Archives for May 2016

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Government Ruins Kids’ Careers

lauracarno.com

By Laura Carno

The Gibsons live in Johnston, Iowa and they are both involved in sports.

The State of Iowa has a problem with these young ladies. They participate in the shooting sports, but they are not yet 14 years of age. Meredith shoots 3-gun and USPSA and Natalie shoots USPSA. Both of these sports involve competing with pistols, which is prohibited for Iowans under the age of 14. There is no other state in the union that has a problem with kids their age shooting a pistol under adult supervision. They are legally able to shoot a shotgun or a rifle in Iowa, but not a pistol.

This forces the Gibson sisters to go to Illinois —yes, that Illinois— to practice their pistol skills.

This law is a relic from the Civil War era. It is a law that should have been repealed long ago. But no one has done so yet.

The Gibson sisters asked their dad Nathan what they could do about it, so he took them to the Iowa State Capitol to talk to legislators. Every Wednesday, their school has “early out” and they go to the State Capitol in Des Moines to talk to legislators, to seek their support of legislation to repeal the ban. They go every Wednesday.

Watch this great interview that Meredith, Natalie and Nathan did with Cam Edwards from Cam and Company on NRA News, describing their interaction with legislators.

This repeal bill keeps getting killed in the Senate. Senator Steven Sodders tells the girls that he supports the bill and even says he’ll bring it up for a vote, but he never does. Instead, Sodders assigns it to the 3-member Judiciary Committee that has two anti-gun Senators. And they never get around to scheduling a hearing. This results in the killing of the bill without a vote. It should be noted that the girls have talked to all 50 Senators and 35 have pledged to vote yes.

When they weren’t getting anywhere with Sodders, the girls tried to track down Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. They told me that when Gronstal saw them, he tried to get away via one of two sets of stairs that lead to the building’s main exit. The girls were waiting at the bottom of each set of stairs, essentially blocking him from not talking to them. Who doesn’t love this image of a legislator running away from a couple of kids?

The girls aren’t looking to carry concealed. They aren’t looking to go hunting. They aren’t even trying to make a political point. They told me, “We just want to get back to our sport.” I want Senator Sodders to do his job and get the government out of the way of 10 and 12-year old sisters engaging in their chosen sport.

My favorite part of this story is what the girls are going to do with their summer, as soon as school is out. They told me they are going to knock on every door in the district, “to make sure Steven Sodders is not re-elected.”

How great is it when 10 and 12-year olds are taking action for their rights?

How can we help? First, there is a PAC helping out that could use your donations and volunteer time. Second, if you are in Iowa or can travel to Iowa, please consider helping Meredith and Natalie walk precincts. Third, share this blog with anyone you know in Iowa and ask them to share it within their local networks. And finally, feel free to reach out to Senators Sodders and Gronstal. I’m sure they’d love to hear your thoughts. Senator Sodders can be reached at 641-751-4140 and Senator Gonstal can be reached at 712-328-2808.

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The President You Wish You Had is Never Coming

lauracarno.com

By Laura Carno

Where do you stand on the current state of the Presidential election?

Never Trump.

Maybe Trump.

Feel The Bern.

Feel The Johnson.

I’m With Her.

None of the Above.

I have heard all of these Presidential campaign slogans in the past 24 hours —all from people I know personally. Yet the two front runners, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have record negative poll numbers among primary voters and among general election voters. The President we wish we had is never coming. So what is a responsible registered voter to do? This is a Presidential primary year, and we know we must do something.

We. Must. Do. Something.

I propose a different way to look at this Presidential election. Whomever we have in the Oval Office, the Executive Branch is but one of three co-equal branches of government. And the federal legislative branch offers a substantial constitutional check and balance on the power of the executive office.

  • A nominee to the Supreme Court cannot be confirmed without a compliant US Senate.
  • The President can sign a bill only after it has first passed through both houses of Congress.
  • Two-thirds of the members in both houses of Congress can override a Presidential veto.

Additionally, the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution offers protections to the states against federal overreach.

If your candidate for President didn’t make the finals, don’t walk out on the entire election season.

Do whatever you need to do at the top of the ticket. Then look at what you can do to provide a check and balance to the next occupant the Oval Office, regardless of who that is. The President is one person —a powerful person— but just one person. There is much more you can do.

  • Work to elect consistently principled local candidates, especially your state legislative candidates. They provide a check on federal overreach. Consider the leadership qualities it takes to stand up for what is right and what is constitutional.
  • Work to elect consistently principled Congressional and US Senate candidates. Consider the leadership qualities it takes to stand up for what is right and what is constitutional.

Focusing your energy on down-ticket races will help to provide the backstop necessary to place a check on the powers of the President. I’m not excited about any of the choices for President. If you are as concerned as I am about who our next President might be, then our obligation is to minimize the negative impact they will have on our country.

We have a system of checks and balances for a reason. Let’s use it.

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Wondering what the Colorado Legislature is up to in the waning days of the session?

Laura Carno
May 1, 2016
By Laura Carno
As happens every year, the last few weeks of the Colorado Legislative session is jam-packed with shenanigans. There is something about the impending close of the session that makes legislators and lobbyists fight to take their final pound of flesh from Coloradans.Every year, each legislator is able to run 5 bills. With a total of 100 legislators between the two chambers, there should be 500 bills. I previously blogged about my own State Representative Paul Lundeen’s resolution to reduce the duration of the legislative session and the number of bills each legislator carries. Sadly, that resolution failed both last year and this year.

