Governor needs to step up to the plate — especially on marijuana legislation
Author: Doug Robinson - May 14, 2018 - Updated: May 14, 2018
The 2018 legislative session ended in a photo-finish on Wednesday night.
At (literally) the eleventh hour, a number of critical bills made it through the statehouse, as lawmakers found hard-fought compromises to the session’s toughest issues. Fixes on transportation, PERA, and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission all came within the final 72 hours of the 120-day session.
These fixes aren’t perfect, but such is the nature of compromise. They do represent an important first step to finding long-term solutions to some of the state’s largest and most expensive challenges.
Next session, our legislators will have to look at ensuring a more sustained general fund allocation for transportation, as well as expanding the defined-contribution option for PERA beneficiaries. Excluding teachers — the largest group of PERA beneficiaries — is counterproductive to ensuring the large-scale changes that need to be made to put PERA on the path to solvency.
Of course, a number of issues remained unaddressed this session. Mental health, especially for our young people, didn’t get as much attention as it deserved, and health care more broadly was barely touched at all. As Medicaid and insurance costs continue to dominate our state budget, our lawmakers have to find a way to lower costs — both for families, and the government.
Small-business owners and entrepreneurs were also a dealt a blow this session, as SB-236 was killed in committee. The bill would have required the department of regulatory agencies to justify their occupational licensing requirements — something that’s in need of desperate reform in Colorado, where even dog walkers are required to have a special license.
The legislators have done their part; now the onus is on the governor to act. As usual, Gov. Hickenlooper was notably absent during the majority of the debate over this critical legislation, stepping up on PERA only when it was in danger or failure.
The governor can’t be afraid to take on the tough issues, especially now with HB-1258 coming to his desk; the bill broadens marijuana commercialization by permitting on-site marijuana consumption in dispensaries. Despite the prohibition, we are already dealing with side effects of widespread public marijuana consumption, including an increase in traffic fatalities. Sanctioning this practice will only exacerbate these challenges. Let people do what they want in the privacy of their own homes, but making consumption public is not in Coloradans’ best interests. The governor must veto this bill.
In his final act, the governor needs to step up.