posted on Nov, 4 2004 @ 01:16 PM
In watching the recent elections I was somewhat surprised at two statewide amendments that were passed by Colorado citizens this time around. The
first is Amendment 37 about Renewable Energy. The second is Referendum 4A about Fasttracks. I'll discuss a bit about the two measures and then go
into the rationale of the flip-flopping legislator when confronted with similar issues.
Requires an increase to 3% of provided energy from renewable resources by 2007
Requires an increase to 10% of provided energy from renewable resources by 2015
Mandates a $2.00/watt rebate to be paid to customers supplying their own renewable energy to the grid
Conceptually, this Amendment makes sense as our nation's energy needs are increasing at a time when global production is peaking. The Amendment
serves as a mandate to Colorado energy companies to move away from fossil fuel-based power generation and toward renewable energy sources.
This is an AMENDMENT TO THE STATE CONSTITUTION making it only repealable through the passage of another Amendment. Effectively, this edict is carved
in stone. This Amendment will put a tremendous financial burden on Xcel Energy (the primary provider to Colorado) through it's mandates. How are we
to know, however, if 10% renewable energy by 2015 is even pushing the energy companies to do something that would not have nautrally evolved? In
addition, many folks are pretty certain that energy prices nationwide will be ever increasing in the future, but the energy companies of Colorado only
have to rebate a fixed $2.00/watt to customers selling them excess energy from their own renewable sources. When energy prices from the utilities
increase five or tenfold in the next decade, the energy company can get juice for next to nothing from it's own customers and sell it back to them at
a major premium.
This piece of law demonstrates a great idea with shoddy execution. Enabling it as an Amendment to the State Constitution effectively fixes it in
Colorado's future. Enacted simply as a piece of legislation in the State Congress, the law could easily change to meet rising energy prices or a
need to further push Colorado's energy providers to utilize renewable sources.
Referendum 4A - Fasttracks
$4.7B in revenue generated from a sales tax increase will go toward expanding existing RTD service to surrounding communities including light rail and
other alternative transportation systems.
Such a move should greatly expand the public transportation system in and around Denver. Typically, such expansions are beneficial to the local
economy by making more job opportunities available to citizens.
Historically, when RTD gets massive budget infusions for extensive projects, they blow it. It had been determined that as a result of the poor fiscal
management at RTD when designing and expanding service, it was only prudent to provide budgetary assistance for specifically mapped and planned
routes. Even then most of these route expansions went over budget. Many contend that Denver will end up with a project that is way over budget and
embodies only a fraction of the ill-defined expansion lines RTD has proposed. In short, RTD cannot be trusted with large sums of cash.
Beyond this issue, I would venture to guess that RTD has not adequately addressed the security needs associated with a large rail expansion in the
Denver metro area. Recent statistics point to rail lines as being the targets du-jour of terrorist groups worldwide. What happens if Denver gets a
rail system that's woefully insecure? How much will that scenario cost it's citizens?
Analysis of Issues: Why Politicians Flip-Flop
In this case Colorado voters were responsible for the passage of these two measures. Why? Because at the heart of each measure was a great
idea...decrease dependance on fossil fuels for energy production and expand commuter transit within Denver. Fundamentally, however, the execution of
each idea is flawed and could cause more trouble than good.
To move this over to Flip-Flopping Legislators, one must consider the same issues as bills move through the Senate and the House. Many times, the
bills embody great ideas, but demonstrate terrible execution. In these situations, it is the job, nay the duty, of good legislators to vote down the
measure. It is this behavior which can get them branded as being wishy-washy or flip-flopping when, in fact, they believe in the concept embodied by
the bill, but not the bill itself. Even Governors and Presidents must make these hard decisions too as they exercise their veto power over
legislation which is presented to them that is filled with good ideas, but shoddy execution.
In the case of Governors and Presidents, the opportunity to veto is limited as a bill must pass both the House and Senate to find it's way to the
chief executive's desk. This causes a lot of shoddy legislation to die in the halls of congress, effectively insulating the Executive Branch from
having to act in a way that could compromise the public's opinion of their steadfastness. If you're reading this and you can't see the parallels
between the public abuse a Senator could get for 'flip-flopping' when, in fact, that Senator is only seeking to ensure worthwhile legislation is
passed on his watch...or the manner in which a President or Governor could use his steadfastness to demonstrate his clarity of thought when he is
simply verifying the work of the legislature whose image he so intently seeks to besmirch, well, then, you've missed one of the best played political
moves of this nation.
Presidents who have never been in the legislative branch have no voting records to attack.
Our naive electorate barely understands the awesome power and responsibility embodied in behavior they have been told to view as flip-flopping.
Look who we elected.