We often think of the government as a slow-moving institution. But last week, our local, state and federal governments seemed to dole out decisions at a record pace.
Each day marked a decision of consequence for the Lake County community — for our L.G.B.T.Q. residents, our law enforcement officers, our Dreamers and our public lands.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that individuals cannot be terminated from a workplace for being gay, bisexual or transgender, a practice that was previously legal in over half the states. Six of the nine justices determined that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which protects individuals from sex discrimination in the workplace, also covers sexual orientation and transgender status.
On Tuesday, Leadville City Council discussed reconvening a citizen advisory panel, formed under former Chief of Police Rob Glenny, to routinely review Leadville Police Department cases. Soon after, council met with the police department to talk about the panel and potential policy changes, like a ban on high-speed vehicle chases.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate passed the Great American Outdoors Act, a bipartisan victory for public lands and conservation. The bill allocates billions of dollars to maintenance projects across national parks and other federal land holdings. The legislation also guarantees permanent funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a federal fund that redistributes revenue from energy production on public lands to conservation efforts.
On Thursday, the Supreme Court ruled that President Trump could not proceed with his administration’s plan to end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, an Obama-era immigration program that allows young people unlawfully brought to the United States as children to apply for a temporary status allowing them to live and work without fear of deportation. The judicial ruling will protect over 700,000 young Dreamers across the country.
On Friday, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed an expansive police accountability bill into law. The legislation includes: a ban on choke holds, mandatory use of body cameras, the removal of qualified immunity (allowing law enforcement officers to be sued in an individual capacity), and penalties for officers who fail to stop inappropriate use of excessive force by a coworker. The bill also expands the state’s data tracking requirements, mandating annual reporting of use of force and firearms, as well as racial data on officer encounters.
These decisions serve as a reminder that change does arise from within our governmental institutions — that sometimes we must grow and progress through the systems that already exist. They are proof that the government often does listen to the voices of constituents, the evolution of cultural norms and the needs of lands around us.