Colorado House Career of Douglas Bruce - 2008 Legislative Session - Legislative Agenda

Legislative Agenda

Bills Introduced in 2008 by Rep. Bruce
(for which Rep. Bruce is the primary originating sponsor)
Bill Title Outcome
HB08-1145 Concerning education on fundamental civic documents. Postponed indefinitely in House committee
HB08-1245 Concerning required reductions in specified government-imposed means of raising revenue. Postponed indefinitely in House committee
HB08-1277 Concerning the prohibition of improper uses of property to enforce collections. Postponed indefinitely in House committee
HB08-1279 Concerning governmental land use regulations Postponed indefinitely in House committee

For the 2008 session of the Colorado General Assembly, Bruce was named to seats on the House Finance Committee and the House State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee. At the start of the 2008 General Assembly session, before being sworn in, Bruce announced his opposition to a large portion of the House Republican caucus legislative agenda, including a sales tax holiday for school supplies, a pine beetle mitigation fund, new specialty license plates, and targeted tax credits, noting in a letter to Republican whip Cory Gardner: "I thought the GOP was the party of less government and more freedom, of protecting individualism, not streamlining socialism."

The first bill introduced by Bruce during the 2008 session was a measure to require the Colorado Department of Education to distribute copies of the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution to high school seniors, to mandate classroom instruction on the documents, and to offer a brief constitutional law course to members of the Colorado General Assembly. The bill died after facing unanimous opposition from the House Education Committee.

Another of Bruce's bills, which would have prohibited counties from assessing any charges other than property taxes, including fines for delinquent payments or stormwater fees, on property tax bills, was also killed in committee. Bruce also advanced a measure which would have eliminated per diem expense payments for legislators and indexed legislators' pay to inflation, as well as requiring voter approval for any pay increases above this amount. All four bills introduced by Bruce were killed in committee. Late in the legislative session, Bruce introduced a bill to create a seven-member bipartisan panel, including three unaffiliated voters, to draw up Colorado's congressional and legislative districts following the 2010 census and reapportionment.

Bruce has also objected to the practice of attaching a "safety clause" to bills, a provision which uses a declaration that the bill is "necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety" to change the date of enactment and prohibit challenges to the legislation via the petition process. He has pledged to vote against all legislation containing an unjustified safety clause, and has offered amendments to a number of bills to remove the safety clause. Bruce's amendments often failed on account of legislators' personal hostility towards him; on at least one occasion, after the house voted down his proposal to strike the safety clause, the motion passed after being introduced by another legislator. House members eventually developed the practice of supporting the removal of the safety clause if the legislator sponsoring the bill agreed; in 2008, 41% of bill passed had no safety clause, up from 25% the previous year.

Bruce also proposed several changes to House operations and procedure, including use of tasers by state capitol security—a proposal received favorably by legislative leaders—and increased office space for legislators—an idea not well received.

Bruce was a vocal critic of the proposed state budget debated during the 2008 legislative session, characterizing the budget's $3,500 in expenditures per Colorado resident as "fiscal child abuse." During budget debates, Bruce offered unsuccessful amendments to eliminate 524 new employees at colleges and universities, to cut a federally funded program for prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, and to prevent the transfer of 165 contract corrections employees to state payrolls.

Bruce also joined with left-leaning and environmental groups in opposing proposed changes to Colorado's petition process that would raise signature requirements and make it more difficult to put proposals to amend the Colorado state constitution on the statewide ballot.

Bruce also entered into debate on, and voted against, a bill to impose new requirements on landlords and set standards for rental properties. His actions generated criticism from other legislators, who argued that Bruce should have recused himself from voting on the measure because his ownership of rental properties created a conflict of interest; two other legislators recused themselves for similar reasons.

Read more about this topic:  Colorado House Career Of Douglas Bruce, 2008 Legislative Session

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