Last Tuesday, Coloradans discovered there was someone in state government who has a modicum of common sense. We are referring not to a legislator but to Colorado District Judge David Goldberg, appointed in 2015 by former Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Goldberg was ruling for plaintiffs who sued Colorado Senate President Leroy Garcia, a Democrat from Pueblo who went from Pueblo City Council to the state House to state Senate, achieving the presidency after serving as minority leader of the Democratic caucus in 2018.
Following the election last November that brought Garcia and other Democrats into the Senate majority, Garcia called for higher standards in the Legislature, “signaling a new tone for a legislative body that has been bitterly divided,” the Denver Post reported.
That did not last long.
In theory and by law, every bill brought before the Legislature is read in its entirety. This could be an impossibly lengthy process, so by consent it is typically bypassed.
Several weeks ago, when HB19-1172 came before the Senate, Republicans did not consent to skip the reading. They were frustrated that Democrats were getting so many other bills through one or both houses, such as the National Popular Vote compact and the “red flag” gun bill. The bills were moving like grass through blue geese.
So Senate Republicans threw a parliamentary spanner in the works. They put their bodies on the gears and the wheels. As is their prerogative, they wanted “Title 12 Recodification And Reorganization” read aloud, “Concerning an organizational recodification of... the Colorado Revised Statutes, and, in connection therewith, limiting substantive changes to those that conform similar provisions to achieve uniformity, eliminate redundancy, or allow for the consolidation of common provisions or that eliminate provisions that are archaic or obsolete.”
All 2,000 pages of it.
And that is when Sen. Garcia and company had an idea: They had five computers read the bill’s text simultaneously at 650 words per minute. It was not just incomprehensible, it made a horrible din, resembling “insect sounds you might find in a sci-fi movie,” said Sen. Bob Gardner, a Republican from Colorado Springs.
At this point, we have to ask Senate Democrats: What are you, five years old?
Plaintiffs’ attorney Christopher Murray said the use of the laptops “was like printing the bill over and over on the same side of a single piece of paper.”
Judge Goldberg agreed and issued a preliminary injunction, ensuring for the time being that the horrible insect noise emanating from the capitol will not be machine-made.
“We sincerely hope that this marks a new beginning for discourse with Senate President Garcia,” said Senate Minority Leader Chris Holbert. “He is a good man and a thoughtful leader.”
Translation: Republicans, in the minority until 2020, still hope they might at least get Democrats to consider amendments to some of these signature liberal bills.
Garcia, only momentarily defeated, said in a prepared statement, “The people of Colorado lost today.”
Maybe in upside-down land they did.
Garcia continued, “I will not stoop to obstructionist tactics and will continue to keep my caucus above the political gamesmanship demonstrated by those on the other side of the aisle.”
Translation: I did not borrow that bucket, and anyway, it had the hole in it when I got it.
And Garcia’s new tone?
Bipartisanship sleeps with the fishes.