Get More Smarter on Tuesday (March 3)

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Today is "303" day! Some of you may have to wait until July 20 to celebrate. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

Colorado's Congressional delegation — minus Rep. Diana DeGette — was on hand today as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Congress. House Speaker John Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak to Congress so that Republicans would stop yelling at him for a few hours. 

► Like just about everything else these days in the Colorado legislature, partisan lines are forming over the Parental Leave BIll. Either that, or Republicans really don't want to go to that ballet recital.

► The Denver Nuggets have finally fired head coach Brian Shaw. The Nuggets were just 56-85 during Shaw's tenure, or what Congressional Republicans might call a "winning record."

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GOP Anti-Abortion Bill #3 (!) Up Today

Creepy Uncle Sam holding a speculum.

Creepy Uncle Sam holding a speculum.

9NEWS' Amy Crowfoot reports, they just can't help themselves:

HB15-1112, sponsored by Rep. Lois Landgraf (R-Fountain), would require a physician to "take all medically appropriate and reasonable steps to preserve the life of a born-alive infant" and prohibits denying nourishment to a born-alive infant with the intent of ending the infant's life. It also prohibits using a born-alive infant for scientific research or other experimentation.

Landgraf said that because there are no reporting requirements for abortions, there is no way of knowing what happens to born-alive infants at this time. "The baby," she said, "can be set on a shelf and allowed to die."

Back in reality,

"It is already illegal to kill a living human being," [Pols emphasis] [Rep. Lois] Court said, also adding, "I am really tired of my Republican colleagues bringing forward divisive social issues when we really should be focused on rebuilding our middle class here in Colorado."

The same arguments apply here as with the other GOP anti-abortion bills that have been introduced to certain death in the Democratic-controlled House. The motivation must be deeply emotional and ideological, because politically, it's just disastrous. Whatever marginal benefit running these bills have with motivating the conservative anti-abortion base is totally undone by the moderate voters these bills alienate. Politically, it's a tremendous gift to Democrats, proof positive that the "War on Women" is no myth.

There seems to be this idea that Republicans can insulate themselves from criticism over abortion, perhaps following Cory Gardner's example of gumming the issue to death, even as they run anti-abortion legislation year after year.

2014's experience notwithstanding, we do not share their optimism.

Tuesday Open Thread

"With most people disbelief in a thing is founded on a blind belief in some other thing."

–Georg C. Lichtenberg

Ryan Call changes tune about his opposition to at least one recall campaign

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call.

Colorado GOP chairman Ryan Call.

Appearing on KNUS 710-AM’s Jimmy Sengenberger Show Saturday, Colorado GOP Chair Ryan Call emphasized his support for Colorado’s 2013 recall campaigns, when, in fact, Call flat out opposed at least one recall effort.

“From a tactical perspective, frankly, the worst thing that I could do is to get to the head of the column and say that this is a Republican initiative,” Call told Sengenberger Saturday in explaining why he didn't take an earlier or higher profile stance in the recall campaigns. Call pointed out that Republicans would have had a harder time winning over Democrats and independents if the recall campaigns were perceived as GOP-led.

This contrasts with what Call told Fox 31 Denver at the time about his decision not to support the recall campaign of Democratic Sen. Evie Hudak:

Call: “This recall election would undermine our efforts in the governor’s race, the U.S. Senate race and to win a senate majority if voters perceive that Republicans are trying to win a majority through recalls.”

“The job of the Republican Party is to get Republicans elected when there are regular elections,” said Colorado GOP Chairman Ryan Call. “And there are already a lot of things competing for our time, attention and resources. [BigMedia emphasis]

Hudak recall organizer Laura Woods, now a GOP state senator who went by the name "Laura Waters" at the time, told KNUS radio host Peter Boyles that Call obstructed their efforts.

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Partisan Battle Lines Forming Over Parental Leave Bill

parental-leave-bill-2013

A fact sheet from 9 to 5 Colorado summarizes House Bill 15-1221, legislation to renew existing Colorado law allowing parents to take unpaid leave for their childrens' school activities. This legislation passed its first House committee test today on a party-line vote, but faces an uncertain future in the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate:

In 2009, the Colorado State Legislature passed the Parental Involvement for Academic Achievement Act, which allowed many Colorado employees to take leave to attend their children’s school activities. Research has consistently shown that increased parental involvement in the education and schooling of their children correlates with greater academic achievement outcomes. This legislation expires this year and should be permanently extended.
 
