Get More Smarter on Thursday (May 26)

Get More SmarterIf at first you don’t succeed…just keep filing lawsuits until a judge gives up. 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…

► Wednesday witnessed the debut of the Get More Smarter Show, and today you can watch the second part of an interview with Gov. John Hickenlooper about his new memoir.

 

► For now, at least, there are officially 5 Republican candidates running for U.S. Senate. A district court judge ruled on Wednesday that Ryan Frazier won’t have to drop out of the race because of a lack of valid petition signatures. As John Frank reports for the Denver Post, the GOP Senate field is starting to get a bit nasty with just weeks to go before mail ballots are sent to Primary voters — and Darryl Glenn isn’t happy about having so many opponents:

One-time longshot Darryl Glenn, buoyed by the recent endorsement of the prominent Senate Conservatives Fund, continued to spit fire at his challengers in a Colorado Public Television debate Wednesday in which he suggested three of themonly qualified for the ballot because of “judicial activism.”

The action unfolded as Ryan Frazier won a court battle to secure a spot on the ballot a minute before the debate started. A Denver judge issued a ruling that allowed the state to count signatures on Frazier’s petitions from voters who didn’t update their registration, saying it met the “substantial compliance” standard in law.

Blaha and Jon Keyser needed judicial orders to qualify for the race after their petitions contained mistakes that prompted the state to initially reject them. Glenn, who won his slot in the race at the state Republican Party convention, suggested the judge went too far.

“The court should only look and determine whether or not the secretary of state did its job,” said Glenn, an El Paso County Commissioner running a bare-bones campaign. “This whole substantial compliance standard needs to be thrown out.”
He didn’t appear to know that state law explicitly requires the court to use the “substantial compliance” standard.

 

► Former Republican Senate candidate and current state Sen. Tim Neville is backing Robert Blaha for U.S. Senate. It probably has nothing to do with the fact that Neville’s son, Joe Neville, is now running Blaha’s campaign.

Blaha, meanwhile, has decided that it would be advantageous for his Senate campaign if he tries to “out-Trump” Donald Trump. Perhaps Blaha is drinking the same Kool-Aid as Trump staffers who insist that His Hairness is echoing the sentiments of the American people in his calls to ban Muslims from the United States.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 25)

Get More SmarterNo more homework, no more books; no more teacher’s dirty looks. Today is the last day of school for several districts in Colorado, including Jefferson County. 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…

► At long last, you can finally Get More Smarter without even bothering to read words. Today is the debut of the Get More Smarter Show, presented commercial free on YouTube.

 

► Republican Ryan Frazier’s on-again, off-again relationship with the GOP Primary ballot took another turn on Tuesday. If you thought that this story couldn’t get any more ridiculous…well, obviously you are not familiar with the Colorado Secretary of State. As the Aurora Sentinel explains:

Frazier still has a chance to legitimately appear on the June 28 Republican primary ballot, however, as the state Supreme Court remanded the decision on the legality of another 51 signatures submitted by the former Aurora City Councilman’s campaign back to the Denver district court for reconsideration.

The district court has been ordered to issue a ruling on the final signatures by 5 p.m. Friday, May 27…

…Frazier was one of four Republican candidates who attempted to make the primary ballot by petition. Each of the other candidates — ex-Colorado State athletic director Jack Graham, Colorado Springs Businessman Robert Blaha and former state Rep. Jon Keyser — successfully petitioned on the ballot, despite several hiccups that resulted in various appeals.

The State Supreme Court punted a final decision on Frazier’s candidacy back to a lower court, where a few weeks ago a different judge refused to actually issue a definitive ruling…which is kind of how we got here in the first place. Primary ballots go out in the mail in less than two weeks, BTW.

For a great summary of the mess that is the Republican U.S. Senate race, check out this weekend story from Charles Ashby of the Grand Junction Sentinel.

 

► Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump is attacking New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez even though she is a Republican. Martinez has plenty of her own problems, thank you very much.

