We are happy to bring you another Q&A, this time with Senator Wayne Allard. Senator Allard has answered your questions over the course of the past two weeks, and the Q&A posted below features the complete, unedited answers to those questions.
Wayne Allard was first elected to the Colorado State Senate in 1983, where he served until 1990. In 1990, Allard was elected to the House of Representatives in CD-4, where he served before running for the U.S. Senate in 1996.
Allard defeated Democrat Tom Strickland to win his first term to the U.S. Senate in 1996, and then defeated Strickland again in 2002 to win re-election. In December 2004, Allard was appointed to the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.
Senator Allard is up for re-election in 2008, and Democratic Congressman Mark Udall has already announced his intentions to run for the seat. We asked Senator Allard if he plans to run for re-election, among other questions, so click below to see his answers...
*Note: Senator Allard is not answering further questions at this time, so please don't submit questions in the Comments section.
Colorado Pols Q&A with Sen. Wayne Allard
1. Let’s get right to the big question. Will you run for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2008?
I will not make any announcement about my future plans until 2007.
2. If you did decide to run for re-election, why would you do so? What factors would be strong enough to outweigh your term limits pledge?
Since I have not made a decision about 2008, and will not for another two years, it is difficult for me to pre-determine the factors that will affect my decision.
3. What did you think about Congressman Mark Udall announcing his intentions to run for your Senate seat in 2008? We’re not asking what you think about Mark Udall, but rather the unusual idea of announcing his intentions to run for a statewide seat three years in advance. Do you think we are looking at the beginning of a trend where candidates announce for seats earlier and earlier, and if so, why is that?
I do not believe Congressman Udall has made a final decision on 2008. In my opinion, he has simply said he is interested in the U.S. Senate race. I believe his first priority is seeking re-election to the House of Representatives in 2006. I also believe Coloradans prefer short campaigns.
4. You’ve held public office for a long time. What issues in Colorado do you remember being prominent when you first ran for the state legislature, and how do things look different to you today? What do you anticipate being the prominent issues in 2006? Are there any issues that you foresee taking precedence in 2006 that may not have been as big of a topic in years past?
The main issue was an overly burdensome government at both the state and federal level. I ran on a platform of holding down costs, balancing the budget, reducing taxes and relaxing unnecessarily stringent rules and regulations. We are facing the same kind of challenges today as we continue to respond to the events of 9-11 and recover from the Clinton recession.
5. What happened in Colorado that allowed Democrats to take over the legislature and Ken Salazar to get elected to the U.S. Senate, and what do you think Colorado Republicans need to do better in 2006?
The Democrats caught the Republicans off-guard. They did a better job of understanding the new campaign laws, and that allowed them to create a substantial financial advantage at the local and state level. That will not happen again in 2006. To win in 2006, Republicans need to recruit good candidates, put forth a positive, focused message and have the financial resources to support our candidates.
6. Colorado still doesn’t have a U.S. Attorney. When do you anticipate the decision being made, and how involved have you been in the selection process since submitting your three recommended names last December?
My hope is we will have a nominee from the White House shortly. I have been working closely with the White House since January to move the selection process along. I have nominated 3 very qualified individuals to the seat: Troy Eid, Jim Peters and Stu VanMeveren. All three have been interviewed by the White House, and I anticipate that one of them will be nominated shortly to be the new U.S. Attorney for Colorado.
7. You took a role in calling on the army to investigate claims of a high school journalist from Arvada that recruiting practices were less than laudatory. Does the U.S. Military need to alter its recruiting practices, and if so, what changes will you recommend?
Most military recruiters are following the rules. I think the situation in Golden is about making sure that the army’s current regulations are being followed. Clearly, forging high school diplomas and cheating on drug tests is not allowed under recruiting regulations.
I requested that the Secretary of the Army investigate recruiting problems to make sure that these problems aren’t widespread. Recently, the Army ordered a one-day stop in recruiting while they refocus their recruiting priorities. I’m pleased that the Army is taking steps to address recruiting problems, and I will be reading the results of the Secretary’s investigation with great interest.
8. There has been much discussion over the past few months, with Tom DeLay at the forefront, regarding the role lobbyists play in providing gifts and money to elected officials. Do the rules need to be changed in regards to receiving gifts from lobbyists, and if so, what changes will you recommend?
