I am the rare Colorado conservative who has given Gov. Jared Polis some credit for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. I’ve said for several weeks that his performance has been superior to other Democrat governors, most notably Gretchen the Terrible of Michigan.
That’s because he’s permitted Colorado to at least start reopening, says he’ll let students and faculty return to school in the fall and is even letting us get haircuts after many weeks of shaggy hair.
That’s not a high bar to reach, though.
Any Democrat who’s actually beginning to reopen is doing the bare minimum. Beyond that, Polis’s actions are deeply troubling and worthy of rebuke. In fact, he seems to embrace Mel Brooks’ line in History of the World: Part I: “It’s good to be the king.”
As I wrote in my May 6 column, Polis flip-flopped on evictions, putting an illegal moratorium on most evictions for the month of May. That was something his own office said previously he doesn’t have the authority to do.
Small business owners are still being hung out to dry throughout the state. Some are losing their livelihoods completely, as King Polis strips business licenses from owners who understandably cannot wait and feel compelled to reopen completely – even if it means effectively engaging in civil disobedience against government dictates.
I believe handshakes are still illegal, an early and egregious Polis power-grab. (Not that I’m quite ready to start shaking hands again.) Religious liberty remains unduly restricted, as in-person church services must be limited to only ten people. Again, almost all of these things are by Polis Fiat or unelected public health bureaucrats.
Even more disturbingly, King Polis seems to have gone rogue regarding elections. On Friday, he used his “emergency powers” to unilaterally suspend several existing election laws and permit organizations working to get initiatives on the November 2020 ballot to do so via email and mail. Yet there appears to be no authority granted to the governor for this kind of power grab, which is unrelated to managing an emergency.
Egregiously, on Friday the organizers of Initiative 120 (to ban late term abortions) started their effort to secure 10,000 remaining signatures to get on the ballot. They have 15 days to do so. Polis chose that same day to declare that otherinitiatives (such as the tobacco tax he supports) can use mail and email to collect additional signatures — but not Initiative 120.
Moreover, by issuing this order on the same day as Initiative 120 began its 15-day cure period – and thereby exempting that effort from this opportunity — Polis has undercut any argument that this is a health and safety issue. Wouldn’t he want those petition gatherers off the streets altogether?
More troubling, he’s empowered Secretary of State Jena Griswold — noted partisan actor — to unilaterally write the rules for this unauthorized process. I only hope we can trust she won’t run them by Planned Parenthood first.
Due to the yeoman’s work of Republican State Rep. Mark Baisley, we now know that, until this past Friday, the Polis administration was inflating Colorado’s COVID-19 death count. For weeks, his Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) presented Coloradans totals that counted anyone who died with COVID-19, not just because of Covid-19.
Before Friday, CDPHE reported Colorado had 21,232 positive cases and 1,150 dead. Then we learned 272 fewer deaths were due to COVID-19. On Fox News Sunday, Polis blamed the CDC, saying that its reporting criteria “include anybody who has died with COVID-19. What the people of Colorado...want to know is how many people died of COVID-19.”
So why did it take a state representative — in the legislative branch — to uncover what an executive branch agency was doing? These inflated numbers have been used to justify King Polis’s ongoing usurpations of legislative authority and violations of individual liberty.
Every life lost is tragic. That we’ve had nearly 900 COVID-19 deaths in Colorado is heartbreaking. Yet when Coloradans are given inaccurate information as support for sweeping “emergency powers,” it’s no wonder they’re distrustful and standing up.
They ought to remind us that legislators need to make or change laws. Emergency powers do not suspend state and federal constitutions and nullify laws.
King Polis should be dethroned and demoted back to governor. Let the General Assembly begin the revolution when it returns next week.