Taking Away Parental Leave: Where Is The Outrage?

GOP legislators line up to testify against parental leave.

GOP legislators line up to testify against parental leave.

We’re surprised at how little coverage there’s been of a bill that could become a major flashpoint, House Bill 16-1002–the bill reauthorizing the state’s parental leave law for academic responsibilities that was on the books for years before it sunset last year. We took note yesterday of the crowd of “family values” male Republican legislators who lined up to testify against the bill in the House, and this is the same bill Rep. Kevin Priola impaled himself on by voting no in committee after being excused to take his child to a doctor’s appointment.

But as exciting as the debate over this bill has been, there has been little discussion in the mainstream press. In addition to the Chalkbeat Colorado story we linked to yesterday, the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Charles Ashby wrote this week:

Democrats, who support HB1002 and enacted the law in 2009 at a time when they held full control of the Legislature, said it’s an important law to keep because parents need to be involved in their children’s education.

Republicans, who killed a similar bill last year to continue the law, said it’s not needed, saying it also places an unfair burden on businesses.

Rep. Alec Garnett, D-Denver, said the state’s economy has done well since 2009, unemployment is low, Colorado has consistently been ranked high as a favorable place to do business, and leads the nation in job growth and business development.

“All these statistics and all these rankings have happened when the bill that we’re discussing was on the books,” he said. “So how can we argue that it’s bad for business?” [Pols emphasis]

We see this bill as a major opportunity for Democrats to differentiate themselves from Republicans in advance of this year’s elections. The key point is that parental leave for school activities was the law of the land for five years, and it didn’t hurt anyone. Parents in Colorado who had access to parental leave between 2009 and September of 2015 have now had it taken away.

Last year, the refusal by Senate Republicans to fund the long-acting contraception program credited with a dramatic drop in teen pregnancy in Colorado made national headlines repeatedly. Clear evidence of cost savings from a relatively small investment that Republicans refused to fund out of politically unsightly ideological prejudice has done damage that may not be fully felt until this November.

If it gets on the media’s radar, parental leave could turn into a similarly harmful episode for statehouse Republicans. With no evidence of any harm to employers from Colorado’s parental leave law, and the obvious benefit to families with school-age children being taken away by the GOP’s refusal to reauthorize the law, every vote against House Bill 1002 is a big liability in an election year. The mailers and TV spots will not be kind.

And so far, that’s every Republican House member save one.

Get More Smarter on Friday (Feb. 5)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowBy this time next week, Peyton Manning may be retired from football; here’s hoping he has another Super Bowl ring as a going away present. 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).


► Yes, this is a politics blog, but let’s be honest with our Colorado readers: It’s Super Bowl weekend, and everybody’s talking about the Denver Broncos. As of today, the Broncos are a 5.5 point underdog against the Carolina Panthers. If you ask us — go ahead, ask us — we say Denver wins by seven points.

Meanwhile, Congress is taking part in the annual tradition of making silly regional-based bets to show that they, too, like to watch football. As The Denver Post reports, the friendly wagers include lots of red meat and locally-brewed beer. There’s also this:

Colorado’s two U.S. Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner — who can’t seem to do anything without the other — joined forces and put some “pride on the line” against their North Carolina counterparts, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis.

Under the terms of the deal, the freshman senator from the losing state must deliver a speech on the Senate floor that “must give specific shout outs to the Super Bowl champion’s head coach, quarterback, fan base and detail the greatness of the Super Bowl champion’s home state.”

For added fun, the freshman lawmaker from the winning state will get to preside over the Senate chamber during the homage.

Oh, as for Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora)? He’s trying to use this Super Bowl thing to raise money for his re-election campaign, because, of course.


► State Senate President Bill Cadman said his prayers to the Koch Brothers on Thursday. During a rally at the State Capitol with Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a political organization founded by the coal-mining billionaires, Cadman was quite frank about the connection between AFP and the State Senate:

“I can tell you this,” Senate President Bill Cadman told an Americans for Prosperity rally at the Capitol, “I don’t think I would be the president of the Senate if it wasn’t for the efforts you and yours did over the previous elections. And we look forward to continuing our partnership with you.”

It’s worth mentioning here that Cadman’s other job is working as a political consultant for Republican campaigns in Colorado and elsewhere. But surely Cadman doesn’t get any extra money from AFP for this work.


