• 07/23/2024

    Colorado House GOP Week in Review 05: Feb 14 – 26 / 2023 

    February 29, 2024

    Newsworthy Items from Under the Denver Capitol Dome

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    Colorado Free Press has obtained a copy of the Colorado State House GOP Week in Review to inform you about Capitol business.

    The bills described below can be linked to via the website of the state legislature; the link to all bills is located near the bottom of the home page under the label “House Status Sheet” (https://leg.colorado.gov). For those of you who might wish to contact legislators, you can find their contact information under the tab “Legislators” in the upper third of the same home page. While you’ll likely want to contact your own representative first, all of them have the label “state representative” and thus would profit from your input, should you wish to give it. 

    This week House Democrats passed a bill that will come to fruition next summer; in effect, these legislators gave Colorado parents, students, and teachers an ultimatum: either accept the Progressive ideology about gender – and talk accordingly – or face the wrath of the state government. While many people oppose this sort of legislation owing to their faith-based worldview, that point is not the crux of the issue; instead, the bill primarily impacts parental rights and the rights of conscience. 

    Given the world we live in, you’d be right to doubt the particular characterization above – after all, people constantly lie, exaggerate, and omit things to paint themselves as the hero and their opponents as the villain. So, by all means, please follow the debate on House Bill 24-1039. I recommend you begin with the remarks of Representative Scott Bottoms; they start at about 5 hours and 9 minutes into the festivities on Friday, February 23rd (accessible via “the Colorado Channel”1 ). Key questions to ponder include: 

    • Can the state government force schools to compel the speech of their students and employees when such speech is contrary to their beliefs and conscience? 
    • Do teachers and schools have the right to keep from parents the unofficial name change and ‘transgendering’ of their children? 
    • On Thursday, February 15 the House Education Committee heard HB24-1039 (re ‘non-legal name changes for students in schools’); it passed and was debated in the Committee of the Whole (a technical term for House members as a whole considering legislation) on Friday, February 23rd. The bill pits the constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech (and perhaps a host of parental rights) against the newly created right of a ‘transgendered child’ to insist that his or her new name be used in school. 
    • Background
    • For decades ‘gender dysphoria’ was designated a mental illness both in the United States and elsewhere (as seen, for example, in versions 1-5 of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). 
    • Historically gender dysphoria was rare (~0.01% of the population) and those that suffered from it were overwhelmingly male. 
    • Increasingly, mental health professionals and gender activists have promoted the notion that sex and gender are distinct, that gender is a matter of one’s self-perception of identity, and that this self-diagnosis is beyond the right or ability of any other person to question or deny. 
    • According to Abigail Shrier, in the United States gender dysphoria has increased some 1000% since 2010, and most of those suffering are teenage girls (in the UK the increase is larger – 4000% in ten years). 
    • But now lawsuits have begun to be filed against providers of these medical and ‘gender affirming’ services, and those with deep regrets about transitioning while they were minors are telling their stories (here, here, and here and there are more). 
    • An interesting ‘take’ on the issue comes from television’s own “Dr. Phil” – he explains some of the downside at: https://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2024/02/dr-phil-blasts-medicalassociations-pushing-gender-affirming/.
    • All this is being foisted on the public even though, according the Colorado Revised Statues (22- 1-130(1)(a)) “It is the right and responsibility of parents to guide the education and upbringing of their children; An

    1 Rep. Bottoms begins to speak at 5:09:16 (at https://coloradochannel.net/watch-meetings/#tab1). 

    2 See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ndM79LwkAQ&t=199s. For an extended interview with Dr. Phil from the Joe Rogan show, go to: https://open.spotify.com/episode/3m4XOpTSsvhtlk0MLIgP3U?si=r0Rc_Ht4TQqfUC1tE2968g.

