On the May 13 broadcast of KNUS 710 AM's Backbone Radio, state Rep. Mike May (R-Parker) claimed that the Democratic-led legislature “didn't do anything” during the 2007 session and said he “complained” about the number of studies it authorized. However, records show that May voted for numerous bills authorizing or expanding task forces and commissions. Furthermore, host John Andrews misleadingly suggested that Gov. Bill Ritter's (D) policy agenda stalled during the session.
In a May 13 segment criticizing the Democratic-controlled Colorado Assembly on KNUS 710 AM's Backbone Radio, state House Minority Leader Mike May (R-Parker) asserted that the Democratic leadership “didn't do anything with” the 2007 legislative session and claimed that he “complained” about the number of studies authorized by the legislature. In fact, May himself voted for most of the measures authorizing or expanding task forces and commissions to study issues, and, as the Rocky Mountain News reported May 10, “an overwhelming majority of the 18 commission bills that passed the House did so with broad bipartisan support.” Host John Andrews also attacked Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter by repeating the misleading GOP talking point that Ritter's list of specific policy initiatives found in his “Colorado Promise” campaign documents were not addressed during the session.
From the May 13 broadcast of 710 KNUS 710 AM's Backbone Radio:
ANDREWS: If you were going to give an old-fashioned school report card to Speaker Romanoff and the Senate Democrats working with him, and Bill Ritter sort of sitting there as the school principal ready to sign legislation, what would your grade be for this legislature?
MAY: Wow. You know, you'd almost have to give them an incomplete, and thank goodness for that in many cases. I, I complained about the amount of studies that are going on this summer. And, and part of me is a little bit thankful for that, because at least they didn't do anything with it ...
May's legislative record shows that he and his fellow Republicans voted in favor of most of those “studies.” While May did vote against at least three bills to authorize or expand commissions and task forces (House Bill 1288, House Bill 1341, and Senate Bill 24), he voted in favor of at least 12 others. For example, he was a co-sponsor of Senate Joint Resolution 35 -- a bill to study the impact Alzheimer's Disease has on Coloradans. Other commissions and task force bills May voted in favor of include:
- HB 1018 -- expansion of the Transportation Review Committee
- HB 1045 -- to expand the commission of county planners
- HB 1130 -- evaluation of recommendations for forest restoration proposals
- HB 1145 -- study to identify land suitable for development of renewable energy resources
- HB 1272 -- task force to review homicide investigation methods
- HB 1274 -- a commission for the blind or visually impaired
- HB 1358 -- a task force to study the juvenile justice system
- HB 1360 -- an expansion of the Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform
- SB 74 -- a task force to study the EKG Emergency Network in Colorado
- SB 91 -- task force for renewable energy resource development
- SB 104 -- expansion of the health care reform commission
- SB 229 -- committee to develop a plan for epidemic emergency response
Despite his voting record, the News reported in the May 10 article by Lynn Bartels that “May ripped Democrats during the session, saying that they were 'the driving force behind more than 25 new or expanded commissions, committees or task forces.' ” He was quoted as saying, “We can't study forever ... The people of Colorado sent us here to do a job.” The article also noted that May sent out a news release criticizing the number of studies, headlined “Legislature more interested in studying than solving.”
However, the News further reported:
House Democrats are perplexed by the criticism because voting records show that an overwhelming majority of the 18 commission bills that passed the House did so with broad bipartisan support
Five of those bills passed unanimously. And two of the bills had only one “no” vote. The commissions deal with issues ranging from education to veterans to forest restoration.
May initially said “wow” Wednesday when he read the vote results for the commission bills. Then he said he stood by his criticism, made in a news release issued last week.
But Democrats are wondering why, if Republicans are so opposed to studies, they supported so many of the bills.
“I think my friend Mike May should spend more time studying his own press releases before sending them,” House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, said Wednesday.
Republicans have called this session “The Year of the Study.”
In addition to May's criticism of the Democratic-led legislature, Andrews continued his pattern of disparaging Ritter's “Colorado Promise” campaign slogan and published list of top-priority agenda items. Andrews remarked, “I've said a couple time that the 'Colorado Promise' turned into the 'Colorado Postponement.' ” May responded, "[T]hat's probably ... some good news," and dubiously asserted that “they haven't tried to implement ... a lot of that yet.”
In fact, as Colorado Media Matters has noted, the Democratic-controlled legislature passed, and Ritter signed, significant legislation that addressed the bipartisan priority issues of education, health care, and renewable energy, among others. For example:
- Ritter signed on February 5 Senate Bill 1, establishing a program allowing the state to buy discounted generic prescription drugs and sell them to lower-income and uninsured Coloradans, The Denver Post reported.
- Ritter signed on March 22 Senate Bill 97, which redirects Colorado “tobacco litigation settlement moneys ... to health-care related programs.”
- Sen. Ron Tupa (D-Boulder) introduced Senate Bill 53, which, according to the Post, “sets a commission to create smooth transitions from preschool up to college.”
