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.

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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.

“Fetal Homicide” Bill Uses Anti-Abortion Group’s Model Language

UPDATE: Credit where due–in a report broadcast today, Colorado Public Radio’s Megan Verlee becomes the first local reporter to correctly identify the origin of the language in Senate President Bill Cadman’s “fetal homicide” bill–a national anti-abortion group.

University of Colorado law professor Jennifer Hendricks testified that similar laws in other states have led to pregnant women being prosecuted for having miscarriages or taking drugs, in spite of similar protections.

“My concern that it will be interpreted much more broadly is not hypothetical. It is exactly how an Alabama Supreme Court interpreted a similar law,” Hendricks said.

Abortion rights supporters say a fetal homicide law could also have a chilling effect on access to abortion. The bill was modeled after legislation written by an anti-abortion group, [Pols emphasis] although the organization says it is not attempting to limit the procedure with this policy.

As we detail below, Americans United for Life most certainly is attempting to limit abortions as part of this legislative strategy–just a little over the horizon. Original post follows.

—–

Senate President Bill Cadman.

Senate President Bill Cadman.

As the Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports, Senate Bill 15-268, the so-called “fetal homicide” bill introduced by GOP Senate President Bill Cadman last week as a “response” to the horrific attack on a pregnant Longmont women last month, passed its first hearing in the GOP-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee:

After a nearly five-hour hearing, the Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee backed the bill on a 3-2 party-line vote, with support from Sen. Ellen Roberts of Durango.

“This bill, I don’t see it about abortion,” Roberts said. “I see it as criminal justice.”

Senate Bill 268 was introduced by Republican leaders in the waning days of the legislative session in reaction to a recent horrific event in Longmont in which a woman suffered as her 7-month-old fetus was cut from her womb by another woman. The fetus died.

The issue is mired in controversy, as pro-choice advocates say that the legislation would create so-called “personhood” in the state, which they fear would lead to arresting and charging women for murder simply for having an abortion…

“I support a woman’s right to choose, and for nine years in this building, my voting record shows that,” Roberts said. “It does not create personhood, and I’m very disappointed in those who have perpetuated that myth.”

Although the legislation contains vaguely-worded exemptions for “medical procedures” and acts “performed by the mother of her unborn child,” the fact remains that the bill grants legal rights to fetuses “at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth.” That provision, say opponents, is functionally identical to the Personhood ballot measures, and sets a dangerous precedent that could be used to undermine abortion rights in the future.

And there’s another problem that was pointed out in debate over this legislation yesterday by Democratic Sen. Andy Kerr: despite insistence from Cadman and other GOP supporters that this legislation is not meant to undermine abortion rights, Senate Bill 15-268 in fact uses verbatim model language supplied by Americans United for Life–one of the nation’s foremost anti-abortion advocacy groups. Here’s the model language from AUL in its entirety. And here’s the part that matters:

aulmodel

Compared to the relevant portion of Colorado Senate Bill 15-268:

sb268

For their part, Americans United for Life proudly noted in a press release yesterday that Senate Bill 15-268 is “based on AUL model legislation.” So it’s not like they’re being secretive about this. Despite that, we have yet to see any of the extensive press this issue is receiving note that Cadman’s bill is cribbed directly from “the nation’s premier pro-life legal team.” That’s how AUL describes themselves on their About Us page:

At the state, federal and international levels, AUL works to advance life issues through the law and does so through measures that can withstand judicial obstacles so that pro-life laws will be enforced. AUL knows that reversing Roe v. Wade can be accomplished through deliberate, legal strategies that accumulate victories, build momentum, and restore a culture of life. [Pols emphasis]

But AUL’s distinction extends beyond federal measures. AUL works at the state level to craft tailored strategies and legislative tools that will assist state and local officials as they defend and protect life…

[AUL] has been unparalleled in pointing the way to protecting women now, to limiting the abortion license created by the Supreme Court, and to preparing the ground to overturn Roe. [Pols emphasis]

This legislation is, by the explicit admission of its true authors, part of a much broader strategy to chip away at Roe v. Wade. What happens when the rights this legislation confers on unborn fetuses today are interpreted tomorrow to be “unjust” since they contain exemptions? Once you legitimize these legal rights from the moment of conception, you’ve set down exactly the path AUL wants you to be on as part of their long-term objective of overturning Roe v. Wade–and curtailing or eliminating abortion rights nationwide.