► Democratic Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders went back-and-forth in a debate in New Hampshire last night. If you missed it, here’s a few takeaways courtesy of Politico.


Get even more smarter after the jump…

Get More Smarter On Thursday (Feb. 4)

Get More SmarterNote to selves: Do NOT ask Rick Santorum to speak on your behalf. 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).


► The Parental Leave Act took another step forward in the Colorado legislature on Wednesday. As Charles Ashby reports for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:

The Colorado House gave preliminary approval Wednesday to a bill that would bring back the state’s parental leave act, which expired in September.

Democrats, who support HB1002 and enacted the law in 2009 at a time when they held full control of the Legislature, said it’s an important law to keep because parents need to be involved in their children’s education.

Republicans, who killed a similar bill last year to continue the law, said it’s not needed, saying it also places an unfair burden on businesses.

Rep. Alec Garnett, D-Denver, said the state’s economy has done well since 2009, unemployment is low, Colorado has consistently been ranked high as a favorable place to do business, and leads the nation in job growth and business development.

“All these statistics and all these rankings have happened when the bill that we’re discussing was on the books,” he said. “So how can we argue that it’s bad for business?”

Elsewhere, here’s what opposition to parental leave legislation looks like in the House, in one photo.


► Democratic Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will go face-to-face in four more debates, as announced on Wednesday. From the Associated Press:

The additional debates will held in Flint, Michigan on March 6, and two other cities in April and May, with details to be determined later. Clinton has sought a debate in Flint to bring attention to the city’s water contamination crisis and Sanders said he wanted it to be scheduled before the Michigan primary on March 8.

Clinton and Sanders are meeting Thursday in a debate at the University of New Hampshire just days before Tuesday’s first-in-the-nation primary…

…Two other Democratic debates are already on the calendar: Feb. 11 in Milwaukee and March 9 in Miami.

The four new debates are expected to be held live at 2:00 in the morning (that was a joke).


Get even more smarter after the jump…

Caption This Photo: Let’s Hear It For The Boys!

Todd Engdahl at Chalkbeat Colorado reports on passage in the Colorado House today of House Bill 16-1002, reinstating Colorado’s parental leave statute for school activities after they lapsed in 2015 due to legislative inaction:

The Colorado House gave final 35-30 approval Thursday to a contentious bill intended to give parents the legal right to time off from work for parent-teacher conferences and a limited number of other school meetings…the 50-minute debate over the bill on Wednesday was as much political theater as it was a policy discussion, with a strong undercurrent of Democratic-Republican differences about economic opportunity and business regulation, not about education…

“By passing this bill we will create a foundation for all parents to be able to be involved in their children’s education,” argued Rep. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora, the House prime sponsor of House Bill 16-1002. “It’s common knowledge that parent involvement creates academic success.”

Republicans who came to the microphone said they’re for parental involvement but countered that the bill isn’t necessary. “Companies can do this already,” said Rep. Tim Dore, R-Elizabeth.

Passing a law on the issue would “interrupt the positive interactions between employees and employer” necessary for a harmonious workplace, argued Rep. Paul Lundeen, R-Monument.

After the passage of this legislation in the Democratic-controlled House, it awaits a dubious fate in the Republican-controlled state Senate–where a similar bill reauthorizing the parental leave law before it sunset died last year. But no words can capture the scene as “family values” Republican legislators lining up to take away parental leave rights families have had for years quite like this photo posted to Twitter by Rep. Faith Winter of Westminster:


In front lined up to testify from left to right are Reps. Jim Wilson, Justin Everett (identifiable by his shiny coiffed hair), Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, and Reps. Paul Lundeen, Tim Dore, and Don Coram.

Now immortalized as the “No Family Values For You Bros?” We bet you’ve got a better caption.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Feb. 3)

MoreSmarterLogo-SnowmanAccording to a source with the Ted Cruz campaign, all of the other GOP Presidential candidates are dropping out and supporting him. That’s not true? Oh. 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).


► Donald Trump conceded an Iowa caucus victory to Ted Cruz on Monday, but now His Hairness is alleging fraud and calling for a new election in Iowa. Before you dismiss this story, consider Trump’s “proof” — that the Cruz campaign told caucusgoers that Ben Carson was dropping out of the race (he isn’t…yet). From Politico:

The tweet referred to a report from CNN’s Chris Moody during the caucuses that Ben Carson would take a detour from New Hampshire following Iowa, heading to Florida instead — which some took to mean that Carson was suspending his campaign.