This is an issue that both the House and the Senate are reviewing. Until we have all the facts, it’s too early to suggest any specific rule changes. I do expect Congress to take a long, hard look at our current gift rules and the conduct of lobbyists.
9. Illegal immigration has become a hot topic in Colorado recently. Where do you stand on the McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill?
In my view, the McCain-Kennedy bill as written would provide amnesty for people who are in the country illegally. I feel we should not reward illegal behavior with citizenship. While there has been no formal proposal offered by President Bush regarding illegal immigrants in this country, I believe there will be an opportunity for a meaningful discussion on comprehensive immigration reform in the 109th Congress.
10. Republicans have often campaigned on a platform of smaller government, but for the past several years we have seen the budget and the size of government increase dramatically. Is this a contradiction of ideals or an unavoidable reality?
Much of the growth in the federal government that we experienced has been in response to the 9-11 attacks and the War on Terror. After September 11th, there was no question that we needed to make changes at the federal level to improve our security at home and abroad, which meant that we needed to make investments in areas that needed more attention, like airport security, border security, and customs enforcement. The War on Terror in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world has also been an expensive, but necessary, expenditure.
Given these fiscal challenges, it is more important than ever that we restrain our spending in Congress. I have always stood for fiscal responsibility, and I think it’s especially important to “practice what you preach.” For example, every year I return a portion of my office budget to the taxpayers. Since my election to the House of Representatives, I’ve returned over $3 million from my office operating budget back to the U.S. taxpayer. So when federal officials testify before me in Committee hearings, I have a foundation to stand on when I ask them to restrain spending.
11. You were a veterinarian before you held public office. Is it easier to operate on a small animal or convince a Democrat to vote for your bill?
I still am a veterinarian! I’ve kept my license current, and I take continuing education courses to stay current within my field. I had to sell my practice when I came to Washington, but I never stopped being a veterinarian. There certainly are days, however, when I think that it was a whole lot easier to operate on an animal than get some of my Democrat colleagues to vote for a common-sense bill supported by a majority of Americans.
The following Q&A comes from a selection of questions submitted by Colorado Pols readers. Questions are organized by the reader's name.
1. Col Con
What do you think about Gov. Owens' proposal to let insurers offer cafeteria style health care plans so people can pick and choose the services they want (and the amount they want to pay)? Any chance you'll try to bring that up at the Federal level?
Since Governor Owens’ proposal is on the state level, I’m not familiar with all of the details of the Governor’s plan. I do think we need to search for ways to empower employees, so as they move from job to job, they can retain their health insurance and give them choice in what kind of services they want to insure themselves and their families.
2. Too Much Green Tea
I am a relic of a nobler time. When I was growing up it was considered rude to discuss religion in public because it can be so divisive. Now, the GOP seems to have become inextricably commingled with not only with the Christian faith, but with protestant evangelical sects explicitly. How do you justify this, and how can we continue to live in a pluralistic and civil society when the GOP has identified itself so exclusively with one subjective, religious view?
Do you reject the notion that democracy’s strength is founded in authentic cultural pluralism? I would just like to say that GOD is not a Republican. I would be pleasantly surprised to see you respond.
I dispute the idea that the Republican Party is the party of only the “Christian right.” Despite how the media portrays the GOP, I think you would find that the Republican Party is remarkably diverse across many cultural and social lines. At the Republican National Convention last year in New York City, I was pleased to meet Republicans from all walks of life. People of faith: Christians, Jews, Muslims and other religions, have a right to express themselves in the political arena just like any other group or organization. I support the entire first amendment to the Constitution, where it says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Can you tell us a little about the status of the investigations of the Air Force Academy on sexual and religious harassment? Thanks for your work on this and on the Peoria Chemical Depot.
The Air Force is continuing to review its policies and procedures regarding sexual and religious harassment. Harassment is still a significant concern at the United States Air Force Academy, and the Air Force in general. Regarding sexual harassment, all military services, including the Air Force, have been revising the way they handle sexual harassment cases. Victim advocates are now permitted and confidentiality will be provided. I am continuing to urge the services to improve their sexual harassment policies that were required by a legislative provision that I added two years ago. For example, in the Senate version of this year’s National Defense Authorization, the Senate Armed Services Committee included a provision that permits victims of sexual assault who are involuntarily separated from active-duty to be afforded an opportunity for a general or flag officer review of their case. The Committee also encourages the Department of Defense to consider additional actions to ensure timely and adequate protection against reprisal directed at victim advocates.
