COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., January 5, 2014 — Expect to hear lots of rhetoric from Colorado Democrats about “jobs and the economy” as the 2014 legislative session begins Tuesday. It’s a time-honored political trick. In a two-year cycle, enact the most radical, unpopular parts of the agenda in the first year and then pretend to be paying attention to what the people really want in the year leading up to the next election.
It is no wonder that Thomas Jefferson wrote Sam Adams that where annual elections stopped, tyranny began.
Firearms accessories manufacturer Magpul announced Friday it would follow through on its promise to leave Colorado in the wake of Democrat-forced restrictions on magazine size. The company will relocate manufacturing to Wyoming and its headquarters to Texas. Significantly, it will maintain a small presence in Colorado to help fight gun control legislation.
Magpul, a Colorado-based startup, is just the latest casualty in Democrat’s ongoing war against the state economy. Ever since Democrats gained control of Colorado in 2008, they have enacted a series of job-killing laws—sometimes even with the help of Republicans.
Energy production, for example, has always been a leading industry in Colorado. But then-Governor Bill Ritter championed alternative energy. Throughout his tenure, alternative energies like wind and solar were mandated as increasing percentages of overall energy output. The coal industry was punished, most notably in 2011 with House Bill 1365. Under the guise of air quality, the bill required coal plants to modernize—at costs so prohibitive that shutting down was the more feasible alternative.
Some Republicans supported the bill as did the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA). The closed coal plants could be replaced by natural gas plants. COGA wrote that the bill “is the most significant and positive piece of legislation for natural gas production and use in the last decade.”
Since then, coal mines in northwestern Colorado—which produce high quality, low sulphur coal—have been closing down.
Governor Ritter also created the Colorado Energy Office in the state government—which focuses exclusively on alternative energy. Not to be outdone, Governor John Hickenlooper last spring signed a bill requiring higher alternative energy mandates on rural Coloradans.
How has that worked out for Colorado’s energy industry? Not very well. The solar industry has been rife with cronyism. Colorado has had its very own solar scandal with Abound Solar. It left a toxic mess in the wake of its failure. Tellingly, there was little mention of it in Colorado media outlets until the Independence Institute took out a billboard across the street from the Denver Post.
Optimists in the state government and media have a rosy outlook for Colorado’s economy going forward but growth in the past two years has been an anemic 2.1% (2012) and 1.8% (2013). Contrast this with booming energy-producing states like Texas and North Dakota.
Recent trips to Oklahoma and Texas highlight the differences. Small farmers in western Oklahoma have oil wells on their land, providing a steady source of income to an otherwise risky agricultural business. Construction is booming in San Antonio. In Colorado, fracking bans were on the November ballot and partially-completed buildings stand empty since 2009.
Industries that Democrats don’t like, such as arms manufacturing and energy, are driven out of the state to be replaced by… nothing.
The best thing government can do to encourage job growth and a healthy economy is to reduce unnecessary regulation and get out of the way. Democrats in Colorado have shown that they will do neither. It will be interesting to see in the next four months how they spin their statist agenda.
At The Voice of Liberty, we seek to advance the principles of liberty, because tyranny never sleeps.
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