• November 25, 2023

    Colorado Series: The Violent Murder Of Our Republic, Part 3

    November 25, 2023
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    As mentioned in prior articles, the special session began on Friday, November 17th. While the voice of the People echoed throughout Colorado when Proposition HH failed on the ballot, the local government has chosen to usurp the voice of the consent of the governed through a special session. If being silenced wasn’t enough, who do you think is being required to pay for this session? The taxpayers!

    Using the words of Restore-Liberty (https://restore-liberty.org/declaration/ ), years ago when the colonist were forced to pay even a small tax that was created without any representation of their interests, they knew the government had become destructive to its own purpose which demanded an abolishment of ties to such a government.

    Liberty was not defined by Thomas Jefferson as the right to act within the law, but to do any act that we wish if it does not directly prevent the rights of others. “I would define Liberty to be a power to do as we would be done by—the definition of liberty to be the power of doing whatever the law permits, meaning the civil laws, does not seem satisfactory.” John Adams, Letter to J.H. Tiffany, March 31, 1819).

    Jefferson and our founders recognized we needed more than just “civil laws” driving the governance of our nation, hence the birth of the words in the Declaration of Independence. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. The consent of the governed was spoken through the ballot, proving Governor Polis has no desire to secure the rights of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. At the end of the signed bill SB23-303(https://leg.colorado.gov/sites/default/files/2023a_303_signed.pdf) it states on page 47 in SECTION 23. “Effective date. (1) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (2) of this section, this act takes effect only if a majority of voters approve the ballot issue referred in accordance with section 24-77-202, Colorado Revised Statutes, enacted in section 3 of this act, and in which case this act takes effect on the date of the official declaration of the vote thereon by the governor”. Why then is there a push to put it in effect after the majority of the Coloradan voices refused to allow this ballot measure to pass?

    Day 1 of the “Special” Session

    Day 1, at approximately 9:30 a.m., the House came to order after the Senate and Governor were notified the House was organized and ready for business.  

    Speaker of the House, McCluskie then provided her opening speech. “Our goal in special session is clear by providing urgent property tax relief, increasing rental assistance and supporting hard working families. We will deliver real results that make Colorado more affordable.  Our agenda is made up of proven solutions, policies which have received bi-partisan support these past few years.  These solutions align deeply with our values to provide the most relief to the people feeling the brunt of our cost of living crisis.  That means targeting our support to working people, renters, and middle class homeowners.  I am here to advocate for our priorities. Our goals align with our values for more rental assistance, a larger refund for working class families, and expanded earned income tax credit and property tax relief that benefits the average homeowner the most.  We have very limited time to accomplish this work.  The county assessors need to know what we are doing on property tax so that we can move forward and send those tax bills by the deadlines in January.  Homeowners and renters, low to moderate income Coloradans need assurance that relief is on the way. The urgency to act now is clear, and despite this fast timeline, we welcome the public to testify and engage in our open and transparent lawmaking process.  I encourage members to collaborate in good faith to ensure that all voices are heard, and I commend the members who have been engaging in an open process and who have shared their ideas for consideration in this special session.  To deliver the policy outcomes we know Coloradans deserve, I encourage us to work together, not fight each other.  History has proven that we achieve more; we are stronger when we strive for the same goals and collaborate as a team. While Washington DC may be a spectacle of partisan fist fights and dysfunction, this is a moment for Colorado to demonstrate civility, respect, and show once again that here in Colorado, we lead and we get things done. There is an opportunity before us to work together in a bi-partisan way, to deliver urgent property tax relief and support for renters and working people.  This is the moment to deliver for all Coloradans.  We cannot wait to provide relief for the people who need it most, and I ask for your partnership in this important work. Thank you.” (emphasis added)

    While many of the words may sound principled and even encouraging, throughout the next few days, the very comments she was encouraging the entire caucus to follow, were not enforced or followed by leadership.

    Notice & Transparency

    By rule, the contents of any bill were allowed to be released publicly before the special session began, but this required the bill sponsors to agree to it. Of the fourteen (14) bills introduced, only six (6) were listed on the leg.colorado.gov site prior to session. Worse,  even by the start of Day 1 committees, most of the remaining eight (8) bills were still not publicly available, which is maddening when you consider that one of the chief purposes of a committee hearing is to allow the public to voice their support or criticism of a bill in hopes of influencing the representatives that will soon vote on it, and it’s especially hard to do that, no doubt, if you are unable to read the bills in the first place.  