What the Current Parental Involvement Policy Does:

•    Allows employees of Colorado businesses to take up to 18 hours of leave per academic year to attend their children’s parent-teacher conferences, special education services, response to interventions for dropout prevention, attendance, truancy or other disciplinary issues.
•    Allows parents to participate in the above activities for children in Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade.
•    Applies to businesses with 50 or more employees. 
•    Limits leave to 6 hours per month, and the employer may require that the leave be taken in increments of 3 hours or less.
•    Requires parents to provide employers with at least 1 calendar week’s notice of the leave, except in an emergency. 
•    Employers may require that employees provide written verification of the reason for leave, and in the case of leave taken for an emergency, the employee must provide written verification of the leave upon return to work. 
•    Part-time employees accrue their leave at the percentage of full-time hours that they work (if you work 20 hours a week you would receive half of the leave time received by a full-time employee).
•    An employer may limit the leave granted to an employee if the health and safety of a person necessitates that the employee be present at work.  
•    Specifies that businesses that already have comparable leave policies that may be used for the same purpose and under the other provisions of the bill are not required to provide additional leave.
•    Allows for employers to deny leave if their absence would result in a halt in service or production.

House Bill 15-1221 would permanently renew the 2009 Parental Involvement for Academic Achievement Act, and expand the definition of "school activity" to include events like back-to-school meetings and meetings with counselors. This legislation saw a significant fight in 2009 when originally passed, which is one of the reasons it included a five year "sunset" provision requiring it to be reauthorized by the General Assembly. We've seen nothing to suggest that the 2009 bill has caused problems for employers, but Republicans are getting air cover from conservative group Compass Colorado as they try to kill it:

“Everyone wants to encourage parent participation in their children’s academic lives,” said Kelly Maher, executive director of Compass Colorado. “We need to ask ourselves if we really need to legislate every aspect of the employer/employee relationship. Does more regulation imposed on businesses get the desired outcome, or will it just create more red tape and make the employer/employee relationship more adversarial?”

We're not saying they have a good argument, but it's interesting that Republicans are trying to fight what seems like a no-brainer bill. Supporters cite polling that says 93% of parents want to be involved with their child's education, but 52% say work responsibilities make that harder. We're not aware of any Democrats being targeted in 2010 for supporting parental leave legislation–but in 2016, what kinds of ads will be made about Republicans who are trying to repeal it? What does this say about the party who claims they're "pro-family?"

Once again, this is not a fight we would willingly take on, with a huge potential for blowback on Republicans from voters if they kill this bill. But that appears to be what's happening as of now.

Get More Smarter on Monday (March 2)

Get More Smarter

Did March begin more like a lion or a lamb? What about a giraffe? It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Conservation groups are drawing attention today to Republican efforts to roll back Colorado's renewable energy standards. The State House is almost certain to reject these attempts, but not before Republicans are done dragging themselves through the mud.

► Congressional Republicans have another few days to figure out how to continue funding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) after a dramatic end to last week that saw passage of a one-week extension. According to poll results from CNN, Americans would blame Republicans for any problems with failing to fund DHS; no surprise here, since REPUBLICANS HAVE THE LARGEST CONGRESSIONAL MAJORITY SINCE THE NEW DEAL.

► House Speaker John Boehner (R-Tanning Bed) is trying to downplay GOP disarray by calling internal dissention a "disagreement on tactics." Colorado Rep. Ken Buck (R-Greeley) sided with Boehner on Friday despite spending weeks on the talk-radio circuit saying he would do the opposite.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Polis Co-opts Ted Cruz on Legal Pot As Cruz “Evolves”

Rep. Jared Polis, Sen. Ted Cruz.

Rep. Jared Polis, Sen. Ted Cruz.

The Denver Post's Mark Matthews reported Friday on some fun Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado is having at the expense of 2016 GOP presidential hopeful and "Tea Party" firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz:

Jared Polis and Ted Cruz are about as far apart on the political spectrum as two lawmakers can get.

But this week the Boulder Democrat and Texas Republican took the same stance on at least one hot-button issue: Colorado’s right to legalize marijuana.

And it's true: at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Cruz paid lip service to Colorado's right to legalize weed.

