Published in the Denver Westword February 6, 2019 Colorado Democrats seem to be in a desperate sprint to make our state indistinguishable from California. From signing on to the “national popular vote” agreement, to introducing one of last year’s most meme-worthy laws—banning plastic straws—Colorado Democrats appear to have forgotten which state they reside in. Among the many, many laws and agreements that are being introduced this year is the infamous “straw ban” that originated in Santa Barbara, California. While the legislation in Colorado is incomplete, it is within the realm of possibility that what happened in the city of Santa Barbara is what is going to be the law of the land for all of Colorado. So what was the straw ban, and what did the legislation actually say? To start off, the ordinance makes criminals of all wait staff in the city, if they give a patron a straw—any straw, compostables included. What happens if you give a patron a straw? You could face up to 6 months in jail, and a $1,000 fine. The restaurant would not pay this fine. No, the server who dared hand you a straw without a request, out of pure habit, is personally fined. The city of Santa Barbara gained national attention when it passed this insanely draconian ordinance. Not to be outdone, Colorado Democrats are attempting to extend this idea to the entire state of Colorado. If this legislation passes you will not receive a straw anywhere in Colorado without requesting one, and it is more than likely that Colorado will be the epicenter of another national conversation on straws, government overreach, and the efficacy and morality of government intervention into the smallest aspects of our lives. Maybe you were a server once upon a time. Maybe you believe that single-use plastic is wasteful and destructive, but do you honestly believe that workers should be jailed for providing straws without a request from the customer? Do you trust government officials to stop there? Are you comfortable with our government exercising the machiavellian idea of rule through fear? Freedom can only be restricted; therefore, any restriction on freedom must serve to protect the people from immediate harm. Otherwise, restriction of freedom is merely a power-grab to rob you of your authority in life and give it to the State. We entrust our lives to those we elect to government. You vote for them, because you believe that they will behave and act as you would, if you were in their shoes. You must then ask yourself: “Would I separate my neighbor from his family, lock him in a cell and take his money, simply for using a straw?” This is the kind of self-reflection that we expect our representatives to also undertake. Unfortunately, far too often our elected officials become corrupted by the power that they are able to wield, and begin to legislate as though we are mere lab rats in a social experiment. It is this mentality that lead to the great American revolution and created the country that we now enjoy. As stated in our Declaration of Independence, government officials derive their power from the consent of the governed. However, they may extrapolate your consent from the absence of your voice. This is true whether you were aware of their plans or not, whether they gave you notice or not. In this case, the city of Santa Barbara (and potentially our state legislature) believes that their residents consent to being put in chains, thrown behind bars, and forced to surrender a large amount of money—for handing out straws. The Libertarian party of Colorado believes that the environment can be defended without the threat of fines and jail time from government officials, that you and your neighbors can do more than government, and that our restaurant employees should be able to do their jobs without worrying about being fined or jailed for handing out straws. If Democrats in the Colorado state legislature truly want to protect the environment, they could encourage the use of plastics that can be recycled, compostable products, or any number of things that do not threaten people who are merely doing their jobs. As it is, it appears that they simply want to flex their “moral” muscle and punish anyone who does not fall in line. This legislation is not progressive or moral, nor is it the way of Coloradans. The Libertarian party calls on the legislature to cease their march toward social engineering through force, as they do in California.