The Cruz campaign then alerted its leaders to the tweet from the CNN reporter but, as Cruz explained in an apology on Tuesday, neglected to send the follow-up tweet in which Moody clarified that the Carson campaign had told him that the retired neurosurgeon was not dropping out of the race but rather just picking up fresh clothes. On Monday night, Carson accused the Cruz campaign of “dirty tricks” but accepted its apology.

Nobody wants to go back to Iowa, obviously, but this is a smart maneuver by Trump to throw some cold water on Cruz before next week’s New Hampshire Primary. Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post explains why it’s so important to pay attention to “dirty tricks” from the Cruz campaign.



► There has been much moaning and complaining over the years about a relative dearth of political news coverage in Colorado, so it’s good to see that Denver’s ABC7 is already digging in with its own political fact-checker, Alan Gathright. From The Denver Channel:

Emily’s List is stoking the abortion debate in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District race with a fundraising email saying Republican incumbent Mike Coffman “co-sponsored a bill to redefine rape.”…

…Emily’s List said that Coffman “co-sponsored a bill to redefine rape.”

The record shows Coffman did co-sponsor the bill to redefine a ban on federal funding for abortions to exempt “forcible rape.”

Yet he later voted to remove the “forcible” modifier from the bill.

Given the totality of his actions on the legislation, we’re rating this claim Mostly True.

Whatever your feelings on this particular issue, it’s a great development for Colorado politics when local news organizations start asking just a few more questions.


Get even more smarter after the jump…

Get More Smarter on Groundhog Day (Feb. 2)

MoreSmarterLogo-SnowmanSee? We told you that you were going to get a snow 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).


The big news is in from Gobbler’s Knob: The Groundhog emerged and did not “see” his shadow, which is supposed to mean that we are headed for an early spring. Punxsutawney Phil did not elaborate on when the snow will stop falling in Colorado.


► If you need to get caught up on everything that happened in Iowa last night, Colorado Pols has you covered. Here’s the recap.

Ted Cruz managed to hold on for a victory in Iowa, with Donald Trump and Marco Rubio rounding out the top three. Combined, Cruz and Trump captured more than 52% of the vote in Iowa; even before the results were announced, the surge of Cruz and Trump had Congressional Republicans freaking the freak out. From The Hill:

The real reason for all the anxiety among Republicans about Trump and Cruz is the fear that either man could drag down the party in Congress.

With Trump or Cruz at the top of the GOP slate in November, the Democrats like their chances of taking back the House and Senate…

…By the GOP convention, the question will not be about endorsements. It will be about how many Congressional Republicans openly reject Trump or Cruz, if either man is the nominee.

The field of candidates did finally start to shrink after last night. Mike Huckabee has left the race on the Republican side, and Democrat Martin O’Malley is also throwing in the towel. Ben Carson is going home to do laundry.


► You may be enjoying your snow day, but the Colorado legislature is still working — they just scheduled a late 10:30 am start this morning.


Get even more smarter after the jump…

Dems Get Tons of Pay Equity Press–Will Republicans Get Smart?

Photo by Colorado House Democrats.

Photo by Colorado House Democrats.

Yesterday, Democrats in the Colorado legislature held a press conference to announce legislation aimed at closing the persistent gap in earnings between men and women in the workplace–a problem that is actually worse in Colorado than many other states, even after Republicans in the Colorado Senate killed the state’s pay equity commission working on solutions for the problem. 9NEWS’ Allison Sylte:

Democrats in Colorado’s legislature introduced a package of bills Thursday aimed at ensuring women are paid equally when they’re doing the same jobs as men…

The Women’s Foundation of Colorado estimates that women in the state make less than 80-cents for every dollar a man makes for the same work.

“We know in recent years the pay gap has closed a bit,” Louise Myrland with the Women’s Foundation of Colorado said. “But at the rate the gap is closing, women won’t achieve equal pay with men until 2057.”

The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch:

As press conferences go, this one was rock solid: A group of House Democrats were joined by women’s groups and small children Thursday to drive home the point that the equal pay issue isn’t going away as long as wages for women lag. The children wore red T-shirts that gave their ages in the 2057, the year advocates say pay for women, at the current rate of gains, will catch up to what men earn…

The Equal Pay in State Contracts Act would require state contractors to comply with equal-pay laws. The bill is sponsored by Reps. Jessie Danielson of Wheat Ridge and Janet Buckner of Aurora.