Regarding religious harassment, the Air Force is carefully reviewing each alleged incident of religious intolerance at Air Force Academy. As a result of climate surveys that were required by law two years at my request, the Superintendent of the Air Force Academy found significant concern about religious intolerance. He quickly brought the issue to the attention of the Academy's Board of Visitors, of which I am a member, and to the Air Force leadership. The Superintendent subsequently instituted measures to address these concerns. The Air Force has sent three different teams to the Academy to look at the effectiveness of the measures implemented by General Rosa and determine whether additional actions were needed. The Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Jumper has, in written communications, reminded all Air Force commanders of their responsibilities for establishing a climate and culture that promotes respect for individual beliefs.
4. Phoenix Rising
a) You and several others, including the President, have been quoted as saying that the Social Security Trust Fund may not be secure come 2017 when the fund starts running a deficit. What trust should we have in the Federal Government as run by the GOP if it won't honor our own most secured Treasury bonds?
Just like any business or home budget, when your expenditures become greater than your income, it is reason for concern, and Social Security’s trust fund alone will not be enough to ensure Social Security’s solvency for the future. Also, when the time comes for Social Security to pay future retirees, where will it come from? It can only come out of the federal budget, in higher taxes or with benefit cuts.
Even more alarming is the fact that the demographics of the country will soon spell trouble for the Social Security program. As the baby boomer generation reaches retirement age, there will be fewer workers for every Social Security beneficiary than ever before. An ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure, and the sooner we address the impending problems with Social Security, the better.
b) Do you think we are doing ourselves a disservice with the growing partisanship of the Congress? Democratic Representatives and Senators have been complaining that they are left out during the writing of legislation, during Committee meetings, and during Conference Committees. Don't we all do better when everyone gets a fair voice? What ways do you see to return to a more civil debate?
I agree that we need to do all we can to ensure the debate over important issues affecting our nation remains civil. During my time in Congress, I have been successful in reaching across the isle to enacting meaningful legislation. I have worked with Pat Schroeder to create the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge, Mark Udall on the clean-up of Rocky Flats and Senator Ken Salazar on the Pueblo Depot and the Arkansas Valley Conduit. Clearly, when we work together in a bi-partisan fashion we can accomplish a lot.
As a well educated and pro-business Senator, do you agree with the comments below from Thomas Friedman's 5/25 column and, if so, what will you do as a Senator to address these issues?
"America faces a huge set of challenges if it is going to retain its competitive edge. As a nation, we have a mounting education deficit, energy deficit, budget deficit, health care deficit and ambition deficit. The administration is in denial on this, and Congress is off on Mars. And yet, when I look around for the group that has both the power and interest in seeing America remain globally focused and competitive - America's business leaders - they seem to be missing in action. I am not worried about the rise of the cultural conservatives. I am worried about the disappearance of an internationalist, pro-American business elite."
There are more issues in that statement than I have time to address here, but I certainly agree that we need to look closely at America’s competitiveness in the world. Every year, we graduate fewer and fewer students in technical fields like physics, math and engineering. It is these students that drive the American innovations that have ensured our prosperity. In the meantime, countries like India and China have shown remarkable ambition in the world marketplace, and we need to make sure that America can respond.
America has seen a long period of prosperity since it was founded, but we need to do what we can to make sure that America remains the world’s top innovator, and education has been, and will be, the driving force behind our nation’s success.
6. Kim Coupounas
Colorado is home to a diversity of outdoor recreation opportunities, including hiking and biking to camping and paddle sports. Our state is also home to a strong and growing outdoor recreation economy with about $200 million annually in consumer spending alone (not counting the business and personal taxes outdoor employers generate).
Colorado's outdoor enthusiasts and its outdoor industry rely on the Land and Water Conservation Fund - www.nps.gov/lwcf - to provide federal matching grants to states and local communities for quality close-to-home recreation like trails, ball fields and parks. The President recommended and the House recently passed legislation that entirely eliminates this important state/federal partnership. As a member of the Senate Interior Appropriations Committee, what will you do to ensure funding for the stateside and federal Land and Water Conservation Fund program?
The Senate Appropriations Committee, of which I am a member, recently passed the FY 2006 Interior Appropriations bill. In the bill, we included a $30 million restoration of funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund State Assistance Program. It is my hope that this restored funding will ensure that Colorado continues to be a leader in outdoor recreation. I will be working hard to make sure that this funding is retained as we steer this bill through the legislative process.