 

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 24)

Get More SmarterMay 24th may not be a national holiday…but it should be. 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 ongoing petition fraud story surrounding Republican Senate candidate Jon Keyser just won’t go away, in large part because everyone associated with Keyser’s campaign is operating on a “Michael Brown running FEMA” level of crisis response. On Monday, Denver7 reporter Marshall Zelinger managed to find “Maureen,” one of the petition gatherers suspected of fraud related to Keyser’s campaign, and she wasn’t very eager to talk:

“Maureen” can run away from journalists such as Zelinger, but we would suspect she’ll have a more difficult time continuing to evade investigators with the Denver District Attorney’s office.

 

► Mail ballots will drop about two weeks from today in advance of the June 28th Primary, which doesn’t leave much time for the rest of the GOP Senate field to get their mugs in front of enough potential voters. Jon Keyser’s campaign is deader than a parrot in a Monty Python skit, and Ryan Frazier is just hoping that he won’t be required to withdraw from the race before voting commences.  The race for the Republican Senate nomination is likely to be a three-way battle between Darryl Glenn, Jack Graham, and Robert Blaha, and the grassroots favorite (Glenn) just landed a huge endorsement for a campaign badly in need of funding.

 

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Colorado Springs GOP primary turns the Legislature’s smiles into snarls

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

They're mean with Photoshop in Colorado Springs.

They’re mean with Photoshop in Colorado Springs.

A mailer  in Colorado Springs includes actual factual photos of state house candidate Larry Liston cross-dressing, but the attack letter fails to mention that Liston’s step into a dress was all part of a joke.

As reported by the Megan Schrader at the Colorado Springs Gazette:

One page of the letter includes two photos of Liston from Hummers, a skit put on by the minority party in the House chambers every year skewering the majority party. It also includes a link to a story about criticism Liston faced for calling unwed mother’s “sluts.” Liston later apologized for the statement. Another link in the letter takes readers to the 2011 voting log on Senate Bill 200, which created the state exchange for the Affordable Care Act and shows Liston voted for the legislation.

Liston said those are “gross misrepresentations.”

[Former State Rep. Amy] Stephens said there is a “long-standing House and Senate agreement” that anything in Hummers would not be used for or against someone in political campaigns.

“It’s just reprehensible that this would be violated,” Stephens said.

The mailer appears to be the work of GOP consultant Jon Hotaling in support of Rep. Janak Joshi (R-Colorado Springs), whose facing a primary challenge from Liston. Hotaling defended the letter in the Gazette’s story.

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“Dr. Chaps” Loves Him Some Manly Men

And as usual, Colorado’s most (in)famous Republican state representative, Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt, is all about telling you so on Facebook:

chapsmenweremen

Yeah, we don’t have time to point out all the problems with this.

Best Reporting on the the State Legislature in 2016

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Here’s my list of the best reporting on the state legislature this session, from a progressive perspective. The press corps is threatened and depleted but continues to crank out quality journalism. Let’s hope we can say that next year.

o In a detailed analysis of votes on numerous issues, The Denver Post’s John Frank illuminated beautifully that the split among Republicans in our state senate reflects divisions in the Republican Party nationally. His list of eight hard-right state senators, later dubbed the “Hateful Eight” by liberals, includes two in possible swing districts: Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs and Laura Woods of Westminster.

o The Denver Post’s John Frank broke a story exposing the tactics of Americans for Prosperity in pressuring state lawmakers to sign a pledge not to “undermine the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights by creating a special exemption for the Hospital Provider Fee.” The Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins filled out the picture of AFP with an illuminating piece about the organization’s field work—as well as another story featuring the angry response of Republican Sen. Larry Crowder (R-Alamosa) to AFP’s apparent pressure on Crowder. The pressure from AFP appeared to have ratcheted up after Hutchins had matter-of-factly reported Crowder’s views in support of turning the provider fee into an enterprise.

o The Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins also banged out an excellent explainer of the hospital provider fee (and related issues), just as the legislative session was cranking up and few people understood what the fee was and what was going on.