The Pay Transparency Protection Act bill, sponsored by Danielson and Rep. Joe Salazar of Thornton, would protect workers who share wage information. Reps. Brittany Pettersen of Lakewood and Faith Winter of Westminster are sponsoring the Fair Pay from the Start Act, which would block employers from asking job applicants about their salary history.

7NEWS’ Marshall Zelinger:

“It’s unacceptable that, in 2016, Colorado women of color and our families still have not only less to make ends meet today, but also less for a secure retirement tomorrow,” said 9to5 Colorado State Director Neha Mahajan, in a statement provided to Denver7…

Two of the new bills regarding equal pay don’t actually refer increasing salaries for women. One of the bills, “Extending Pay Transparency Protection To All Employees” protects workers from retribution if they share salary information with each other.

The other new bill, “Fair Pay From The Start” would prevent potential employers from asking your previous salary history. It would require prospective employers to only ask what your salary requirements would be.

You can also read coverage in the Grand Junction Sentinel, Denver’s Fox and CBS affiliates, and the Colorado Independent. Yesterday’s presser at the Colorado capitol was coordinated with the launch of similar legislation promoting pay equity in 20 states–a coordinated initiative organized by the national State Innovation Exchange.

The heavy press coverage of yesterday’s announcement definitely raises the stakes for Republicans in the legislature to give these bills a fair hearing. In the likely event that the bills die, it will fit seamlessly into the narrative on this issue Democrats have been gainfully pushing since the death of the pay equity commission last year. Pay equity joins parental leave, last year’s battle over a highly successful IUD contraception program, and perennial frontal attacks on abortion rights to create a compelling message for women voters–a story that transcends the names down the ballot, and clarifies for voters the bright line that divides the parties.

The best case scenario would be some kind of compromise by Republicans that passes at least some of this legislation. There’s no material downside, and politically it would be a smart way to harm-reduce on issues that hurt them with swing voters in just about every election.

Fat chance, we know. But for the record.

Get More Smarter on Friday (Jan. 29)

Get More SmarterRemember, friends: That Super Bowl party you were invited to attend is next Sunday. 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).


► The final Republican Presidential debate before the Iowa caucuses was held last night in Des Moines, and the big winner was — of course — the guy who wasn’t there. Here’s a Winners and Losers analysis from our pals at “The Fix”, including the biggest losers:

Ted Cruz: Cruz did the thing I hate the most in debates — complain about the rules — when he tried to game a bit more talking time and got shut down by moderator Chris Wallace. The Texas Senator’s joking threat that if he kept taking incoming from the other candidates he might leave the stage (Donald Trump reference!) fell flat. He was on the wrong end of a scolding by Paul over his conservative righteousness.  And, time and time again, Cruz found himself insisting that on a panoply of issues — military spending, immigration etc. — everyone was either wrong about his position or didn’t understand it well enough. That’s too much defense for Cruz to play — especially in a debate without Trump.

Ben Carson: Whoa boy.  Carson swung from barely being asked any questions to providing answers that often bordered on incoherence. His response to a question about how to deal with Russia simply made no sense — further adding to the narrative that he is far, far out of his depth on foreign policy. At one point, he seemed stunned to even get a question, which isn’t the best look for a guy running to be the leader of a 300-million person country.  Carson looked out of his league tonight.

To be fair, Carson has been out of his league since at least July. Cruz, meanwhile, is getting universally panned for his performance last night, which might give Trump the room he needs to leave Iowa with a big win. From Politico:

More than 4-in-10 GOP insiders – given the choice of the seven GOP candidates on the stage, plus Trump – rated Cruz as the loser of Thursday night’s debate, citing his defensive posture on his past immigration stances and opposition to ethanol subsidies.


► Both of the top Democratic candidates for President — Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanderswill speak at the Colorado Democrats’ annual fundraising gala on Feb. 13. The big winner here is obvious: The Colorado Democratic Party.


Get even more smarter after the jump…

Get More Smarter on Thursday (Jan. 28)

Get More SmarterWith any luck, tonight’s GOP Presidential debate will be the last time we have to listen to at least half the candidates. To Iowa…and beyond!!! 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).


