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…)

Blaha Trumps Trump

UPDATE #2: Backpedal time!

We do love the media attention, but Robert has never supported a ban on Muslims. He supports going “beyond” Mr. Trump’s statements, which singles out Muslims, to instead equally vetting all factors that could present a threat to American lives…

So, Blaha said he wants to “go beyond just Muslims.” That statement would certainly appear to include Muslims. But definitely, tell every reporter in America that what they can plainly see isn’t true. That approach worked out smashingly for Jon Keyser.

Really, how hard is it to choke out the words “I misspoke?”

—–

UPDATE: The Hill’s Lisa Hagen:

A Republican Colorado Senate candidate said this week that he wants to take Donald Trump’s proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States a step further…

Blaha is part of a crowded GOP field in the June 28 primary to try and unseat Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.). The seat is one of the few GOP targets this cycle as Republicans seek to hold onto their slim Senate majority.

Democrats blasted Blaha’s remarks for taking Trump’s proposal to the “next level.”

“We already knew Robert Blaha was unabashed in his extreme policy positions, but saying banning Muslims from entering the country isn’t taking it far enough is taking extreme to the next level,” Colorado Democratic Party spokesman Chris Meagher said in a statement. “Instead of focusing on real policy solutions, Blaha is adding to the outlandish, offensive, prejudiced rhetoric that is antithetical to our values as a nation.”

—–

Robert Blaha.

Robert Blaha.

Buzzfeed picked up a gem of a tirade from Robert “Bla-ha!” Blaha, a Colorado Republican U.S. Senate primary candidate fighting for relevance in a 5-man race:

Robert Blaha, a Republican primary candidate in Colorado’s Senate race, said on Tuesday that Donald Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims entering the country doesn’t go far enough.

“I want to go beyond just Muslims,” Blaha said at a GOP meeting in Fremont County. “And I’ll tell you why. The issue is not—the issue is partially a religious issue, but the real issue there is—the real issue is security. The real issue is we do not know who these people are. We don’t know where they’re coming from, we don’t know whether a terrorist state. We do not have the ability as a government right now to vet these people…”

“Until we can properly vet people and know who they are and know where they’re coming from and know what their belief structures are they’re coming out of, we cannot afford to take that risk,” he said.

When Blaha says we “can’t vet these people,” we have to assume he just hasn’t heard about all the ways we do “vet these people” right now. We assume Blaha is principally concerned with refugees like other Republicans who find political advantage in demagoguing this stuff, but the fact is, refugees are much more thoroughly screened than other kinds of visitors to the United States–like tourists. Tourists from abroad constitute a large percentage of the 75 million people who traveled to the United States last year from abroad, and while they’re here they contribute billions of dollars to the U.S. economy.

Including right here in the year-round alpine playground of Colorado. Is that what Blaha is trying to do? To hurt Colorado’s tourism economy?

Donald Trump is doing enough to damage America’s image in the world, to include desirability as a vacation destination, with his xenophobic scare tactics. For Colorado’s sake, it would be nice if our Republican U.S. Senate candidates weren’t doing their best to ensure our state has the same problem.

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.

 

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

Laura Woods: Ignore Obama Guidelines on Transgender Student Discrimination

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

State Sen. Laura Woods wrote on Facebook Sunday that Colorado should ignore President Obama’s mandate that public schools allow students to use the bathroom corresponding the gender they identify with.

But ignoring the federal rule, as advocated by Woods, would apparently run counter to Colorado law, which, since 2008, has allowed transgender people to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. There has been no assualts resulting from the Colorado policy.

Woods wrote on Facebook May 21:

Woods: So, the U.S. Department of Education is now dictating school bathroom policies? This is absurd. Their new policy will completely undermine local control. Plain and simple, this is none of their business and totally beyond Congressional intent in the enactment of Title IX. Therefore, it is a policy Colorado should ignore.

In making its decision earlier this month, the Obama Administration determined that forcing a transgender child to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex on his or her birth certificate would amount to sex descrimination.

Obama’s guidelines ensure that “transgender students enjoy a supportive and nondiscriminatory school environment,” according to the administration.

Woods, who represents the Westminster area and does not return my calls, is being challenged by Democrat Rachel Zenzinger. The outcome of the race will likely determine which party controls state government.

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.

 

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

Sen. Chris Holbert Is Terribly Afraid For Your Bathroom

Republican Colorado Sen. Chris Holbert reminded his followers on Facebook yesterday that he’s been trying to stop those nasty transgender perverts from sneaking into your daughter’s bathroom…well, for a really long time:

holbertbathroom

You might think that somewhere in Sen. Holbert’s reasoning on the issue, he might figure out that the law has been on the books since 2008 with no problems whatsoever. That’s consistent with a lifetime of experience on transgender bathroom access for actual transgender Americans, who Sen. Holbert would be shocked to discover having been using the facilities appropriate for their gender expression since long before Holbert ever got caught playing with himself in the boys’ bathroom in elementary school–or whatever happened in childhood that made him so paranoid.

