Get More Smarter on Monday (May 4)

The Colorado Legislature closes up shop on Wednesday; May the 4th be with us all. 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…

► With just three days to go in the 2015 legislative session,  it’s safe to say that there are a lot of bills that are going to be left hanging. Capping off what has been a pretty embarrassing session for Senate President Bill Cadman is this odd detail: Senate Bill 1, Cadman’s first piece of legislation and his big plan to start fixing Colorado’s budget, was not on the schedule this morning to receive its first hearing, but may finally be discussed in the Senate Finance Committee later today.

 ► Ivan Moreno of the Associated Press breaks down what we are likely to see in the final three days of the 2015 session. For another rundown, check out Peter Marcus at the Durango Herald.


Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Are Colorado PERA Negotiations Being Influenced by Federal Politics?

(clockwise from top): U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, State Sen. Bill Cadman, State Sen. Owen Hill

(clockwise from top):
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, State Sen. Bill Cadman, State Sen. Owen Hill

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post reported late yesterday on a troubling political strategy from Republicans that intertwines state and federal politics:

Intense negotiations are underway at the state Capitol to try to revive a Denver Public Schools pension bill that critics claim was killed by Republicans because of former DPS Superintendent Michael Bennet’s Senate re-election bid.

House Bill 1251 is important for DPS because it would allow the district to quit paying around $23 million more a year into the state pension fund than other school districts…

Three people with knowledge of the bill told The Denver Post that they talked about it with Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, who said national Republicans didn’t want to see a bill passed that potentially could help Bennet. Hill briefly ran for the U.S. Senate in 2014. [Pols emphasis]

Hill responded Thursday that his chief concern is that PERA is a “real ticking time bomb,” but he acknowledged people told him they had concerns about “some bad deals that were cut” when Bennet oversaw Denver schools.

Bennet’s financial dealings at DPS were an issue in his 2010 Senate primary. “Exotic Deals Put Denver Schools Deeper in Debt,” read a headline in The New York Times. Republicans have said they plan to revisit the issue on the campaign trail next year.

For his part, State Senate “PresidentBill Cadman says that he has “never” talked to the Republican Party or “anyone in Washington” about HB-1251, although it’s difficult to say how much people are really listening to Cadman anyway.

We won’t get into the policy discussion of the relative merits of HB-1251 and PERA reforms here (Colorado Pols is a political blog, after all), but the idea that Colorado legislation might be torpedoed because of how it might harm the re-election chances of a U.S. Senator is more than a little troubling. It also speaks, again, to the leadership structure surrounding Colorado Republicans. If this story proves true, it seriously calls into question how much Senate Republicans are even making their own decisions locally.

Get More Smarter on Friday (May 1)

May Day! May Day! 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…

► So, Thursday was a weird day. There was an Ultrasound Bus outside the State Capitol, lots of terribly insensitive things were said in a Senate Committee hearing over the surprise abortion bill (SB-285), and in a move nobody saw coming, Senator Tim Neville’s last-minute legislation failed to even make it out of committee. Check out the Durango Herald for a good summary of yesterday’s events.

 ► Oversight on the VA Hospital construction in Aurora was virtually nonexistent, according to a new report. Let us remind you, again, that Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) is the CHAIR OF THE OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE for the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Six Baltimore police officers are being charged in the death of Freddie Gray, which prosecutors have ruled a homicide. Gray’s death was the prime spark that kicked off riots and violence in Baltimore.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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BREAKING: Senate Abortion Bill Dies in Committee

Wow.

After all the talk about Senate Bill 285, the GOP’s surprise attempt to place new restrictions on abortion (and the Super-Friendly Ultrasound Bus), the bill failed to even make it out of committee. As John Frank reports for the Denver Post:

A Republican lawmaker broke party ranks and joined Democrats to reject a major abortion bill in Senate committee Thursday…

…Freshman Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik, R-Thornton, said she is concerned about the mandates on women and physicians in the bill.

“I’d like to see more work done on this, more discussion, more thought put into this,” she said. “My people have spoken to me and they don’t feel this bill is in their best interest.”

The vote came as a surprise because it is one of the only conservative bills to get voted down in the Republican-led Senate since the party took power in January. Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud, said he was disappointed an abortion bill would fail before getting to the floor.

We’ll have more on this in the coming days, including the horribly insensitive statements and testimony from a handful of Republican Senators. This is an absolutely stunning end to a really bad idea from Senate Republicans. It is also tremendously damaging to Senate “President” Bill Cadman, who was already reeling from the obvious Republican repudiation of his leadership and now has to explain how taking such a big risk could fail so spectacularly.