    As those committees began, the statement on the legislative website still stated “these bills do not represent a complete list of legislation that will be introduced during the special session.”  It probably should have said that “this list doesn’t even include all of the bills in committee right now. Good luck.” 

    After realizing the constitutional problem they were creating, Democratic leadership paused the committees for just enough time to post the remaining bills, but that still did not give any of the public sufficient time to seriously review them. Again, as with HH, there was no real interest in hearing from the people.  

    Knowing the session was rushed, bill sponsors had the power as stated to provide transparency to the public by voluntarily releasing their bills early. Here are the handful of sponsors that did and credit to them:

    https://leg.colorado.gov/2023-special-session-bills-authorized-sponsors-pre-release?fbclid=IwAR2fT9Fg-LgwVNZoKXI8-P3N6DeVNkD4WQlbuHRH-GjSRI4qsowkjVGyY7g

    For the stalwart members of the public who did still attempt to opine on the bills at committee, they had to contend with a host of confusion. For example, bill numbers and assignments were not readily provided on the state’s website. Meaning, if you were testifying on a bill, you were forced to remember the complete title or the sponsors’ names to identify it when it was called.  As an example, LLS 23B-0019, Creation of Tax Code Task Force, was listed by its LLS identifier on the website, but it was assigned Bill No. HB23B-1006. There was also HB23B-1003, titled Property Task Force, which was NOT listed at all on the website but had a similar title.  To increase the confusion, both of those bills were assigned to the same House committee. 

    The outcome of this “open and transparent process” mentioned by Speaker McCluskie quickly became more akin to a terribly ”confusing and uninformed” one. During the State, Civic, Military & Veterans Affair committee, public constituent voters actually signed up to testify on the wrong bills. In one case, only after a citizen began to speak, did the Chairman himself realize that the gentleman testifying was talking about an entirely different task force bill than the one currently before the committee. Unfortunately, after referring him to the correct bill so he could resume his testimony later, it was made clear that that second bill was heavily amended such that what the man had read and been ready to discuss was no longer representative of the bill anyway. In that case (and this sounds extraordinary, but it happened), any one who wanted to understand the bill had to listen to the opening statement from the Bill Sponsor in committee to get a summary of what was even in the bill since the language posted a few minutes ago was no longer relevant. 

    This confusion was made all the more clear when a representative on the committee even found it challenging to vote on a bill that she stated she didn’t have time to read in advance, asking the bill sponsor to provide a “cliff notes” version of the differences between the two task

    During the State, Civic, Military & Veterans Affair committee, public constituent voters showed up but signed up to testify on wrong bills. HB23-1003 was amended and you had to listen to the opening statement from the Bill Sponsor in committee since the language of bill was not force bills 1003 and 1006. Adding insult to injury, fiscal notes, which are used to help estimate the cost of what has been proposed, were also not made available. Interestingly, however, while most representatives and the public did not have advance access to bill language or materials, struggling as a result, somehow select lobbyists did as they were able to refer directly to the verbiage in their support. 

    For the bills that did pass the committee stage, they were then presented for what is called 2nd reading or commonly “seconds” on the House floor. The first bill presented in seconds over the session was HB23B-1008 (https://leg.colorado.gov/bills/hb23b-1008). As that bill was being discussed before the entire House, Representative Scott Bottoms stepped to the ”well” (the podium) to be a voice, as he said, for the multiple taxpaying Coloradans in his district stating: “How are we helping the taxpayers by costing them more money... This is the exact opposite direction that we’re supposed to be taking, and this is what Prop HH being voted down was [ a “shout out” [by the people].  I have a mandate, and I am going to say this on every bill, every amendment, every single time. I have been sent here by the people of Colorado who said ‘please do not take our tax money away.’  It does not belong to you in the House. It does not belong to the Governor. It does not belong to the state of Colorado. It belongs to the people, and they have shouted as loud as they can shout ‘do not take our tax money away;’ and yet, here we are doing this.  This is not a break. This is not a relief.  This is a compounded interest scam that is going to take more money from them [the people]  in the long run … strike this whole thing.” 