    • essential role of parents in ensuring the safety and quality of their children’s education is to remain active, engaged, and fully informed about what is occurring in their children’s classrooms and within the school environment. 
    • Parents love their children, and they surely love them more than legislators and school employees do. Of course there are exceptions – but so what? 
    • Parents are concerned about bills like this because they want their children to be happy. And most parents know that going public with a new ‘gender identity’ in school is a step that augurs – for a large percentage of people – the use of life-altering hormones and mutilating surgery. By all measures children that embark on this journey are unhappier than most, and far more prone to suicide than most. Nobody wants to see that for their child, that’s why this is such an impactful issue for people that only want the best for their son or daughter. They look to the future and see sadness and, in many instances, self destruction. 
    • The Bill 
    • HB 1039 creates a task force in the Department of Education to provide recommendations on school policies related to this issue submit the report by February 2, 2025 and implement task force recommendations by July 2, 2025. 
    • Under HB 1039 the recommended policies must include requirements that a student’s preferred name be used in every school-related context, even when there has been no legal name change or gender change; a school or school official’s refusal to do so will be deemed discriminatory. 
    • School officials, including teachers, are under no obligation to inform parents of this. 
    • The Upside – with all due respect, I don’t see any unless it serves as a reminder to be kind to troubled people.
    • The Downside 
    • The bill creates ‘compelled speech’ wherein the government says to school employees, parents, and minor children, ‘say what we want you to say or suffer the consequences’. 
    • This is the government and education system that demands more of your money year after year, even as student assessments show the majority of students are seriously underperforming.
    • Not for the first time the legislature and education establishment has managed to pit parents against the schools, even as we’re being asked to ‘trust them’ with the people God has given us to love and protect (our children) – how are thoughtful people to respond to this? 
    • The bill is not good for the mental health of students – 

    ≈ Scientific research regularly produces peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate the depth and persistence of male-female distinctions based on biological realities.

    ≈ Medical science has repeatedly told us that a man who believes himself to be a woman (and vice versa) is suffering from a significant mental health issue.

     ≈ We do a tremendous disservice to those suffering from issues like these by affirming them in an effort to be kind and accepting; indeed, they are plunged even deeper into the problem. 

    ≈ As noted above, we now have testimony from many people that at one point believed they were a different sex, were affirmed by others, and thus continued a painful and self-destructive journey that ended when once they realized they’d been mistaken or deceived. 

    ≈ The bill would require teachers and school officials to enable the mental issues of studies and, in all likelihood, face legal or policy repercussions if they do not obey. 

    3 See: http://cde.state.co.us/assessment/cmas-dataandresults. 4 For example: Cosgrove KP, Mazure CM, Staley JK. “Evolving knowledge of sex differences in brain structure, function, and chemistry.” Biological Psychiatry. 2007 Oct 15; 62(8):847-55. doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2007.03.001. Epub 2007 Jun

     4. PMID: 17544382; PMCID: PMC2711771 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2711771/); Mosconi, L., Berti, V., Dyke, J.et al. “Menopause impacts human brain structure, connectivity, energy metabolism, and amyloid-beta deposition. Scientific Reports 11, 10867 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-90084-y (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-90084-y#citeas

    ≈ This will create more heartbreak and dysfunction for afflicted students, and is the very opposite of free speech and wise counsel. How can anyone imagine this bill will enhance the mental health of struggling students? 

    •  The compelled speech in this bill denies the combined wisdom of scriptures used by people of faith (Jews, Christians, and Moslems), which strongly affirm the male/female sexual distinction as indicated by biological realities – prudence would seem to demand those that claim to know better proceed carefully … but there seems to be a shortage of prudence. 
    • On Friday, February 23 the House as a whole (the ‘Committee of the Whole’) also debated and passed HB24-1170 (re ‘Rights for youth division of youth services facilities’).
      •  Background 

    The CDHS Division of Youth Services (DYS) provides for the care and supervision of youth committed by the District Court to the custody of CDHS. DYS operates 15 secure youth centers that serve youth between the ages of 10-21 who are pre-adjudicated or committed. In addition to residential programming, DYS administers juvenile parole services throughout Colorado.5 Some of these children and youth are ‘delinquent’, some are criminals convicted of serious offenses. 

