Get More Smarter on Friday (Feb. 27)

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The dress is definitely bluish-brown. 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…

► Today is the deadline for Congress to authorize funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), so what should we expect of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner? If you guessed, "punt the issue for three more weeks," you win the door prize. But as Politico reports, Republicans are merely delaying an answer on a budget problem that is about to get much, much worse:

First the good news: Congress appears to have found a way to avoid a shutdown of the Department of Homeland Security for the next three weeks.

Now the bad: March is beginning to look awfully grim for the new Republican Congress that had lofty expectations for legislating in 2015.

GOP leaders appear set to win approval of their short-term solution to the DHS impasse on Friday, hours before the money runs dry. But that will leave the House and Senate just three weeks to bridge their fundamental differences on funding the department for the long term and blocking President Barack Obama’s changes to the enforcement of immigration policy.

On top of that, Congress must update a complicated Medicare reimbursement formula for doctors. And it needs to pass a budget.

This is where we remind you, again, that REPUBLICANS HAVE MAJORITY CONTROL IN CONGRESS and they still can't figure out how to govern.

Mr. Spock is dead.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

 

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GOP’s Self-Injurious Abortion Ban Bill Up Today

FRIDAY UPDATE: 9NEWS reports on the bill's eventual death Thursday on a 7-6 party line vote:

Thursday's bill was the second of three anti-abortion bills introduced this year. A bill to increase the regulation of abortion clinics was defeated in committee earlier this year. The third bill, banning partial birth abortions, is scheduled for committee debate next Tuesday.

HB15-1041 would make abortion unlawful with violations resulting in a class 3 felony. An exemption is made for the life of a woman, though exemptions for rape and incest are not included.

Testimony before the house judiciary committee was limited to three minutes due to the number of supporters and opponents signed up to testify…

When pressed by committee chair Rep. Daniel Kagan (D-Cherry Hills Village) about cases of rape and incest, supporters of the bill defended the non-exception saying that abortion often hides incest or causes the women affected to feel victimized twice.

—–

Photo courtesy NARAL.

Photo courtesy NARAL.

The Colorado House Judiciary Committee is set to debate (and barring unforeseen circumstances, to kill) House Bill 15-1041 Thursday afternoon, the bill sponsored by a number of House and Senate Republicans to make abortion in Colorado a class 3 felony. It's the same essential language that Republicans introduce in most legislative sessions, including and preceding now-U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner's bill to impose the same penalty on doctors who perform abortions in 2007.

A press release from NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado recounts the effort that organization is making, as in previous years, to ensure that the bill not only dies, but politically damages Republicans who sponsored and enabled it:

For the second time in two weeks, anti-choice legislators are wasting time in the General Assembly with HB 1041, yet another “personhood” bill that would ban all abortion and many forms of birth control. This comes after Colorado voters defeated a personhood measure by landslide margins in 2014 for the third time. The bill will be heard in the House Judiciary Committee Thursday afternoon…
 
In 2014, the voters of Colorado overwhelmingly reiterated a belief that they had previously declared in 2012, 2010 and 2008: they believe women have the right to make their own personal, private medical decisions about abortion and that abortion bans are wrong. This is a mainstream value held by the vast majority of Coloradans for decades.
 
The will of Colorado citizens is clear: they want to focus on the economy and other  issues currently affecting our state. Colorado voters appreciate the work being done to reduce the numbers of teen and unintended pregnancy by over 40% and in turn reducing the number of abortions by over 30%, but access to safe and legal abortion is still a necessity for many women.

As everyone knows, this legislation has absolutely no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled House Judiciary Committee today, nor would it pass the House if it made it to the floor–and maybe not even the GOP-controlled Senate, where we have to think there is a moderate Republican vote left to stop a felony abortion ban bill. And of course, Gov. John Hickenlooper would veto it in the worst case. These simple realities have made even some Democrats complacent about opposing–and as a result, publicizing–continuing Republican efforts to ban abortion in Colorado.

Morally and politically, that's a huge mistake. In last year's elections, the principal response to Democratic attacks over reproductive choice from Republicans was that the "war on women" was overblown. Cory Gardner morphed from the sponsor in the Colorado legislature of the same felony abortion ban up for debate today to a supposed "champion" of access to birth control who had only voted for hypothetical abortion bans. Gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, who in 2006 had promised to sign a total no-exceptions abortion ban as governor, tried to claim last year that he would not do anything of the kind. Republican surrogates and the Denver Post's editorial board told voters flat-out not to worry about abortion rights.

