('76 Contributor) As truth seekers we are obliged to review everything, including term limits, with the utmost objectivity. My complaint about term limits is that this reform is far too modest to save us from what ails our society. A point from the book Reinventing Government was spot on, "The New Deal paradigm of government is obsolete." Clinton was president then and made the book famous, but did nothing to build on its few sound points. I approached the authors (Osborne and Gaebler) to ask why he had not articulated what the new paradigm might be. No response.
The Reason Foundation countered the left-leaning book with Revolution at the Roots. In short it said "follow the 10th Amendment" and equally offered more words than vision and failed to articulate a new paradigm. Each side followed with another round of rebuttal books, lots of interesting reading and a few fresh ways to view a few things, but no one really touched further on the need for a new vision ... a new paradigm.
Because a practical new vision has not yet been articulated by either the left or the right, problems fester. Public anger and frustration grow ... and you know what I'm talking about. The welfare state (that obsolete paradigm) labors to irretrievably entrench itself, at the same time global free trade and global tax competition threatens to bankrupt all welfare states. My point is ... we have a lot more substantial things to focus on than term limits at this point. My Reform Party friends in the mid 1990s never gained the understanding, that it was the system that corrupted the people more than the incumbents were fundamentally corrupt. They were incapable of thinking any more deeply than kick the bums out. Writing for the elimination of term limits will bring attention to your name. That may be the only benefit. An activist movement to that effect will fail (particularly with the current mood on the street) ... with the net result of your time and mine being consumed and diverted from items of greater consequence and current relevance. It saddens me as much as it anyone that profound leaders such as Bob Schaffer and John Andrews were victims of term limits. Yet, your title "brain drain" both insults our population and suffers myopic vision. It infers a point that I know Bob would never claim himself, that he is, without contest, the most intelligent of the 700,000 people in his CD. Surely there must be at least a few in 700,000 who can match his intellect and leadership. Your title also degrades their subsequent achievements since leaving office as less important than being in office. At best, such an assertion is debatable and my personal view is with Jefferson's and what they learned in serving helps them to contribute to society in their later endeavors ... making their in-office contributions less substantial than their subsequent contributions to society. We should be on our guard of anyone who views serving in office as an end. Like success and happiness it should be part of the journey. None of us should allow ourselves to fall into the trap of worshiping the golden calf of government or our elected officials. This view is counter to the Declaration ... counter to freedom and liberty.
Dennis Polhill is a senior fellow at the Independence Institute and co-chairman of the Colorado Term Limits Coalition. Editor John Andrews thanks Mr. Polhill for his gracious compliment above, but maintains as always that every glance in the mirror gave Andrews an argument for term limits -- namely his own fallen human nature, not to be trusted with power too confidently or too long.
('76 Contributor) As a political scientist I was trained to go to the root of issues, to trace the origins of events to the distant past and to reflect on the quality of government by reference to types of regimes. Frequent elections, conducted from the highest to the lowest level of government, enables public opinion to express itself, correct previous errors or reward elected officials for competent or incorruptible service.
Though there are times in American politics—like today—when popular uprisings occur that aim to throw out the “bums,” for the most part the American electorate—those who register to vote and actually vote in elections—is satisfied to re-elect incumbents. Over time these same incumbents tend to represent special interests, not the public interest, and they remain in office well past normal retirement age.
That is why many states impose “term limits” on service of public executives. Colorado is an example.
Article V, Section 3 of the Constitution of the State of Colorado states as follows:
Section 3. Terms of senators and representatives. (1) Senators shall be elected for the term of four years and representatives for the term of two years.
(2) In order to broaden the opportunities for public service and to assure that the general assembly is representative of Colorado citizens, no senator shall serve more than two consecutive terms in the senate, and no representative shall serve more than four consecutive terms in the house of representatives. This limitation on the number of terms shall apply to terms of office beginning on or after January 1, 1991. Any person appointed or elected to fill a vacancy in the general assembly and who serves at least onehalf of a term of office shall be considered to have served a term in that office for purposes of this subsection (2). Terms are considered consecutive unless they are at least four years apart.
