A sampling of recent editorials from Colorado newspapers:
The Denver Post, March 21, on expanding sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin:
President Obama was right to lodge more muscular sanctions this week against the rich cronies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but that very well may not be the end of the need to inflict economic pain.
The president has to be prepared to tighten the screws on the Russian economy if Putin makes any move to widen his illegal invasion of Ukraine beyond Crimea.
And the administration should increase — not decrease as is planned — its support for the Ukrainian military so the country has a more robust ability to defend itself against Russian firepower, however futile that effort might seem to be.
The situation since Russian troops went into Crimea several weeks ago has often been described as one with no good options for the West. But it may be more appropriately described as one with few easy options.
That's because any efforts to more broadly clamp down on the Russian economy could have a blowback effect on the U.S. economy, and certainly on the Europeans, who rely on Russian gas exports.
The way to get Putin's attention is to create conditions that threaten his power base because that is what Putin cares about most.
Freezing the assets of his closest advisers and rich supporters may be something the Russians mock now, but if these elites face a long-term separation from considerable amounts of cash, the laughter is bound to die down.
Putin must understand he will pay a heavy price if he attempts to seize Ukrainian territory beyond Crimea.
Western allies should not aim for a return to a Cold War-like stand0ff, but neither can they tolerate a Russia that runs roughshod over sovereign nations seeking closer ties with the West.
The Gazette, March 22, on Ken Buck's candidacy for the GOP nomination in the 4th District:
Republicans in Colorado's 4th Congressional District cannot afford to mess around. We hope they emerge from the April 11 congressional assembly with a proven leader on the ballot: Ken Buck.
The tough-on-crime Weld County district attorney had been in the U.S. Senate race and graciously stepped aside to allow U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, who represents the 4th, to run alone for nomination to challenge U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, a Boulder Democrat. With Gardner out of the House race, Buck stepped in.
Gardner, widely viewed by both major parties as a rising star in Congress, implores voters to choose Buck as his replacement. The congressman reminded voters Thursday that Buck's dedication to community is trusted and proved. In a letter to 4th District residents, Gardner explained the need for good leaders in the context of Washington's growing lack of common sense.
The Gazette's editorial board has met with Buck and vetted him on several occasions over the years. We have found only a genuine free-market conservative dedicated mostly to improving the economic welfare of fellow Coloradans. He is solid on all conservative issues, standing for gun rights, property rights and the need for a minimally regulated environment in which businesses can flourish and create more jobs.
Buck finds himself in a primary race with State Rep. Scott Renfroe, a candidate so bizarre his nomination would only embarrass the party and reduce the 4th District's stature in Washington. Renfroe is notorious for extreme and unprovoked rants against homosexuals. On the day after the anniversary of the National Guard shootings at Kent State, Renfroe advocated using the Guard to confiscate medical marijuana cards. He opposes recess for school children because physical activity could lead to "the feminization of our boys."
The 4th District is limited Republican real estate, and Coloradans cannot afford a marginal and ineffective replacement for someone so effective as Gardner.
The Durango Herald, March 24, on legislation affecting vaccinations:
A bill moving through the Colorado Legislature would require parents who wish to exempt their children from vaccinations for personal reasons to undergo education about the risks and benefits of immunization. It is not the ultimate fix of simply making vaccinations mandatory for all, but it would be a worthwhile step toward ending exemptions based on rumor, conjecture and bogus science. And with that, it could go a long way to improving public health.
House Bill 1288 was introduced Friday. It passed the House on a 42-19 vote Monday and now heads to the Senate. It should be passed. As one of the bill's sponsors said, "It is not only a personal choice. When some children don't get these vaccines, it affects the health of other kids, too."
Vaccinations for diseases such as mumps, measles, rubella, diphtheria and pertussis are mandated for school children in every state. Laws allowing for exemptions, however, vary greatly. Some states allow exceptions only for medical reasons. Others also allow exemptions for religious beliefs. Colorado is one of only 18 states that allows parents to refuse vaccinations for their children based on medical reasons, religious tenets or personal beliefs.
But, too often, those personal beliefs could be based on nothing more than Internet rumor, the unscientific fear mongering of antivaccine activists or simple loathing of any government-enacted mandate. But with that, those parents need to know that they are endangering not only their own children, but society as a whole.
That should be the focus of the education House Bill 1288 would require. Too few people understand how vaccination works. Preventing the vaccinated person from contracting a disease is only one aspect of the process. Its larger function is the establishment of what is called "herd immunity," whereby widespread immunization keeps the disease out of the population. That then protects not only those who have been vaccinated, but babies too young to be vaccinated and those with medical conditions that preclude the shots.
But all that could change. With its loose provisions for allowing exemptions, Colorado has an immunization rate of 71 percent, one of the lowest in the country. And with that, there has been a resurgence of such diseases as pertussis. Also known as whooping cough, pertussis was all but unheard of in this country for decades. That it is in the news yearly any more is directly attributable to people refusing vaccinations.
Opponents of this bill argue that the issue is one of personal choice and individual liberty. Perhaps they see it as akin to eating junk food or engaging in dangerous sports.
Those activities primarily put the individual at risk. A better analogy for refusing vaccinations is drunken driving. Those making the decision to drink and drive not only endanger themselves but others as well, and with that, the law does not consider drunken driving a matter of personal choice.
The Grand Junction Sentinel, March 23, on state spending priorities and the Western Slope:
It was a tough week for the Western Slope in the statehouse.
On Tuesday, state economists told lawmakers that Colorado's sustained economic recovery will generate a surplus of about $257 million during the current fiscal year and more than $1 billion next year.
Grand Junction and other pockets around the state, however, remain below pre-recession levels, and a much-needed economic boost in the form of state-funded capital development projects all but disappeared during a budget wrangling session on Thursday.
A proposed $18.5 million expansion of the Tomlinson Library on the Colorado Mesa University campus was among the list of casualties after two legislative panels clashed over funding priorities.
The six-member Capital Development Committee, whose job is to prioritize spending for capital development projects, had hoped to fund 32 projects at a cost of about $375 million, including CMU's request.
But the powerful Joint Budget Committee, which drafts the state's annual spending plan, said it only has $250 million available and chose projects farther down the CDC's priority list, including several requested by Gov. John Hickenlooper.
Funding those projects raised questions from several CDC members, including Rep. Libby Szabo, R-Arvada, who said there seemed to be no point for the CDC's existence if the JBC was going to do whatever it wanted.
Some CDC members went so far as to accuse two JBC members of approving projects in their own districts over higher priority projects elsewhere in the state, including CMU's library expansion.
The brouhaha does little more than expose the Western Slope's political vulnerability. Criticism aside, the JBC has completed its budget in the form of the long bill. It will be presented to the House on Monday, where it will be subject to amendments, likely to be stripped when the Senate deliberates its version.
If there's a bright side to this disappointing development, it's that rosy budget projections should yield more discretionary spending for capital development projects in the coming fiscal year.
But the JBC's action serves as an unpleasant reminder that politics is a messy business, mastered by those who rise to positions of leadership.