Bottom line: if you’re wondering why pro-choice advocates and their Democratic allies are suspicious of ulterior motives at work here, you can stop wondering. Beneath the veneer of a “response” to last month’s horrific crime, a longstanding agenda to attack abortion rights is what this whole debate is about.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 23)

By the end of the week, the black market for carnitas will be booming. 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…

► After five months of waiting, the U.S. Senate is finally on the cusp of confirming President Obama’s nomination of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner announced this morning that he planned to vote NO on Lynch’s confirmation. Seriously.

► There is a concerted effort underway in Jefferson County to “destroy” the teacher’s union, as Colorado Pols reported late yesterday. Jon Caldara and the Independence Institute may need to work fast — Julie Williams and the right-wing Jeffco School Board might just “destroy” the entire school district first.

 

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Jon Caldara Pitches “Dougco-Style” Jeffco Schools Takeover

UPDATE: Jon Caldara responds via Twitter:

And there you have it, folks…

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Jon Caldara.

Jon Caldara.

We were forwarded scanned copies today of a lengthy letter from the right-wing Independence Institute’s Jon Caldara, soliciting funds from members to wage war against “the teachers unions and their Leftist allies in Jefferson County.” We’ve posted all eight pages of Caldara’s letter below (click to pull up high resolution scans)–safe to say that this letter was not intended for consumption outside a very conservative audience, as the stated goals of Caldara’s campaign are distantly out of the mainstream.

For one thing, the “libertarian” Caldara launches into a defense of last year’s controversial AP History curriculum review proposal that would make Julie Williams blush:

caldarajeffcoaphis

That “the union” staged last year’s enormous student protests will come as a surprise to the students who actually organized them, and who explained to everyone who would listen that they were outraged by Williams’ AP History “review” proposal without anyone’s help. It’s worth noting that Caldara is aligned with Republican politicians who sent out mailers last year using doctored photos of student protesters to imply their support–even though the students were protesting against the GOP-dominated school board’s actions. Republican politicians who benefited from those mailers include Tim Neville, the brother-in-law of board member Julie Williams.

And again, isn’t Caldara supposed to be a “libertarian?” Don’t libertarians respect questioning authority in the classroom? We can only assume that Caldara wasn’t writing for a libertarian audience.

Here’s another tidbit that won’t sit well in swing Jefferson County. Ever since taking control of the school board in 2013, the new conservative majority has insisted that they were not modeling their agenda on Douglas County, the arch-conservative stronghold presently mired in a lawsuit over religious school vouchers, and which has seen considerable turnover of teachers and staff since a right-wing activist school board started enacting sweeping changes. Well folks, don’t tell that to Jon Caldara:

caldaradougco

caldaradougco2

We’d say their cover is pretty well blown at this point, but in case you needed more proof, here you go.

You can read Caldara’s angry screed in its entirety after the jump–click on the images to pull up full-resolution versions. And next time somebody tells you that there isn’t a right-wing ideological plot afoot to radically alter one of Colorado’s best-performing public school districts, show them this letter.

Because apparently there is.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 22)

GetMoreSmarter-EarthHappy Earth Day! Or, if you’re into that kind of thing, Happy Administrative Professionals’ 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…

► Congressman Mike Coffman (R-Angry) is the Chair of the House Veterans’ Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. It is supposed to be his job to provide oversight for stuff like, say, a complete mess of a VA Hospital project in Aurora. Coffman may not have much in the way of solutions for the VA’s problems, but that isn’t stopping him from raising money off of the scandal. Coffman’s spokesman had a bunch of gibberish to say in response to these allegations, but the best line of the story — which was picked up nationally — comes from Lynn Bartels in “The Spot” blog:

Less than six months ago, Coffman posted on his congressional web site an opinion piece thanking him for not being one of the members of Congress using the VA problems for fundraising.

D’oh!

Fetal homicide Personhood legislation will be introduced today in the State Senate.