o Rocky Mountain Community Radio’s Bente Birkeland offers a daily drumbeat of short interviews that often prove illuminating or provide a springboard more in-depth analysis (e.g., Secretary of State Wayne Williams’ position on election modernization or Sen. Larry Crowder’s stance on Syrian refugees).

o The Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus asked why J. Paul Brown (R-Ignacio) had voted last year for a program offering contraception to low-income women and teens, but this year voted against it.  It’s basic journalism, of course, but often forgotten in onslaught of other news.

o The Colorado Independent’s Marrianne Goodland provided in-depth coverage on, among other legislation, a predatory-lending bill that was defeated by state house Democrats.

o Fox 31 Denver’s Amanda Zitzman put a human face on a bill aimed at informing citizens about the cost of free-standing emergency rooms versus urgent care.

o The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch is trying to do something different at the newspaper with his “Joey ‘Splains” series. He’s on the right track.

o On the legislative campaign trail, we owe thanks to the reporters who covered the caucuses and county assemblies, allowing us not to rely solely on reports by party activists. The Colorado Statesman’s coverage, especially Ernest Luning’s, on social media and in articles stands out.

o The Boulder Weekly’s Caitlin Rockett found holes in the assertion that a bill targeting tax havens was bad for small business.

o The Colorado Statesman’s Hot Sheet is a welcome infusion of legislative news. (In the advocacy world, ProgressNow Colorado’s Daily News Digest is a userful compilation of political news coverage.)

o The Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland was the only journalist to write about the crazy irony of Rep. Kevin Priola missing a vote on a parental-leave bill, which he opposed, because he had to take his kid to the doctor.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 11)

Get More Smarter“Sine Die” sounds a lot more foreboding than it should. 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 race for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination in Colorado continues to get weirder. On Tuesday, Marshall Zelinger of Denver7 broke the news in a series of reports that Jon Keyser appears to have qualified for the June 28th Primary ballot despite apparent widespread fraud on his signature petitions. Keyser’s name will likely remain on the ballot, but he has much bigger problems right now.

 

► The 2016 Colorado legislative session comes to an end today, as Joey Bunch reports for the Denver Postwithout much movement on some of the key issues that first faced legislators in January:

Now, at the end of the legislative session, lawmakers are back where they started.

The General Assembly saved the 2016 term’s top priorities for the final days and struggled Tuesday to reach deals on most of them.

The Republican-led Senate rejected separate measures to reclassify how the state collects fees paid by hospitals and create a primary for the 2020 presidential election. And the Democratic-controlled House jettisoned a $3.5 billion bond package for transportation and a proposal to study how construction-defects laws are hurting the condominium market.

The biggest issue of the session — reclassifying the so-called “Hospital Provider Fee”  to provide more money for key infrastructure needs — finally met its end in a Senate committee after Senate President Bill Cadman basically ran out the clock on making a decision. As the Colorado Springs Independent reports, there was wide support for the HPF issue…but it couldn’t overcome Cadman’s allegiance to the Koch Brothers-funded “Americans for Prosperity.”

The legislature also failed to come to an agreement on a bill that would get rid of Colorado’s Presidential caucus system in favor of a Primary vote.

 

 Voters in West Virginia and Nebraska got to pull some levers in the Presidential Primary on Tuesday. Democrat Bernie Sanders defeated Hillary Clinton in West Virginia, though the result doesn’t put much of a dent in Clinton’s delegate lead. On the Republican side, Donald Trump was victorious in both West Virginia and Nebraska, which wasn’t a huge surprise since he’s the only GOP candidate still standing.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Presenting The 2016 Rep. Doug Bruce “Kicker Award” Winners!

(Let the 2016 recaps begin – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

As the Seventieth Colorado General Assembly’s final session comes to an end this week, ProgressNow Colorado, the state’s largest online progressive advocacy organization, today presented the inaugural Rep. Doug Bruce Awards, known in shorthand as the “Kicker Awards,”–given to lawmakers who commit the worst gaffes, embarrassments, outrages, and other lowlights in the course of their official and/or political duties.