    • The Bill 
    • The bill establishes a bill of rights for juveniles in a Division of Youth Services (DYS) facility; it runs to several pages in the bill. Some of these rights amount to common sense, others involve existing constitutional protections, but others are designed to create new ‘rights’ related to the issue of gender dysphoria (see earlier).  
    • In practical terms, this could result in a boy convicted of a serious sexual assault being allowed to shower and be housed with females if he claims to be ‘a girl’. 
    • During the floor debate on the bill, Representative Brandi Bradley proposed an amendment that would have ensured biological girls would not be put at risk of sexual assault from adolescent boys claiming to be girls for the purpose of be able to shower and share a room with them – Democrats rejected the amendment 
    • The Upside 

    Some of the bill’s provisions are worthwhile – but as a whole the bill promotes a view of ‘gender ideology’ that is highly contested and contrary both the biology and the faith traditions of Christians, Jews, and Moslems (but apparently the Progressives know better)

    • The Downside 

    On the issue of gender dysphoria, Americans are being forced to comply with a ‘politically correct’ viewpoint and ideology that many of us find objectionable. Compelled speech is not free speech. 

    • On Thursday, February 15 the House Military and State Affairs Committee heard HB24-1092 (re ‘requiring a minimum period of incarceration for persons who commit actions against prostituted children’). Democrats voted to kill the bill (explained in preceding versions of the WIR); Representative Bradley’s response to the vote is found near the end of this WIR. 

    § § §

    No jail for child abusers – no problem! 

    When I was sworn into office as a newly elected member of the Colorado House of Representatives in January 2023, I affirmed my commitment to the American Constitution. For me, it is the embodiment of the values found in the Declaration of Independence, which provides the central reason to have a government: to preserve the rights of citizens to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. 

    In 2023 I learned about a particularly gruesome violation of these rights – the sexual abuse of children in the context of prostitution. The label is misleading because the children involved – some as young as six years old – are not willing participants in that they’re incapable of informed consent. 

    5 Per: https://cdhs.colorado.gov/dys

    I talked to victims and prosecutors and members of law enforcement and heard stomach-churning details of (largely) white, middle- and upper-class men paying to use children to fulfill their vile and degrading fantasies. I knew I had to do something, and reached out to Democrat Regina English, a colleague who was equally revolted by reports involving child prostitution and the men that make it profitable. 

    As a result of these conversations we came up with House Bill 24-1092. The bill dealt with seven kinds of crime involving a child (e.g., procurement of a child, pimping of a child, etc.). 

    For years the Colorado legislature has addressed the issue of sex trafficking. We have good laws with harsh penalties for those engaged in this abuse of human rights. But Regina and I had something different in mind – we wanted to slash the demand for these enslaved children, to create real disincentives for perpetrators. For me, it made sense to stiffen the penalties for the grownups that think they can abuse children without consequence. 

    As to these so-called ‘men’, they probably believe they can get away with it because they have been getting away with it. Some perpetrators have been convicted, but as a rule they do not go to jail because their attorneys have negotiated a ‘better deal’ for them, usually involving probation. Generally speaking, those engaged in criminal sex acts with children are prone to be repeat offenders, so I could only imagine how many additional victims have been created once perpetrators were returned to the streets.

    Our bill was simple: anyone convicted of purchasing a child for sex must go to jail. Period. House Bill 1092 was heard in the House State and Military Affairs committee on February 15, a date that will live in infamy (to borrow a phrase). Dozens of witnesses, including prosecutors, law enforcement personnel, victims’ rights advocates, and victims themselves showed up to offer their compelling stories. The County Sheriffs of Colorado and the Colorado Association of Police supported the bill during a hearing that lasted about three hours. 

    The result? Not a single Democrat on the committee voted in favor of the bill. A couple of them even explained themselves. One said that we already had laws on the books to deal with this behavior, thus showing that he had apparently been asleep during the testimony of district attorneys and law enforcement officials that said we did not have such laws. A second Representative suggested that sending a perpetrator to jail, where lots of sexual abuse occurs, would not “make us safe” (to which the blindingly obvious reply is, “when a child abuser is in prison, every child is a little bit safer”). She further noted that our bipartisan bill was another in a long line of racist legislation destined to disproportionately hurt minorities (an odd comment given that Representative English is a black woman, most of the victims of this crime are minorities, and most perpetrators are white). In the end, most of those voting “No” chose to stay silent. 

