EDITORíS DESK: State rep on governorís wrong side

       There is no question that Michael Merrifield worked hard on his renters' rights bill.
       The Westside's Democratic state representative unearthed impressive statistics showing that Colorado laws are less amiable to renters than most other states. His bill also reflected interviews with numerous people who have had difficulties with landlords.
       Clearly, he used such information to convince others of his party to support him when he brought HB 1061 forward in the last session. This support was enough to pass it through both the House and Senate and place it before Gov. Bill Owens for his signature.
       But that's as far as the bill got. Owens, a Republican, vetoed the bill, claiming in part that it was unfair to property owners. Understandably, Merrifield was/is not happy about this. He thinks his bill was "moderate." He claims Owens' staff would not even meet with him before the bill passed, to talk out some of the issues.
       Some legislators, after a defeat like this, might swallow hard and quietly try to analyze more effective ways to gain cooperation with the governor. Merrifield has chosen a different tack. He is taking his case "to the streets" - leading a rally June 11 to publicize the renters' cause and openly charging the governor with being in the pocket of Realtors... plus, ridiculing Owens for citing a wrong statute in his veto.
       A brave move? Most certainly. But a wise one? Questionable. If Merrifield had trouble working with Gov. Owens this last session, it's hard to see how such grandstanding will improve matters. In fact, it might even be safe to say that in the wake of the rally, the best way Merrifield can help renters next session is by standing aside and letting another legislator write the bill.

- K.J.