“As one of Colorado’s most disastrous state lawmakers in addition to the author of the dysfunctional TABOR amendment, convicted felon tax evader Doug Bruce is the perfect namesake for our ‘Kicker Awards’ given to Colorado’s worst legislators,” said ProgressNow Colorado political director Alan Franklin. “Bruce remains a hero among conservative lawmakers, even while he sits in prison over his conviction for tax evasion. Its therefore possible our Doug Bruce Award winners will display their trophies similarly as badges of honor.”

Sen. Laura Woods: Worst Endorsement

All the way back in January, Sen. Laura Woods of Arvada led the way among Colorado elected Republicans throwing their support behind Donald Trump. Woods told Republicans her first two choices were Donald Trump or Ted Cruz months before Trump secured the Republican nomination, which is another way of saying months before it was cool to support Donald Trump. Woods deserves credit for predicting who her radical right friends would support, but voters in her swing suburban district won’t be impressed. [1]

Rep. JoAnn Windholz: Worst Social Media Post

In the aftermath of the domestic terror attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs last November, Rep. JoAnn Windholz posted to Facebook a shocking unscripted tirade in which she outrageously blamed the victims for the killings. Women in Windholz’s district cried shame and Republican strategists were horrified at what this meant for defending her vulnerable House seat, but Windholz has refused to apologize for her statements. [2]

Rep. J. Paul Brown: Worst Flip Flopper

Colorado’s groundbreaking program to supply young and low-income women with long-acting reversible contraception has dramatically reduced the rate of teen pregnancy in Colorado, but conservatives have opposed the program on ideological grounds at every step. This year, Rep. J. Paul Brown of Ignacio pulled the biggest flip-flop of the session after he voted to strip funding from this important program after initially supporting it. Brown said he “just felt like” changing his vote because he could see many of his fellow Republicans opposing it–perhaps the most honest and most pathetic excuse for reversing course on legislation in Colorado history. [3]

Rep. Kevin Priola: Worst Missed Vote

Rep. Kevin Priola voted against legislation that would have renewed a law that allowed parents to attend academic events with their children for years. But before he voted against Colorado families with school-age kids, Priola actually requested a delay in the vote on the bill–so he could take his own child to a doctor’s appointment. Voting against families with children is one thing, voting against families after expecting special dispensation for your family is hypocrisy in rare form. [4]

Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg: Worst Offensive Statement

During debate over legislation in the Colorado Senate, right-wing Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg referred to his colleague Sen. Kerry Donovan, who happens to be female, as “eye candy.”

We sincerely hope it is not necessary to explain why this is offensive. [5]

Sen. Bill Cadman: Worst Puppet

Colorado Senate President Bill Cadman has presided over the most divisive and obstructionist Senate majority in over a decade. Cadman’s pack of far-right Senators have killed so many good bills since taking power by one barely-won seat in 2014 that it would be impossible to list them all. But in 2016, Cadman finally admitted who dictates the backward agenda in the Colorado Senate: the Koch brothers-funded “astroturf” group Americans For Prosperity. Cadman said “I don’t think I would be the president of the Senate” without AFP, and that he looks “forward to continuing our partnership.” Cadman even hired AFP Colorado’s former spokesman to be his own, and stood by while AFP attacked Republicans who dared to break from the party line. Under Bill Cadman, the Colorado Senate doesn’t even work for Colorado Republicans anymore–it’s under radical new management. [6]

Rep. J. Paul “Cletus” Brown Takes on Climate Change

Cletus Spuckler.

Cletus Spuckler.

As the Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports, Rep. J. Paul Brown of Ignacio decided to go on the record about climate change during a debate about legislation to regulate greenhouse gases.

He should have kept his mouth shut:

Republican state Rep. J. Paul Brown encouraged fellow lawmakers on Tuesday to see “Climate Hustle,” a “global warming comedy” that critics say foolishly emboldens climate change skeptics…

The remark raised eyebrows.

