what the bill contained.

In 1988, Colorado voters passed a Constitutional Amendment, now referred to as the Gavel Amendment, to ensure that all bills would receive a public hearing. Following its passage, the House and Senate adopted rules providing for at least a one-day public notification of hearings for each and every bill. However, both Houses also adopted a rules that allowed for a waiving of all rules during the last three days of the Colorado legislature, allowing bills to be heard in a matter of hours. So much for keeping the public informed! During the last thee days, under current rules, no notice of public hearings can be as short as the Senate President deems necessary. In most instances, there is no-one from the public present...only lobbyists.

After experiencing this last-minute rush near the close of session, for the past nine years, I drafted Senate Resolution SR10-008, to make sure the current one-day notice of bill hearings would remain, except for bills deemed to be an emergency by a two-thirds majority. The Senate State, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee heard the Resolution on Monday, April 19th. As expected, the Resolution was summarily killed by the Democrat majority on the committee on a party-line vote.

This Resolution needs to be passed next session, should the Republicans be in charge. Both political parties have used this lack of public notice to rush bills though without adequate time for review and contemplation. This procedure must be stopped.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Put a Stop to Suspension of CO Senate Rules During Last Three Days of the Session

In the past nine years that I have served in the Colorado Legislator, the custom, provided for under the Senate Rule 17(f)((6) states: “To suspend the rules shall require 24 votes, except upon three days’ notice, in which event 18 votes shall be required. What this means is that the Senate can rush bills through without public comment, and hold committee meetings at the podium without the benefit of public comment. This rule allows for much mischief by the majority party during the last three days of the legislature and makes it VERY difficult, if not impossible to read and understand bills prior to voting. This procedure is followed no matter which party is in the majority and has always frustrated many of us, who like to know what we are voting on and want to have time to study and understand bills.

So…I have proposed Senate Resolution 10-008 which, if passed would no longer allow suspension of the rules unless there is a 2/3 majority in the Committee of Reference to waive the normal Committee rules and would require 24 votes by the full Senate on a bill-by-bill basis to allow a bill to be rushed through during the last three days. The current process allows much mischief to take place.

The Colorado Legislature has 120 days (4 months) to do its business. If it can’t get it done w/in that time-frame it can be granted exceptions on a bill-by-bill basis if the bill is really crucial. Leaving public comment out of committee deliberations should not be acceptable, except for emergencies. Mischief should not be tolerated.

The Resolution. SR10-008 has been assigned by the Senate President (Dem) to the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee to be killed. The date of the hearing has not been assigned as yet. Now is the time for Tea Party and 912 activists to take a strong stance in favor of this Resolution if they so choose. The Senate should be a deliberative body… not a body that slams important bills through with little or not thought or public input.

If there is interest in passing SR10-008,so that bills can be deliberated on properly during the last three days of the legislative session, the key persons to contact are the Democrats on the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee.

Sen. Rollie Heath 303-866-4872 E-mail: rollie.heath.senate@state.co.us

Sen. Betty Boyd 303-866-4857 E-mail: betty.boyd.senate@state.co.us

Sen. Bob Bacon 303-866-4841 E-mail: bob.bacon.senate@state.co.us

I could really use your help to get this Resolution out of Committee and to the Senate Floor for debate.