Copyright © 2004 Henrietta W. Hay
2004 Lege Awards
May 21, 2004
Well, we can start breathing again. The Colorado Lege has folded its
tents and ridden off into the sunset, if I may mix a couple of metaphors
and borrow Molly Ivins' somewhat irreverent word for Legislature. Lege
watching is a special hobby of mine.
In 1994 I started choosing the Annual Most Ridiculous Piece of
Legislation Award. That first year there were three in contention, the
official fish bill, the flag in every classroom bill, and the son of
veggie bill. Things have been going downhill ever since, but digging
out the funny ones is better than crying.
Of course there is the Judicial impeachment bill, but that's too silly
to write about.
One award for the silly bill award should go to Rep Don Lee's dangerous
dogs bill, which passed. Entitled "Concerning Dangerous Dogs" it will
require that a microchip be implanted in the dog to track it. Many of
the female legislators discussed amending the bill title to "Concerning
Dangerous Men" and implanting microchips in them! Mercury the Wonder
Cat was much relieved that it did not include cats.
Another silly bill which passed would allow a woman to breast-feed in
Colorado "anywhere she has a right to be." I quite agree with the idea,
but there is no clear definition of where she has a right to be There
is no penalty to enforce it, so it includes public and private
property. Does it include jail, or your living room or even the Senate
This one comes pretty close third. It is a bill of special interest to
a columnist who doesn't like to end up in the trash bin. It makes it
illegal to steal newspapers. Such theft is a misdemeanor if you steal
them out of a distribution container. If you grab your neighbor's
Sentinel, your only danger is from the neighbor. The amazing thing
about this one is the reason they give for it. A highly conservative
Lege is protecting the First Amendment. "An attempt to chill the press'
important constitutional role by stealing newspapers is a serious
affront to the first amendment." Gee, I didn't know they cared.
The conservative wing is pretty worried about what the students at the
colleges and universities are learning. There has been a lot of talk
about the Intellectual Bill of Rights. A House bill was introduced
which "recognizes students' rights to academic freedom from
discrimination on the basis of political or religious beliefs.....
Directs the governing boards of the state institutions of higher
education to adopt a grievance procedure for use in enforcing students'
rights." It was killed in committee. Gotta watch all those liberal
professors who'd rather politic than teach.
Of course there were many good bills, and many bad ones were defeated.
But one thing Mesa County has to regret is that Representative Gayle
Berry has to step down because of term limits. I know, she is a
Republican! She has been an excellent Representative and has served us
very well. She talked to me about her service in Denver.
"I went in eight years ago believing that perhaps I could not change the
world, but that I could make our corner of it a better place. I'm proud
of my work there, and feel I've made a difference. One truism: the mark
of a good legislator is not just what they can get passed -- but what
they can keep from passing! In summary, to do a job you love and feel
you make a difference, how could anything in life be more fun?"