At the annual gathering of conservative activists and Republican Party leaders, Fox News' Sean Hannity asked Cruz if he thought Colorado's legalization of marijuana was a good idea.

“Look, I actually think this is a great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called ‘the laboratories of democracy,'" Cruz replied. "If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that’s their prerogative. I personally don’t agree with it, but that’s their right.”

Rep. Polis, who is sponsoring federal legislation allowing states to legalize marijuana, took the opportunity to co-opt Sen. Cruz's apparent support–though we seriously doubt Polis honestly expects Cruz to co-sponsor his bill. From Polis' statement:

Cruz's defense of local control over marijuana policies comes as members of his party in the House have made outlandish threats of penalties and dire consequences directed at the mayor of Washington, DC as she implements marijuana legalization approved by 70% of her constituents. These threats included the outrageous remarks from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) saying there would be “very severe consequences” and threatening that DC Mayor Muriel Bowser “can go to prison for this.”

“I’m proud to join with Ted Cruz in calling on our colleagues in Congress to respect the right of local citizens to decide how to regulate marijuana use, without federal government interference,” said Rep. Polis. “My bipartisan bill, the ‘Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act,’ would do just want Sen. Cruz now supports, leaving it to the states to regulate marijuana how they see fit, and I look forward to seeing Mr. Cruz introduce companion legislation in the Senate, which I expect he will do imminently.”

In case you were still wondering is Polis was being serious here, his statement concludes:

Polis also praised Cruz’s support of the local dispensaries in Colorado, where Cruz told attendees at CPAC the brownies they enjoyed had come from. He did warn Senator Cruz that under current federal law, transporting them across state lines was illegal, although TSA agents, who may go without pay if the Republican Department of Homeland Security shutdown occurs, may have been more worried about whether they were going to be able to make rent. [Pols emphasis]

Ouch. So no, not buddies! And Cruz isn't likely to sign on with Polis to do anything. With that said, the shift in Cruz's position on Colorado marijuana legalization is large and notable, compared to his very different view just a year ago–Raw Story:

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Renewable Energy Standard Rollback To Die Today

UPDATE: The Durango Herald's Peter Marcus:

The measure made it through the Republican-controlled Senate last month but faced an uphill climb in the House, where Democrats on the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee ended the effort by a 6-5 party-line vote…

Environmentalists held a rally at the Capitol just before the hearing to express their opposition to the bill. A group of mothers said the issue is about protecting the health of future generations by moving away from traditional fuel sources that many believe is at least in part the cause of climate change.

“Moms believe we have a moral obligation to protect children’s health and future, ensuring they have clean air is one of the very basics,” said Dana Gutwein, a leader with the group Colorado Moms Know Best. “The reality is that chopping the state’s renewable-energy standard in half would mean relying more on coal-fired plants and more kids dealing with asthma and other respiratory problems.”

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Wind power.

Wind power.

AP via the Aurora Sentinel:

A bill to lower the mandates has passed the Republican state Senate and awaits its first hearing in a House committee Monday.

That committee is controlled by Democrats and is expected to reject the idea.

The bill would cut in half the percentage of renewable energy required of large utilities by 2020, from 30 percent to 15 percent. It would also reduce the renewable energy mandate on rural electricity co-ops, from 20 percent to 15 percent by 2020.

Ahead of today's hearing, 350.org and Conservation Colorado are rallying to draw attention to Senate Bill 44:

The House State, Veterans & Military Affairs Committee has the capacity to kill Senate Bill 44. This bill would roll back our renewable energy standard from 30% by 2020 to 15%. This is especially absurd because Xcel already gets 19% of their electricity from wind alone. Some renewables are cheaper than fossil fueled power and actually help rural Coloradan communities, contrary to the 'war on rural Colorado' narrative.

This is another situation where Democrats have an opportunity to use GOP support for a bill with no real backing outside one special interest–in this case the fossil fuel industry–against Republicans with the much larger majority of voters who won't support rolling back Colorado's popular renewable energy standard. The "war on rural Colorado" rhetoric employed by opponents of the renewable energy standard for rural electric co-ops in particular was always dreadfully over the top, and fell flat during the failed "North Colorado" secession movement.