Though Colorado Term Limits serve the purpose of changing the occupants of important seats in the State Legislature, those same Term Limits also have negative consequences.
Let’s begin with the quality of elected state legislators. Why is it that the Colorado State Legislature is laughingly referred to as “stupid”? A more considerate term might be “unskilled.”
Elected bodies that change membership frequently seldom retain the knowledge of past experience. For example, if your memory was erased every eight years, you would, at best, be described as “unskilled.”
Yorktown University’s Gary Wolfram reports that Republicans in the Term Limited state legislature of Michigan crafted legislation intended to bind the spending practices of Michigan’s Democratic Governor. The legislation was crafted imperfectly and, as a result, the spending power of Michigan’s Governor was increased.
Recently, the Minority Leader of the Colorado State Senate,Josh Penry, announced that he would not seek another term of office. After all, service in the legislature requires enormous sacrifices of time, and with Term Limits, those sacrifices will be for naught in a very short period of time.
With Josh Penry and many other worthy legislators departing public service per the terms of Article V, Section 3 of Colorado’s State Constitution, the state legislature loses their knowledge, commitment and leadership. That’s just those who serve. Term Limits deter ambitious politicians to seek election to the State Senate.
But, something else occurs as well.
When legislative and executive service is Term Limited the state bureaucracy grows in power. Power doesn’t evaporate just because elected politicians leave. It moves to more permanent offices. As the repository of regulations, historical knowledge and practices, non-elected public executives play increasingly important roles in Term Limited states. And the numbers of bureaucrats grow.
I encourage readers to click here to access statistics kept by the U.S. Census Bureau on the number of federal, state, and local government civilian employees and their gross payrolls.
You will find that Term Limited states have more public employees per capita than non-Term Limited states.
In other words, citizens will pay, one way or the other, by Term Limiting or not Term Limiting their elected state officials. States that have Term Limits will grow their professional bureaucracies and those that do not have Term Limits will have incumbents who stay too long in office.
Which is worse?
If you consider that elections are the means by which the will of the people is expressed, the empowerment of non-elected public executives is clearly worse.
I’m concerned, frankly, that Term Limits in Colorado block one avenue through which well intentioned politically active citizens can bring their knowledge and skill to serve the public good.
Remember Rick O’Donnell? He served Governor Owens as head of the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. He ran for Congress, lost, and now works for an academic institution in Texas.
Remember Marc Holtzman? He served in Governor Owens' Cabinet. Holtzman ran for Governor, lost, and now works for Barclays Bank in London.
Remember former House Speaker Andrew Romanoff? He was term limited, decided to run for Governor and now is seeking a seat in the U.S. Senate.
The State Legislature of Colorado is not an avenue that the politically ambitious travel. They seek to become top officials with Colorado’s Governors and then run for federal office. This “brain drain” is very real because public service in the State Legislature is Term Limited.
The only way to stop this brain drain is to repeal Article V, Section 3, of the Constitution of the State of Colorado and allow men and women of ability and ambition to serve their fellow citizens as members of the State Legislature for as long as they are re-elected.
Dr. Richard Bishirjian is President of Yorktown University, on whose Yorktown Patriot blog this article first appeard as "Colorado’s ‘Brain Drain’ and Term Limits," March 28, 2010.
(Centennial Fellow) Legislators talk frequently about the Law of Unintended Consequences but rarely seem to recognize when a bill they support will, if passed, inevitably collide with that law.
Such is the case with House Bill 1021, which would require individual insurance policies to cover a normal pregnancy, childbirth, maternity care, pregnancy management and contraception.
At first glance, that sounds like a reasonable idea: women who buy their own health insurance ought to be able to purchase coverage for pregnancy.
Now stand in the shoes of another woman - one who isn't pregnant, or plans not to become pregnant, or is beyond childbearing years, or is unable even to have children: if state law requires all policies to cover pregnancy, then state law requires everyone to pay for pregnancy coverage, whether they want it or not.