► Senator Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) apparently doesn’t think the Sage Grouse is so greater. As Bruce Finley of the Denver Post reports:

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner will introduce legislation in Congress on Wednesday that would bar the federal government from listing greater sage grouse as endangered and give western states six more years to revive grouse populations on their own…

…”We have an obligation to future generations to conserve and recover this species,” [said Gardner]. “But we can do it on our terms. Let’s put Coloradans in charge, let’s put Westerners in charge of the West.”

“Let’s put Westerners in charge of the West!” Who comes up with this crap?

 
Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 21)

We’ve been up early celebrating 4/21. 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 may finally get around to voting on President Obama’s nomination of Loretta Lynch as Attorney General. If you had “five months” in the pool for “How long will it take for Republicans to approve a new Attorney General?” you might win some money.

► Look on the bright side, Rep. Ken Buck. You almost made it four whole months in D.C. without breaking the law. Don’t forget, Polsters: You read it here first.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Monday (April 20)

Heyy, mannn, happy 4/20! 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 Veterans Administration still needs about $830 million to complete the Aurora hospital project. It will cost about $340 million more just to get the thing up and running.

► “Fiscal thicket. Fiscal thicket. Fiscal thicket.” Say that as fast as you can. The Colorado legislature has signed off on the $25-ish billion budget, and it now heads to the desk of Gov. John Hickenlooper for final approval.

► Meanwhile, Gov. Hickenlooper is pushing a proposal for dealing with budget/TABOR problems that need to be changed in order to continue to maintain our infrastructure (you know, roads and stuff). Most major business groups support Hickenlooper’s proposal, but the Koch-funded “Americans for Prosperity Potholes” is jumping around and shrieking like monkeys while trying to claim that this is some sort of tax increase (it’s not). Republican Sen. Randy Baumgardner may poop in the punchbowl today.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Who Is Polling Laura Woods’ District?

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

We received word today of a live poll conducted this past weekend in Colorado Senate District 19, the highly competitive Jefferson County district currently represented by Sen. Laura Waters Woods. Back in February, we noted rumors that Republicans are looking for a primary opponent for Woods–or a replacement in the unlikely event she would agree to step aside–out of concern that she won’t be able to hold this pivotal seat against a strong Democratic challenger in 2016. We haven’t yet received audio of this weekend’s poll, but here’s a description we were forwarded:

It was a live survey and lasted between five and ten minutes. The first question was favorable/unfavorable regarding Sen. Woods. Answering unfavorable, the pollster then asked if the receipient could be persuaded to support a different Republican candidate [Pols emphasis] and ask what issues might be persuasive. No other candidates were mentioned by name.

The Woods questions were followed by issue questions about guns, abortion, TABOR, tax credits for the poor, and health care. Finally, the survey asked about support for Jeffco school board members Ken Witt, John Newkirk, and Julie Williams.

Democrats we’ve spoken to say their side is not responsible for this poll, and the questions as recounted to us–whether respondents would support a different Republican candidate–do not point to a Democratic source. We haven’t heard any names mentioned as potential Republican primary challengers for Sen. Woods, but we wouldn’t expect to hear about them until there’s enough data to persuade one to undertake the challenge.

And to obtain that, you need polling. Stay tuned, we don’t think GOP intentions in SD-19 will be a mystery for very long. As soon as we learn who exactly is shadowing this most contentious of 2016 state legislative races, we’ll update.

Jeffco School Board’s Julie Williams Promotes Student Walk Out Against “Perverse Indoctrination”

SUNDAY UPDATE #2: Embattled Jeffco school board member Julie Williams does have someone in her corner–Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt:

chapswilliams2

Something tells us this is not the kind of backup Williams’ press handlers are looking for…

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SUNDAY UPDATE: It’s possible that not even the army of Republican media flacks now working for the Jefferson County Board of Education’s conservative majority can save board member Julie Williams now, as her preposterous excuses for posting a link to an anti-LGBT hate group help drive the expanding story–9NEWS’ Jonathan Gonzales reports:

After 9NEWS received numerous complaints from some students, parents and teachers, board member Julie Williams said she was simply trying to inform parents who had been asking her for more information about the protest, which is known as the “Day of Silence.”

