Libertarian leanings forge unexpected, bipartisan bonds

Colorado’s Democrat dominated House and Republican dominated Senate have been shooting down each other’s bills all session long creating the phenomenon of the doomed-to-fail, Walking Dead legislation The Colorado Independent reported on this morning. But the party divide isn’t the only Statehouse split this year. A second, more philosophical rift has yielded unexpected bipartisanship.

“The dynamics in the House and the Senate are just as interesting as the dynamics between Democrats and Republicans,” said Rep. Jonathan Singer, D-Longmont. “The Senate as a whole tends to run a little more libertarian this year, on both sides of the aisle … In the House, you see a little more of your traditional conservative and progressive values, which actually forms different kinds of bipartisanship.”

On that more traditional-values side, Singer and Rep. Jack Tate, R-Centennial, bonded over a measure to require PSA-style weed-shop warnings for pregnant women. Tate argued that at the core of a free market is an educated consumer. He swayed lawmakers, and the bill passed through the House.

The double divide also means that libertarian-leaning lawmakers from both parties sometimes align, even across chambers.

Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, spent a few years in the majority and then the minority in the House before moving into the majority in the Senate. He said that while pessimists may look at a split legislature and call it Washington D.C.-style gridlock, he sees an opportunity to collaborate through innovation.

Just such an opportunity emerged when Holbert and Rep. Dan Pabon, D-Denver, found common ground over an interest in technology and a commitment to Fourth Amendment privacy rights. The pair now has a bipartisan bill to protect students’ digital privacy

“I’m not asking people to give up half of what they want – I think of that as each of us stapling a foot to the floor and running around in circles. We don’t get anywhere,” said Holbert. “But rather than a fight to the draw, if we can find where we genuinely agree, that’s exciting.”

Photo by Ahqib Hussain