Later that evening, Brown told The Durango Herald that he is skeptical as to the cause of climate change.

“We continue to have climate change, I just question whether it’s man-made,” Brown said. [Pols emphasis]

ThinkProgress has a little more on the movie Climate Hustle, which as Marcus reports was shredded into bite-size pieces by ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel earlier this week (video after the jump):

On Monday evening’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, the ABC late-night host tackled something that isn’t in your average topical monologue: the scientific consensus on climate change. And he made a video featuring real climate scientists responding to climate denial in a fashion one doesn’t see in the National Academy of Sciences.

The catalyst involved a climate denier-produced movie, “Climate Hustle,” which has been called “amateurish” and “not very watchable.” Specifically what Kimmel seized on were comments former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin gave last month while promoting the movie…

“It’s perpetuated and repeated so often that too many people believe that, ‘Oh, well, if 97 percent of all scientists believe that man’s activities are creating changes in the weather, who am I to question that?’” she said.

“Exactly. Who are you to question that?” Kimmel replied…

Rep. J. Paul Brown (R).

Rep. J. Paul Brown (R).

Locals with an education agree:

“It’s an incredibly out-of-touch statement from a legislator whose district continues to have major challenges with air pollution,” said Jessica Goad, spokeswoman for Conservation Colorado. “Politicians like Rep. Brown, who flat-out deny that climate change is occurring, risk their own credibility, especially in the eyes of voters.”

The issue could play out during Brown’s re-election bid this year against retired Durango teacher Barbara McLachlan, who responded: “When did science become a belief system?”

The answer to that question is simple: before science, everything was a “belief system.”

But today, we have science. Most of us, anyway.

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (May 4)

JarJarMoreSmarterMay the Fourth Be With You. If you’re confused about that, click here. 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…

► Texas Sen. Ted Cruz officially ended his bid for the Republican Presidential nomination on Tuesday after getting crushed in the Indiana Primary by GOP frontrunner Donald Trump. Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus threw in the towel fairly early last night with a not-particularly-celebratory Tweet:

The #NeverTrump movement is apparently considering its options in the wake of Trump’s big victory on Tuesday. We’re not sure what “options” are left to consider, but we suppose it’s nice for the anti-Trump GOP forces to pretend that they still have something to do. It’s not all bad news for Cruz, meanwhile; he still has a good-paying job that doesn’t require him to do anything.

On the Democratic side, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders won a surprise victory in Indiana over frontrunner Hillary Clinton, though it doesn’t change the math equation — it’s still not mathematically possible for Sanders to defeat Clinton. The Democratic frontrunner is increasingly turning her attention toward the General Election, even more so now that she knows Trump will be her opponent.

► The U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Jon Keyser is purring along like the engine of a  a 1982 Datsun. Keyser is racking up more bad press in the wake of news that his petition signatures for access to the June 28th Primary may be tainted by fraud. As Marshall Zelinger of Denver7 reports:

A Colorado voter told Denver7 that someone forged her signature on a petition to place Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jon Keyser on the ballot for the June primary election.

Pamela Niemczyk of Littleton told Denver7’s Marshall Zelinger on Tuesday that she had signed a petition for Jack Graham, another Republican U.S. Senate candidate.She said the signature on the Keyser petition was not hers, calling it a “fraud.” [Pols emphasis]

Watch Zelinger’s report:

Keyser was a guest on KOA radio on Monday afternoon, during which he defended his “petitioners” and generally crapped on the Secretary of State’s officeJohn Frank of the Denver Post has more on the GOP Senate race that is “plagued by turmoil”:

Colorado’s U.S. Senate race spiraled deeper into turmoil Tuesday as two  scorned Republican candidates battled in court to qualify for the ballot and outside critics alleged fraud.

The controversies come before the Wednesday deadline to certify which candidates will appear on the June primary ballot — a date extended five days by a previous court order to make room for the candidates’ lawsuits. District Court Judge Elizabeth Starrs said she intends to issue a decision by the 5 p.m. deadline.