The only thing that's changed is control by one seat in the Colorado Senate, and that's why the bill survived long enough to be noted in two separate news cycles. Keep in mind that even Cory Gardner had to run as a renewable energy proponent last year. Outside a small segment of climate change denialist diehards and fossil fuel industry surrogates, opposing Colorado's renewable energy standards–which most voters aware of the issue consider a good thing–makes little political sense.

But along with abortion bans, making the world safe for anti-vaxxers, and rolling back gun laws, this is where Colorado Republicans have chosen to plant their flag. For Democrats looking ahead to 2016, it's a wealth of material.

Monday Open Thread

"How often it is that the angry man rages denial of what his inner self is telling him."

–Frank Herbert

Buck’s vote with Boehner screws talk-radio hosts

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

How you like me now?

How you like me now?

In standing with House Speaker John Boehner on Friday to avert the shutdown, albeit temporary, of the Department of Homeland Security, Colorado's new Republican Congressman Ken Buck apparently had second thoughts about his pledge to shut down DHS if necessary to stop Obama from allowing some immigrants to avoid deportation.

Asked by KLZ's Randy Corporon in January whether he would resist "public pressure and media assaults" and refuse to fund DHS along with Obama's immigration program, Buck said, 

Buck: "I can tell you this: Ken Buck will. I will make the case, and I will make sure that we are not funding those portions of his executive action that are so repugnant."

In another interview, delivered to KFKA guest host Nancy Rumfelt in January, Buck pledged stand firm against any moderating winds that might emanate from House Speaker John Boehner:

Buck: “Speaker and the leadership team know that they cannot count on me when they move to the middle, that I will be voting against leadership’s efforts in certain areas, especially is true when it comes to the fiscal issues, the appropriations bills and the regulatory issues. And I include Obamacare in that. But absolutely. The people in the 4th Congressional District can count on Ken Buck to be with the conservative votes when it comes to the bills that are coming up in the future.” 

Colorado Springs' Doug Lamborn did what Buck said he'd do, when Lamborn voted against temporary funds for DHS.

Lamborn: “I cannot support funding, even for a short period of time, the President’s unlawful executive action that violates the Constitution,” Lamborn said in a statement, reported by The Denver Post.

BREAKING: Palacio Re-Elected Democratic Party Chairman

MONDAY UPDATE: Statement from Rick Palacio:

Thank you to the Democratic Party family. Its been an incredible honor to lead our Party for the past four years, and it will be my continued honor to lead our Party for another two years as well. A lot of very important issues have been raised in the last month, and I'm determined to ensure that voices from across our state are heard and respected as we move forward and continue to build a united, inclusive, forward looking and successful party that we can all be proud of.

—–

SUNDAY UPDATE: The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels:

Palacio won after one round of balloting during the Democrats’ reorganizational meeting Saturday at the downtown Denver Marriott. With 468 Democrats voting, Palacio received 248 votes to Sabados’ 182 votes. Former congressional candidate Vic Meyers received 38 votes. In other words, Palacio received 53 percent of the vote, Sabados 39 percent and Meyers 8 percent…

The race received national attention after Palacio announced Thursday night that the make-up of the committee that was going to do the voting did not meet party requirements for gender equality and he needed to appoint 46 more men. Sabados accused him of trying to stack the deck, but Palacio pointed out the rule has been in place since the 1970s. He also appointed Sabados and Meyers to the committee.

—–

Coverage coming soon, but that's the word from the Colorado Statesman's Ernest Luning:

We'll update.

Weekend Open Thread

"Farce treats the improbable as probable, the impossible as possible."

–George Pierce Baker

BREAKING: House Fails to Support DHS Funding as Deadline Looms; Now What?

SATURDAY UPDATE: Congress passes one-week extension of DHS funding last night setting up a fresh battle for next week, while the immediate story continues to revolve around House Speaker John Boehner's crushing defeat at the hands of conservative House Republicans. Politico:

The vote was 357-60. The Senate approved the stopgap measure earlier Friday evening and it was signed by President Barack Obama minutes before the midnight deadline when the department’s funding was to expire.

The 11th-hour move came after dozens of House Republicans dealt a humiliating defeat to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and other GOP leaders. Conservatives teamed up with Democrats to shoot down a Boehner-backed measure that would have funded DHS for three weeks.

Boehner’s allies are concerned after Friday’s setback that his critics inside the Republican Conference may try to oust him as speaker if — as expected — he puts a long-term DHS funding bill on the House floor next week. While Boehner shrugs off such speculation, close friends believe such a move is a real possibility.

