Public Eye 

Up in Denver, under the gold-topped dome, our esteemed lawmakers at this very moment are trying to figure out how much of a developer-written growth bill to adopt without making it look too much like they are sucking up to the developers.

And some of those politicians -- including three notable local lawmakers -- are waging even more personal crusades.

This week, Rep. Mark Cloer introduced a bill that almost no one could object to because it was just so, uh, unusual. Here's the deal: Several years ago, Cloer's wife had two miscarriages. The couple were, understandably, heartbroken. And during his campaign for public office, whenever he told the story about his wife's miscarriages, Cloer would get to the part about going to the hospital and then burst into tears.

He had wanted to be able to bring the fetuses home and bury them, but, he says, the hospital wouldn't let him.

When Cloer was running last November (he beat Democrat Ed Raye by 110 votes) his fellow Republicans pulled out all of their big names to get the little-known substitute teacher elected. Congressman Joel Hefley, state Rep. Andy McElhany and state Sen. Mary Ellen Epps all participated in a telemarketing blitz to plug him.

So now that he's in the state Legislature, Cloer has introduced a bill that would allow people who have had abortions or miscarriages to bring the fetal tissue home for burial -- this, in spite of the fact that both local hospitals claim patients already have that right. This week, the Gazette noted that Colorado Springs Right to Life spokeswoman Connie Pratt testified in favor of the bill, and described the first time she miscarried. "The nurse came in, she grabbed the baby and told me I could have another one," Pratt was quoted saying.

But Cloer insists his bill has nothing to do with abortion. Indeed, Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Ellen Brilliant said her group has no objections. "We do think what Rep. Cloer is doing is important," she was quoted saying.

What exactly that is, she didn't say.


Meanwhile, fellow freshman Rep. Dave Schultheis (R-Colorado Springs) wants to force parents to undergo counseling for a year if they want a divorce, to hash out the impact that the separation would have on the kids.

This is the same Schultheis who, on his Web site, characterizes himself a "visionary" who favors smaller, more responsible government. "As a common-sense conservative, Dave Schultheis is committed to reducing government interference in our lives," the Web site promises.

But in real life, Schultheis wants the government to tell you what to do and how to live your life -- even at home.

And this week, Schultheis signed on the controversial Dr. Laura Schlessinger to testify via telephone on behalf of his bill.

You remember Dr. Laura: She is the radio maven of family values who makes a fortune preaching fidelity, passionately opposing premarital sex and urging women to stay home with their children. Last year, Schlessinger enraged gays and lesbians by calling homosexuality a biological error.

She also went ballistic two years ago when a Web site posted 12 nudie photos of her taken by an old boyfriend back when she was 28. Her husband at the time was not featured in the photographs.

This week Schultheis told the local daily newspaper that he is not simply trying to recruit a celebrity to help sell his proposed law. Still, the whole thing sounds a little bit like Weekend Update meets the Colorado State Capitol.


Meanwhile, Rep. Richard Decker (R-Colorado Springs) recently got so mad at the Democrats that he wrote an entire column about their reluctance to adopt a resolution praising Ronald Reagan for being the Greatest Person Who Ever Lived.

Reagan turned 90 recently, and the House Republicans wanted to honor The Gipper for his accomplishments. But House Minority Leader Dan Grossman -- and other Democrats -- objected to some of the language, including tribute to Reagan's "bipartisanship."

"Rep. Grossman would have allowed us to recognize Reagan for his service, but not for tireless service, and for his accomplishments, though not many accomplishments," Decker groused. "Rep. Grossman wanted to say, in effect, that we could honor Reagan on his 90th birthday, but only because it was his birthday and not because he was anyone important to the history of our nation."

The resolution finally passed, but when it went over to the Democratic-controlled Senate, it was promptly placed at the bottom of that legislative to-do list.

Finally, a week after the birthday passed, Republican House Speaker Doug Dean (also from Colorado Springs) figured out a way to pass the Reagan-is-God bill without those evil Democrats in the Senate, and everyone lived happily ever after.


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