Colorado’s housing market at risk — again | Denver Gazette –

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The Legislature’s leftist fringe has been grabbing headlines with its extremist stands; most recently, against U.S. ally Israel. However, a subtler, more insidious shift to the left also is underway by ruling Democrats’ legislative leadership. And it could affect far more Coloradans.

New Senate Majority Leader Robert Rodriguez, D-Denver, has reshuffled some committee structures and members in ways that stand to imperil the housing sector in the upcoming legislative session. The upshot could be the enactment of previously unsuccessful attempts at reckless policies that undermine Colorado’s already-precarious rental and real estate market.

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Meaning Democratic Gov. Jared Polis — Colorado’s last line of defense against the more wild-eyed members of his party up on the Capitol’s second floor — had better get out his veto pen.

The changes by Rodriguez involve obscure, behind-the-scenes maneuvers that could have profound implications. Among those changes, as reported the other day by the Colorado Chamber of Commerce’s business news site, The Sum & Substance, is a key tweak to the Senate Local Government and Housing Committee.

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During last spring’s legislative session, the committee killed bills that would have let local governments impose disastrous rent-control laws on apartments, and that would have smothered the metro districts that are needed for the development of new housing. The same committee also watered down a proposal to give local governments the right of first refusal in buying apartment complexes that go up for sale. Polis wisely vetoed that bill. Any of those measures easily could doom hopes of tackling Colorado’s affordable-housing crisis.

As The Sum & Substance noted, Democratic state Sen. Dylan Roberts of Avon was the swing vote in killing or amending all those bills. Rodriguez removed the moderate Roberts from Local Government and Housing and replaced him with the reliably left-leaning Sen. Faith Winter, а Broomfield Democrat. And what a difference that one change in the lineup could make.

For one thing, as Sum & Substance’s Ed Sealover reports, the rent-control and right-of-first-refusal bills are expected to reappear when the 2024 session convenes in January. Roberts’ removal from the committee gives such legislation a better chance of reaching the Senate floor — and picking up enough votes from the left there to pass.

The committee’s realignment also could stymie an urgently needed reform that would encourage development of affordable condominiums by making it harder to file lawsuits against builders for minor flaws in construction. Legislation to advance that reform is anticipated in the coming session and likely will be sent to the Local Government and Housing Committee, as well.

The Democratic left seems obsessed with housing policies that inevitably backfire. Rent control, for example, amounts to a classic case of voodoo economics; it strangles the creation of new rental housing, driving up the very rent it seeks to rein in. Letting government barge into the private rental market and buy up apartment complexes would destroy any incentive by the private sector to build more rental housing — and would turn existing rental-housing stock into dilapidated tenements. The need for reforming runaway lawsuits over construction flaws is essential to building more affordable, entry-level homes for sale.

Yet, such fundamentals of housing economics are lost on lawmakers driven by dogma and bent on scoring political points with party diehards.

There are sensible, business-savvy lawmakers in both parties at the legislature. Their wisdom is needed more than ever.

Shoving them out of pivotal policy-making posts on key committees unfortunately goes unnoticed by the general public. Yet, the ripple effects will be felt statewide when it becomes even harder to buy or rent a place to live.

Denver Gazette Editorial Board

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