Libertarians to State Lawmakers: Preserve personal and economic freedoms

Over the next two weeks, Colorado Confidential will publish a series of guest commentaries from politicos, former lawmakers, issues groups and others on their hopes for the 2008 state legislative session.

Today, we invite you to read more about the legal and policy issues the Colorado Libertarian Party hopes to see raised.Libertarians offer a unique, but popular view toward the upcoming 2008 Colorado legislative session. While liberals/Democrats tend to protect our personal liberties at the expense of economic freedom (e.g., through expanding government social programs and services), and conservatives/Republicans tend to defend economic freedom at the expense of personal liberties (e.g., Patriot Act, REAL ID Act, suspension of habeas corpus), Libertarians understand that a free society must maintain both personal liberties and economic freedom.

With Democrats controlling both the Legislature and governor’s office, Libertarians had hoped for more legislation restoring personal liberties in 2007. While we were delighted that Colorado became the eighth state to adopt a resolution opposing the REAL ID Act, we were disappointed to see a tsunami of bills attacking our economic freedoms. Libertarians expect this trend to continue in 2008 with a major emphasis on health care reform. Governor Ritter’s Blue Ribbon Commission for Health Care Reform has, as we feared, only offered plans that require a massive increase in government interference in medicine — in the name of “universal coverage.” The plans include some combination of forcing all residents into a single-payer health program, forcing some or all individuals and/or businesses to purchase a state-approved insurance policy, requiring insurance companies to provide additional benefits, establishing a new bureaucracy to set payments to the doctors for services they provide and doubling the Colorado Medicaid population.

Recognizing that all of these plans have already been tried unsuccessfully in other states — resulting only in higher costs and lower-quality patient care — Libertarians oppose all of these plans. Instead, Libertarians propose restoring a free market through repealing the health care mandates codified in Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS) 10-16-104. Ending these mandates could reduce health insurance costs by as much as one-third (using the median cost estimates for Colorado in the Health Insurance Mandates in the States 2007 study by The Council for Affordable Health Insurance).

The string of broken promises made by legislators to voters in 2005 for the passage of Referendum C is expected to continue. Referendum C, which Libertarians had opposed, allows the state to increase spending on transportation, health care and education through keeping monies that would have otherwise been refunded under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR).

From 2001 through 2006 the Colorado Legislature spent over $70 million (budgeted through the governor’s office) via the Economic Development Commission (EDC) providing grants to corporations or companies, public and private, both in and out of the state for the purpose of encouraging, promoting, and stimulating economic development and employment in Colorado. This was done under CRS 24-46 (creating and funding the Colorado EDC), which is in direct conflict with our state constitution, Article XI, Sec. 2 (forbidding aid to corporations). Representatives are elected to government to serve the interests of the people, not corporations. CRS 24-46 should be repealed.

Libertarians applaud Rep. Wes McKinley (D-HD 64), who will be introducing a bill designed to restore the sovereignty of Colorado by removing the blanket consent (CRS 3-1-101 and 3-1-102) given to the U.S. government to acquire land within our state.

While we have not yet seen the text, Libertarians are cautiously optimistic that a bill to be introduced by Rep. Rob Witwer (R-HD 25) — and sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Ron Tupa (D-Dist. 18) — will make positive modifications to the “adverse possession” statutes (CRS 38-41) and strengthen property-owners rights.

One of the precious few bills restoring both our personal liberties and economic freedom is being introduced by Sen. Jennifer Veiga (D-Dist 31) to allow the sale of liquor on Sundays.

Ultimately, Libertarians hope to see more bills introduced in 2008 restoring both our personal liberties and economic freedoms.

Richard C. Randall is the legislative director of the Libertarian Party of Colorado.

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