The mysterious coronavirus has already taken many things from us, or we have taken them from ourselves in the belief this is the best way to fight a ghost. And we are missing many of them, from togetherness to gyms and our economies to bathroom tissue. But there are some absences we cannot lament.
One is the Colorado Legislature, which prudently gaveled itself out of existence as soon as it realized the state was facing an invisible tsunami. One sign of how well this has worked is that no one has said, “If only the Legislature were in session now ...”
We are wondering if it might meet less frequently, at least in lean times. It will have to reassemble at some point later in May or find another way to pass its budget bills, but this should be a streamlined convocation to which our legislators go with the sole purpose of cutting the budgets to protect the state from billions of dollars in revenue losses.
Another is this fall’s ballot, which will have the presidential race, a Senate race, a U.S. House race and a state House race. That seems like plenty. But there will also be at least three ballot propositions, whose sponsors were able to gather the necessary signatures before our era of social distancing and staying at home; this, too, is more than sufficient.
Think back to the 2018 ballot, which ran the A-Z gamut of tax increases that were not cleverly disguised enough for the electorate, and other sundry schemes. It was too much. A few roses in the manure were trampled, although we did make progress on redistricting.
In October, you will still be asked by mail whether you support the reintroduction of gray wolves to Colorado, a good question; whether you want to repeal something the Legislature has done, which is often a good bet, in this case the Democratic majority joining a nationwide movement to do away with the Electoral College; and about a proposal to reiterate that only U.S. citizens may vote in Colorado elections. This, too, is plenty.
What you most likely will not see is a raft of other questions as well as tax increases whose proponents have not been able to gather signatures (or hire people to gather signatures) well in advance of an Aug. 3 deadline.
Already, one group that seeks to put a question on the ballot banning abortions after 22 weeks has been given a court dispensation to try to get enough additional signatures in a 15-day post-crisis window, should one exist. If it falls short, we will not miss this attempt at popular policymaking; like many other things, yes or no, we do not think it is essential this year.
That leaves seven other initiatives Colorado voters may not see owing to the virus. They include a proposal “to raise billions by hiking taxes on the wealthy,” partly in order to pay teachers more, according to The Denver Post; a paid family and medical leave program in the form of a $2 billion payroll tax, which opponents say will also hurt every business and private-sector worker in the state; an initiative to set a 1% annual growth rate cap for housing across the Front Range, which is bound to further drive up the cost of housing there, among other effects, not all of them bad; and raising taxes on tobacco and vaping products – sin-taxing, ostensibly to pay for education.
On the whole, we like the free-for-all of popular initiatives. We will like it even more this year, let us hope, in its slimmed-down form to suit the times.