7. Jim Muhm
Why has the Republican Senate been so reluctant to resume any independent investigation of the torture scandals in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo?
I think everyone agrees that the incidents of prisoner abuse that occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan were despicable and contrary to American ideals. Having said that, calls for an independent investigation at this time are not helpful and appear politically motivated. The Department of Defense (DoD) has conducted multiple investigations into these abuses and discovered several incidents in which military personnel failed to follow procedures and, in some cases, found incidents in which the Department's procedures were inadequate. As a result of these investigations, the DoD has implemented a number of measures to protect prisoner rights and ensure that prisoners are treated with respect and decency. The DoD continues to review the effectiveness of these measures and has demonstrated a willingness to implement new measures if necessary. Numerous visits from the news media, Congressional Representatives and non-governmental organizations help ensure that the DoD follows through with its commitment to protect prisoner rights.
How [is] my relationship and aspirations for legal recognition of [gay marriage], a threat to your marriage or any other marriage? Why is the biggest threat to marriage gay marriage and not heterosexual divorce? Why not apply your energies towards making divorces more difficult or impossible instead of making marriages or domestic partnerships between loving gay couples impossible?
Traditional marriage is an institution worth protecting, especially for children. Study after study has shown that the ideal environment for raising children is with a mother and a father. People are free to live their lives however they please, but they are not free to redefine traditional marriage. Marriage as the union between a man and a woman has been recognized across all cultures and religions for thousands of years.
As you know, following the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling, I sponsored the Marriage Protection Amendment in the Senate. This constitutional amendment defines marriage as the union between one man and one woman. Unfortunately, we have already seen federal courts attempt to redefine marriage. Americans support this traditional definition of marriage, and 41 states have passed legislation protecting the definition of marriage. The intent of the amendment is to preserve the ability of the states to define marriage. The amendment does not outlaw domestic partnerships or civil unions. If this amendment passes, states would be free to determine domestic partnerships or civil unions however they see fit.
The Senate has held 10 hearings over the last 2 years on the health of marriage in the United States. I am committed to an open and deliberative study of all issues confronting this essential, foundational institution.
9. Chris Beaty
You've been notably silent with regards to immigration reform and the illegal alien crisis; while we've heard non- stop from your colleague in the House, Mr. Tancredo.
Are you holding off comments to allow Tom to fight on his favorite issue, or do you have a position? What is your position on further limiting (or stopping altogether) the H1- b program, and what about illegals, ICE, and Colorado?
I make a clear distinction between illegal and legal immigration. We must crack down on all illegal immigration. As we have seen recently with the shooting of 2 police officers in Denver, we should no longer be passive about deportation, particularly with illegals who have committed crimes in this country. They should be deported immediately. I will be taking a hard look at any proposal which attempts to stem the flow of illegal aliens across our borders or presents a common-sense alternative to the current Federal government policy.
As for legal immigrants, I favor policies that aim to ensure that immigrants enter this country as productive members of society in pursuit of opportunity, not public assistance. As Americans, we cannot forget that many of our forefathers were immigrants who had a strong sense of personal responsibility and who established the strong foundations of individualism which have made this country what it is today.
There are numerous visas available for immigrants to legally enter the United States such as H-1B, H-2B and the L-1 visas. I have supported recent efforts to reform H-2B visas which will supply small businesses in Colorado with temporary, seasonal workers. These temporary, documented workers are vital for many Colorado companies like processing, landscaping, and hospitality companies. I am supportive of efforts like these which are essential for Colorado businesses to operate and remain competitive.
10. Two questions on filibusters from two different viewpoints:
Senator, could you please explain the process of the "judicial filibuster" and what your perspective on the "deal" is? It seems you've been relatively quiet during this whole process - though we know you would have voted in favor of the "Constitutional Option". What is your reasoning for this?
And along those lines - has your relationship with your fellow Senator, Ken Salazar been strained during this process? It's apparent that for a freshman senator (ranked 100 out of 100) he's been in the news quite a bit - and getting lots of credit for being a part of the compromise - in spite of his re-consideration of the "up-or-down pledge" he made Coloradoans.
The judicial filibuster is when a minority of Senators prevent a confirmation vote on the Senate floor. This isn’t like a “live” filibuster that was made so popular in the movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.” A minority of Senators, essentially in secret, express their intent to keep a nomination from coming to a vote.