We wrote yesterday that this surprise legislation “would not end well.” It couldn’t have ended any worse for Senate Republicans.

All Aboard the Super-Friendly Ultrasound Bus!

Tim Neville Bus

The Neville Nutters — State Sen. Tim Neville and his son, Rep. Partick Neville — really don’t understand why anybody would be upset with their last-minute legislation to regulate abortions. Via John Frank of the Denver Post:

Sen. Tim Neville, the bill’s sponsor, called it a common-sense bill to provide women more information about their decision and rejected the idea that it would spark rancor.

“I don’t think it has to be a divisive issue,” the Littleton Republican said. “I can’t pick what’s going to be divisive or not.”

His son, Rep. Patrick Neville, who is the House sponsor, said he began working on the bills months ago. “I think women have a right to view an ultrasound, and it’s also a safety issue, too,” the Castle Rock Republican said.

That’s right, folks. And what could be safer than getting an ultrasound on a weird bus parked across the street from the State Capitol? The flyer you see here was distributed to State Senators this morning by Tim Neville himself (who cleverly rhymed “bus” with “fuss”). We are not making this up.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 30)

The first round of the NFL Draft is tonight; are you excited for the Denver Broncos to draft an offensive lineman? 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…

► There are just five days to go in the 2015 Colorado legislative session, and the end couldn’t come quicker for Senate puppet President Bill Cadman. Maybe Sen. Tim Neville will let him leave early now that he’s done the bidding of the far right and allowed a late bill exemption for a big abortion bill. John Frank of the Denver Post has more on the biggest matsah ball under the golden dome:

The measure gets its first hearing Thursday and probably will land on the Senate floor for a vote and heated debate in the final days before Wednesday’s adjournment.

It will bookend a session that began with a partisan tone in the Senate, where Republicans used their newfound majority to push a conservative agenda that generated controversy.

“It’s an unfortunate way to define a whole session,” said Senate Democratic leader Morgan Carroll of Aurora.

 

► While Colorado Republicans make a last-ditch effort to pass legislation restricting abortions, they also made sure to kill a bill that would have continued a very successful program aimed at preventing teen pregnancies. But wait, there’s more irony! As Think Progress notes:

Colorado Republicans have officially voted to eliminate funding for an award-winning family planning program that has contributed to a staggering 40 percent drop in the state’s teen birth rate over the past five years.

Ironically, the vote to deny funding from the program came just one day after it received a prestigious award from the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA), which periodically honors particularly effective reproductive health initiatives at its annual conference.

► The Aurora Sentinel sums up Day 3 of the Aurora Theater Shooting Trial.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Tim Neville is the Real Senate President

Things could be worse for Senate President Bill Cadman; at least he's not a hand puppet.

Things could be worse for Senate President Bill Cadman; at least he’s not a hand puppet under Tim Neville.

THURSDAY UPDATE: Senator Tim Neville may be good at manipulating fellow Republicans, but he still can’t make this logic work:

Sen. Tim Neville, the bill’s sponsor, called it a common-sense bill to provide women more information about their decision and rejected the idea that it would spark rancor.

“I don’t think it has to be a divisive issue,” the Littleton Republican said. “I can’t pick what’s going to be divisive or not.”

No, no, you can’t. You just make Bill Cadman do it.

—–

The State Capitol is abuzz over the surprise move from Senate Republicans to introduce a last-minute bill to regulate abortions out of existence — and what this unexpected move tells us about who is really running the show for the GOP. 

There’s nothing particularly groundbreaking in the text of Senate Bill 285; requiring women to undergo an ultrasound and a 24-hour waiting period before a procedure is an approach that we have seen from anti-choice groups around the country for many years. Similar legislation was nearly passed in Virginia in 2012 until then-Gov. Bob McDonnell realized that it was obscene to suggest that women could be “forcibly penetrated” via ultrasound (for more background, check out this 2012 story in Slate magazine).

The big surprise, of course, is that SB-285 would be introduced in the State Senate just one week before the 2015 Colorado legislative session is scheduled to come to an end…and right on the heels of the GOP’s “Personhood” debacle. Even if Republicans controlled both chambers of the Colorado legislature, it would take a minimum of three working days to get a bill through the Senate and the House (we know this little fact because that’s what Republicans tried to do with their infamous “Midnight Gerrymander” back in 2003). As it stands now, there will barely be enough time for a House committee to spike the bill — should the GOP even manage to get it out of the Senate quickly — so how did this strange maneuver even surface?

