Jimmy’s Colorado Politics Column | ‘Trip reduction’ edict is pure hubris

Written by on July 20, 2021

In September 2019, I warned about the dangers of Gov. Jared Polis and his merry band of Green Little Dealers.  Unfortunately, their 2019 climate-centered policies are now coming to roost as Colorado struggles to pull out of the economic malaise brought about by that very same government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“(T)he most pernicious project Polis has undertaken so far is his Green Little Deal on the Platte (GLD),” I wrote.  “Rooted in the same command-and-control mentality of its national, Green New Deal counterpart, the GLD involves several troubling, piece-by-piece actions.”  One of those actions was “a centrally-planned “Climate Action Plan” (HB19-1261).

It seems Colorado’s overlords are extremely serious about this climate action plan — emphasis on extreme.  The Gazette reported that “the state of Colorado” — read: government, not the people — wants to force “large businesses” with 100 or more employees to change their employees’ driving behavior.

The sprawling “Employee Trip Reduction Program” is intended to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Colorado and supposedly falls under the auspices of HB19-1261.  It is a prime example of unelected bureaucrats empowering themselves, thanks to ambiguous laws, to enforce expansive and intrusive requirements on private businesses and individuals.

According to The Gazette, the new rules will impact “large businesses” within an “8-Hour Ozone Control Area.”  Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson Counties fall under that description, along with Broomfield and some parts of Larimer and Weld Counties.

Oh, and we’re not just talking about employees who are salaried or wage-earners.  We’re also talking about “every person in the service of an employer, under any contract of hire” — meaning independent contractors and gig workers.

Polis and his Green Little Dealers want these “large businesses” to “increase parking charges” for gasoline vehicles (almost all cars on the road) and to provide full or partial subsidization for public transportation passes, “even if the business is nowhere near any.”  These “options” MUST include “employee shuttles, flexible schedules perks to those who drive electric vehicles, carpooling and ride-share options, subsidized public transportation passes, bike parking and showers, among others.”

That’s not all!  They want qualifying employers to appoint “Employee Transportation Coordinators” to administer programs reducing commutes for “single occupied vehicles” — meaning, the state will FORCE businesses to either hire a new person or put a new responsibility upon an existing role.  Our presumptuous overlords reportedly want those 2,764 businesses — representing 900,000 workers — to give Big Gov’t their plans for participating in the costly venture by Jan. 1, 2022. 

Let’s be clear: This isn’t about improving air quality.  It’s about government control.  In fact, if these command-and-control rules are approved, it will be among the most egregious power-grabs by Colorado regulators in history.

Who does the Polis administration think it is, telling businesses they must be held responsible for what an employee does when they aren’t on the clock, let alone independent contractors?  Who do they think they are, telling businesses to track their employees’ driving and spend oodles on “alternatives?”

Denver Metro Chamber’s Laura Giocomo Rizzo is spot-on, telling the Gazette, “You could buy every employee a bike, charge $1,000 for parking, but ultimately we live in a country where people get to work how they want or can.  This punishes employers and puts them in a weird position.”

The cost on businesses is astronomical.  Estimates range from $7,200 to $811,643 annually, although the Air Pollution Control Division insists much of this “will be net savings in the end” and criticism is based on unrealistic assumptions about what employers will do, according to Clay Clark, Climate Unit supervisor.

Yet, you know who’s actually “assum[ing] unrealistically?”  The Air Pollution Control Division, Polis and the other Green Little Dealers.

Our self-appointed deciders unrealistically assume they even have the legal authority.  They unrealistically assume this outrageous proposal is something every “large business” can easily implement and that it won’t cost them much — the very same businesses that are already struggling to recover from 1.5 years of disruptive government pandemic policies.  (See: June’s jobs report, revealing Colorado’s unemployment rate stuck at 6.2% with only 10,800 jobs created.) 

They unreasonably assume a government-mandated “Employee Transportation Coordinator” won’t need to be “full-time-employee worth of work” or that “many companies already have an employee that’s likely doing it,” to quote Clark.

The hubris here is staggering.  Why would businesses already have a transportation coordinator to keep tabs on an employee’s or a contractor’s driving habits?  What kind of precedent might this set for government intrusion intended to achieve some other well-intentioned, socio-global objective?

Clark says their goal is to give employees “incentives and options that are flexible to the industry or businesses.”  Government mandates are never incentives.  They are force.  Moreover, when you must choose from a list of preselected options forced upon you, that’s not a choice.

Frankly, I’m fed up with conceited governments that think they can dictate our lives in pursuit of grand social schemes or sweeping economic endeavors.  As human beings, we are and of right ought to be free to think, free to act and free to choose.  The proposed “Employee Trip Reduction Program” grossly violates this fundamental value.

Click here to read the rest of Jimmy’s July 20 column at Colorado Politics, a sister publication of The Washington Examiner.

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