- The bipartisan House Bill 1256, which the Post reported “would allow in-state tuition at Colorado colleges for those who move to the state because of an economic-development initiative,” passed the House on February 28.
- House Bill 1281 -- sponsored by Jack Pommer (D-Boulder), Robert Witwer (R-Golden), and Gail Schwartz (D-Snowmass Village) -- was signed by Ritter on March 27 and “requires large, investor-owned utilities to produce 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2010. Smaller cooperative utilities would have to produce 10 percent of their power from alternative sources by then,” according to the Post.
- Ritter also signed on March 27 Senate Bill 100, sponsored by Senate President Joan Fitz-Gerald (D-Coal Creek) and Rep. Buffie McFadyen (D-Pueblo West). As the News reported before the measure became law, it "[r]equires large investor-owned utilities to provide a report to regulators every two years identifying renewable resource zones where new wind, solar and other renewable energy projects are hampered due to a shortage of transmission that would deliver electricity to populated areas."
Additionally, Ritter's campaign agenda stated that he aimed to take advantage of "[a]n exceptional opportunity [that] already exists in the renewable energy industry" to increase employment by expanding and attracting renewable energy businesses to Colorado. As a May 13 Greeley Tribune article noted:
If the session was characterized by anything, it was a spirit of bipartisanship. Both parties worked together on sweeping renewable energy legislation that will help make Colorado a world leader in the field."
And our region is already seeing a windfall, so to speak, with the recent announcement of a wind turbine factory in Windsor.
Vestas Wind Systems told Gov. Bill Ritter earlier this spring that the state's wind-friendly climate -- both literally and politically -- was a major factor in the Danish company's decision to locate here.
Similarly, a May 5 guest editorial in the Post by Speaker of the House Andrew Romanoff (D-Denver) stated, “SunEdison broke ground in April for a photovoltaic solar plant in Alamosa. When completed next year, the plant will produce enough clean energy to power nearly 1,500 homes.” Romanoff also noted legislation covering other Ritter priorities that was passed in the 2007 session:
Strengthening our schools: Susan Ryder, the 2007 Colorado Teacher of the Year, advocates early intervention and lifelong learning. State lawmakers made real progress on both fronts. We boosted funding for high-quality preschool and full-day kindergarten, enabling 2,000 more children to start first grade ready to learn. We adopted a new, longitudinal model of academic assessment, holding schools responsible for how far they move students - not just where they happen to find them. And we streamlined school accountability reports, making it easier for parents to track their children's performance.
Higher education got a boost as well. We increased financial aid by 8.5 percent, putting college within reach of more lower- and middle-income families. We permitted students to pursue a high-school diploma and an associate's degree at the same time. And we plugged a hole in the State Education Fund, by keeping local resources in local schools -- as the voters in 175 of Colorado's 178 school districts intended.
We tackled the price of prescription drugs by agreeing to pool our purchasing power with other states and to negotiate deeper discounts from the pharmaceutical industry. We improved coverage for children, mental health, nursing homes and veteran care. And we expanded access to a new vaccine against HPV, the leading cause of cervical cancer.
The legislature also sought to minimize medical errors and negligence by shielding whistleblowers from retaliation and by informing patients about their physicians' history. We restored funding for physician training, public-health nursing and medical research. And we approved grant programs to bring both medical equipment and medical providers to rural Colorado.
We also defended consumers against construction defects, mortgage fraud and other deceptive trade practices.
As Colorado Media Matters noted, Andrews previously blurred the distinction between Ritter's “Colorado Promise” campaign slogan and the list of specific policy initiatives that Ritter promoted in his “Colorado Promise” campaign document in order to claim Ritter was not accomplishing his agenda.
From the May 13 broadcast of KNUS 710 AM's Backbone Radio:
ANDREWS: Representative May, if you were going to -- and I asked your counterpart, Andy McElhany, the same question earlier in the show, Senator Andy McElhany, who leads Senate Republicans. If you were going to give an old-fashioned school report card to Speaker Romanoff and the Senate Democrats working with him, and Bill Ritter sort of sitting there as the school principal ready to sign legislation, what would your grade be for this legislature?
MAY: Wow. You know, you'd almost have to give them an incomplete, and thank goodness for that in many cases. I, I complained about the amount of studies that are going on this summer. And, and part of me is a little bit thankful for that, because at least they didn't do anything with it, they're --
ANDREWS: Kicking the --
MAY: -- spending more time --
ANDREWS: -- kicking the can down the road. I, I've said a couple of times that the “Colorado Promise” turned into the “Colorado Postponement.”
KRISTA KAFER (co-host): [laughs] Thank goodness.
MAY: Well -- that's right, and that, and that's probably some, some good news, the fact that it hasn't -- they haven't tried to implement at least a lot of that yet, but I'm assuming it's coming in 2008, 'cause what they did do this year was not good for Colorado.