I was in favor of the constitutional option because I believe it is unfair for qualified judicial nominees to be denied a vote on the Senate floor. Democrats prevented the Senate from fulfilling its constitutional duty of advice and consent. The filibuster, however, doesn’t appear anywhere in the Constitution.
Since the Senate compromise was reached, we have been able to confirm 5 judges to the federal bench, including Justice Priscilla Owen, who had waited 4 years for a vote. I will continue to be working in the Senate to make sure that all of the president’s nominees get the fair vote on the floor that they deserve.
Since Senator Salazar came to Washington, we’ve been able to find common ground and work together on a variety of issues that are important to Colorado. I expect that we can continue to work in this way regardless of what happens with judicial nominations.
In two different form letters sent by your office in response to letters from me about the filibuster you clearly stated that the Democrats were wrong to filibuster judges.
Specifically from your first letter: "The current filibusters of President Bush's Circuit Court nominees clearly demonstrates an active effort by a minority of Senators to block the confirmation of well-qualified judicial nominees.
I firmly believe that these tactics have damaged the judicial nomination process to an unacceptable degree, and now it must be corrected."
How can you reconcile that opinion, when you personally joined filibusters of two Clinton judicial appointees, Marsha Berzon and Richard Paez (who waited four years for an up or down vote,) and after cloture was voted by 69 Senators, you voted to postpone a vote indefinitely. You also joined a filibuster against David Satcher for an administrative position. And you further placed personal holds on James Lyons for the 10th circuit and Patricia coan for a District Court spot. How you justify your divergent opinion without seeming hypocritical.
It is my opinion that every judicial nominee who makes it to the Senate floor should get an up or down vote. That is exactly what happened with the nominations of Berzon and Paez.
A Senator has the right to weigh in on a nomination from his or her home state. If that Senator objects, there are procedural grounds that the Judiciary committee can use to bypass a home state Senator if they believe the judge is well-qualified. Any position I have taken is not inconsistent with my belief that every nominee who reaches the floor should receive an up or down vote.
Will you vote up-or-down for any bill that privatizes Social Security?
I support the idea of creating voluntary, personal accounts within the Social Security program. The emphasis is on voluntary. If people have the desire to do so, I think they should be able to divert part of their Social Security contributions into a personal account that they control. This is very much the same as a 401k or other retirement investment programs that many employers provide to their employees. Why shouldn’t every citizen who pays into Social Security have the same retirement options that every Member of Congress currently has?
Can you clarify the provisions of a bill introduced by Cong. James Sensenbrenner that would enforce two year minimum mandatory sentencing for not reporting knowledge of an illegal drug transaction. Do you support this legislation?
H.R. 1528, introduced by Congressman Sensenbrenner, seeks to expand penalties for those who involve children and other vulnerable persons in drug manufacturing or selling. Among its provisions include tougher penalties for distributing drugs to people under 21 years of age and tougher penalties for attempting to cover up, or conspiring to cover up the distribution of drugs to people under 21. It was referred to the House Subcommittee on Health, where it awaits action. Typically, I don’t comment on legislation pending in the House of Representatives. If this proposal passes the House and comes over to the Senate, however, I will be examining it thoroughly.
American workers are facing a retirement catastrophe. Workers pensions, particularly multi employer pensions are in real financial crisis. As you know, most Labor Union members participate in multi employer pensions. Last year, congress granted marginal relief to multi employer pensions while at the same time offering a life line to single employer pensions. Many people believe that these actions were a direct attack on Labor Unions. Do you support real relief to American workers that belong to Unions in the form of multi employer pension relief?
America’s retirement system has 3 important parts: social security, pension programs and private savings. In Congress, we need to be doing what we can to ensure the long-term viability of all 3 parts of the system.
Regarding pensions, Congress faces a difficult road ahead. Not only multi-employer pensions, but the entire pension system faces difficulties. I was recently in a Budget Committee hearing discussing the state of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which is the government entity that insures our pension system. Congress has been assisting the PBGC in ensuring the solvency of pensions across the nation. This assistance is growing each year, however, and is unsustainable in the long-term.
I will be working here in the Senate to make sure that our social security and pension systems are sound, and to make sure that we encourage personal retirement savings.