Why is it necessary for the state to require women in the latter group to pay for something they don't want, won't use, or cannot afford?
This bill is sponsored by Reps. Jerry Frangas and Beth McCann, both Denver Democrats. Frangas is one of the nicest people in the legislature, and McCann has demonstrated in other cases that she clearly understands the economics of insurance, both for consumers and insurers. Their sponsorship, while undoubtedly well-intended, is nonetheless frustrating.
Two years ago, my wife and I had our first child. We are both self-employed and buy policies through the individual market. We specifically chose not to buy pregnancy coverage, although coverage for "complications of pregnancy" were standard with our Assurant Health policy.
The reason we didn't want to buy coverage for a normal pregnancy is the same reason everyone should have that choice - a normal pregnancy is not an "insurable event." An insurable event is defined as something that occurs without warning, is unlikely to occur, and is unwanted.
Consumers understand this concept well in every situation except health insurance. We buy home insurance to pay for losses due to fire, hail storms, tornadoes or theft - not to pay for repainting the family room or updating the kitchen. We buy auto insurance to pay for accidents, storm damage or vandalism - not to pay for a new set of tires or an oil change.
Over the years, health insurance has moved away from the concept of insurance and become a complicated financing scheme for everything related to health. That's why it's so expensive.
Pregnancy isn't a complete surprise, most of the time, so my wife and I had saved money to pay for it. (Yes, it's costly, but not nearly as expensive as buying a car and people manage to pay for that without "insurance.")
We visited two hospitals to ask about costs if we paid the bills ourselves. When our son was born, he decided to show his posterior first, so a C-section was necessary. We paid for everything associated with a normal delivery, plus our deductible - about $7,500 in total. Our insurance paid some $8,300 for the surgery and extended hospital stay.
Everyone understands that one way to reduce costs is by eliminating the middleman. That's what we did by paying for normal costs of pregnancy ourselves.
HB 1021 would eliminate that choice for everyone by requiring that every procedure related to pregnancy be financed through an insurance company - the very insurance companies for which so many legislators profess profound disdain.
Worse still, the bill encourages cost-shifting and irresponsible behavior by prohibiting insurers from denying coverage for pregnancy as a "pre-existing condition." Translation: a woman can wait until she learns she is pregnant, buy insurance for a few months to cover pregnancy, and then drop the insurance.
Who pays the bill for that? Everyone else who pays their premiums month after month and year after year - including those women who need affordable coverage for serious illnesses and conditions which, unlike pregnancy, are undesirable and unavoidable.
While HB 1021 will likely help the handful of pregnant, uninsured women who can buy their own coverage, it's unintended consequences are costly and destructive for everyone else.
('76 Contributor) On Feb. 23 I had the opportunity to testify before the House Committee on Finance, Colorado General Assembly, in support of HB 10-1296, sponsored by Representative Spencer Swalm and Senator Josh Penry. Joining me to testify in support of the bill were Jacque Graham, Principal at Inner City School and Theresa Gallegos, whose child benefits from an ACE scholarship.The idea behind HB 1296 came from former U.S. Senator Hank Brown, and it would provide low-income families with an annual $1,000 tax credit for enrolling their child in a private school. The bill would also provide a grant of $1,000 to any public school that loses a student to a private school as a consequence of the tax creditRegrettably, the bill was killed on a Party line vote, six to five, despite the compelling testimony of Jacque Graham and Theresa Gallegos, and the leadership of Representative SwalmIt is unfortunate, as the bill would have given low-income families a tremendous financial incentive to send their child to a private school, reduced public school class sizes as more children took advantage of the tax credit, and provided public schools with a $1,000 grant to help them give the children that remain behind a better quality education. The bill would have even had a positive fiscal impact on our state, with a savings of $4.9 million in the first year, $8.7 million in the second year, and as much as $36 million in ten years, according to the official fiscal note prepared by Legislative Council.It's hard to imagine rejecting a bill that would do so much:* Provide a much-needed financial benefit to low-income families;* Allow low-income children to attend quality private schools;* Support public schools with a $1,000 grant for not teaching a child who left for private school;* Save the State of Colorado millions of dollars during one of the worst recessions in our history and at a time when the Legislature is proposing to cut K-12 education spending.During the hearing several comments stood out to me as particularly alarming:* The full-time lobbyist for the Colorado Education Association (the teacher's union) testified against the bill, stating that the legislation "doesn't support public education." This statement perfectly sums up what is wrong with the CEA. The lobbyist was right that the bill's intent was not to support public education, even though it would have provided each school $1,000 for every child they lost. The bill was intended to support children, not the bureaucracy of our public education system... and shouldn't that be the point?