“I posted it as information because I believe parents have the right to know what’s happening in our schools, and then it’s up to a parent whether they want to opt in or out,” [Pols emphasis] Williams told 9NEWS. “Should’ve read it before I posted it. I mean I did make a serious mistake there with that.”

And FOX31’s Kent Erdahl:

The “Day of Silence” is a silent protest conducted by students across the country each year, designed to raise awareness of bullying, especially involving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

“Seven out of 10 gay and lesbian students experience harassment just because of who they are,” said Dave Montez, with One Colorado. [Pols emphasis]

Jeffco board member Julie Williams says when several parents asked her about the Day of Silence last week, she didn’t know what to tell them…

The problem here is obvious to anyone who knows anything about Julie Williams, a close family member of the “Neville Nutters” clan of far-right Republican political figures. The reason Williams posted a fringe anti-LGBT hate group’s information about a walkout to counter the Day of Silence protests against bullying is simple: that’s where she gets her information from as a member of the far-right fringe. Although some of the worst examples have reportedly been purged along with this latest post, Williams’ Facebook page has lots of examples of the kind of fringy “wisdom” that we have every reason to assume informs her votes on the school board.

As for not having read the link she posted, that would have to be so literally true–the very first sentence contains the words “perverse indoctrination”–that it’s difficult to believe. It’s a much more likely scenario to us that one of the aforementioned press flacks had to explain to Ms. Williams how “perverse indoctrination” is not an acceptable way for a board member to refer to a district-sanctioned event against bullying LGBT students.

And we’d say that speaks for itself. Original post follows.

—–

UPDATE: Via Chalkbeat Colorado’s Nic Garcia, full retreat:

Jefferson County school board member Julie Williams said late Friday that she was “sincerely sorry” and that she would remove a link on her personal Facebook page that she shared that encouraged families to keep their students home Friday and “away from perverse indoctrination” of the“homosexual-bisexual-transsexual agenda.”

“To be honest with you, I didn’t read the article,” Williams said. “I just saw it and thought I was sharing information with parents.” [Pols emphasis]

…SaveCalifornia.com describes itself as a “frontline pro-family leader standing strong for moral virtues for the common good.” But the Southern Poverty Law Center considers the organization a hate group, akin to the white supremacy political party American Freedom Party and Westboro Baptist Church.

…Williams’ post, first revealed Friday afternoon by the political blog ColoradoPols.com, will likely provide grist for her critics. [Pols emphasis]

Yes, that seems likely. Original post follows…

—–

doswalkout

Julie Williams of the Jefferson County School Board.

Julie Williams of the Jefferson County School Board.

A Facebook post from Jefferson County School Board member Julie Williams, who gained infamy last year as the main proponent of a politically biased “review” of AP U.S. History that led to massive protests by students, is promoting…well, a walk out by students–but not for the same reasons that Jeffco students had last fall. From the link she shared:

If you have children in K-12 government schools, in California or another state, please keep them home and away from perverse indoctrination on Friday, April 17.

That’s the day of the so-called “Day of Silence,” where sexually confused students and teachers refuse to speak during the entire academic day. They’ll indoctrinate everybody else through handouts and chalkboard writings and videos and other propaganda tools. They’ll teach children to support and embrace the unnatural and unhealthy homosexual-bisexual-transsexual agenda and will label anyone who’s against it a “bigot,” a “hater,” or worse…

[N]o matter what, please keep your children home on April 17, to express your strong disapproval of the pro-perversity state school bureaucracy. Your children’s hearts and minds matter!

Today marks the annual Day of Silence, a protest originally organized by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network and carried out autonomously by students and faculty nationwide to raise awareness about bullying and violence against LGBT students. The event is opposed by the organization that sent out the above action alert, the Campaign for Children and Families, which has been heavily involved in the battle against marriage equality in California and elsewhere.

Now, given the umbrage Williams took with students who walked out in protest against reviewing the district’s history curriculum to ensure it “promotes patriotism,” isn’t it hypocritical to encourage students to stay out of school to protest the LGBT Day of Silence? That’s the question we ask before the real question, which is how Williams can conscionably promote this hateful vitriol against “perverse” students she is charged with representing as a member of the school board.