14. Donald E. Johnson
I have several policy questions:
b) Both Republican and Democratic presidential candidates back forcing us to put ethanol in our gasoline. And now the corn farmers, who also grow soybeans, which are used in biodiesel fuel, want to force the use of biodiesel fuel. It takes more energy to produce ethanol and biodiesel fuel than they save. How can non corn state Congressmen stop this fraud? Why haven't you filibustered on this costly issue?
Biodiesel and ethanol can be produced from a variety of sources, not just corn or soybeans. For example, some biodiesel is made from used vegetable oil from restaurants. As co-chairman of the Senate Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, I think that biodiesel and ethanol have a role to play in our overall energy strategy. The key for our nation’s energy future is diversity. We need to leave no stone unturned as we examine potential sources of energy, including wind, geothermal, nuclear and traditional sources of energy.
I believe that we should let market forces drive renewable technologies, rather than one-size-fits-all government mandates. I have opposed the renewable fuel standard, which requires the addition of increasing amounts of ethanol to gasoline, for that specific reason.
a) Publicly-owned corporations are calling for relaxation of Sarbanes-Oxley, which Fed Chair Greenspan has praised. Do you favor changing the law?
As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, I was actively involved in passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. After the accounting scandals at Global Crossing, Enron, and other public companies, Congress had to take dramatic steps to enact reforms to help restore investors’ confidence. Our financial markets depend on timely, accurate, reliable information, and Sarbanes-Oxley has created greater transparency and has helped provide investors with the information they need to make regarding the purchase and sale of equities.
Congress’ role doesn’t end with passage of the law, however. I believe we have an ongoing responsibility to oversee the implementation, functioning, and effectiveness of the laws we pass. As changes occur in the auditing and accounting field, as well as the business marketplace, we may need to make further modification to the law.
We should make sure that additional disclosures are providing helpful information. We must also strike a balance between placing additional compliance mandates on businesses and the cost that represents, especially for small businesses.
c) Do you see any chance that the campaign finance law will be changed in light of its ineffectiveness?
I voted against the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law when it came before the Senate because I believe that it takes away the ability of candidates to control their own message. As we saw in the last election, McCain-Feingold gave free rein to faceless, unaccountable 527 groups.
I am not the only one in Washington who thinks that we need to take another look at McCain-Feingold, so I think it’s reasonable to expect that we’ll be looking at campaign finance reform again in the 109th Congress. As we reexamine our campaign finance laws, the goal should not be to restrict the free speech of 527s or any other political group. Rather, we should try to maintain transparency and accountability for all groups involved in political campaigns while restoring a candidate’s ability to control their own message.
15. Daniel Ong
What can you do to restore states rights regarding establishment of drinking ages? MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) lobbied to have federal highway funds held hostage unless states limited legal alcohol consumption to 21 and over, which arguably has led to fewer deaths from alcohol- related traffic accidents (there has been a decline overall anyway), but has led to many other problems. There has been an increase in binge drinking, resulting in deaths from over- consumption of alcohol. 18-20 year olds are now drinking in private situations where they are not learning to drink responsibly and not supervised by older, mature persons since any such alcohol consumption is illegal. As the 18-20 age group has traditionally been the period of college age exploration and experimentation, this total prohibition has also resulted in lowered respect for government institutions with unreasonably restrictive laws.
I think Colorado had it right previously to federal highway funds being held hostage, where 18-20 year olds could legally purchase and drink 3.2 beer to gain experience with alcohol consumption (not concentrated enough to kill someone), but hard liquor was limited to 21 and older (Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute calls this "training wheels" for alcohol). 18-20 year olds can legally vote and fight for their country but legally can't enjoy a beer or a glass of wine.
I suggest instead of requiring total prohibition of legal alcohol consumption under 21 to receive highway funds allocations, instead require a virtual zero tolerance of driving while ability impaired for drivers in the first five years of licensing (BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of 0.02% or greater results in loss of drivers license for a year; this is not age-discriminatory since it is based on driver experience).
This issue was raised during Pete Coors' campaign last year for Colorado's other senate seat, but his opinion was dismissed for having a potential conflict of interest. You have no ties to the alcohol industry so you could approach this issue objectively.
How about it, Senator? Why not let states decide this issue for themselves and not hold federally collected highway funds hostage?
As a proponent of states rights, I agree with you and have consistently voted against measures that will override the ability of states to set their own drinking age.
Please join us in thanking Senator Wayne Allard for participating in the Q&A with Colorado Pols. For more information, visit http://allard.senate.gov .