State Rep. Patrick Neville (R-Castle Rock), whose voice is familiar to listeners of conservative talk radio, was elected state house minority leader Thursday.
Asked if he could see anything beyond gridlock coming out of next year’s legislative session, Neville said he had a “decent” and “productive” lunch with Gov. John Hickenlooper, leading him to think there is “common ground” to be found on some issues, like on regulatory reform.
On the radio, Neville talks frequently about guns, and he’s widely known as one of the most ardent opponents of gun safety laws in the state.
But his conservative positions go beyond firearms, and The Denver Post described him last week as a “conservative ideologue.”
The Women’s Lobby of Colorado scorecard rates Neville, an early Trump supporter, at or near the bottom among state legislators on votes related to women’s issues.
“I’m pro-life, and I don’t make any bones about it,” he told me last week.
In fact, Neville is a hero among anti-choice activists in Colorado for, among other things, his sponsorship this year of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would step up licensing requirements at clinics where abortions are performed.
Colorado Campaign for Life activist Christy Rodriquez cited this bill as a reason her organization gave Neville its 2016 Pro-Life Legislator of the Year Award in September.
“I’m truly humbled.… It doesn’t get better than this,” said Neville, after being introduced by Rodriquez.
During his speech (at 7 minutes) at the award ceremony, Neville described testimony on his bill by a doctor who performs abortions, saying that after he greeted her he felt like he’d “shaken the Devil’s hand and smiled at him.”
Neville: This one person, I didn’t recognize her name, she comes up. And I went to shake her hand, and I’ve got to tell you, I’ve never had this feeling in my whole entire life. I had this crazy feeling of impending doom that came over the whole room. I came over me. And it was crazy. I don’t know how to explain it. But the best way to explain it is, I felt like I had just shaken the Devil’s hand and smiled at him. It was something else. And as testimony proceeded, we came to find out that that person was an abortionist… That feeling stuck with me for the longest time….
Let’s recognize what’s going on in this country. We’re supposed to be the most civilized nation in the history of the world. Yet, babies can be torn apart and their hearts sold for profit. We got to recognize that that’s wrong.
In fact, federal law prohibits selling fetal tissue for profit, and recent investigations of Planned Parenthood have not produced evidence that these laws are being broken.
“In a state where both Hillary Clinton and a raise in the minimum wage won, and one in which we increased the pro-choice majority in the House, Colorado voters sent a clear message of moderation,” said Karen Middleton, Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado. “Coloradans have said – and voted – repeatedly that decisions about abortion are a matter of individual liberty and privacy, not something that belongs to politicians or the government. They deserve to be listened to.
So by picking leaders like Representatives Patrick Neville and Lori Saine, two legislators that have spearheaded failed anti-choice legislation in the last General Assembly, it appears in 2016 House Republicans didn’t get that message. While I am disappointed in these leadership decisions, I hope that our strengthened pro-choice majority in this state will work with us to engage our elected leadership and defeat any ideological overreach.”
Another key issue facing the state legislature is the proposal by Democrats to reclassify a hospital fee as an enterprise under the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, a move that would free over $300 million for roads, schools, and other projects.
Emphasizing that he didn’t speak for his caucus, Neville said discussions about the hospital provider fee were not off the table, and he had a “good conversation with the governor about it.”
“We’ll have to look at the details,” said Neville.