* Other representatives who voted "no" agreed with the CEA lobbyist, saying the bill "undermined" public education. I never would have imagined that giving a public school $1,000 for every child that leaves their school would be seen as undermining public schools. After all, most of the children who would choose to leave would do so because the public school wasn't effective. Talk about rewarding failure!While it was frustrating to watch this bill go down in defeat, I was proud to represent the Alliance for Choice in Education and share with the committee some of the amazing things that are happening through our organization. ACE will continue to provide these low-income children with immediate relief from failing public schools, and we will continue to support efforts to extend school choice to every child in Colorado.The author is executive director of the Alliance for Choice in Education, a Denver-based scholarship program to help disadvantaged parents choose better schools for their children.
Of all the fairy tales that liberal politicians seem to believe — such as man-made global warming or that more government health care spending will reduce the deficit — there one fable they seem unable to comprehend: "The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg."
Most will recall the story of the couple blessed by a goose that each day produced one golden egg and made them rich. Not content with their good fortune, the couple decided to cut the goose open and collect the bevy of golden eggs inside.
Instead, they found that, like other geese, their goose produced just one egg a day, and so by killing her, they failed to realize a bonanza of golden eggs and, or course, killed their goose.
In Colorado, we see the same short-sighted thinking, demonstrated by a legislature and governor who, in order to balance government's budget, chose to impose $130 million in higher taxes on the very businesses whose success is vital to a strong economy.
When minority Republicans argued that raising taxes on business during a recession is counterproductive, they were assailed by Speaker of the House Terrance Carroll, a Denver Democrat, who unfurled this blazing display of pious myopia:
"We're asking big business to pay their fair share so that we don't have to keep balancing the budget on the backs of teachers, police officers and firefighters, senior citizens and the neediest who depend on our safety net."
Speaker Carroll wasn't finished: "It's only the GOP and their special-interest cronies who have been complaining because we're rolling back corporate welfare and special interest tax loopholes."
If sanctimony and economic illiteracy were currency, the Speaker could buy his favorite professional sports franchise.
Where, pray tell, does he think the $7.5 billion in the state's general fund comes from? Overwhelmingly, it comes from businesses that make a profit, pay taxes and employ workers (who also pay taxes) only if they can produce something that consumers will buy. Contrast that with government, which produces nothing that people willingly purchase. That's why government must raise money through taxes and fees.
The state has less money to spend because business receipts are down. When business is booming, businesses pay more in taxes — happily — because sales volume and profits increase. When receipts are down, business not only pays less in taxes, but it spends less on payroll and production.
When government raises taxes during a recession, businesses have no choice but to cut costs further by reducing payroll and other investments that would have generated tax revenue. It's a vicious cycle, and short-sighted tax hikes inevitably backfire on legislators who view protecting government as their first priority.Speaker Carroll and so many of his colleagues seem to believe that Colorado is a government that supports an economy, rather than an economy that supports a government.
Perhaps if the Speaker had ever met a payroll, he would understand why these policies — and his rhetoric — are disastrous.
That's a problem — dearth of business experience — that increasingly afflicts the Democrat caucuses at the State Capitol, hence their view of business as just another "special interest." Democrat legislators' work experience comes predominately from government or non-profit fields that don't rely on their ability to efficiently produce goods or services but on the tax dollars or generosity of those who must.