Unfortunately, we already know the answer to the second question. She got elected.

All Hail Dudley Brown. Or Not.

kneelzod1UPDATE: More on the “failed coup attempt” from the Colorado Statesman.

—–

Lynn Bartels of the Denver Post has more today on the bizarre coup attempt from a handful of Republican legislators doing the desperate bidding of Dudley Brown and his Rocky Mountain Gun Owners (RMGO).

As you read yesterday at Colorado Pols, Brown called into a conservative radio station to simultaneously complain and brag about Republicans pulling an unheard-of legislative maneuver on the House Floor. Bartels caught up with some GOP legislators yesterday, and they were not at all pleased with the kneeling:

The schism among conservatives over Colorado’s gun laws widened this week when four House Republicans formed a secret pact and pushed for a procedural move that exposes five members to potentially tough primaries in 2016.

“It was a clever idea, but it put some people in a very bad position,” said Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose. “We’re going to be talking about this until the end of the session.”…

…Senate Bill 175 died Monday in a Democratic-controlled House committee, but four GOP representatives — Steve Humphrey of Severance, Justin Everett of Littleton, Kim Ransom of Douglas County and Patrick Neville of Castle Rock — hatched a plan to try to resurrect the failed effort to repeal the ammunition ban so that it could be debated on the House floor.

“We forced a recorded vote,” [Dudley] Brown said on 630 KHOW radio Thursday. “Five Republicans voted wrong and all five of them are suspect and in danger in the next primary.” [Pols emphasis]

Reps. Brian DelGrosso and Polly Lawrence: Republicans in Charge by Title Only

Republicans In Charge by Title Only: Reps. Brian DelGrosso and Polly Lawrence await Dudley Brown’s instructions.

As noted by the Post, 26 Republican legislators supported the failed procedural move, including House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso and Assistant Minority Leader Polly Lawrence. It would appear as though Rep. Lawrence was not a big fan of the strategy — even though she supported it — because she had no idea it was coming.

Lawrence said GOP leadership was blindsided.

“Some communication would have been nice,” she said. “What happened on the floor was unnecessary.”

For years Republicans have used the term “RINO” (Republicans In Name Only) to describe other Republicans who don’t act sufficiently Republican enough.

Maybe it’s time for a new acronym. May we suggest: RICTO (Republicans in Charge by Title Only).

 

Get More Smarter on Friday (April 17)

MoreSmarterLogo-Hat1Rain, or snow? Yes! 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 Gov. John Hickenlooper is taking a big step forward in urging the legislature to do more to deal with Colorado’s fiscal/TABOR woes. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle seem a bit confused at the timing of Hickenlooper’s “Fiscal Thicket” plan, given that only four weeks remain in the current legislative session.

► The U.S. Senate will hold a field hearing on the status of the VA Hospital project in Aurora next Friday. As Mark Matthews writes for the Denver Post:

A day after the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs ripped into the VA for its role in building a new Colorado hospital now expected to cost $1.73 billion — more than five times its original estimate — the Senate veterans’ affairs committee announced plans to hold a field hearing on the issue April 24 in Aurora.

Colorado Sens. and had urged their colleagues to visit the state to investigate the troubled project, which has been beset by delays, cost overruns, and legal battles.

Do we really need the Senate Committee on Veteran’s Affairs to come to Aurora to understand that the hospital project is a complete mess?

 
Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Senate Republicans Just Get Weirder and Weirder

Have you met Senator Facepalm?

Have you met Senator Facepalm?

The first Colorado legislative session in a decade with Republicans leading the State Senate has been a strange trip. From a forehead-slapping focus on immunizations to the unpredictable antics of Sen. Vicki “Lost” Marble, we’ve witnessed more odd behavior than a full summer sitting in the Coors Field Rockpile…and there’s still a month left to go.

Today, 6 Senate Republicans cast very odd votes on an otherwise innocuous piece of legislation. According to a press release from the Senate Democrats (full release after the jump), SB15-011 doesn’t appear to be all that controversial:

The bill (SB 15-011) would allow a pilot program providing complementary and alternative medicine for spinal injuries to continue until 2020.