Are these the final days of Boehner's speakership? Is the GOP-controlled House totally incapable of carrying out basic responsibilities? All these questions and more will be answered next week! Stay tuned as the embarrassing spectacle that is the 114th Congress continues after a word from our sponsor.

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UPDATE #3: Via the Associated Press: "You have made a mess," [Rep. Nancy] Pelosi said to Republicans as debate neared an end on the measure.

—–

UPDATE #2: Twitter is abuzz. Republicans have the largest Congressional majorities since the New Deal…they just can't govern.

Plan B? Looks like Plan B is for Republicans to get slaughtered in 2016.

 

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UPDATE: Click here to see the voting live on the House floor.

—–

It appears as though House Republicans may not pass legislation to fund the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in time for the midnight deadline tonight. Voting is happening as we type — we'll update when the final tally is available.

Here's what the Washington Post wrote a few hours ago, when it still seemed as though Republicans would do something in the House.

House Republicans are hoping to pass a stopgap funding bill Friday that would avert a partial shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security at midnight, as the Senate passed its own bill that would fund the agency through September.

The House GOP plan is a fallback proposal Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) put forth to rank-and-file members in a Thursday meeting. He did so because a House-passed funding bill that takes aim at President Obama’s executive actions on immigration has been blocked in the Senate.

The new measure would fund DHS for three more weeks. If approved by Congress, it would continue a standoff between the House and the Senate over more lasting agency funding. The Senate bill to fund DHS through September that would not touch Obama’s immigration directives passed on a 68-31 vote Friday morning.

At Least He’s Not Your Governor

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a darling of conservatives since his campaign to weaken public sector unions after winning office in 2010, has been working to raise his profile lately in advance of a possible run for the presidency in 2016. We took note last week of Walker's comments in response to Rudy Giuliani's statements about President Barack Obama's "love" of America. Yesterday, Walker was asked about his credentials to take on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and his response is drawing a lot of criticism today:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Thursday said his experience undermining labor unions in Wisconsin has prepared him to take on the threat of the Islamic State in the Middle East.

"If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world," Walker told a packed crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference, in response to a question about how he would fight the terrorist group, which has killed thousands in Iraq and Syria.

Walker was referring to protesters who led an unsuccessful recall effort against him in 2012, after he proposed a budget that stripped Wisconsin's public sector unions of their collective bargaining rights. The protests lasted for months and catapulted Walker onto the national political stage.

Likening a vicious terror group currently the target of American airstrikes to the teachers and public employee union members who protested against Walker in 2011 might sound good to attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), but for everyone else it's evidence of either extreme cluelessness, or a malice toward fellow Americans who just happen to be union members that many would call disqualifying for higher office.

And ISIS/union comparisons aren't the only way Gov. Walker is failing to put his best foot forward:

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's (R) nearly $70 billion budget proposal deletes language requiring colleges to report their sexual assault statistics to new students and to the Department of Justice, Jezebel reported on Friday.

Well sure, after all, that rape story in Rolling Stone was a hoax! So the kids don't need to know about rape on Wisconsin campuses.

It's early, but Scott Walker is not off to a presidential start here–more of a Rick Perry start.

And we all remember how that ended.

Get More Smarter on Friday (Feb. 27)

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The dress is definitely bluish-brown. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Today is the deadline for Congress to authorize funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), so what should we expect of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner? If you guessed, "punt the issue for three more weeks," you win the door prize. But as Politico reports, Republicans are merely delaying an answer on a budget problem that is about to get much, much worse:

First the good news: Congress appears to have found a way to avoid a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security for the next three weeks.

Now the bad: March is beginning to look awfully grim for the new Republican Congress that had lofty expectations for legislating in 2015.

GOP leaders appear set to win approval of their short-term solution to the DHS impasse on Friday, hours before the money runs dry. But that will leave the House and Senate just three weeks to bridge their fundamental differences on funding the department for the long term and blocking President Barack Obama’s changes to the enforcement of immigration policy.

On top of that, Congress must update a complicated Medicare reimbursement formula for doctors. And it needs to pass a budget.

This is where we remind you, again, that REPUBLICANS HAVE MAJORITY CONTROL IN CONGRESS and they still can't figure out how to govern.

Mr. Spock is dead.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

 

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