In the House, 70 percent of Democrats come from government or non-profit fields; in the Senate, it's 57 percent. Among Republicans, only 26 percent of representatives and 28 percent of senators come from a government or non-profit background. (Incidentally, that's counting all attorneys in both parties as private-sector producers.)
Democrat legislators and Gov. Ritter landed in this predicament because they worship at the altar of government. That's why they can't resist spending every dollar they take in during good times, rather than setting some aside for hard times.
That's why, for the past two years, they've ignored pleas to budget cautiously and have made promises to schools and to seniors that they cannot keep. That's why they are willing to see just how much abuse the golden goose can take.
Centennial Fellow Mark Hillman was previously senate majority leader and state treasurer. To read more or comment, go to www.MarkHillman.com.
('76 Editor) I asked former Treasurer Mark Hillman what sort of genuine PERA stabilization bill he would file if the two of us were still state senators, in light of his concern expressed in the previous post that the current bipartisan Senate Bill 1 doesn't get at the root of the problem. He recommended the following three steps:
* Raise the retirement age to 67 for anyone who hasn't been in a PERA-covered job for more than 5 years.
* Give everyone the option to put their money into a DC plan.
* Put into statute that, from this point forward, if PERA's funds fail to meet the 30-year amortization requirement, that constitutes an "actuarial emergency" and it's up to the PERA board to produce permanent benefit reductions that restore the 30-year amortization schedule.
By the way, Hillman has just published an excellent overview of how Bill Ritter and Colorado Democrats have shredded both the budget and the constitution since 2006. The paper is called "A Billion Reasons Why Colorado Taxpayers Need Protection." He wrote it for the Rocky Mountain Foundation, the new group headed by our friend Tom Tancredo.
(Centennial Fellow) Rescuing the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) is nothing new for state lawmakers. Twice in the last decade, legislators have thrown PERA a lifeline, forcing the state, school districts, local governments and finally even workers to chip in hundreds of millions of dollars to keep the plan afloat.
As recently as four years ago, PERA and many employee groups refused to acknowledge the plan's peril, despite assets falling from 105 percent of the amount needed to pay benefits to just 70 percent from 2000 to 2004.
In 2008, PERA's funding ratio tumbled to below 52 cents for every dollar of promised benefits - a $30 billion deficit. After almost a year of cautioning lawmakers against acting hastily, even PERA's directors finally asked for help - a third rescue plan in just seven years.
PERA had little choice. Its $30 billion unfunded liability is enormous. For comparison, state government is expected to collect about $27 billion in taxes and "fees" over the next three years. Shutting down state government for three years in order to bail out PERA isn't exactly a viable option.
PERA's fix asks for more money from employers (taxpayers) and asks current employees to forego up to 5 percent of future wage increases.
More significantly, PERA abandoned its long-held legal argument that benefits once promised to its members can never be scaled back, no matter how unaffordable they become. PERA proposes an immediate reduction of cost-of-living adjustments from the current 3.5 percent per year to no more than 2 percent.
The current plan, Senate Bill 1, is criticized from the right for not doing enough to control the costs of PERA's generous benefit structure and from the left because - at long last - it requires PERA beneficiaries to shoulder a significant portion of the bailout's cost.
However, the cost of PERA will soon become too large to ignore, even for those hoping to retire on PERA. If this year's "fix" is approved -the alternatives aren't any easier - then the total cost of employing a PERA member will be more than 28 percent of that employee's wages:
** 8 percent deducted directly from an employee's paycheck,
** 15.15 percent contributed by employers, including a 5-percent bailout payment,
** And a 5-percent bailout payment from employees, which is, at least in theory, subtracted from wage increases.
Many scoff that these "foregone wage increases" are merely a ruse to create the appearance of employee contributions while still ultimately sticking it to taxpayers.
Those suspicions aren't unfounded, but the reality for most school districts, local governments and, even, the state is that they have nowhere else to find the money, given that personnel costs account for a large share of their budgets.
