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Colorado Springs lawmaker says she’s received death threats, called racist names over pet fee bill

DENVER, Colo. (KRDO) - Colorado Springs Democrat Representative Regina English tells KRDO13 Investigates she has received death threats and been called racist remarks after a pet fee registration bill was introduced last week. Since going viral on social media over the weekend, Rep. English says she has killed the bill.

The bill would have required pet owners across Colorado to register that animal in a state-wide system and pay annual fees for owning a pet. The fees would have been as follows:

  • No more than $8.50 annually per pet animal with a designated caregiver.
  • $16 annually per pet animal that is a dog or cat that is not neutered or spayed and has a designated caregiver.
  • $25 annually per pet animal without a designated caregiver

Rep. English was the only sponsor on the piece of legislation, and she says her phone and email have been blowing up over the past couple of days with a variety of death threats and people calling her racist epithets.

"I now have 199 calls on my phone. I've received hundreds of emails, multiple messages on all my social media platforms and, you know, just a lot of racist remarks," Rep. English said. "Things like, I hope you die with this bill. You're the lowest scum on earth. You don't deserve to live. You're a moron. You're an idiot."

English, State Rep from District 17 in Colorado Springs, says most of the angry and threatening messages have come from people who do not live in her district.

She says the bill, as it was written, was not intended to be even what it proposed: a fee on pet owners in Colorado. Rep. English says she wasn't giving this bill as much attention as others. She says there were elements of it that became parts of the bill's language because "someone else" was working with her bill drafter on it.

"A moment of growth. I'm not the first legislator this has happened to and the bill that was introduced was not the bill that I initially sponsored. And I just think the people of Colorado need to know that," Rep. English said.

The Representative says she believes this bill struck such a cord with people in Colorado the cost of living has "skyrocketed" and any fee or additional tax sends people into a "whirlwind."

"It just wasn't a thoughtful bill, and it was not the bill that I wanted to bring forth," Rep. English said. "I would never put the people of Colorado in financial distress in any of my letters, any of my legislation. That's just not the kind of person I am, like because I consider myself the people."

KRDO13 Investigates asked English how her name could be on a piece of legislation that she didn't write, and didn't end up agreeing with in the end. She explained the bill's ideas started in the summer as a pet contingency program for seniors. She says a fee was not mentioned until the idea to raise money for animal shelters across the state was brought forward.

"The intent was good. It just kind of went bad, and so when I hit approved to meet the deadline for the final bill to go to on paper, I just simply said approved and didn't take the time to really read it in a thoughtful way," Rep. English said.

No matter how the final bill shook out, English says the way she has been treated in the last couple of days is unacceptable and shouldn't be used in the vernacular of any Coloradan.

"If I don't agree with someone, I'm not going to be like, 'I'm going to kill you because I don't agree with you. If you don't kill that bill, I'm going to kill you.' That's ludicrous. That's absurd," Rep. English said. "So just to know that we have people in Colorado that feel this way and think this way is kind of scary."

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Sean Rice

Sean is reporter with the 13 Investigates team. Learn more about him here.


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