But as Holbert responds to a friendly skeptic, it’s not just about the bathrooms!

holbertresponds

That’s right, since 2008 Colorado has been properly accommodating our transgender students in locker rooms too–with no problem! Now again, to a well-adjusted reasonable person, this would be evidence of a policy that works instead of something that should be repealed. In fact, trying to police bathrooms for people who are already expressing the gender they should be to be there is liable to get rather, um, messy. Much messier than what we do today in Colorado, and what President Obama has directed public schools across America to do, which is to let transgender people live life with the same basic rights as the rest of us.

As for Sen. Holbert, he should maybe work out his repressed teenage angst somewhere else.

Inside Mike Coffman’s Cognitively Dissonant “Evolution”

dreamactcoffman

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

Rep. Mike Coffman (R).

We’ve been very excited about the work done over at Denver7’s Politifact Colorado project, working with the Pulitzer Prize-winning national Politifact to provide some desperately-needed critical thinking to the wild claims tossed back and forth by our local crop of prevaricating politicians. It’s yet more evidence of our bellwether swing-state status to see high-profile outfits like Politifact shining a light on Colorado politics.

With that said, it was inevitable that veteran reporter Alan Gathright at Politifact Colorado would write something we need to take issue with at some point. That happened last week with the publication of their latest fact check, “Is Rep. Mike Coffman ‘with Trump’? Coffman says not yet.” This fact check addresses the question of Rep. Mike Coffman’s support for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, both formally and essentially by supporting fundamentally similar positions on issues like immigration reform.

Within this broad question lies some stuff we need to unpack.

Coffman certainly is hedging on his campaign’s previous statement that he would support the GOP nominee, who is now almost certainly Trump.

But do the two candidates line up issue-wise?

The Colorado’s Voice news release pointed to Coffman’s position on immigration legislation. “Colorado already knows Coffman supports the Trump agenda on immigration. He voted … multiple times to deport DREAMers by ending the DACA program. He opposes DAPA, the policy that offers a modest but critical step forward for the parents of U.S. citizens.”

…Here, too, Coffman’s position isn’t cut and dried.

As Gathright explains, Coffman voted against the 2010 DREAM Act, famously declaring “The Dream Act will be a nightmare for the American people.” When Coffman originally ran for Congress, Colorado’s Sixth Congressional District was composed of arguably the most far-right electorate in the state of Colorado, and had repeatedly elected Tom Tancredo to represent them despite his status as a national icon of the nativist anti-immigrant neo-Confederate (you name it, literally) movement.

And then something happened in 2011. We’ve talked about it in this space over and over. And frankly, the whole question of whether Coffman can be accurately said to be “not with Trump,” or anything other than the far-right successor to Tancredo’s extremism, hinges on whether you believe what happened after 2011 was legitimate.

But Coffman’s immigration positions softened in 2011, when his district was redrawn and its population became 20 percent Hispanic. He began taking Spanish lessons to better communicate with his constituents, and in January 2013, he introduced the Military Enlistment Opportunity Act, which sought to provide immigrant children an opportunity to serve in the U.S. military and gain a path to citizenship…

“There’s a narrative out there about Republicans being not just anti-illegal immigrant, but anti-immigrant,” Coffman told the Wall Street Journal in January. “It was very important to me to break the narrative.”

There is no question that redistricting in 2011, which reshaped Coffman’s political universe from Tancredo’s old stomping ground to the enormous cultural and economic diversity of Aurora, presented Coffman with the greatest crisis of his long political career. But it’s important to remember that Coffman did not at first realize how this new electorate would respond to the kind of rhetoric that came so easily before. In 2012, the same year Coffman was caught on camera claiming President Barack Obama “is not an American,” Coffman very nearly lost his seat to an underfunded Democratic opponent.

Since that time, it’s true that Coffman has made many superficial gestures to his newly diverse constituency, including taking some lessons in Spanish so as to debate opponents in the language. But his votes and statements on immigration reform have been far from consistent. His support for allowing DREAMer students to join the military is offset by other votes against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program as a whole. Immigration reform advocates are looking for votes, not accountability, so any time they get the smallest concession from a Republican, they are of course obliged to publicly rejoice.

