Colorado Voters Rise Up Over Gun Laws

Voters in Colorado learned something Tuesday.  So did a couple state senators, including the president of the senate.

The voters learned that they can buck 137 years of statehood history and recall legislators who ignored their wishes, especially when visceral issues like gun control is involved.  Two senators learned that if they try to ram things down voters’ throats, voters might rise up and smite them.

State Senate President John Morse (D-El Paso) and Sen. Angela Giron (D-Pueblo) both lost recall elections Tuesday in Colorado, the first such recalls in Colorado history.

Despite being turned out of office, neither senator indicated acceptance of voter’s wishes.

“We as the Democratic party will continue to fight,” Morse said in conceding the election.

“We will win in the end because we are on the right side,” Giron said (“Colorado State Sen. Angela Giron Becomes 2nd Lawmaker to Lose Recall Over Gun Laws Support,” Washington Post, 9/10/13).

Having won commanding majorities in both houses of the legislature and holding the governor’s office, the Democrats under Morse in the Senate and House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (D-Arapahoe), the state’s first gay speaker, evinced a charging style that struck legislative opponents as a forceful, quick-strike offense.  Several of the gun control laws passed that made Colorado citizens the subject of much stricter gun control laws were pushed through relatively quickly.

Besides the restrictive gun laws passed over the objections of not only rural citizens, hunters, gun owners and the organized and vocal opposition of dozens of sheriffs, many rural and suburban citizens don’t even know another serious blow was landed on their household budgets.  With little hearing time and study, the legislature quickly and quietly passed legislation to force billions of dollars in expensive alternative energy costs on the rural electric industry serving Colorado and surrounding states.

The new law requires rural electric coops to source 20 percent of all their power from alternative sources like wind turbines and solar panels within a very short time period.  Hydroelectric power, already a long-time contributor to electric grids cannot be counted.  Rate payers will not only have to pay for billions in wind and solar farms but also the generating plants to back up the erratic sources of electricity and the transmission lines to carry power from remote areas to the grid.

With solar and wind power costing several times the cost of conventional coal and gas power, suburban and rural customers will see significant increases in rates.  One farmer estimated thousands of dollars per day in increased costs during irrigation season.  A large percentage of households not living in actual downtown areas of towns like Colorado Springs, for instance, depend on rural electric coops for power and will see rates go up.  In fact, since wording in the statute forbids the generating coops to raise rates anywhere near enough to recoup costs, it’s not clear how the generating coops will recover capital investment costs and survive.

We’re not sure what it is about plumbers and gumption  —  remember Joe the Plumber posing a key question to candidate Obama? —  but it was a Pueblo area plumber, Timothy Knight, who initiated the recall campaign.  Recall campaign volunteers gathered thousands of voter petition signatures to force the recall election.  Political observers believe Knight’s group might be the first to turn in petitions with a 95 percent validity score.  They used a handheld computer to check voter registration databases in real-time as petitioners stood by.  It is possible this recall will change the methodology used for voter petition efforts in the future.

In addition to local money and volunteer work, hundreds of thousands of dollars was pumped into the fight by the National Rifle Association and, further enraging state gun owners, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to support the gun control senators.  Interestingly enough, despite Morse’s position as Senate president and bigger city media exposure, the voter turnout was twice as big in Pueblo, 30 percent (32,000) vs. 15 percent (17,000) in Colorado Springs.  The night’s returns showed the recall posted 51 percent against Morse and 56 percent against Giron, meaning in Morse’s case a few hundred votes was the difference.

Some dedicated Colorado citizens proved they can make a difference if they take the time and trouble to use the political tools at hand and harness today’s technology.

Published in: on September 11, 2013 at 12:35 am  Leave a Comment  

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