They say elections have consequences; just ask Rachel Zenzinger

By Dan Njegomir


In Colorado’s split legislature, with opposing parties running the two chambers, you hear a lot about bills that are doomed from the start. They typically represent hobby-horse issues for the party in charge of one chamber and are routed to kill committees as soon as they reach the chamber where the other party rules the roost. Think Republican gun bills or Democratic green bills. Like a red flag to a bull.

But what about when bills that don’t seem to bear the stigma of either party’s ideology meet an early death anyway on a party-line vote in a kill committee — for no apparent reason other than that the sponsor was a member of the minority party? No profound policy objections from the ruling party; just a simple no vote. Is it really only because of naked partisanship? Say it isn’t so!

Consider the fate of an innocuous bill this week sponsored by state Sen. Rachel Zenzinger, D-Arvada, in the Republican Senate’s State, Veterans and Military Affairs committee. The kill committee. It was Zenzinger’s first bill of the session.

Senate Bill 92 addressed a recruitment issue faced by law enforcement agencies checking the backgrounds of job applicants. A related measure that passed last year had assured immunity from liability for public agencies, like police departments, that share personnel files on past and present employees who apply for for jobs at other agencies. Zenzinger’s bill extended the immunity to private-sector employers where law enforcement job applicants once worked. The idea is to give police departments, sheriff’s offices and the like as much access as possible when conducting background checks on law officers they recruit.

On a party-line vote, the committee’s Republican majority rejected Zenzinger’s bill on Monday. A press release by Senate Democrats that afternoon complained that the committee’s Republicans cast their votes “Without voicing any public objection.”

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