Reflecting on a legislative session
Sine die does not mean that you will die for your sins. Although there might be some kind of relationship in this case.In Latin it means “without day.” The dictionary defines it as “without any future date being designated (for resumption). Indefinitely (the meeting date not being determined).” Actually, that is not true because one of the last bills we passed was to set the first meeting date for the legislature in 2007. Sine die is actually the last day of the Colorado State Legislature for the year and this year for the session. At the end of business the Speaker of the House designates three members who go to the office of the governor to let him know. This year that happened at 11:22 p.m. on Monday night.When the committee came back, they reported that the governor was well pleased and that he gave each of them a small bottle of wine. Hopefully it was Colorado wine.
It is actually in the constitution. It is the day business comes to an end. It is the day the Senate and House report to the governor that the work of the legislature for the year is finished. There are 120 calendar days defined as starting on the second Wednesday of January and ending the second Wednesday of May.This year as well as last year we finished on Monday, two days early. One source says it saves the state $70,000 a day. Another source says it saves $30,000 a day. One is probably the pro-tax economist and the other one is the anti-tax economist.Most of you know that I have decided not to run for another term. I was appointed in July 2004, and I will start my third year in July. I have really enjoyed working with all the people in the legislature. They are all true public servants and truly care about their responsibilities regardless of their political party.I was told before my first session that most votes are nonpartisan. That is very true with the exception of about six legislators. They always vote against the prevailing vote. One even has a reputation of not having an operating “yes” button to vote. Nearly all of his votes are “no” regardless of the issue.I have always wondered if his constituents knew that his goal was to prevent anything from happening. I wonder how many actually think he comes to the Capitol every day to improve the lives of the people of Colorado. He is now running for the Senate, so we might get to have him do the same thing for eight more years on that side of the building.
Coming from a public safety background, I found it interesting how many legislators actually oppose improving our laws as they relate to law enforcement. I found a negative attitude evidenced by immediate arguments that the laws would create greater “profiling” of minorities. I spent a lot of time arguing in favor of stronger laws only to be defeated by people who had a bad taste in their mouths about law enforcement.I also found this attitude about fire departments. I heard over and over again that fire departments did not need any new laws to help them do their job. Privately I would hear complaints that fire departments got a disproportionate amount of tax dollars.Then I heard the same complaints about our schools. They would complain that over half of their property tax bill went to local schools and then the state got the Amendment 23 dollars on top of that. Lots of anger over that.The reverse was that there were many who were in favor of school vouchers that would be paid to the detriment of public schools.I will say that the advocates of public schools and the advocates of private schools were the two most articulate and long-suffering groups at the legislature. I know that I aged about 10 years just listening to a couple of the debates. They went long and hard, and in the final vote public schools always won.
I always thought we should fine people who argue unwinnable things. Yes, I do know they have that right, and I would never take it away from them.The true libertarians are very happy that we did not make wearing a seat belt a primary offense even though 500 people will die in the next year without the law. But they are very unhappy that smoking is banned in all bars and restaurants in the state. There are exceptions for restaurants that sell over $50,000 a year in tobacco products, for casino gaming floors but not their restaurants and bars, and most important, for the entire smoking lounge at Denver International Airport.I did not even know there was a smoking lounge at the airport. Did you?State Rep. Gary Lindstrom, D-Breckenridge, represents Summit, Eagle and Lake counties. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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