    I was floored. My heart ached – and hasn’t stopped aching – for the victims. My co-sponsor wept. And I was angry – angry at the prospect of perpetrators continuing to sexually abuse young girls and boys without any worries that they might land in jail for their heinous behavior. I was angry that so many on the other side of the aisle are content with a system that allows to continue mental, physical, and emotional abuse of children, abuse that will surely haunt them until the end of their days. 

    There’s an epilogue to this story: I went on X (Twitter) to tell my constituents what had happened. I even had the temerity to mention the name of some committee members. And in some circles that was regarded as offensive, apparently more offensive than the vote we had just conducted, or, the crimes we had just heard about. The world is upside down. 

    Perhaps for some people, this is ‘just politics’. But politics is more than the pursuit, acquisition and use of power; it is more than the hurly-burly of crafting legislation: at its heart, politics is a practical expression of societal values. I refuse to believe the people of Colorado are indifferent to the suffering of these children or sympathize with the criminals that cause it – but many of their representatives appear to be. 

    Representative Brandi Bradley 

    Colorado House District 39

    § § §

    You won’t believe it … 

    On Monday, February 26th the House heard HB24-1071 (re ‘name change to conform to gender identity’) on ‘third reading’ (the final vote prior to sending the bill to the senate for consideration). The bill would grant those in jail that wish to change their name as it relates to gender special legal permission to do so. During the ‘floor debate’ (also known as ‘second reading’), a concern was raised that criminals might try to change their names in an attempt to avoid the scrutiny of a background check, especially when the name change also involves a change of gender. This was especially worrisome to those concerned about sexual predators eventually infiltrating a neighborhood where it wouldn’t be possible for parents to know backgrounds in order to protect their children.

     The bill passed (of course), and then moved on to ‘third reading’ a few days later. The injury to the state via the bill itself apparently wasn’t enough for House Democrats yesterday, and so near the end of the third reading they moved to add insult as well. And so they proposed a ‘third reading amendment’. By nature these are rare. In this case, the purpose of the amendment was to rename the bill to “Tiara’s Law”. Who, you might ask, is ‘Tiara’? 

    Attaching a name to a bill is rare, but it occasionally is done in order to commemorate the virtuous person that in some way or other is linked to the bill. In this case, however, ‘Tiara’ is the new name for a middle-aged guy named Duane Antonio Kelley . He spent most of his life in Florida where he engaged in criminal activities like criminal trespassing, forgery, possession of controlled substances, lewdness, and prostitution – a record of 24 criminal and traffic offences in all. But he is ‘transgender’, so there’s that. 

    We had quite a debate, including at one point the Speaker of the House demanding that Representative Scott Bottoms leave the podium. As an interesting aside, Representative Bottoms raised the name ‘Tiara’ during the second reading of the bill about a week earlier and was gaveled down by the Speaker on the grounds that ‘Tiara’ was not part of the bill and should not be mentioned. So when Democrats proposed the renaming of the bill to include ‘Tiara’, Representative Bottoms rose to speak. The Speaker immediately called a recess, and admonished Representative Bottoms to speak ‘respectfully’ and not mention any other name than ‘Tiara’. He began to read the various aliases attached to ‘Tiara’ as well as his original legal name. Once he uttered the word “Duane”, he was told to sit down and shut up. A handful of Republicans followed him to the podium to protest honoring a person of such low character in law. 

    At this point, Democrat Leslie Herod of Denver rose to compare ‘Duane’ to the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., who was also arrested repeatedly. Republicans made the point that comparing the civil rights champion to a lifelong criminal who has left behind a trail of victims was historically wrong and insulting to Dr. King’s legacy. Democrats apparently sensed the debate was not going well, called a recess to discuss the issue, came back and voted to end debate. I imagine a few of them were uncomfortable at the prospect of having ‘Tiara’ as their champion. After ending debate, they quickly voted on the amendment; it managed to garner 28 votes (with several excused), a few short of the 33 required for passage. Immediately after this, and to the surprise of many, instead of voting for final passage of the bill they ‘laid it over’ for consideration at a later date. Always interesting under the Golden Dome. Whoa.

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