First off, SB-285 could not have been introduced this late in the legislative session without the approval of Senate “President” Bill Cadman. Legislators can’t just toss out a new bill whenever they choose; if this were the case, the legislative session quite literally would never end. If you want to introduce a new bill later in the session, you must secure a “late bill exemption” from House or Senate leadership. That Cadman would grant late bill status for anything is a contradiction of his own words from the opening day of the session (Jan. 7, 2015), when he said in a floor speech “stop asking for ‘late bills'; I’m not kidding.”

Sen. Tim Neville.

Sen. Tim Neville (R-Jefferson County)

Now, Cadman is no dummy (figuratively speaking, anyway). He knows good and well that SB-285 has zero chance of making it into law. He knows that this move will be used as negative advertising fodder against Republicans in 2016. And he’s also smart enough to understand how badly this undermines his title of “Senate President.” Obstensibly, Cadman is the leader of his caucus and responsible for making sure that things like this do not happen. From what we’ve heard today, there is a growing consensus that Cadman got rolled by the right-wing of his own party — and by Senator Tim Neville specifically.

Neville has emerged as the most prominent Republican of the 2015 legislative session, leading the charge on the controversial anti-vaxxer “Parent’s Bill of Rights,” among other lost causes. The Neville Nutters have been positioning themselves as something of a political “dynasty” in recent years, including Tim’s sons, Rep. Patrick Neville, and Joe Neville, a top lobbyist for the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (whose Executive Director, Dudley Brown, thinks he owns the Senate); as well as sister-in-law Julie Williams of the Jefferson County School Board. It’s probably not a coincidence that all of the sponsors of SB-285 are also known backers of RMGO.

So what does Cadman get out of all this? By doing the bidding of the Neville Nutters, does he avoid a challenge from his own caucus in the fall so that he can remain “Senate President” in title only? Was Cadman subtly promised more business for his political consulting firm, Advantage Marketing? Or is there another political deal in the works, whereby the term-limited Cadman is backed by prominent anti-choice groups in a potential Congressional Primary against Rep. Doug Lamborn?

Of course, it is entirely possible that Cadman just “gave up” on trying to hold the line against the right-wing fringe of his party. He hasn’t been very good at keeping the trains running on time anyway, so perhaps this weakness in leadership should be expected.

Senate Bill 285 is not going to become law in 2015, but the political ramifications of this bizarre last-minute legislation will likely reverberate throughout 2016 and beyond. Consider the floodgates open.

One Down, One to Go In Public Lands Debate

Republicans in the Colorado legislature have been trying to figure out how to seize control of national public lands in Colorado, but they’re not having much success. 

One such effort, SB-232, failed to make it through the State Senate last night when Republicans couldn’t keep their votes intact; sponsored by Sen. Randy Baumgardner, SB-232 would have created a “Federal Land Management Commission” that would try to figure out how the state would manage federal lands. Sportsmen were not big fans of this bill, as the Denver Post’s Scott Willoughby pointed out last week:

With the clock winding down on the 2015 Colorado General Assembly calendar, the prophesy foretold by wary sportsmen alarmed by an increasingly radicalized contingent of elected officials in the West has entered the rudimentary stages of reality. To the fear and dismay of many who value the wide-open spaces intrinsic to Colorado — not to mention their tax dollars — the widely unpopular yet enduring attempt by this faction of officials to wrest control of federally managed public lands will move one step closer…

Let's start the bidding for these mountains at $100.

Let’s start the bidding for these mountains at $100.

The fight over federal lands isn’t over entirely — not yet, anyway. There’s still the matter of SB-39, sponsored by part-time militia-dude Sen. Kent Lambert and Senate President Bill Cadman. This bill, which will likely be defeated in the State House before the 2015 legislative session ends next week, seeks to give Colorado “concurrent jurisdiction” over certain federal lands. As part of an effort to draw attention to these bizarre efforts to “claim” national public lands, Conservation Colorado staged a clever “mock auction” of public lands this morning. From a press release (full text after the jump):

The auction served as a warning of the potential for public lands to be sold after the state assumes control and discovers it does not have the financial resources to properly manage current national public lands.  

“We don’t need to study or spend one moment more thinking about squandering our birthright, our shared inheritance of public lands.  We have a responsibility to preserve our outdoor heritage for future generations and not lose access to lands that support outdoor recreation, hunting, and fishing,” said Pete Maysmith, Executive Director, Conservation Colorado.

