It’s not that Republican state Rep. Justin Everett of Littleton moonlights as an infamous James Bond villain outside the Capitol. He just votes no — a lot.
Hence the “Dr. No” nickname bestowed by a fellow lawmaker.
“I say no. I’m proud of saying no,” Everett said. “And I read all the bills. I’ve never voted on something I hadn’t read, whether it’s been an amendment or a bill.”
Since he was a freshman lawmaker in 2013, Everett has been the lone no vote on bills dozens of times in the 65-member Colorado House. He once voted no on a bipartisan bill to create a felony DUI in Colorado. He also voted no on another bipartisan bill to protect foster children from identity theft – again, the only member of the House to do so.
Everett insists he’s not voting no as some sort of knee-jerk Republican protest against government. For him, voting no all the time is governing.
“There’s always the title, and then there’s always other stuff in the bill,” he said. “So if you’re looking at it on balance, a lot of my no votes are based on: Well it’s 55 percent bad, 45 percent good – well, it’s 55 percent bad. So although it may have a nice title to it, there’s more to it.”
“I think there needs to be somebody (at the Capitol) that’s the adult,” he said. “Just because something makes us feel good, if it’s not good public policy, you just say no.”
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It’s not always a foregone conclusion, Everett doesn’t say no all the time. He points to many of his own bills that have become law. They include an effort from 2016 that eased the state’s so-called puffer law, which penalizes drivers who leave their cars running unattended. His 2013 bill that allows for in-state tuition for dependents in military families also became law.
But Everett is usually saying no. And he’s particularly against a high-profile bill going through the legislature which would ask voters to approve a sales tax increase to pay for transportation projects across the state. It’s a bill that has bipartisan sponsorship, including Republican Senate president Kevin Grantham.
But Everett – who is expected to announce a bid for state treasurer soon – insists the state would have enough money to pay for roads if leaders re-prioritized budget spending.
“The money’s there, it’s just the political will is not,” he said. “It’s easier for us to hold you hostage in your car and say we need a tax increase…”
Time will tell if Everett’s well-used no vote will once again adorn yet another bill.