Sen. [Nancy] Todd started the program back in 2009, but it is currently scheduled to sunset in September 2015. The intent of the pilot program included expanding the choice of therapies available to people with disabilities. The bill today ensures that “complementary or alternative medicine” is available for Coloradans with spinal injuries to receive chiropractic care, massage therapy, and acupuncture by licensed or certified providers. It would also expand access to the program from its current 67 people to 100 people. [Pols emphasis]

The bill ultimately passed the Senate 29-6 vote. The opposition: Sen. Tim Neville, Sen. Laura Woods, Sen. Randy Baumgardner, Sen. Chris Holbert, Sen. Vicki Marble, and Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg. 

Why? Why would you vote against this bill? It’s not a huge expense, it’s a big help to a number of families in Colorado, and it clearly had the votes to pass out of the Senate.

This isn’t as big of a deal to somebody like Sen. Marble, who is fairly safe in her Senate district; but why would Sen. Laura Waters Woods vote NO here? Woods will almost certainly be the top pickup target for Democrats in 2016, and it’s unexplainable votes like this that make for compelling advertising.

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On radio, RMGO’s Brown talks as if he owns the GOP Senate majority

(Doesn’t he? – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Dudley Brown.

Dudley Brown.

Before she interviewed Dudley Brown, who spontaneously called her show this morning, KHOW 760-AM’s Mandy Connell told her listeners she had no opinion about Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, which Brown directs.

After the interview, Connell, an arch conservative, said she had an opinion–and I’m guessing you will too if you listen below.

In this case, Brown talked as if he has more of a right to interfere in gun legislation at the state Capitol than the Independence Institute has because RMGO bought and paid for the state GOP Senate majority.  And he went on about it, implying he’d organize primaries against five Republicans who voted against a violation of state Senate rules yesterday.

Connell started the conversation, which was first reported by Complete Colorado, with a question about why RMGO was opposed to raising the limit on magazine capacity from 15 to 30 rounds.

Then she asked, “So, why take out Dave Kopel?  Why go after him?”

Brown: Well, look, I don’t want to go into personalities on a public format. Dave Kopel is a wonderful writer. On strategy, he’s horrid! Dave Kopel is actually a Democrat. He has always advocated for compromise at every single turn. Every time we’ve ever had a gun bill in Colorado, he’s always advocated for compromise. And in fact, Dave Kopel is the one who fixed the Democrats mag ban so it did not include shotguns. He showed Senator Mary Hodge how to do it, mechanically. Probably being the one who enabled it to pass. Now, I have no qualms about being honest. But in politics, I don’t want it to be about personality. I want it to be about principle and strategy.

But, in all honesty, we simply don’t agree with Dave Kopel and never have, and for that matter, the Independence Institute, none of whom got these legislators into office.

It’s our organization and our PAC that spent the money to elect the legislature and take the Senate from the Democrats. We were the biggest funders of Republican candidates in the last election. Far bigger than the NRA. And let me be clear, I don’t know if this is – you could ask them, but my understanding is even the NRA opposes this compromise. Now, if the NRA opposes a compromise because it’s too squishy on the gun issue, that pretty much means that it’s as far left as it can be because the NRA usually buys into every compromise. In this case, my understanding is that they opposed it, too. Look there aren’t the votes to pass a 31 round ban –the repeal of the 30 ban, to make it 31. But there aren’t the votes for repeal, unless the Republicans take the House and the Governor’s mansion, neither of which are assured…

Now, to those people who say, “Wait a minute!  I want to be able to buy my 30 round magazine!”  I say, “Shut your pie hole and go buy one!”  There are many retailers who sell them right now.  They ignore the law, and God Bless them for doing so. And in many cases, your District Attorney and your sheriff won’t be involved in any cases against you, anyway…

Connell said, “You’re saying, ‘Go break the law.’”

Brown: I’m saying, “Do what you want.” But, the fact is, the ban, really — it’s like jaywalking. There really is no ban, right now. It’s largely a ban on some of the businesses who manufacture and didn’t want to be here, anyway.

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