2012 Legislative Wrap-up

Defenders of liberty, true liberals singled out by the ACU

The Colorado Statesman

The American Conservative Union released its ratings of Colorado lawmakers on June 29, the first time that the organization graded state legislators based on votes on conservative issues.

ACU has been offering its ratings for Congress since 1971, and this year it expanded to 15 state legislatures, including Colorado. The organization made the announcements for Colorado at an event at the Hyatt Regency in Denver.

Unlike some advocacy groups, The American Conservative Union is not shy about calling out legislators based on their votes. For ACU, the issue came down to whether lawmakers defended liberty, or on the other end of the spectrum, “turned their backs on our founding principles — constitutionally limited government, individual liberty, free markets, a strong national defense and traditional values.”

Based on their litmus test, eight lawmakers in the Colorado Senate and 14 lawmakers in the House received perfect scores, making them “Defenders of Liberty.”

Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, was one of the lawmakers to receive the “Defender of Liberty” distinction. “I’ve dedicated my legislative career to upholding the principles of limited government, liberty and personal responsibility,” said Cadman. “Economic prosperity is spurred by empowering the private sector through limiting government overreach and cutting burdensome regulations. It’s important that elected officials understand this principle as Coloradans work to navigate their way through this difficult economy.”

Other Senate lawmakers to receive the “Defender of Liberty” award were Sens. Kevin Grantham, R-Cañon City, Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch, Kent Lambert, R-Colorado Springs, Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, Shawn Mitchell, R-Broomfield, Tim Neville, R-Littleton, and Scott Renfroe, R-Greeley.

The House lawmakers include Reps. Cindy Acree, R-Aurora, David Balmer, R-Cen-tennial, Mark Barker, R-Colorado Springs, Randy Baumgardner, R-Hot Sulphur Springs, Don Beezley, R-Broomfield, Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, Janak Joshi, R-Colorado Springs, Marsha Looper, R-Calhan, Carole Murray, R-Castle Rock, Amy Stephens, R-Monument, Spencer Swalm, R-Centennial, Libby Szabo, R-Arvada, and Mark Waller, R-Colorado Springs.

Several other Colorado lawmakers received scores of 80 percent or higher on the ACU ratings. Those lawmakers were given the distinct recognition of “ACU Conservatives.” The Senate lawmakers include Greg Brophy, R-Wray, Keith King, R-Colorado Springs, Steve King, R-Grand Junction, Ellen Roberts, R-Durango, Mark Scheffel, R-Parker, Nancy Spence, R-Centennial, and Jean White, R-Hayden.

The House lawmakers included Reps. Jon Becker, R-Fort Morgan, Laura Bradford, R-Collbran, J. Paul Brown, R-Ignacio, Kathleen Conti, R-Littleton, Don Coram, R-Montrose, Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen, Chris Holbert, R-Parker, Jim Kerr, R-Littleton, Larry Liston, R-Colorado Springs, Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, B.J. Nikkel, R-Loveland, Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, Robert Ramirez, R-Westminster, Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, Ken Summers, R-Lakewood, Keith Swerdfeger, R-Pueblo West, and Glenn Vaad, R-Mead.

ACU also singled out the “true liberals of the Centennial State,” calling out lawmakers for scoring 0 percent. The Senate lawmakers include Sens. Irene Aguilar, D-Denver, Bob Bacon, D-Fort Collins, Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, Angela Giron, D-Pueblo, Rollie Heath, D-Boulder, Evie Hudak, D-Westminster, John Morse, D-Colorado Springs, and Jeanne Nicholson, D-Black Hawk — all Democrats, predictably.

The House lawmakers include Reps. Lois Court, D-Denver, Crisanta Duran, D-Denver, Mark Ferrandino, D-Denver, Rhonda Fields, D-Aurora, Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Boulder, John Kefalas, D-Fort Collins, Jeanne Labuda, D-Denver, Beth McCann, D-Denver, Dan Pabon, D-Denver, Su Ryden, D-Aurora, Sue Schafer, D-Wheat Ridge, Nancy Todd, D-Aurora, and Angela Williams, D-Denver.

ACU Chairman Al Cardenas said with Colorado likely a key battleground state in this year’s election, it is imperative to highlight which lawmakers back their rhetoric up with votes.

Tracking issues

ACU followed several issues before the legislature to determine which ones separated lawmakers in the conservative or liberal categories.

The issues run the gamut, including easing burdens on business owners, protecting gun rights and limiting government mandates, to name a few.

The House bills that ACU tracked were House Bill 1007, dealing with state agency rules, House Bill 1064, regarding Second Amendment rights, House Bill 1075, on spending limitations, House Bill 1088, extending the Castle Doctrine to businesses, House Bill 1103, state emissions inspections, House Bill 1111, re-quiring voter identification to vote,

House Bill 1118, collective bargaining in schools, House Bill 1149, parental rights in schools, House Bill 1160, energy man-dates, House Bill 1172, addressing a carbon tax, House Bill 1286, entertainment production subsidies, and House Bill 1333, union dues and payroll deductions.

In the Senate, the issues that ACU watched were Senate Bill 68, food mandates in schools, Senate Bill 1, contracting preferences, Senate Bill 3, employer mandates, Senate Bill 4, state purchase requirements, Senate Bill 86, addressing the cost of regulations, Senate Bill 93, religious freedom, Senate Bills 109 and 147, voting integrity, Senate Bill 143, government data collection, and Senate Bill Special Session 3, concerning socially responsible corporations.

-Peter@coloradostatesman.com