Colorado Republican Senator Ted Harvey, R-Highlands Ranch introduced a bill during the current Senate session that would require schools in the State to put their checkbooks online. Budget and spending transparency has been a hot issue for the past couple of years, and after it came to light that the Jeffco School District spent money on Carnival cruise tickets, constituents are demanding it.
State Senator Bob Bacon, D-Fort Collins, fresh off his electioneering success, was successful in passing an amendment in committee which renders the bill useless. As Ben Degrow reports at Mount Virtus, it removed the term requires, and replaced with voluntary pilot program. Senator Harvey objected, and requested that his bill be removed from consideration after the amendment passed, but his request was denied and the bill was sent to the full Senate.
If the issue ended here, most would consider this business as usual in a Democrat-led legislative body, but there is more. Two weeks ago, at Liberty On The Rocks, Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier spoke with us, and encouraged us to show up during open comments and speak in support of the bill. Many showed up in support, but as I’ve already mentioned, the bill was gutted anyway.
Last Thursday, we faced our first hurdle and got the Public School Financial Transparency Act passed through the Senate Education Committee. It was gutted by some Senators on the education committee. The bill now*suggests*that public schools put their spending and revenues online in a searchable database. Original bill language *required* schools to do this.
Don’t feel depressed.
*We can get this bill corrected back to original intent this Tuesday, Feb. 3rd. We will meet in the 2nd Floor Senate gallery in the Capitol at 9am (although Senate may not convene until 10am)
The bill made it out of committee alive because people are testifying, calling and emailing! If you were one of the ones who helped, thank you! You helped beat the odds so far. We’re not done yet.
Our pro-transparency Senators will fight this Tuesday morning (February 3) to get this bill amended back to meaningful legislation. They need our help.*
To support these Senators, we’re going to pack the Senate gallery on Tuesday. Senator Ted Harvey, the prime bill sponsor, will recognize us and we’ll stand to show our numbers.*
If you can’t attend, invest an hour calling our 35 State Senators listed below anytime of any day or email them, just do it before Tuesday. (contact list at end of this email)
We have gotten this far *only* because so many of you spoke up. We had a bunch of people give awesome testimony. Once we get this thru the Senate we then have the House to face.
It quickly became apparent that the Democrat-led Colorado Senate isn’t much in favor of legislative transparency either. Yesterday, Amanda sent out another Facebook message,
I am so sorry to send another email out. Unfortunately, legislators can do whatever they please when it comes to changing times and dates. The last I heard from Senator Harvey’s office was that the bill was most likely not going to be heard tomorrow. He is however going to have a press conference at 10am in the third floor press room, and is encouraging all who can come to do so. It will be intended to put pressure on legislators to get the bill passed. Me and some co-workers at the Independence Institute will be there if anyone is still interested in coming!
Sorry again for the hassle and confusion.
There’s one lesson that needs to be clearly understood from these events. Activism works. Our Democrat senators do not want to debate this bill with the gallery packed with supporters, and are going to try to play games with the date and time to keep from having to do just that. I recently blogged about Getting Connected in Colorado, and this is the reason why. You need to be connected to get the information that you need to be actively supporting conservative efforts. Here’s a situation where a State Senator is asking for our assistance. If we aren’t connected, we aren’t going to know when and where we are needed.
Face The State has more. I want to give a huge thanks to Amanda for continuing to coordinate efforts to support this bill, and to Senator Harvey for introducing it and continuing to fight for it. Together, perhaps we can shine a light on Bob Bacon’s efforts to make transparency disappear.