Owen sticks the veto dagger in Democratic hearts
What do you get when you cross a liberal Democrat state Legislature with a conservative Republican governor?Forty-three vetoes, and fortunately thats no joke.Since the Legislature adjourned on May 9, Gov. Owens veto pen has worked overtime shooting down numerous attempts to expand government, increase taxes and micromanage business.The engines of the states economy taxpaying businesses and families should be relieved.Heres a review of some of the best vetoes of the worst bills passed by this Legislature:House Bill 1020 further expanded eligibility to collect unemployment benefits, despite the fact that 98 percent of applicants qualify under existing law.This measure would have added a burden of up to $4.5 million to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and potentially triggered a rate increase to be imposed on employers.Another bill punished employers in labor disputes even when their unionized employees threaten their property or organize a boycott against their business.HB 1239 said that even under these circumstances an employer who locks out his employees must pay their unemployment benefits. In other words, the employer is always at fault or would have been without the governors veto.Employers would have been caught in another no-win situation had HB 1115 become law. This proposed law effectively mandated that employers keep a comprehensive personnel file on each employee and then allow the employee and his attorney to snoop through the file in search of grounds for a lawsuit.If the employees attorney believed the file to be incomplete or that documents were withheld, fines of up to $10,000 could be levied against the employer.Collectively, these and other bills threatened to impose unnecessary new tax and litigation burdens on Colorado businesses. If thats what Democrat lawmakers mean when they say they will be friendly to business, Id hate to see their hostile side.The governor also brought down the axe on several new expansions of government spending, including a massive new prescription drug entitlement program (HB 1152).Health care spending constitutes one of the two largest and fastest growing items in the budget. Moreover, governments attempts to control health care costs have been colossal failures. That legislators could believe that a new entitlement will save money is mystifying.Both HB 1152 and Senate Bill 102 (multi-state drug purchasing) attempted to pay for their costs by raiding savings from perhaps the only bill that actually cut health care costs by allowing consumers to direct their own health care.Instead of a penny saved is a penny earned, the mantra of this years legislature seemed to be a penny saved can be spent somewhere else.If savings are scarce, then raise taxes. That would have been an option under SB 174, which allowed counties that already collect a tax for open space to seek an increase in the tax and to exceed the statewide sales tax limit in the process. After the veto, taxpayers need not worry about this looming raid on their wallet.Senate Bill 78 would have authorized a stealth tax increase on telephone users under the guise of improving 911 service. However, as the governors veto message noted, This new cost has nothing to do with providing 911 emergency telephone service.So, why employ this blatant bait and switch? Because its never subject to a public vote. Whats more, complaining about it to the phone company is like spitting into the wind.Im sure Democrats believe that apart from Owens veto, they could have done so much for you. In reality, without the governors veto, theres no telling what they might have done to you.Mark Hillman is the ex-minority leader in the state Senate. The Republican from Burlington was just appointed to be state treasurer to fill the temporary vacancy created when Treasurer Mike Coffman rejoined the Marines for a tourof duty in Iraq. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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