Bottom line: notwithstanding the backpedaled statement from Coffman’s spokesperson, Politifact’s contention that it’s wrong to say Coffman is “with Trump” on the issues rests more or less entirely on the contention that “the congressman’s views have moderated.” But Coffman’s detractors say the evidence for that is inconsistent at best, and could be reasonably assessed as a deceptive campaign to feign support for reform without offending the Republican base. And even when Coffman does make a token vote in favor of sensible immigration policy, the Republican leadership in the House he helps keep in power ensures that nothing remotely close to what the immigration reform movement wants will ever happen.

Respectfully submitted as grist for the fact-checking mill.

“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.

Colorado Senate Republicans Freak Over “Bathroom Edict”

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R).

On Friday, the Obama administration issued a new directive through the federal Department of Education, establishing guidance for public schools on the matter of providing appropriate access to facilities for transgender students. Politico:

While the Obama administration’s directive on bathroom access for transgender students was praised by supporters as a historic moment for civil rights, the sweeping new rules have re-energized the right — and a top lawmaker in Texas even argues that Donald Trump can use the issue as a springboard to the White House.

The right has been consistently losing culture-war fights in the courts during the Obama era, most significantly in the Supreme Court case last year that legalized gay marriage. Now, conservative governors, state officials, education advocates and parent groups have extra motivation to unify in their revolt against a federal intervention directed by a president they loathe that will affect every public school in the nation…

Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family is all grossed out:

“It’s just an egregious federal overreach,” Candi Cushman, Education Analyst with Focus on the Family, told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann. “You have in one sweeping action the White House setting policy for over 16,000 school districts and 7,000 colleges.”

And she didn’t stop there:

“You have common sense issues of safety for the most vulnerable members of our society,” Cushman said. “We know there are predators out there unfortunately who are looking for loopholes. We’re by no means saying this applies to students or individuals, who identify as transgender in schools, but we are saying there are predators who look for loopholes and what makes us think they’re not going to look at this one?”

Now folks, it’s important to recognize one very basic fact about Obama’s action and the resulting panic attack on the conservative right: there is no “loophole” being created here for predators to “look for.” Nothing about providing appropriate accommodations for transgender citizens creates a “loophole” that would legalize sexual assault or abuse. In fact, the suggestion is deeply offensive to transgender Americans who have already been–surprise!–using the stall next to you for most of, or their whole damned lives without ever causing you a bit of trouble.

But hey, you know, that’s how reasonable people think through questions like these. If you’re not one of those people, you’ve got the Colorado Senate GOP in your corner!

Colorado Senate Assistant Majority Leader Kevin Lundberg (R-Berthoud) today said Colorado should simply ignore today’s “Letter of Guidance” to all schools and colleges from the US Department of Education saying that schools must give transgender students equal access to the restroom of their choice.

“This is absurd,” said Senator Lundberg. “The US Department of Education must not have much to do if they are now spending time on public school bathroom policies in Denver, Danville and Duluth. Plain and simple, this is none of their business and totally beyond Congressional intent in the enactment of Title IX. Therefore, it is a policy Colorado should ignore.”

“This is sheer insanity,” added Senator Kevin Grantham (R-Canon City). “Does the President honestly think he can use executive authority to substitute his opinion over those of local school districts and moms and dads?”

Charles Heatherly, director of policy at the Colorado Senate Majority Office, went even further:

No, its a perversion of law. Tutle [sic-Pols] IX is about sex discrimination.Sexual identity is biological and fuxed [sic-Pols], whereas “gender self-idenitification” is a social construct of Politically Correct academic elites.

Isn’t that great? The only thing is, you could substitute the word “transgender” for “black,” roll this all back a few decades, and suddenly have a very different-sounding press release. After all, it’s none of the federal government’s “business” who gets to use what bathroom in a public school, right? And if “local school districts and moms and dads” don’t want those kids using the same facilities as their kids…why, who are we to tell them differently?

In the not-too-distant future, no one will think twice about this issue, any more than we think about racially desegregated public accommodations. But when we get to that point, history is going to look back at Focus on the Family and Colorado Senate Republicans.

And history is not going to be kind.

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.

Wayne Williams Jumps on Jack Tate’s Grenade

Jack Tate.

Jack Tate.

As the Aurora Sentinel reports, following up the story of fundraising in the SD-27 race between Democratic challenger Tom Sullivan and appointed Republican Jack Tate–we had last reported on a big fundraising quarter for “Sully,” contrasted against a campaign finance complaint against Tate for transferring too much money to his Senate campaign:

The Democratic Senate Campaign Fund and Tate’s opponent, Tom Sullivan, said this week that the Republican violated state campaign finance rules when he rolled over more than $27,000 from his former state House campaign to his Senate campaign. State rules put the limit on those transactions at about $22,000.