Republicans Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier are hoping to find out today that they will be able to claim a spot on the June 28th Primary ballot.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump… (more…)

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (May 3)

Get More SmarterEnjoy your day in the sun, Indiana. 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…

► Attorneys for Republican Senate candidates Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier are in a Denver courtroom today arguing that their clients should be placed on the June 28th Primary ballot even though they failed to meet the criteria for submitting valid petition signatures to the Secretary of State’s office. Both Blaha and Frazier want more time to figure out how to bend the rules like Jon Keyser did last week (Keyser, you’ll recall, also failed to make the ballot until he got his attorneys involved).

Meanwhile, Keyser was a guest on KOA radio Monday afternoon, where he proceeded to bash the “bureaucrats” at the Secretary of State’s office.

 

► Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz is in full-out panic mode as voters head to the polls in Indiana today. From the Washington Post:

Cruz came to Indiana to try to resuscitate his flagging campaign at a pivotal moment in the Republican presidential race. But with just one day of campaigning left until Tuesday’s vote — and after a series of desperation measures — the freshman senator from Texas is on the verge of a defeat that would ravage his campaign and raise new questions about whether his mission to stop the mogul has become futile.

An NBC News-Wall Street Journal-Marist poll released Sunday showed Trump leading Cruz by 15 points in Indiana. Other recent public polls have shown Trump leading by narrower margins.

Supporters hoped that Indiana, which has similarities to other Midwestern states Cruz has won, would be able to heal the deep wounds left by Cruz’s blowout losses in six straight states. But it has been very difficult for Cruz to gain traction in the face of relentless attacks from Trump and hiccups in his own effort.

It may not be fair to say that Cruz is cracking…he’s cracked. This morning he went on a diatribe about GOP frontrunner Donald Trump, calling him a “narcissist” and a “philanderer,” among other names.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Loan Sharks: An Incredible Political Loser

loanshark2With the Colorado House set to take up Senate Bill 16-185 tomorrow, this year’s bill to allow subprime personal lenders to jack up interest rates on larger loan amounts, the Center for Responsible Lending is out with a poll today of Coloradans’ opinions of the subprime lending industry–and whether they agree these lenders should be able to rake in even more interest on the least qualified borrowers.

No surprise: Coloradans say not just no, but oh hell no:

Raising the cost of these consumer loans is so unpopular with voters that 77% of those surveyed said they would be more likely to vote against a state legislator who voted to increase interest rates. The strongest opposition – 93% – came from voters with household incomes of $30,000 to $50,000 the voters most likely to be affected by a proposal now before the Colorado legislature.

A bill currently before the Colorado legislature would increase the interest rates that lenders could charge on all consumer loans larger than $1,000. Senate Bill 185 would increase the interest rates on most loans by over 2 percentage points. This would result in a 10% increase in the cost of these loans. The bill, pushed by OneMain, a large lender, would cause these rates to rise higher each year. Current borrowers have an average household income of $46,000.

With reference to a prior iteration of the proposal, 89% of those surveyed said they opposed raising interest rates from 28% to 36% on a $3,000 loan. The opposition was similarly strong among Republicans and Democrats and independents. Seventy-five percent of voters “strongly opposed” increasing the rates. Senate Bill 185 woud raise the rates on such loans from 28% to over 30%, and would cause rates to rise automatically over time.

Here’s the details of CRL’s survey. These numbers reveal an industry that, although they are doing a robust business in Colorado, remains deeply unpopular with the public, and garners absolutely no sympathy from their arguments that higher interest is necessary to “remain profitable.” There’s little doubt that the industry is well aware of their dubious reputation with the public, which explains why subprime lender lobbyists have run last-minute bills two years in a row in hope of limiting public awareness of what was happening.

With support somewhere in the Paris Hilton/root canal/Republican Congress abyss, no politician with a sense of self-preservation should be caught anywhere near these loan sharks. We’ll see tomorrow if that lesson is getting through in the Democratic-controlled House, where similar legislation rushed through last year on a 62-2 vote–and left a lot of Democrats making awkward excuses to angry constituents.

