By: José Niño
Since Jared Polis took office as governor in 2019, Colorado is experiencing what looks to be a profound transformation of its political climate.
Right now, Colorado is ranked fourth in William P. Ruger and Jason Sorens’ Freedom in the 50 States rankings. Certain recent developments under Polis’ administration, however, may be the catalyst that causes Colorado to drop in those rankings.
Colorado has traditionally been one of the most business-friendly states in the Union. In Ruger and Sorens’ rankings, Colorado received exemplary marks for economic freedom, coming in 11th place. Its policies have allowed the state to become a magnet for migration from less-business friendly states, such as California, over the past few years. One of Colorado’s strongest economic components is its oil and gas industry. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Colorado is the fifth largest producer of crude oil in the nation. It occupies sixth place in natural gas production.
SB 181 Will Cripple Colorado’s Natural Gas Industry
With the signing of SB 181 into law, Polis is opening the doors for government involvement in a sector that has thrived due to the Colorado state government's relatively hands-off policy over the years. This is all changing with Jred Polis in charge. Under SB 181, local municipalities and Colorado’s Oil & Gas Commission will have more power to regulate the oil and gas industry. This mean communities can invent ways to prevent drilling and other mineral extraction methods from taking place within their jurisdictions.
On top of that, this new web of regulation will effectively pric- out any new oil and natural gas exploration ventures from entering the energy market. As a result, Coloradans and countless Americans, by extension, will be deprived of cheaper energy. Colorado’s traditionally free economy could soon be undermined thanks to Polis’ new anti-growth schemes.
Colorado Avoids Forced Vaccination Mandate for Now
On the matter of personal freedom, Polis leaves a lot to be desired. He recently backed a forced vaccination measure, HB 1312, designed to increase childhood vaccination rates in the state. Regardless, of where the science is on the issue, government mandates are often a bad idea. Phil Silberman, president of the Colorado Health Choice Alliance Board, correctly noted that this bill would take “the decision-making process out of the hands of parents and doctors and into the hands of the state.”
When we peel back the onion a bit, we see how this could become a major entry for crony capitalist interests. Pharmaceutical companies like Merck have profited lucratively from vaccine mandates. In fact, their incumbent status is largely the status of government privileges that inhibit competition. What is needed in this case is a genuine free-market in the vaccine sector, as well as the freedom of choice. Families should be allowed to choose what kinds of medical procedures they will subject their children to.
State bureaucrats should not be shoving a one-size-fits-all solution down our throats.
The good news is that vaccine mandate died in the 2019 legislative session, however, Colorado might not be so lucky in the next go around.
Colorado Opens the Door to Gun Confiscation
The most notable anti-freedom legislation passed under Polis’ watch so far has been House Bill 1177, a red flag gun confiscation bill. This law, and others like it, turns due process on its head. It is euphemistically labeled as an “Extreme Risk Protection Order,” (ERPO) but don’t let the label fool you! It has nothing to do with “protection.” Groups like Rally for Our Rights warned about some of the nastier provisions in this law, specifically, the creation of civil search warrants.
Rally for Our Rights breaks down what civil search warrants entail:
“This civil search warrant would be issued along with the initial temporary ERPO, meaning the very first contact between law enforcement and the accused would be a search of the home with the goal being to confiscate firearms.”
A red flag order can be initiated through an accusation by a petitioner who only has to make a phone call. On top of that, the petitioner who feels that a person is a threat does not have to pay a filing fee during this process. These petitions require the flimsiest of accusation standards, which Rally for Our Rights highlights:
“Especially when factoring in who can petition the court for an ERPO, that being: a family member, a spouse, a girlfriend/boyfriend, an ex-spouse, an ex-girlfriend/boyfriend, a roommate, a former roommate, anyone the accused has been intimate with even if they have never resided together, grandparents, stepparents, stepchildren, step-siblings, and anyone in law enforcement.
“The accusations can range from fear someone will harm themselves, or harm others (and not necessarily with a firearm), to simply owning a gun or talking about purchasing one.”
The passage of red flag gun confiscation in Colorado only cements Colorado’s status as one of the more anti-gun states in the country. Since the Aurora shooting in 2012, Colorado has taken a more anti-gun turn, as reflected by its enactment of universal background checks and magazine bans. This trend has continued to grow now that Democrats have a trifecta in the Colorado State legislature. With red flag laws on the books in the Rocky Mountain State, we can expect Colorado’s 40th place ranking in Guns & Ammo magazine possibly to drop in 2019 and beyond.
All in all, Colorado is taking an anti-liberty turn with Democrats in full control of its state government. Liberty activists must be prepared to run solid candidate in the 2020 elections to reverse this trend and pass policy that favors liberty. The enemies of freedom never sleep, and nor should freedom activists.
José Niño is a Venezuelan-American political activist based in Fort Collins, Colorado.