In a letter to Tate on May 5, Williams said his office gave bad advice when they explained to him how to move money from his House campaign committee to a Senate campaign committee.

“My office mistakenly gave you erroneous information regarding the effect of the committee change on the contribution limits,” the letter said…

The Republican Secretary of State said in his letter that Balmer approached his office asking how Tate could roll the money over and the Secretary’s office didn’t explain the process correctly.

Obviously, it would be better if the Secretary of State could give, you know, accurate information about the campaign finance limits it is charged with administering. Do you suppose Williams would have been as forthcoming about giving “erroneous information” to a Democrat? Either way, in a release from the Democratic Senate Campaign Fund, you can see the fun with Tate regarding his campaign funds isn’t quite over yet:

Tate has yet to make an official public statement on the matter. Tate did respond to the DSCF’s May 3rd tweet that he needs to give the illegal overage back and “play by the rules” with, “nope. contact secretary of states office. know your rules regarding same campaign year transfers. [sic].”

In his last May 2nd filing, Tate raised $4,150.00 – well under the $5,611 he needs to either give back to donors or donate to charity, according to campaign finance laws.

In addition to having to make several thousand dollars go away unproductively, Tate isn’t raising any money. Certainly not compared to Sullivan’s big start to the race. We’ve already seen evidence that Tate is nervous about his election prospects, to include backing away from sponsorship of a predatory lending bill after he sponsored one last year.

If he can’t raise money, he’s got a lot more to be nervous about.

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…)

Stay Classy, Sen. Tim Neville (Born This Way Edition)


An exchange in the Colorado Senate last Friday evening is provoking much controversy today–during debate over House Bill 16-1426, which would make it a petty offensive to falsely claim a pet as a trained “service animal” so as to obtain accommodations provided by law for such animals.

During debate over the bill Friday, GOP Sen. Tim Neville had a moment of oh-so cleverness:

HOLBERT: Any further discussion on House Bill 1426? Sen. Neville.

NEVILLE: (Chuckles) Thank you Mister Chair. You know, we, we-we’re entering strange times. I mean we have a big challenge, that uh, we hear with, uh, the transgender folks. You know they decide, you know basically what they are. [Pols emphasis] I mean, I guess these service dogs, you know, people are deciding ‘is this a service dog,’ is this uh, a dog?

Hard to miss Neville’s implication here–since transgender citizens “decide what they are,” why should we be able to do the same thing with service animals?

Now, anyone with the smallest shred of tolerance or even decency in a public debate should know that claiming a transgender person has “chosen” their gender identity, as opposed to that being how they were born, is considered deeply offensive. And that’s before you compare transgender people to, you know, a fucking dog.

Sen. Pat Steadman had better composure to respond to this over-the-top insult than we would have.

STEADMAN: One of the important things about this bill to understand, colleague, is that no puppy is born to be a service dog.

(Off-camera groan)

STEADMAN: Only those dogs that are trained to be service dogs, highly trained, can wear the, the identification that says ‘don’t pet me I’m working.’ That’s what this bill’s about.

The point of the bill, of course, was to protect a bonafide class of true service animals who qualify for disability accommodations above the level of a mere pet. This distinction is important to ensure access to housing and other protected needs of disabled people that could potentially be encumbered by having a service dog.

As for Sen. Neville? It was just another chance to trot out his inner douchebag.

Republican’s attack on anti-vaxxer Neville richochets into anti-vaxxer Woods

(Oops – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

GOP operative Tyler Sandberg took a Twitter shot at State Sen.Tim Neville (R-Littleton) last month, just after Neville lost his bid to take on Michael Bennet in this fall’s Colorado Senate race.

Responding to an article quoting Neville as graciously saying “the people” had spoken, Sandberg snapped, “And the people support vaccinations.”

Sandberg is correct. Neville supported an unpopular bill in the state legislature last year (SB15-077) that would have made it even easier for parents to opt-out of getting their kids vaccinated in Colorado. Progressives have called Neville and others “anti-vaxxers” for supporting the efforts last year (and opposing sensible vaccination reporting this year) given that Colorado has some of the most lax vaccination policies in the country.

The funny part is, Neville is far from alone in the anti-vaxxer crusade. He’s joined by, among others, Republican State Sen. Laura Woods, whose Westminster race in November will likely determine whether Republicans retain control of the state senate and thus stop the Democrats, who have the governor’s office and state house, from taking control of state government.

So Sandberg’s shot at Neville inadvertently ricocheted into Woods. Or was the salvo intentional?

You don’t often see a muckety-muck flack like Sandberg, who’s been a mouthpiece for Rep. Mike Coffman, throwing shade at a candidate who’s got control of state government riding on her shoulders. And such an attack should have been spotlighted by reporters.

(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]