Get More Smarter on Monday (May 2)

Get More SmarterHoly Crap! It’s May? Really? May? 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 June 28th Primary ballot was supposed to have been finalized by the Colorado Secretary of State’s office on Friday, but…lawyers. Republican candidates Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier joined together to ask a judge to issue an order preventing finalizing the ballot until (at least) Thursday. Both Blaha and Frazier failed to make the Primary ballot through the petition process, but they want more time to figure out how to bend the rules like Jon Keyser did last week (Keyser, you’ll recall, also failed to make the ballot until he got his attorneys to shake their fists at a Denver district court judge).

Confused? Here’s more from the Colorado Springs Independent. You can also check out this Colorado Pols Q&A on the State of the GOP Senate Race.

 

► In a move that was not a total surprise, the Colorado Supreme Court today confirmed that local attempts to “ban” fracking are not fair to the poor oil and gas industry. From Cathy Proctor of the Denver Business Journal:

 The Colorado Supreme Court today upheld decades of state law that places authority over hydraulic fracturing in the hands of state officials, ruling against two cities that tried to block fracking.

The court ruled in a pair of cases that garnered national attention involving voter-approved bans on fracking in Fort Collins and Longmont.

 

► D’Oh! Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) is reeling from a weekend story in the Denver Post that clearly shows his allegiance to the oil and gas industry over his actual constituents:

A draft bill released this month by U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton is taking heat from activists in the Thompson Divide region because of concerns his proposal to settle a fight over oil and gas drilling was written largely by an energy company that is also Tipton’s largest campaign contributor.

Under the proposal, oil and gas companies with leases in the Thompson Divide could trade their holdings in the wildlife haven for similar plots elsewhere in Colorado — a goal of environmentalists and local leaders who want to keep it free from drilling…

In an interview, Tipton confirmed its origin, and documents obtained by The Denver Post show that Tipton’s draft legislation duplicates — word for word — entire sections of the proposal offered by SG Interests. [Pols emphasis]

Really, Rep. Tipton? You couldn’t even be bothered to move a couple of nouns and verbs around on the bill before you turned it in? Hey, everybody, I’m not even trying anymore!

 

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Colorado Supreme Court Rules Against Cities on Fracking

UPDATE #2: Rep. Jared Polis sounds like he’s ready to fight:

I am extremely disappointed with the bad decision today to overturn the will of the voters in Longmont and Fort Collins. It’s a blow to democracy and local control,” said Polis.  

“While at least the courts found today that local government land use authority and regulations can coexist with state regulations, the communities being hurt by unregulated fracking are looking to enact stronger measures to protect homeowners, and this case doesn’t help.

Now that the law has been interpreted, it’s up to the state legislature or the people of Colorado to act to protect our neighborhoods and homes. I look forward to continuing to help advocates in these efforts to protect our communities.”

—–

UPDATE: Rep. Mike Foote (D) remains hopeful despite the setback of today’s ruling:

“I’m disappointed that the people of Longmont and Fort Collins will be unable to implement measures that they deemed appropriate to address oil and gas development within their borders,” said Rep. Foote, D-Lafayette, whose district includes part of Longmont. “But a careful reading of the rulings shows that these are actually very narrow opinions. Local governments’ land use authority was reaffirmed, including for oil and gas development.”

Rep. Foote also noted that the court, in the Longmont ruling, did not dispute what it described as “the propriety of local land use ordinances that relate to oil and gas development.”

“Cities and counties may need to modify their approach somewhat,” Rep. Foote said, “but it’s clear that the Court has reaffirmed that local governments do have a seat at the table when it comes to oil and gas development.”

—–

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

Photo courtesy Rep. Jared Polis

KDVR FOX 31 reporting, a big ruling today that sets the stage for the next battle over oil and gas development along Colorado’s rapidly urbanizing Front Range:

The Colorado Supreme Court ruled Monday that individual cities cannot slow or ban fracking near residents because it’s a matter of state law.