When the current economic crunch subsides, union leaders will most certainly lobby elected officials to fund both the PERA bailout and standard wage increases. If lawmakers, city councilors or school board members give in, then voters should throw them out.
Either way, the cost of funding PERA will soon become a tremendous, inescapable burden for government and for employees covered by PERA.
A PERA member whose job pays $50,000 will have $4,000 deducted and credited to his or her PERA account. The employer will send PERA an additional $5,075 as its employer contribution and another $5,000 for the PERA bailout.
Whether or not some of that money comes from foregone wages, year after year the employer is paying PERA $5,000 that otherwise could have been spent elsewhere. And because personnel costs are the largest part of most government budgets, employees would have undoubtedly received a share of that money if it wasn't bailing out PERA.
For current retirees, the bailout isn't so bad; aside from the reduced COLA, they aren't paying for it. But working PERA members will soon ask if the money their employer is sending to PERA will fix it once and for all - or if they're trading reduced wages today for more promises that PERA can't keep and more costly fixes in the future.
Centennial Fellow Mark Hillman was formerly Majority Leader of the Colorado Senate and Colorado State Treasurer.
('76 Editor) While others play the personality game of who succeeds Bill Ritter, let’s talk policy. Imagine Colorado making itself so attractive to employers that we lead all 50 states in creating new jobs, instead of lagging in 20th place as we did in the decade past (our second-worst showing since 1890).
Imagine Colorado becoming a mecca for affordable health care by letting insurers from across the country compete on price and quality in our state marketplace. Imagine forging out as the nation’s futuristic energy leader, the state that builds safe nuclear plants for clean electricity powering homes, businesses, and vehicles.
Imagine our schools putting kids’ best interests ahead of union demands with the most charter-friendly policies in America, slashing red tape to empower learning performance. Imagine our university system paying students a 25% dividend on their time and tuition by innovating the three-year college degree.
Imagine a legislature so tough-minded that it would solicit private investors for Colorado’s transportation infrastructure, Indiana-style; clean up the PERA retirement system’s governance to exclude self-serving insiders; impeach the state’s chief justice for rewriting our constitution; and launch an all-out investigation of radical Islam’s influence here.
And imagine a state government so honest that it no longer grabs a 15-month, zero-interest loan from your paycheck in the form of tax withholding. Rather you keep your own money for your own use until the revenue deadline in April each year.
Such imagineering, as the Disney people call it, is great for mind expansion. But don’t expect any of these visions to be realized in legislation when the Colorado General Assembly convenes this week. Majority Democrats, led by House Speaker Terrance Carroll and Senate President Brandon Shaffer, envision our future differently – and for now, citizens have put them in charge.
For now. The ruling party’s legislative work from January to May is their final exam. In November the voters will file a report card on every House member and half the Senate. Some of us hope all the Democrats flunk. To hasten that, Republicans should use the 2010 session to prove that “out of power” does not mean out of ideas.
Snow may be scarce in the mountains, but at the Capitol a blizzard of bills is flying. During these 120 days nearly a thousand proposals will surface. Some will tackle the budget deficit. Others will push hot buttons, from legal pot to illegal aliens. We’ll hear about such bedroom questions as the gun in the nightstand or who shares a pillow. So will they also find time to debate the big-picture policy issues?
Ten are imagined on my list above. GOP legislators, outnumbered in both chambers, can’t pass these good ideas into law. They can't even get many of them to a floor vote where Dems are put on record. But they can certainly propose them as bills, publicize and advocate for them, laying down a marker for the upcoming campaign.
Rep. Spencer Swalm (R-Centennial) is doing just that with his proposal to end mandatory withholding of state income tax, a transparency move to highlight the ever-growing cost of government. “When a taxpayer has to sit down and write a check,” says Swalm, “it wonderfully focuses the mind.”
Businesses, for that matter, shouldn’t pay income tax at all – since they merely pass it along to consumers or squeeze it out of employee payrolls. Spurring an employment boom by axing that tax was one of my recommendations to gubernatorial candidate Scott McInnis in a column last month. His legislative allies should call the Dems’ bluff on job creation with a bill.