Full disclosure: We bid $437 for Dinosaur National Monument.

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Senate Republicans Drop Surprise WTF Bill on Abortion

Senate President Bill Cadman (R).

Senate President Bill Cadman (R), in a photo taken sometime before he went completely bonkers.

We wrote yesterday that Senate President Bill Cadman had completely hosed his fellow Republicans by pushing through a fetal homicide Personhood bill that will come back to haunt the GOP in 2016.

Guess who just doubled-down on teh stupid?

As John Frank of the Denver Post tweeted last night, Senate Republicans are rolling out a new abortion bill that seems about as pointless as an eraser:

Sen. Tim Neville, Rep. Patrick Neville.

Sen. Tim Neville and his son, Rep. Patrick Neville.

Senate Bill 285, sponsored by The Neville Nutters, is an “informed consent/right to know” bill that would essentially get rid of abortion in Colorado by creating a laundry list of barriers and red tape for anyone considering an abortion. The legislation has a lot of similarities to a failed bill back in 2008 (SB08-095), which was sponsored by former Sen. Dave Schultheis and then-Rep. Kevin Lundberg; that Schultheis and Lundberg were involved should tell you everything you need to know about that bill.

This is a “late bill,” because it is being introduced well after the midpoint of the legislative session; in fact, we might need a new term for this, because the legislature is supposed to wrap things up one week from today. Sen. Cadman is not listed as an official sponsor, but because he is the Senate President, SB-285 could not have been introduced this late in the session without Cadman’s approval.

To recap, Senate Republicans just spent weeks prattering on about how SB-268 (the fetal homicide/Personhood bill) was about “justice” and not about abortion or Personhood or anything else. Cadman completely lost control of SB-268, to the point where Senators Ellen Roberts and Kevin Lundberg finally just admitted that this was an abortion bill. The legislation passed out of the Senate and will almost certainly come to a screeching halt in the State House, so the only thing that Cadman succeeded in doing was getting his caucus on-record about Personhood and making the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life fairly happy.

To follow up on that disaster, Cadman allowed a new abortion bill to be introduced that has no chance whatsoever of making it through the legislature; even if Cadman somehow picked up enough votes to move SB-285, there is no time left in the session to do it.

Is Cadman trying to sabotage Republicans, or has he just given up on trying to control the fringe elements of his caucus? Given what happened last week, it’s possible that Cadman just threw up his hands and said, “do whatever you want” to the extremists running around the Senate chamber. This will not end well.

Bill Cadman Leads Republicans Over the Cliff on Personhood

Senate President Bill Cadman leads Republicans off a cliff once again.

Senate President Bill Cadman should have hit the brakes earlier.

“Justice.” Senate President Bill Cadman said it again…and again…and again in discussing SB-268, the fetal homicide/Personhood legislation he crammed through the State Senate despite objections and proposed amendments from Democrats. Cadman has repeatedly said that his legislation, which was introduced in the aftermath of a brutal crime against a pregnant woman in Longmont in March, is about “justice” in allowing prosecutors to seek murder charges in the death of an unborn child.

But SB-268 is really a bill about “Personhood,” which would change the definition of a “person” to include “an unborn person at every age of gestation.” We’ve said it before in this space, and Cadman and his fellow Republicans proved Monday that SB-268 was always about Personhood, first and foremost. As John Frank of the Denver Post explains:

In the Senate debate, Democrats unsuccessfully sought to amend the bill to take out the language defining a person as an “unborn child at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth.” Another amendment that failed would have gutted the measure to only increase the penalties in attacks on pregnant women under Colorado’s current law.

The critics cited concerns that Senate Bill 268 included verbatim sections from model legislation proposed by Americans United for Life, an anti- organization, and cited similar laws in other states where district attorneys prosecuted pregnant mothers for endangering the child.

As any political observer with half a brain could have forseen, Senate Democrats offered up amendments Monday that would have removed the “Personhood” language from SB-268. Cadman had Republicans entrenched by now, however, so the GOP refused to accept the amendments…and things got worse in the process.

CMurphyTweet

Former Denver Post editor Chuck Murphy was among those (via Twitter) who noticed the GOP’s problem with SB-268.

Republican Sen. Ellen Roberts actually conceded that the real point of SB-268 was to declare a fetus a person, and Assistant Majority Leader Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) began droning on about the importance of extending constitutional rights to the unborn. In voting down the proposed amendments, Senate Republicans are now on record in support of Personhood, which Colorado voters have flatly rejected every time it has appeared as a ballot measure. These votes will be used often in 2016 against Republicans seeking re-election, and it’s gonna sting. The advertisements write themselves: “When Republicans gained control of the State Senate, they pushed a Personhood bill that contained similar language to ballot measures that Colorado voters have opposed on three separate occasions.”

