Colorado Representative Andy Pico (R-El Paso County) claimed Democrats in the legislature centered climate change and racial justice in guiding their legislative agenda in an unprecedented, historic session that wrapped up last week.
Appearing on KVOR’s Jeff Crank Show out of Colorado Springs, Pico described the recently-adjourned legislative session with foreboding rhetoric and redundant descriptions of stark partisanship.
“They use climate change as their excuse for justification of a war on everything: on oil and gas, on electrical generation, on vehicles, on the natural gas to heat your homes,” Pico said, ” … Environmental justice and environmental racism are written into a dozen of these different bills. … It’s reparations by another name.”
At least 8 times in the 15-minute interview, Pico figuratively referred to the Democratic majority “waging war” and a range of different “wars” on various economic sectors and special interests in Colorado, including “wars” on agriculture, law enforcement, coal, and “natural gas to heat your homes.”
Five times he characterized Democrats “ramming through” legislation.
He also charged Democrat majorities with silencing Republican debate and killing Republican bills.
Yet Pico contradicted his dour characterization of partisanship a few different times in the interview.
A bill to fund transportation, a bipartisan concern for many consecutive legislative sessions, was sent to the governor’s desk with a Republican sponsor on the bill.
A bill to increase the authority of local districts in granting and renewing charters to schools, HB-1295, also failed with bipartisan opposition.
“But that [SB-273] got killed! It got killed in committee and thankfully two Democrats crossed over for us to kill that bill,” said Pico. “We want to thank them. That kind of goes back to 1266, also, on the climate change bill. We had a long debate about that, about how they rammed it through. The ‘nos’ were bipartisan. I mean, it was so bad that even a couple of Democrats were not willing to go that far.”
As Pico describes above, HB-1266, the climate action bill, had Democrats joining Republicans in opposition, although it eventually passed and is awaiting the governor’s signature.
Pico does not accept the consensus from scientists that climate change is created and driven by human activity.
He said that he proposed an amendment to Democrats which was summarily rejected.
“But that’s just a canard. Everything is about racism, or justice, or climate change, and so forth. … And then, climate change is pretty odd. … I pointed out to them, in their own legislation they said we have to hold the temperature rise to one-point-five degrees,” Pico said. “And so I offered an amendment to them and said, ‘Hey, if we’re under 1.5 degree rate of increase, how about just holding this in abeyance?’ And they wouldn’t even talk about it. But, you know, it’s just the fabrication — and the fact is, we are below every measure that they say is dangerous. We’re below that. And yet, you know, we’re going to destroy everything.”
Pico framed various issues around his claim that Democrats focus on racism.
“They had a family of bills on law enforcement as well. So, they have a war on law enforcement, which, of course, is tied up back into the systemic racism canard — that everybody is racist. And that was thrown at us, too. You know, we had a big, long debate about — or a long, feisty tirade by one of the members — about how the war on drugs is all about racism. You know, I took some exception to that and pointed out that, you know, when I when I was out there enforcing the laws of the country, you know, when I was working … in drug interdiction, [unintelligible] racism had nothing do to with it. But that’s just a canard.”
While Pico speaks to his own experience, the war on drugs has been consistently linked with racism throughout its 50 years of various iterations. Arguably, the war on drugs was racist by intent since its inception. But certainly since, racism has been evidenced in documented discriminatory practices and in the impacts of the war on drugs.
Regarding the failure of five Republican bills to address election integrity in Colorado, Pico said:
“Such as election integrity, they killed all five of the bills. And this whole nonsense about voter suppression, which frankly is the other way around. Real voter suppression is when you steal a vote away of a legal voter by counteracting it with a fabricated vote.”
Listen to the entire segment with Rep. Pico on the Jeff Crank Show (KVOR) using the link below:
[UPDATED: In reference to Pico’s account of a House floor speech, this post has been updated to add historical context as it relates to the racist foundations, practices, and outcomes of the war on drugs].