By helping Coloradans imagine a better legislature in 2010, Republicans can help themselves back to the majority in 2011. “Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it,” sang that old political balladeer, Goethe.
Colorado Christian University is committed to developing the next generation of leaders. One of the Strategic Objectives of the school is "To impact our culture in support of traditional family values, sanctity of life, compassion for the poor, Biblical view of human nature, limited government, personal freedom, free markets, natural law, original intent of the Constitution and Western civilization."
As a means of furthering this objective, from January 4-8, eight students participated in a winter session class devoted to learning more about state and local government. A major portion of the class was dedicated to guest speakers, some of whom came to the Lakewood campus. The class also spent two days at the Colorado State Capitol. The guest speakers afforded the students a unique opportunity to hear from and question leading state officials. Listed below are the speakers who addressed the class, as well as the topics discussed.
Attorney General John SuthersTopic: Role of the Attorney General, current issues facing the state including the potential suit against the federal healthcare initiative
State Representative Glenn VaadTopic: Discussion on theories of representation, discussion on legislation being proposed in the current session concerning privatization of state maximum security prisons
State Senator Mike KoppTopic: Legislative procedures. Mock legislative session: how senate committees work on bills
State Supreme Court Justice Allison EidTopic: Role of the court, court administration, judicial philosophy, rules of Colorado courts: appointment and retention elections
State Representative Amy StephensTopic: Running for office, work of state legislators, role of faith in legislative duties
Colorado Appellate Court Judge Dennis GrahamTopic: History of Colorado’s judiciary, discussion of court procedures
John Andrews, Centennial Institute Director; former President of the Colorado SenateTopic: running for office, importance of serving, significance of state government, importance of states reasserting their Constitutional authority.
Mark Barrington: Candidate for Colorado State Representative, 26th DistrictTopic: Process of running for state office
Matt Arnold: Director of Clear the Bench ColoradoTopic: problem of judicial activism, process of removing state judges through retention elections,
Jeff Crank: Director of Americans for Prosperity: Colorado & talk radio hostTopic: becoming active in the political process & the work of Americans for Prosperity
('76 Editor) Recovering the Founders' Constitution in American state and federal government, and reviving the civic virtues and character our Founders saw as indispensable to liberty -- one huge challenge in the political realm and another in the cultural realm -- these were the action points emerging from "Constitutional Principles for Legislation," a conference for state legislators from throughout the West, sponsored by the Centennial Institute and the Rocky Mountain Family Council on Oct. 30-31 at Colorado Christian University. Fifteen state senators and representatives from five states took part, along with participants from think tanks and policy organizations, CCU faculty and students, and guests from metro Denver. The legislatures of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Wyoming, and New Mexico were represented. Schedule conflicts prevented the attendance of interested legislators from Arizona, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, and North & South Dakota. Former US Senator Bill Armstrong, now president of Colorado Christian University, gave the keynote address on "Mapping Our Way out of the Wilderness." Other speakers and panelists included Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute, Shari Weber of American Majority, Kevin Miller of Vanguard Forum, political scientist Greg Schaller, former Colorado Treasurer Mark Hillman, and Rob Witwer, author of a forthcoming book on liberal takeover strategies in the states. John Andrews and Jim Chapman co-chaired the conference. We're already planning the next Constitutional Principles conference for June 2010. If you are interested in attending, please mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Some photos from this year's event are below. The program outline and attendance list are linked here... legis conf prog & attend 111809.doc (128.50 kb)
SATURDAY SESSION: Jim Chapman of Rocky Mountain Family Council (center) opens the second day of the conference with a talk on keeping civil society strong in order to restrain the growth and intrusiveness of government.
SOME OF THE PARTICIPANTS: Rep. Timothy Hallinan, CO Sen. Greg Brophy, CO Rep. Cheri Gerou, KS Sen. Karin Brownlee, WY Rep. Pete Anderson, and NM Rep. Tom Taylor pose after adjournment, urging the Centennial Institute to convene another such event next year. We intend to.