In 2012, Longmont voters voted to ban fracking and in 2013, Fort Collins voters approved a five-year moratorium. The oil and gas industry sued both cities in 2013, and won rulings against Fort Collins and Longmont in summer 2014…

In its Monday ruling, the court said local cities’ attempts to stop fracking is “invalid and unenforceable.”

Conservation Colorado’s Pete Maysmith responds to today’s ruling in a statement:

We’re still evaluating the specifics of these decisions, and the Fort Collins decision appears to be particularly narrow. But, at first glance, they are disappointing.

We believe that good policy-making happens from the ground up and that local communities are best-suited to make decisions about what happens with oil and gas drilling within their borders. Local governments should have the ability to call a timeout on drilling in order to better understand its impacts and ensure safety and public health, just as they are allowed to do with other industries.

We will continue to stand with the communities that are being dramatically impacted by oil and gas drilling. Their concerns have not gone away with today’s rulings.

These decisions also show that the oil and gas industry’s threats of litigation are a hammer that the industry has no qualms about wielding against local governments if they decide to engage in land use planning. In order to combat this hammer, local governments must be empowered with better tools to protect their citizens from heavy industrial drilling.

There’s no question this is a setback for the local communities who sought better control over land use within their boundaries, but the fact is it was not an unexpected ruling. Colorado’s split-estate management of surface and subsurface development rights, a holdover from a era when Colorado was a mineral extraction hinterland and not a burgeoning urban population center, is simply not written to balance the needs and rights of today’s urban populations vs. mineral rights owners.

These local communities who fought back for a better deal knew they were up against long odds under current law. As much as anything, these moves were intended to provoke a statewide discussion on how to better protect neighborhoods, businesses, and schools from a heavy industry with a unique right to run roughshod over local land use authority. The response from the industry, Republican politicians, and yes, many Democrats including pro-energy Gov. John Hickenlooper, has ranged from denial to outright contempt for the concerns of opponents of “fracking” in residential areas. Rather than working toward a solution that acknowledges the problem, supporters of the industry in both parties have brushed off concerns–often offensively–and hid behind the legal status quo.

After today’s ruling, the battle shifts back to the ballot box. We’ll have to wait until August to see what energy ballot measures we’ll be voting on this November, but bigger setbacks between energy development and surface populations and a constitutional statement clarifying local control rights are major possibilities. Energy industry surrogates prefer to steer this debate into extremes like a total ban on “fracking” statewide, from which they can make more effective counterarguments, but more realistic measures may well prove much more popular. If funders like Tom Steyer and Jared Polis decide that 2016 is the year to throw down, today’s ruling against Front Range cities could become the battle cry that changes everything.

Because it’s evident now that something has to change.

Who is Scott Tipton working for? Not you

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

This weekend, a devastating report in the Denver Post confirmed something many in western Colorado already knew: Rep. Scott Tipton is the tool of an oil and gas company that has given his campaign tens of thousands of dollars. Tipton takes his orders from the energy industry–not the citizens he represents in Congress.

Tell Scott Tipton to return SG Interests’ money–and stop letting them write his bills.

The Denver Post reported this weekend that Rep. Scott Tipton introduced legislation regarding a controversial energy development issue in western Colorado which “was written largely by an energy company that is also Tipton’s largest campaign contributor.” [1] The bill leaves out any plan for long-term conservation in the Thompson Divide area. The Post reports that Rep. Tipton admits to taking language for the legislation “word-for-word” from lawyers for the energy company that owns mineral rights in the Thompson Divide.

And it’s the same energy company, SG Interests, that has given almost $40,000 to Rep. Tipton’s campaign. Ordinary citizens in Tipton’s district can’t compete with the industry’s lavish support for Tipton, and the results are obvious. Western Colorado’s representative in Congress answers to the highest bidder.

Send a message to Tipton now: tell him to return SG Interests’ money, and stop letting the oil and gas industry write “his” legislation. We’ll make sure Tipton gets the message.

Thanks for standing up for western Colorado when it matters most.