    Representative Bradley, equally frustrated with a bill being introduced “right out of the gates” that increased costs to her constituents, added, “we’re actually here to do the work to lower property taxes for the people of Colorado. So I ask you, am I spending three days here to help the people of Colorado or are we not?”

    I defer to the opening words of Speaker McCluskie “Our goal in special session is clear by providing urgent property tax relief, increasing rental assistance and supporting hard working families. We will deliver real results that make Colorado more affordable. “ HB23-1008 was only the first bill presented to the floor, but it did nothing to provide property relief or make Colorado more affordable. Instead, its plan is to appropriate taxpayer dollars to the Colorado Department of Treasury to hire someone to help manage all of the deferral requests they expect from homeowners unable to pay  their taxes next year, tax deferrals that if granted must be repaid with interest or you could lose your home. So rather than lowering your property taxes, the very first bill presented to the floor was one that plans to spend your money to hire someone to put you on an interest laden repayment plan when you can no longer afford your property taxes next year.     

    Day 2 of the “Special” Session

    Day 2 kicked off on Saturday, November 18th after a long day on Friday of communication challenges and confusion. Things did not get better. Right after roll call, while Majority Leader Duran was at the well, protestors in the gallery began to yell loudly  (see video links).

    Pro-Palestinian Protest inside the Denver Capitol November 18, 2023

    They weren’t yelling about not being heard at committee, about politicians not listening to the people on HH, or about the lack of transparency in the whole process. There were Pro-Palestine protestors yelling about Israel retaliating against Hamas.

    Colorado State Representative Tim Hernandez looks on at the Protestors

    To try to maintain order, Speaker McCluskie put the house into recess. It took over 10-15 minutes for the Sergeant at Arms to remove the protestors before the proceedings in the House could continue. 

    recess. It took over 10-15 minutes for the Sgt at Arms to remove the protestors and bring back order.

    Immediately after, Speaker McCluskie responds to the interruptions of voices chanting and Palestinian flags being displayed over the railings with a short speech. “For all of you and our public, I want to affirm our commitment for public engagement and I thank all of you for demonstrating respect to the public that joined us in the gallery today. We are facilitating a conversation with those that are here in the building down in a committee room. Several members of the body have asked and volunteered to be a part of conversations with those who are here in our gallery. We are going to proceed with our business of the day. As we do so, because several of our members are now in our committee rooms, we will pause for votes so that they may participate in the voting process. I want to thank you all for the support of that public dialogue and engagement and I ask all of you to engage in respect for our public at all times when they come to share their view points, their concerns, their pain. I also ask that those of you in the body recognize the diversity of our community and be respectful and honor the individuals of this body who represent very different viewpoints on the conversation that began with our public this morning. Please be honorable to one another.”

    Freedom of speech is a God given right recognized by the constitution of our nation, but as mentioned earlier, individual liberty is not intended to prevent the rights of others.  As those in the gallery were shouting in protest during a taxpayer paid special session, it prevented any Colorado State Representative from being heard, which was suppressing the liberties of others, many others, including the millions they represent. Instead of honoring free speech. The demonstration, and the Speaker’s handling of it, sent the opposite message.

    During the recent Colorado trial attempting to remove President Trump from the upcoming primary ballot, the District Court Judge presiding over his case held in her Final Order that an insurrection as used in Section Three of the Fourteenth Amendment of our Constitution is (1) a public use of force or threat of force (2) by a group of people (3) to hinder or prevent execution of the Constitution of the United States.

    (https://www.courts.state.co.us/userfiles/file/Court_Probation/02nd_Judicial_District/Denver_District_Court/11_17_2023%20Final%20Order.pdf, Page 70, #240)

    Does the presence of protestors yelling so loud that they must be removed by force during a special session ordered by the Governor of Colorado hinder and prevent execution of the United States Constitution and thereby become labeled an insurrection? And what was the response provided by the Democrat leadership in the Colorado House? The Speaker implored all State Representatives to endorse the behavior and convened a meeting with the protestors to dialogue about their demands, even delaying voting until the dialogue was finished.

    To be clear, those protestors should not be deemed nor treated as insurrectionist, irrespective of the Court’s definition, but they should have been treated like what they were, disruptors. Every citizen in Colorado deserves to be heard, and that is why we have representatives. The voices of protestors are no more important than any of ours, but their voices were being heard because they were loud, angry, and aligned with leadership. While the disruptive protestors (or insurrectionist if you adhere to the Court’s recent definition) were not punished for their behaviors and were, in fact, encouraged, the representatives that did not share similar views with the Speaker were treated much differently.  