There was never any real chance that SB-268 would make it out of the State House, and Monday’s actions only ensured as much. But Cadman’s “leadership” here may very well give Democrats everything they need to re-take control of the State Senate in 2016. This bill was going to be stuck with the “Personhood” tag no matter how many times Cadman said the word “justice.”

Colorado already has the “Crimes Against Pregnant Women Act” on the books — and has since 2013 — so there was no real practical need for Cadman to rage around the State Capitol for the last month. If Cadman truly didn’t realize that he was walking his caucus into a Personhood debate, then he is in no way capable of leading Senate Republicans in 2016.

If Cadman did realize this problem ahead of time, but pushed forward anyway…well, he is in no way capable of leading Senate Republicans in 2016.

 

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 28)

Hey, there it is! Welcome back, Sun. 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…

► Prosecutors are scheduled to call their first witness today in the Aurora Theater Shooting trial. The Aurora Sentinel provides a handy update for Day Two.

► As the Supreme Court begins hearing arguments over same-sex marriage, experts on both sides of the argument seem to think equality is a foregone conclusion. Or…maybe not?

► So-called fetal homicide Personhood legislation limped out of the State Senate yesterday. Senate Bill 268 is unlikely to make it through the State House, especially after running into all manner of political problems in the Senate. 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Monday (April 27)

MoreSmarter-RainToday’s forecast calls for rain, or something. 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…

Opening Statements begin today in the Aurora Theater Shooting trial, nearly three years after the attack at a late-night screening of The Dark Knight Rises. The Associated Press takes a look at what to expect over the next several weeks as attorneys attempt to deal with an “insanity” plea. Aurora Sentinel editor Dave Perry has a very thoughtful take on what is sure to be an unpleasant summer for all involved with the trial.

► The Office of Consumer Counsel is a hot topic this week in the legislature. Democrats in the House have introduced legislation to re-authorize the OCC without stripping it of authority over the telecommunications industry.

► The Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee held a “field hearing” in Denver on Friday to discuss the myriad of problems associated with construction of a new VA Hospital in Aurora. Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) also attended the hearing, which came on the same day as a new report showing that Coffman hasn’t done much “oversight” despite being the Chairman of the House VA Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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The Office of Consumer Counsel: Sonnenberg’s Faustian Bargain

SUNDAY UPDATE: Setting up a late-session battle, majority House Democrats have introduced an alternative “clean” bill to reauthorize the Office of Consumer Counsel without stripping it of authority in telecom rate cases. The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch:

The main differences between the bills are telephones and duration before the next sunset review. Sonnenberg, the sponsor of Senate Bill 271, and other Senate Republicans say there’s no need for the Office of Consumer Counsel to ride herd over phone rates. Those are dictated by competition in the free market, after the legislature deregulated telecoms last year.

Supporters of House Bill 1381 say the office needs to keep a watch on remaining phone services and issues, such as 9-1-1 service and whether deregulation is giving customers a fair shake.

The newest OCC bill sponsored by Reps. Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, and Faith Winter, D-Westminster, and 28 Democratic co-sponsors preserves the OCC’s telecom oversight. The Senate bill reduces the time until the next sunset review from 11 years to six. The House bill maintains it at 11.

From House Democrats’ presser:

“Extending the Office of Consumer Counsel is a no brainer,” Rep. Esgar said. “It provides critical protections for Colorado consumers and businesses to ensure that big utilities and telecom companies aren’t ripping off hardworking Coloradans to increase their profits.”

HB15-1381 will continue the counsel in its current form for another 11 years. A Senate bill, SB15-271, also extends the counsel, but only for six years and removes the counsel’s oversight over telephone providers, potentially threatening 9-1-1 services and causing unneeded rate increases.

“We know the counsel has prevented telecom rate increases in the past,” Rep. Winter said. “We shouldn’t create a loophole that threatens 9-1-1 services and will cost consumers more money.”

Stay tuned, the classic battle of consumers versus corporate lobbyists is about to resume.

—–

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg.

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg.

The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports on a deal in the works with Colorado Senate Republicans to prevent the Office of Consumer Counsel from sunsetting–an office important to consumer advocates to represent utility customers in rate hike proceedings.