► Colorado Democrats are again trying to push legislation on equal pay for women. No, this is not the mid-20th Century. As Joey Bunch reports for the Denver Post:

Friday is the seventh anniversary of President Obama signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, so Thursday Colorado Democrats will renew efforts on equal pay by unveiling two bills on the issue…

…Neither of the bills involve Colorado’s Equal Pay Commission, which was not renewed last year after Republicans argued that the commission had had a hard time scheduling meetings and produced little or no substantive work in its previous eight years.

A report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics last year indicated Colorado women make 77.9 percent of what men receive in weekly wages, below the 82.1 percent national gender gap average. The gap for minorities is even greater, proponents argue.

In response, Republicans will argue something about “businesses have every right to pay men more money than women because, freedom, or something.”


► We’re still kinda partial to “Frackapalooza.”


► Our friends at “The Fix” think they know the real reason that Donald Trump is skipping tonight’s final pre-Iowa caucus Presidential debate in Des Moines. The first reason — that Trump is sick of debating — is just a piece of the story. The primary reason Trump won’t debate tonight is because he looks stronger by staying away:

For Trump then another debate this close to the Iowa caucuses has almost no upside. His attacks on Ted Cruz are working. All of the second tier candidates are either attacking each other or Cruz. Thousands of people are coming to every one of his rallies — including the one he will hold tonight in Iowa while his rivals debate.  He is getting wall-to-wall media coverage and will continue to do so.

What Trump wants to do then is run out the clock. Take as few risks as possible between now and Monday. He and his campaign know that if he wins the Iowa caucuses, he will almost certainly cruise in the New Hampshire primary eight days later. Win those first two states and Trump starts to look (even more) like a juggernaut for the Republican nomination.

On the other hand, perhaps Trump just wants to hear more from Jim Gilmore.


Get even more smarter after the jump…

GOP Rep. Demonstrates Need For Parental Leave, Then Votes No

Rep. Kevin Priola (R).

Rep. Kevin Priola (R).

A press release from the Colorado House Democratic majority highlights a bill moving through that chamber to expand parental leave rights for Colorado workers–and contains an amusing twist:

A bill by Rep. Janet Buckner, D-Aurora, to allow parents to take unpaid leave to attend their children’s essential academic activities passed the Education Committee on a party line vote this morning. HB16-1002, Rep. Buckner’s first bill of her legislative career, reenacts the 2009 “Parental Involvement in K-12 Education Act,” which sunset in 2015.

“The bill takes the simple, common-sense step to ensure that working parents can take unpaid time off work to attend their children’s academic activities,” said Rep. Buckner. “I know the kids of Aurora and Colorado deserve every opportunity to succeed. I’m excited to get this important bill for working families past the first step in the process and look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to make it law. Frankly, I’m disappointed that House Republicans joined in lockstep to oppose this simple, common-sense bill to help working families. In my first bill it was really sad to see my fellow legislators put politics before kids and parents.”

The kicker?

The hearing on the bill began on Monday, Jan. 25, but was laid over when Rep. Kevin Priola, R-Henderson, asked for a delay because, ironically, he needed to take his child to a doctor’s appointment. [Pols emphasis] Rep. Brittany Pettersen, D-Lakewood, Chair of the House Education Committee permitted the delay, reminding the room that many parents in Colorado do not have the luxury to rearrange work for their children’s needs, which is why this bill is so badly needed.

The hearing resumed today with the expectation that it would be a quick vote on a single amendment and then the bill. But the conversation was drawn out, first over an amendment proposed by GOP Rep. Joann Windholz, R-Commerce City, to remove a section to have schools notify parents of their right to ask for leave. Educators presented testimony on Monday that parental involvement is crucial, and that parents deserve to know their rights as it relates to staying involved with school activities. The amendment failed on a party line vote.

Republicans continued to belabor the point, insisting that this bill would affect businesses, despite the fact that the bill was law for over five years with no negative consequences.

This legislation is expected to pass the Democratic-controlled House, but its fate in the GOP-controlled Senate is uncertain at best. This is an issue where Republicans should tread more carefully, given the competing interests of business and “family values” that plainly conflict in this bill. But as Rep. Kevin Priola’s unintentional validation of the need for it demonstrates–even more by his subsequent no vote on the bill–the political danger in opposing parental leave is not apparent to them.

The latter happens all the time, but they don’t always undercut themselves so ironically.

JoAnn Windholz: No Apologies. Dems: Good.

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz (center).

