Sage Naumann

Colorado may have gotten a reprieve from the most egregious pieces of legislation this year, but that's little comfort for a state sentenced to death by a thousand cuts. Undoubtedly, thanks to a small yet determined minority party and a handful of rational Democrats, some of the worst pieces of legislation will never make it to the governor's desk. The short-sighted will celebrate such moderation. Those who've played this game long enough see the writing on the wall.

This legislative session was a harbinger of things to come.

Democrats rode into this session, claiming affordability was their primary concern. Laughable, considering the largest tax increase in our state's history loomed overhead for 113 days (of a total of 120 in the session) before they finally decided to roll out a convoluted "fix" that even Kyle Clark was quick to point out that Polis's plan "essentially takes a dollar from your wallet, puts it in your pocket, and declares that he's saved you money."

Colorado better off after bipartisan 2023 legislative session | POINT

On the topic of affordable housing, we've made no real progress. While Governor Polis earns points for creativity when it comes to his land-use bill — legislation that at least attempts to address the issue of housing supply — members of his party attempted to pass several laws that would have (or will) increased the cost of housing. Rep. Dylan Roberts, a Democrat from Avon, is the sole reason the failed policy of rent control met an end in a Senate committee this year after passing the House. He and a few others who stood up to the most radical of their party deserve praise. But legislators like Roberts know they can only hold off the worst of the worst for a limited amount of time.

Other bills that will undoubtedly add to the cost of housing are still awaiting their fate, including House Bill 23-1171, which requires property owners to pay tenants up to three months of rent if they are evicted, and House Bill 23-1190, which gives local governments first dibs on buying any multi-family housing units. Even if these bills die this session, this won't be the end of the fight. Both bills passed the House with overwhelming support from a majority party that is becoming more progressive with every election.

Rising crime is still a concern, but bipartisan solutions are finding it difficult to get through the House. Senate Bill 23-097, which raises penalties for car thefts, looks like it has a shot, finally being scheduled for debate on the House floor after passing the Senate. Senate Bill 23-109, which cracks down on drug dealers whose product leads to the death of a "customer," seems destined to die on the calendar. House Judiciary Committee Chair Mike Weissman is opposed to the bill and refuses to give it a hearing. House leadership could temporarily remove him from the committee to get it to the floor if they so desired.

There are dozens of other bills — some that should have passed, many that should not have — but space is limited. I heard from a former colleague at the State Capitol that a Democratic Senator was ranting and raving about how a particular bill from their party was a terrible policy.

Naively, I asked, "How did they vote on it."

"You know the answer to that question, Sage."

As Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie sang in their 1929 hit (later reworked and popularized by Led Zeppelin), "If it keeps on rainin', levee's goin' to break." With a monsoon this size, I'm not sure an umbrella will help.

Sage Naumann is a conservative commentator and strategist. He is vice president of communications at 76 Group and was previously the spokesman for the Colorado Senate Republicans. Follow him on Twitter @SageNaumann.

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