As Bunch reports, Republicans are seeking a pound of flesh in exchange:

Consumer groups have been fretting the fate of the Office of Consumer Counsel, whose experts have helped convince the Colorado Public Utilities Commission that some of the rate increases requested by gas, power or phone providers are either more than necessary or not necessary at all.

The agency will reach its sunset on July 1, unless the legislature passes Senate Bill 271 or tries to revive the agency early in next year’s session. There’s a provision that allows the office to “wind down” for one year, but a delay would deal it a crippling blow, supporters say.

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg, R-Sterling, is sponsoring the bill and will argue its merits before the Senate Business, Labor and Technology Committee next week. The bill could be heard and moved to the full Senate as early as Tuesday or as late as Thursday, though it’s not on the committee agenda for either day as of Thursday evening. Despite the late hour of the legislative session, Sonnenberg is confident the reauthorization will face few roadblocks on its way to the governor.

“I don’t see there’ll be much opposition,” he said. “I do understand there’s a little bit of heartburn about taking out the telecom.” [Pols emphasis]

That’s right–the “deal” being offered by GOP Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg would reauthorize the OCC for the purpose of negotiating electrical and gas service rates, but would strip the office’s authority where it concerns telecommunications services. Bunch quotes the director of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group warning that “now’s not the time to bench Colorado’s consumer advocate on telephone issues.” So why is this happening, you ask?

It’s simple: CenturyLink and the rest of Colorado’s telecom players have really good lobbyists. There’s nothing about stripping the OCC of its authority in telecom utility service negotiations that helps consumers, but with the legislative session winding down and Republicans in control of the Senate by one seat, this is in all likelihood the best deal consumers are going to get. And if you don’t like it, your alternative is to lose all of your representation before the Public Utilities Commission on rate hikes.

Such a deal, Sen. Sonnenberg.

Get More Smarter on Friday (April 24)

Today is not the anniversary of anything particularly important, as far as we can tell. 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…

► The U.S. Senate is coming to Colorado…some of them, anyway. Members of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee will be in Aurora today for a field hearing regarding the ongoing problems with construction at the Aurora VA Hospital.

► The State Senate gave preliminary approval on Thursday to legislation intended to reduce student testing requirements in Colorado. The State House is scheduled to discuss a similar bill today.

► Republicans are going to have a tough time continuing to pretend that so-called fetal homicide Personhood legislation is anything but a purely political attempt to restrict abortions in Colorado; some of the language used in SB-268 is exactly the same as wording used in model legislation proposed by the group Americans United for Life.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Hypoglycemia Pushes “Dr. Chaps” To Run For SD-12?

The Colorado Springs Gazette’s Kassondra Cloos reports:

What was billed as a town hall meeting turned into a half-hour tease for Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt’s announcement that he plans to run for a state Senate seat.

Klingenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, went through a list of his accomplishments in the state Legislature Wednesday at the Airplane Restaurant. He also discussed his attempts to “fight for Republican principles” that didn’t make it through the Democrat-controlled House. He took a small handful of questions limited to constituents in House District 15, teasing his “plans for 2016″ along the way, before announcing he plans to run for Senate District 12…

Colorado Senate District 12 is currently represented by Senate President Bill Cadman, who is term-limited. Cloos reports (as our readers already know) that former Rep. Bob Gardner is planning a run for this seat, and there are rumors that former House Minority Leader Mark Waller could also throw his hat in the ring. Under ordinary circumstances, we’d say either of those experienced lawmakers should be more than a match for Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, for whom the controversies have flowed fast and furious since his inauguration in January. But Klingenschmitt has surprised us before, winning the seat to begin with despite a long history of over-the-top on-camera craziness as part of his “Pray in Jesus’ Name” Youtube ministry.

If this does turn out to be a career-ending misstep for Rep. Klingenschmitt, he may be able to attribute it to a 72-hour fast he claims to have engaged in before making the decision. We don’t know about you, but after 72 hours without food we’d be in no condition to make any kind of responsible decision.

In all seriousness, though, while it’s true that Klingenschmitt has placed himself in the line of fire against two experienced and theoretically more credible politicians, we can’t ignore the potential positive effect of the large amount of press “Chaps” has garnered in recent months. Klingenschmitt believes that Obama is possessed by demons and that gay people should not have civil rights, and the voters of House District 15 didn’t care in the least–electing him by a wide margin anyway. How many conservatives in SD-12 might actually agree with Klingenschmitt, as disgusting as it may sound, that Michelle Wilkins was punished by God for America’s sin of abortion?

For this reason and others that are similar, we’d be fools to count him out.