Yesterday, supporters of Planned Parenthood delivered a petition signed by over 60,000 people across the nation calling for GOP Rep. JoAnn Windholz to resign over her comments blaming the organization for the attack on its clinic in Colorado Springs last November. As the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reports:

The group organizing a recall against state Rep. JoAnn Windholz told The Colorado Independent today they plan to drop their effort.

Instead they will focus on keeping Windholz’s name and remarks blaming Planned Parenthood for the shooting at its Colorado Springs clinic in front of her district’s voters between now and Election Day, said organizer Steve Cohn…

About a dozen members of the recall group came to the state Capitol today, asking that Windholz resign. They brought with them more than 63,000 signatures from an online petition that also asked Windholz to step down. According to Chris Burley of Denver, senior campaign manager for Care2, an online petition service, about 2,000 of those signatures came from Coloradans.

The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch got a response from Windholz:

“I never once blamed the victims and as a supporter of life I am deeply saddened by the loss of any life,” Windholz said in a statement. “I will continue to support life and the values of my constituents.” [Pols emphasis]

Three days after a five-hour standoff left three dead and nine wounded, Windholz, a Republican from Commerce City, posted on her Facebook page comments critical of Planned Parenthood’s abortion services, saying: “The true instigator of this violence and all violence at any Planned Parenthood facility is Planned Parenthood themselves.” The post has been removed.

In the aftermath of Windholz’s statements about the Planned Parenthood terror attack in Colorado Springs, Democrats were obviously excited about the opportunity this created in one of the most narrowly-won GOP House victories of 2014. Windholz has always been unapologetically pro-life, but blaming Planned Parenthood for the violence committed against the organization makes that much harder for swing voters to ignore. Where it might have been overlooked previously, now strident anti-abortion politics is a central part of Windholz’s brand–in a politically competitive district ill-suited for it.

With that in mind, the last thing Democrats should want is for Windholz to be forced to resign, allowing her to be replaced by a less-damaged candidate. With Windholz standing by her words, and local Republicans standing behind her, the best place for Windholz from a Democrat’s point of view is right where she is.

As Napoleon said, never interrupt your opponent when they are making a mistake.

Gun Bills Head For Usual Fate, With One Improbable Maybe



As the Colorado Independent’s Corey Hutchins reports, Republicans in the Colorado General Assembly led by Sen. Tim Neville are pushing most of the usual slate of pro-gun bills in 2016, starting with another attempt to repeal the 15-round magazine limit passed in 2013:

Lawmakers in Colorado, including one state Senator who’s running for higher office, have introduced at least three measures to expand gun rights so far at the start of this year’s legislative session.

One of the bills, unsurprisingly, is aimed at rolling back a 2013 package of legislation that limited to 15 the amount of bullets a gun magazine could hold in Colorado. One of the sponsors in the Senate is Tim Neville of Jefferson County who is running in the crowded GOP primary field for U.S. Senate this year. The bill is pretty simple: It repeals the 2013 law, and “declares that this act is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety.”

Another bill, also sponsored in part by Neville, would extend to the workplace the state’s ‘Make My Day’ law, which allows Coloradans to use deadly force against intruders in their own homes under certain circumstances. This new law would allow the same ability to “owners, managers, and employees of businesses.”

A third measure would scrap the permitting requirements for carrying a concealed weapon in Colorado.

The last of these bills mentioned, Senate Bill 16-017 eliminating additional permit requirements to carry concealed weapons, is up for a hearing tomorrow in the Senate State Affairs Committee. Interestingly, we have not seen a bill yet to repeal the requirement for background checks to be conducted for most gun purchases, something gun rights supporters has clamored loudly for but has always been the most popular of the 2013 reform measures. Today, polling in Colorado and nationally shows consistent and enduring support for expanding background checks, making Colorado a leader on the issue–so maybe this is a fight we won’t be having in Colorado in 2016.

The one proposal on which we might yet see some fireworks in the legislature this year would be a much-threatened but as-yet unintroduced bill to relax the magazine limit law from the current 15 maximum rounds to 30 rounds–a change that would allow the 30-round high-capacity mags considered “standard” on AR-15 assault rifles to be sold in Colorado once again. This idea was championed last year by Jon Caldara of the Independence Institute as an incremental measure, but was summarily rejected by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and their powerful bloc of legislators–who say any magazine limit “compromise” short of full repeal would be unacceptable.