As of this writing, there have been 666 bills proposed, plus memorials and resolutions. That means that there were 166 “late bills” (a full 33% more than the 500 “normal” bills introduced) that the Speaker of the House or the President of the Senate approved to be introduced late in addition to the original 500.

What are we, the taxpayers, getting in these extra late bills, and why is it a problem?

First, if the bill was important enough, why wasn’t it in a legislator’s initial 5 bills?

Second, due to the compressed time frame, the rules are often suspended to allow the late bill to make its way through the legislative process more quickly. The steps involved in typical bill passage —which can take weeks or months— include:

  • Introduction in the first chamber
  • Assignment to a committee
  • The committee hearing
  • Second reading on the floor
  • Third reading, final passage on the floor
  • Introduction in the second chamber
  • Assignment to a committee
  • The committee hearing
  • Second reading on the floor
  • Third reading, final passage on the floor

There may be additional steps depending on whether either chamber had amendments, and conference committees if both chambers didn’t agree on the final version as amended. For late bills, all of these steps can be completed in a matter of days, not weeks or months.

Out of the 166 late bills so far, there are three bills worthy of your attention.

First is Senate Bill 16-193, Concerning the Duties of the Safe2Tell Program. Sounds great on the surface. We want children to feel safe to tell a responsible person about a threat to the school. The bill aims to provide “at no charge to the school” a Safe2Tell program centrally run by the state. That state program will cost the taxpayers more than $200,000 annually, per the fiscal note for this bill.

This bill codifies a 2015 working group report that establishes the structure of Safe2Tell, including:

  • Replacing local control with a new state-level bureaucrat
  • A loss of due process as investigations would be based on whether a student poses a threat as opposed to whether a student has made a threat.
  • New student data collection to align with multi-state guidelines

With all of the data-privacy concerns on previous education bills, why rush this one through? What’s the hurry? The working group concluded its work in 2015. If this was so urgent, why didn’t any legislator carry it as one of their 5 bills, as opposed to rushing it through as a late bill, with very little opportunity for public input?

Interestingly, the Republican leadership in the Senate, and the Democrat leadership in the House are sponsoring this bill. That would indicate that they expect to get their caucuses in line and pass this bill.

Next is House Bill 16-1454, the Primary Participation Act. In the aftermath of the inaccurate national reporting on Colorado’s delegate selection process, we heard from lawmakers that something needed to be done. Although there was also significant accurate reporting from the ground in Colorado, from Mike Rosen, Ari Armstrong, and my piece in National Review, the national narrative has stuck.

Yet in Colorado, we heard that if the legislature doesn’t pass a law giving Colorado a Presidential Primary now, there would be a ballot initiative that will give us something even worse. And that ballot initiative is being led by the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, and is supported by the Colorado GOP Chair and the Colorado Secretary of State, among other public servants. You would be wise to ask why the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce cares how Republicans and Democrats go about electing their party’s nominee. According to the Denver Business Journal:

“….. to get more moderate individuals involved in a process of selecting candidates that ….. has become too partisan and led to stalemates rather than compromise in Congress and the Legislature, especially on business-related bills.”

Ah, I see now, the Denver Metro Chamber wants a Colorado State Legislature that is more moderate. They don’t care about the Presidential Primary. Yet the primary is the alleged emergency causing this last minute legislation.

Remember the last time a legislator told us we’d have to put up with bad legislation in order to keep something worse from befalling us? That’s when Colorado passed “AmyCare”. Our obligation is to fight the bad legislation, or ballot initiative. Not to accept something that is slightly less bad.

Whether the ballot initiative or this year’s bill are successful, either one would take effect for the 2020 Presidential Primary.

So what’s the hurry?

House Bill 16-1454 was introduced on Friday afternoon, April 22nd, and the committee hearing was Monday, April 25th. This is what it looks like to suspend the rules at the end of the legislative session. If you are a concerned citizen who doesn’t live in the Denver area, how likely was it for you to rearrange your schedule to attend the committee hearing, to make your voice heard, between Friday and Monday? The supporters of this bill say that moving to a primary gives everyone, including those registered as Unaffiliated, a chance to have a voice. I’m asking that the legislature not pass this bill and give the people of Colorado a chance to have a voice in the process.

Again, what’s the hurry?

Finally, Senate Bill 16-206, Concerning a Ban on Powdered Alcohol was introduced two days ago. Recall that in 2015, there was a similar bill to ban powdered alcohol, to which I was in strong opposition. It finally passed, but was amended down to say that powdered alcohol would be regulated like regular alcohol, which was how the inventor proposed it be handled in each state. It was not banned, nor should it have been banned.

SB 16-206 doesn’t seem to be in response to anything. Unlike the primary bill, there is no hot news story creating a sense of urgency. So, what’s the hurry?

As a reminder, this is the state where weed is legal for recreational use. And alcohol is also legal, provided there is water in it. Go figure.

Like the Safe2Tell bill, a bi-partisan leadership team also sponsors this bill. Why are the Republican Senate President and the Democrat Speaker of the House both so interested in passing a ban on powdered alcohol and rushing it through at the end of session? I’m open to theories.

My message to legislators on both sides of the aisle: Passing bills in a rushed manner, without ample notice and the without the ability for public input is not what we expect from you. Kill these bills as a matter of principle. The sponsors can bring them back during the next legislative session if they are that important.

This is why so many are saying that Government Ruins Nearly Everything.

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