A lot can happen at the hands of 100 legislators in the 120 days of Colorado’s legislative session. We already went through our biggest wins and toughest losses and we highlighted five fabulous champions who advocated for the health of our air, public lands, water, and communities. Now, it’s time to take a look at who led the fight against protections for our environment and communities.
Some of the session’s most anti-conservation policies and rhetoric came from the minds and mouths of Colorado’s own lawmakers. Let’s review some of the actions and words from the five foes of the 2018 legislative session:
Senator Tim Neville
After chairing last session’s “kill committee,” where important bills are sent to die on party-line votes for purely ideological reasons, this year Senator Neville focused on rejecting the needs of rural Coloradans.
Senator Neville voted against the Rural Economic Advancement of Colorado Towns. This bipartisan bill provides support to rural communities that are experiencing the “bust” part of the “boom and bust” cycles that come with extractive industries like mining and oil and gas development. Neville also opposed the final version of a bill to finance rural broadband deployment. Without broadband technology, rural Colorado communities have struggled to attract tourism, business investment, and other economic drivers; this bill would ensure these regions aren’t left behind any longer, but unfortunately, Sen. Neville killed it.
Senator Neville’s repeated refusal to work to improve the lives of rural Coloradans is an insult not only to all of us who care about these communities, but also to those folks who live in more rural parts of his district.
Senator Beth Martinez Humenik
Senator Beth Martinez Humenik took a number of bad environmental votes this session — from electric vehicles to oil and gas to climate change. Highlights include voting to repeal tax incentives for electric vehicles and her pivotal vote to block Colorado’s involvement in collaborative research into the effects of climate change. She also voted to block funding for additional flowlines inspectors, an effort that was a direct response to the deadly explosion of a flowline just north of Denver.
But her votes on the environment are only part of what landed her on this list. Senator Beth Martinez Humenik also failed by blocking the expulsion of Senator Randy Baumgardner, a lawmaker who was accused by multiple women, including his former aide, of inappropriate sexual behavior. Local press labeled Humenik’s support of the accused senator as “her losing moment” this session. Her lack of leadership in this #MeToo movement was made even more evident by the fact that the expulsion of Representative Steve Lebsock secured bipartisan support after hours and hours of difficult and emotional debate.
Senator Vicki Marble
You may recognize Senator Vicki Marble as the first sitting senator convicted of an ethics violation. Or perhaps you remember her failed attempt at defending her racist comments at a meeting with a Broomfield Boy Scout troop. Or you might know that Marble said solar flares cause climate change and that her cats cause more health problems than the effects of climate change.
Marble’s repeated denial of climate change was demonstrated in the bills she proposed, including anti-electric vehicle legislation and a bill that guts local governments’ abilities to protect their communities from oil and gas activities. From her controversial comments to her unwillingness to learn about actual, real climate change research, Senator Marble’s actions are bad for Colorado’s environment and her constituents.
Senator Ray Scott
Senator Ray Scott repeatedly ignored the concerns and needs of Grand Junction and Western Slope communities in this role as the Assistant Majority Leader.
Bowing to his friends in natural gas, Scott helped tank a bill that would have paved the way for electric vehicle infrastructure. Despite support from local businesses and dozens of Western Slope constituents that testified, Scott voted along party lines against the bill, stopping electric vehicle technology from growing into areas of rural Colorado that have been left behind too many times before. The Senator’s hesitation to embrace electric vehicles doesn’t match Grand Junction citizens’ support of sustainable technologies.
Representative Tim Leonard
Representative Tim Leonard voted against nearly all of our priority bills this session, from improved transportation funding to the reauthorization of Great Outdoors Colorado.
Even more egregious, Rep. Leonard was the sole vote against a wildfire penalty increase during another year of worsening drought in Colorado. This bipartisan, common-sense bill enacted a $50 penalty for not extinguishing a campfire. Leonard’s votes are bad for public lands and open space, directly impacting over 100,000 acres of public lands in his district, including the Red Rocks landscape, trails, and open spaces.
As Coloradans experience drier conditions, hotter wildfires, and other effects of climate change, strong legislators must stand up to protect our public lands and outdoor spaces. Representative Leonard’s consistent rejection of pro-conservation policies demonstrates his lack of concern for Colorado’s environment, proving that he is out of step with Colorado voters.
UPDATE: Find out how these lawmakers voted on key environmental bills during this legislative session using the 2018 Conservation Scorecard, released July 17, 2018. View it online or download it here.