House bill would allow of presidential primary, local caucus

Thursday, May 5, 2016 2:46 PM

By J. Paul Brown

Colorado State Representative, HD 59

I heard loud and clear across the 59th House District that voters were not happy that they did not have the opportunity to vote on who would be Colorado's pick for president of the United States.

My own caucus, precinct 24 in La Plata County, sent a resolution asking for a special presidential primary in Colorado while retaining the caucus system for races other than president. This resolution, along with many others from precincts across the 59th District were proposed and passed at County Assemblies and from there were presented to the Republican State Assembly.

House Bill 16-1454 will do exactly what our resolution asked. It will allow for a presidential primary early in the election process, probably in late February or early March, so that Colorado will have a national voice in the process. Unaffiliated voters will receive a postcard prior to the election and will have the opportunity to ask for either a Republican, Democrat, or other party mail ballot. When you choose a ballot you will automatically be affiliated with that party, but will automatically return to unaffiliated status after the election if you so choose. Like the process under current law, you can get a ballot on the day of the election. If you are already affiliated with a party, you will automatically receive a mail ballot. It is important to me that Republicans decide who the Republican candidate will be.

The bill will also continue the caucus process. I like the precinct caucuses because it is the one time when communities at the grassroots level can come together and talk about the principles of the party and adopt party policies. Resolutions are drafted to send on to the higher assemblies. Also those caucuses are where delegates are selected to County Assemblies, delegates who will decide candidates for local and state races. I believe this is a good process, and HB 1454 will maintain it.

I supported a bill in 2015 that would have brought back the presidential primary, but it was defeated. I also was in favor of a presidential preference poll at the precinct caucuses. The passage of either of these initiatives would have headed off a lot of discontent by the electorate. Hopefully, HB-1454 will be passed and voters will know that they indeed are having a say.

It has been an honor to work with Sen. Ellen Roberts this year on several bills.

As Senate President pro tem, Sen. Roberts is a very influential and busy lady. She was the sponsor in the Senate, and I in the House, for HB 1064 and SB 168. SB 168 is a very important bill for Southwest Colorado allowing an airport authority across the state line. It will create a partnership with New Mexico for costs related to the airport. HB 1064 allows counties to approve medical marijuana testing facilities. We have also worked together on several other bills and resolutions.