    At this point, we unfortunately began to see a repeat of what happened so often during the regular session last spring.  Representative Scott Bottoms voiced his disagreement with what the Speaker said and how she handled the situation. His reward, he was not allowed to speak at the well for the remainder of the day, which included hours of debate.  You see, in the Colorado House, free speech is only free if it fits the Speaker’s narrative.  

    Time and again Rep. Bottoms, following the rules, order, and decorum of the House, raised his hand to be acknowledged by the Speaker and share his opinions, but to no avail. He did not yell from the banister or wave flags from the balcony. He calmly raised his hand, but in the name of free speech, she used his respect for the House to silence him.  

    Remember his voice isn’t just one voice being silenced. His voice is the voice of every person within House District 15!  Over the course of five hours, Representative Bottoms raised his hand time and again, but he was openly ignored and not allowed to go to the well. He was not allowed to represent the people of House Districts 15, not because he was disorderly like the protestors but because he showed respect while challenging the Speaker’s views. 

    This whole tragic mess is all available on video. You can watch Day 2, Part 1 from the Colorado Channel and see Representative Bottoms making attempt after attempt to be acknowledged.  This begins approximately at the 4:09 mark after Representative DeGraaf speaks. If you do choose to watch it, then you will also see Rep. Bottoms provide a note to one of the clerks at the front desk. Seems simple, but he was formally requesting  to have the bill read at length. Having a bill read at length is a constitutional right in Colorado that any single representative can request and which must be honored or the validity of the law itself stemming from that bill could be in question. In this case, however, on this first bill, they refused. As his “time-out” continued, if you watch, you will see him pass a note a second time on the next bill requesting the same. This time, however, realizing that their antics may have already placed the first bill in constitutional jeopardy, they made sure to have the second bill read at length. If leadership’s actions all sound childish, they are, but it’s also much worse. They represent a dangerous precedent, not to mention an unconstitutional one.  You can see this exchange here:

    (https://coloradochannel.net/watch-meetings/#tab1).

    Unanswered Questions

    This leaves us with a question, a rhetorical one. Did Speaker McCluskie and the leadership “encourage in good faith to collaborate for all voices to be heard?” Now let us not forget there were many Republicans on the 1st day of the 2023 Legislative session (January 9, 2023) who voted on behalf of Speaker McCluskie when they had a choice to do otherwise.  

    Representative DeGraaf nominated Representative Scott Bottoms for Speaker of the House back in January, and when Representative Bottoms accepted the nomination, he reminded the 19 member Republican caucus that they were sent to the House to vote on Republican values represented by conservative principles. There were 11 Republicans, however, who did not heed the call including Minority Leader Lynch and Assistant Minority Leader Pugliese.  Eleven Republicans who voted for Speaker McCluskie:

     (https://coloradochannel.net/watch-meetings/#tab1).  

    Sadly, the questions from the last article remain unanswered. Will the minority remember what happened in the last week of session and how their calls for a special session went unheeded? What is the temperature of the water in the pot at this point? Will they fold or will they fight for the people? Will the majority respect the people’s vote when the regular session begins and refrain from using the people’s TABOR refunds to backfill government entities? 

    If you are concerned about these questions, it’s imperative for each individual to respond and act now before the January 2024 Session even begins.  Contact your Representative and express any disappointments, concerns, and expectations you have.  You can make a difference! If you’re interested in knowing more about how to get involved, please contact me at [email protected].  Please continue to follow us on https://coloradofreepress.com/ to find out about more on the special session, hear the answers to the above questions and the details of the legislation presented and their final outcomes.

    For Part 1-https://coloradofreepress.com/colorado-series-the-violent-murder-of-our-republic-part-1/

    For Part 2-https://coloradofreepress.com/colorado-series-the-violent-murder-of-our-republic-part-2/

    And there is even more discussed on the Chuck and Julie show at: https://rumble.com/v3xojfw-colo-dems-betray-voters-the-chuck-and-julie-show-november-24-2023.html

    ‘NO AD’ subscription for CDM!  Sign up here and support real investigative journalism and help save the republic!  

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