Corrupt Legislation

The 1898 mural Corrupt Legislation by Elihu Vedder is affixed to the lobby of the Main Reading Room at the Library of Congress' Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C.

I don’t like to mix politics and religion, so I’ll leave Jude the Apostle out of this.

The Colorado General Assembly, nonetheless, could use a patron saint of desperate cases and lost causes, maybe Saint Postponed Indefinitely.

Last year, 598 bills were introduced and 460 passed, about 77%. The rest got the P.I., the legislature’s nicest way of saying “get lost.”

Most of the 23% that didn’t become law never had a fighting chance, given the power of the majority. They're called message bills.

They send a message about who’s on which side, a consolation prize when backers don’t have the votes to pass it.

Political theater requires the willing suspension of disbelief for the sponsors and advocates who line up to testify.

Take Tuesday. Abortion opponents lined up behind House Bill 1098, a bill aimed at banning abortion after 22 weeks, and House Bill 1068 to make it a felony for an abortion doctor to fail to render aid to a newborn in a live birth. 

RELATED: House committee strikes down two abortion bills after marathon hearing

Both bills were assigned to the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee, also known as the kill committee.

At a press conference in the Capitol's West Foyer, Republican Rep. Dave Williams of Colorado Springs and Sen. Rob Woodward of Loveland, with House Republican leader Patrick Neville of Castle Rock, spoke alongside Dr. Tom Perille of Democrats for Life and Deacon Geoff Bennett from the Archdiocese of Denver.

Neville introduced Lauren Castillo, from the Due Date Too Late Committee behind Initiative 120, a statewide ballot issue for the 22-week ban. She urged people to sign petitions at locations across the state to get the more than 124,000 signatures they need by March 4 .

The testimony went on for seven hours, a no-cost investment to fire up both sides' bases around a red-hot political issue.

I like the how days like these were framed by Bill Cadman, the former Republican Senate president from Colorado Springs.

“Some days you make a difference,” he said. “Some days you make a point.”

When we catch up over breakfast, my friend Jason Salzman and I usually sift through the message bills, if only to discuss who’s politically dreaming. Jason, the star writer of the progressively bent Colorado Times Recorder., doesn't see the strategy to be so red in a state trending so blue.

“The far-right’s proposed laws are exactly what Colorado’s unaffiliated voters, who will decide the next election, don’t support,” he told me in a follow-up email.

“They don’t want to make it even easier to own guns or to ban abortion. They don’t want to attack transgender people or fill the schools with unvaccinated kids. And these types of message bills won’t bring more far-right Republicans to the polls, because they’ve already got a big tweeting reason to vote.”

But the left lines up to fight, just as well. 

Thursday, there should be quite a fury behind a package of Republican bills that have absolutely no chance. The Democrats will squash like bugs a half-dozen bills they deem hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Coloradans.

“This is the most aggressive slate of anti-LGBTQ legislation introduced in the past decade,” Daniel Ramos, the executive director of the advocacy juggernaut One Colorado, said Monday. “In the first few weeks of this legislative session, we have seen attacks on transgender Coloradans, same-sex parents, LGBTQ youth, and the list goes on. These bills do not represent who we are as Coloradans, and One Colorado will fight these bills every step of the way.”

There won’t be more than one step  they'll be heard Thursday afternoon before the same committee that killed the abortion bills.

The GOP legislation before Saint P.I. are:

  • House Bill 1273, the Equality And Fairness In Youth Sports Act, prohibits transgender girls from participating on girls sports teams in sixth through 12th grades.
  • House Bill 1272, the Colorado Natural Marriage And Adoption Act, calls for the enforcement of the state laws that still define a valid marriage as between one man and one woman.
  • House Bill 1114, called “Protection of Minors from Mutilation and Sterilization,” makes sex reassignment treatment, which advocates call “transgender affirming health care,” a third-degree felony for medical professionals.
  • House Bill 1144, called the Parent’s Bill of Rights, would ensure parents can view all medical records and make health care decisions for children who are 17 years old or younger, which opponents say will worsen LGBTQ teen suicide and depression.
  • House Bill 1033, the Live and Let Live Act, is aimed at ensuring religious liberty, but LGBTQ proponents say it is a license for religious affiliates to discriminate in adoption and foster care, health care, housing, employment and public spaces.
  • House Bill 1063, called “Fundamental Family Rights,” raises the burden for government to intercede on behalf of children, which opponents say would be detrimental for LGBTQ youth in “homes with non-affirming families.”

Of course, if any of those bills managed to pass the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, they would be handed to Jared Polis, the state’s first gay governor, who would effectively punt them into the nearest ocean of certain doom.

The lost causes of Colorado have no one to offer a blessing. 

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