The latest word as we understand it is that Democrats have no interest in either helping Caldara look good or defusing internal conflict between Republicans–which sharply reduces the possibility of the Democratic defections Caldara would need. That combined with the RMGO’s lockdown of its member legislators against raising the mag limit seems to indicate that no such end run is in the offing.

If that changes you’ll know, because nothing turns up the volume at the Capitol like a good squabble over guns.

BREAKING: Controversy Rocks GOP HD-25 Vacancy

In the wake of Tim Leonard’s victory in the GOP Colorado House District 25 vacancy committee selection this past weekend, dissidents led by ubiquitous conservative watchdog Marilyn Marks are challenging the process by which the members of the vacancy committee were organized. A Facebook post from Florence Urbish Sebern, a Republican activist in Denver, appears to allege that the vacancy committee was altered just before the vote:


This message was evidently in response to former Sen. Ted Harvey’s defense of the process:


Obviously, Harvey’s admission that the committee list that was filed with the Colorado Secretary of State “was not correct” raises big and very appropriate red flags–even is he claims it is “all good.” We have to note that Republican vacancy committee hearings are routinely fraught with controversy, but this could be something more than the usual tit-for-tat. What we’ve heard suggests that they can’t stop Rep. Tim Leonard from taking office, but a lawsuit could cause much intraparty friction in the coming weeks and months.

All of which calls into question the decision of Jon Keyser to resign this seat. In addition to resulting in a coup for the growing power base of Keyser’s U.S. Senate primary opponent Tim Neville, Keyser’s vacancy could be reopening wounds within the Colorado GOP that among other things won’t help his aspirations for higher office.

Stay tuned, we’ll update as the story develops.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Jan. 26)

Get More SmarterOnly seven more days until we can stop pretending to care about Iowa’s opinion. 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).


► Transportation funding is quickly rising to the top of the to-do list in the state legislature. As John Frank reports for the Denver Post:

Gov. John Hickenlooper and lawmakers are mostly united this session in a mission to find more money for road building and maintenance, but what is less universal is the solution.

Democrats and Republicans are moving in opposite directions and struggling to reach consensus on how to find more money — an impasse that is complicated by a state budget crunch.

Half of Colorado’s $1.28 billion transportation budget is spent on maintaining existing roads, according to state officials, which leaves little room for expansion projects demanded by a booming population. Colorado Department of Transportation officials estimate that revenues fall short of demand by about $1 billion a year.

The magnitude of the situation is even  renewing interest in options once deemed off-limits, such as an increase in motor vehicle fees or a sales or gas tax hike. Another proposal is a $3.5 billion debt package for road bonds.

Frank is being pretty generous in the opening paragraphs here. Republicans in the legislature aren’t actually proposing a solution of their own — they’re just balking at everything suggested by Democrats while they stammer on with the traditional nothing burger talking point about “cutting spending.”


► Republicans appear to be making peace with the idea of Donald Trump as their Presidential nominee in 2016. From the Washington Post:

One week before the first votes of the 2016 campaign are cast, Donald Trump has solidified his standing nationally, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Republicans see Trump as strongest candidate on major issues and by far the most electable in the large field of GOP hopefuls…

…Amid this political climate, Trump has maintained his place atop the Republican field for six months. He currently receives the support of 37 percent of registered Republicans and Republican-leaning independents, almost identical to the 38 percent support he enjoyed a month ago.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas runs second in the national survey with 21 percent, surpassing his previous high of 15 percent in December. Third place belongs to Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida at 11 percent, virtually unchanged from 12 percent a month ago.

Forget “Making American Great”; Donald Trump’s new campaign slogan should be “Eh, Fine, Whatever.”



Get even more smarter after the jump…


Strong Sisters Sets Premiere Date

Produced, written and directed by Laura Hoeppner and Meg Froelich,  Strong Sisters tells the unique and fascinating story of Colorado’s elected women from 1893 – when we elected three women to the State House – to the present where we lead the nation in percentage of women in the Legislature.

Strong Sisters asks the questions Why Colorado? What difference does it make to have women in office? and finally, Why has Colorado not yet had a female US Senator, Governor, nor Mayor of Denver?

Strong Sisters interviewed over 70 elected women and several historians, journalists and academics.

Tickets for the March 6 Premiere are available at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/strong-sisters-premiere-tickets-20929990164.

And here’s a teaser “Mentors.”