It is an article of faith that Democrats in the Colorado Capitol care nothing for the state’s farmers and ranchers, and the big-city liberals on the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee have proven that yet again. That committee voted last week, strictly along party lines, to reject yet another attempt to remove the Colorado Department of Revenue’s boot heel from the necks of land owners in the ongoing disaster known as conservation easements.

Editorial

Journal-Advocate

It is an article of faith that Democrats in the Colorado Capitol care nothing for the state’s farmers and ranchers, and the big-city liberals on the House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee have proven that yet again. That committee voted last week, strictly along party lines, to reject yet another attempt to remove the Colorado Department of Revenue’s boot heel from the necks of land owners in the ongoing disaster known as conservation easements. If you’ve been camping off the grid in the Pawnee National Grasslands for the past two years, let us refresh your memory:

Farmers and ranchers who were promised state tax credits in exchange for converting some of their land to conservation easements have been denied those credits ex post facto (that is, unconstitutionally.) Repeatedly, measures to restore those lands to owners, who are being coerced into paying back millions of dollars in tax credits, and to dismiss interest and penalties, or the bonds required when the landowner takes the DOR to district court to contest the department’s denial of those tax credits, have been thwarted in the Democrat-controlled House.

This despite DOR employees openly admitting that outrageous fees, interest, and penalties are their best tool for extorting money from farmers and ranchers. And despite the fact that, in all the time the DOR has been grinding land owners to a financial pulp, ruining farms and destroying families, only one case of outright fraud has been brought, and that was not in rural Colorado but in the Denver metro area.

The complete lack of respect that is constantly shown for rural eastern Colorado by the liberal elite on East Colfax Avenue needs to come to an end. It’s bad enough that it happens in the Legislature, but this disdain for rural values — values like integrity and keeping one’s word — extends even into the governor’s office and permeates the state’s bureaucracy.

The Colorado House of Representatives needs to get its collective head straight about the property rights of farmers and ranchers, or it will end up costing this state many times in legal costs and restitution what it stands to collect from the people it wants crushed. It’s still not too late; the federal case against Colorado will take years to grind through the courts. But ultimately, the state will have to foot the bill.

If we can get urban Denver to start talking to and finding common ground with the irrigators along the lower South Platte River over the volatile issue of water, surely we can do the same thing when it comes to property rights. The alternative is to go down the same path that water interests trod for far too many years — the expensive and destructive road of lawsuits and court cases.

Free Range Report

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