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Caldara: Forget recalling Polis, limit abuse of power instead

This last week a second attempt to recall Gov. Jared Polis failed to turn in any of the 631,266 valid signatures required to get it on the ballot. Just like last year.

The only thing worse than not getting the needed number of valid signatures would be actually getting enough. A recall would fail in spectacular fashion.

Yes, you should always question the accuracy of polls, but one done just before the election by Civiqs is about par for all those done in Colorado. Here are the favorability numbers of various politicos: Trump 39%, Biden 47%, Cory Gardner 39%, John Hickenlooper 43%, Michael Bennett 42%, Jared Polis 52%.

Did you notice that? Polis is the only one with over 50% favorability.

And given that both Biden and Hick’s favorability are underwater, yet they won their Colorado races by 55% and 53% respectively, we can assume in a recall Polis would also get a 10 (ish) point bump over his favorability level at the ballot box.

The punch line is Polis is NOT going to get recalled even if you got a recall on the ballot.

So, why in the world are these people wasting all their very limited time and resources on this fool’s errand? Because they are rightfully angry with the overreach of government under Polis, particularly restrictions over COVID, and they feel they have to do SOMETHING.

But they’re trying the wrong something.

Here’s what I’m suggesting. Dear good folks who want to recall Polis, just as I had to accept that I am bald (and I hate it), please accept that you are not going to recall the guv. But he will be up for re-election in two short years. Maybe you can get him out of office then.

In the meantime, if you’re driven to run around with petitions in your hands, make it count.

Getting 631,226 valid signatures is a near-impossible task. But getting the 125,000 or so to get an initiative on the state ballot isn’t. You’re pissed about Polis’s overreach? Then take away his power.

His emergency powers were given to him thanks to the last big national scare, the 9/11 attacks. Just like the federal government used the fear of terrorism to seize more power with the Patriot Act, state governments were “preparing” too.

With the best of intentions Colorado passed a law giving the governor unchecked emergency power. We’re now seeing how that power can be perverted. So, Polis recall folks, why don’t you carry petitions for an initiative limiting this and all future governors’ emergency power to, say, 30 days before he has to get his orders approved by the full state legislature.

Likewise, you could work on an initiative to require any local emergency orders be issued only by elected officials. This could prevent the ugly abuses we are seeing by appointed health boards, like Tri-County Health.

Bureaucrats who have no direct accountability to voters should never be empowered to destroy businesses, kill the economy, or take away our right to assemble or worship. Only people we can vote out of office should have that power and only for a limited time.

And while you’re carrying petitions you should be aware that every city in Colorado also has the initiative. So, you can change city laws too.

The flat state income tax cut that I championed this year passed by a nearly 16% margin. A local sales tax or property tax cut likely would pass by similar margins. So, if you can’t recall Polis, you can help defund the authoritarians.

With over a 5% margin, state voters just stopped the state legislature from raising taxes by calling them “fees” — without asking voters first. But cities still run that scam. Polis recallers, you can stop them. And city initiatives don’t require that many signatures.

Just like how they raise taxes without a vote by calling taxes a “fee,” the state and cities can still raise debt without a public vote by calling it a “certificate of participation.” An initiative to fix that would likely pass, too. So, go get it on the ballot, if not on the state level, then on the city level.

While not as sexy as recalling a governor, reforms like these would limit the abuses of future power-hungry despots. If that matters to you.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.

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