Well folks, what if Bob Beauprez had won? What if Republicans had picked up just a couple more House seats, and 2014 abortion ban co-sponsor Brian DelGrosso was now Speaker of the Colorado House? We're not talking about big margins in either case. If Democrats aren't out there every day extracting maximum damage from the GOP for these bills, reminding voters every time how close last year's elections were, and pushing back on the GOP's insistence that the "war on women" is mythical with this irrefutable proof that it is not mythical at all…if they're not doing that, they're not doing their jobs. And they'd be missing a priceless opportunity.

Because in addition to being politically expedient, making these bills costly for Republicans at the ballot box is the only way to make them stop.

Take action now to protect Colorado’s land, water, and people

A task force of experts, industry representatives, and citizens appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper to study the conflicts between local communities and oil and gas drilling submitted their final report Tuesday. Unfortunately, industry representatives on the task force stalled any attempt at real reforms to give local governments a say in oil and gas permitting decisions. This issue is becoming critically important for more and more Coloradans each day as hydraulic fracture drilling, or “fracking,” pushes oil and gas development closer to homes and schools along the Front Range.

Colorado Speaker of the House Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, one of our state’s foremost progressive leaders, is disappointed that the task force failed to recommend meaningful reforms and has said in news reports that the legislature may need to take action on its own. Take a moment right now to send a message to Speaker Hullinghorst–tell her you’ve got her back as she fights for local control over fracking in Colorado.

This isn’t a fight over “banning fracking.” This is about giving local communities a voice in regulating a heavy industry operating within their boundaries. This is about preserving the rights of homeowners and families to safeguard their health and property. And it’s past time for our elected leaders to get serious about solutions.

Tell Speaker Hullinghorst you’ll stand with her as she takes the next steps to sensibly protect Colorado’s land, water, and people. We’ll share your names and comments with the Speaker’s office, the press, and other public officials.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (Feb. 26)

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We've installed fresh batteries in the Colorado Pols Quadruple Doppler (with cheese), which is predicting as much as 10 feet of snow today. Or maybe less. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► With one day left to authorize funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Colorado's Congressional delegation remains divided on how to move forward — no surprise, perhaps, given that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner can't even work things out inside their Republican majority. And what about freshman Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma)? Here's Mark Matthews of the Denver Post:

Less clear was the stance of newly elected U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner. The Colorado Republican did not agree to an interview. Instead, his office released a statement that spoke less to a legislative solution and more to the actions of Democrats. "Senate Democrats are playing politics with our national security. It's wrong, and they should stop," he said in a statement. [Pols emphasis]

Once again, we remind you that REPUBLICANS HAVE MAJORITY CONTROL IN CONGRESS. Blaming Democrats for this one is like saying it's John Hickenlooper's fault that the Denver Broncos didn't win the Super Bowl. There's no way out of this mess for Republicans now.

Chris Cilizza of the Washington Post explains how Republicans got into this DHS funding mess in the first place.

► The Colorado legislature took a Snow Day on Monday because of poor road conditions, but not again today; there's plenty of legislatin' going on under the Golden Dome of the State Capitol.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Fracking Task Force Falls Flat: Smart Next Steps Needed

UPDATE: Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst slows down talk of a ballot measure, in a new statement that seems to walk back her comments to the Denver Post's John Frank:

“There have been reports that I may favor a ballot initiative. At this time, I believe a ballot initiative conversation is premature and not an avenue I am interested in pursuing. I look forward to continuing conversations with all parties involved, including mineral rights and surface rights owners, industry, environmental organizations, and local governments and communities on how we can best address the tensions caused by industrial activities in local communities.”

As a reminder, here's what Speaker Hullinghorst told the Post earlier today:

“We may just have to go to an initiative on this — I’m not averse to do that,” she said. [Pols emphasis]

None of this can be considered the definitive word, but you can guess that there are some interesting conservations going on right now behind the scenes. As soon as we have new insight on the state of play here, we'll share it. Original post follows.

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Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Feb. 25)

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BIll O'Reilly would have signed the Declaration of Independence, but he overslept. 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…

► Late yesterday, the Governor's Oil & Gas Taskforce released its "recommendations" for dealing with fracking…and they were about as anti-climactic as skeptics had expected. After months of meetings, the task force submitted a handful of small proposals to Gov. John Hickenlooper, though the most robust proposals for promoting more local control failed to move forward. Conservation Colorado Executive Director Pete Maysmith said the taskforce produced "some gravy, but forgot the meat and potatoes"; Noble Energy Vice President (and task-force member) Dan Kelly told the Denver Post that he thinks the group's recommendations "will address the issue." Congressman Jared Polis (D-Boulderish) was blunt in his assessment that "the oil and gas industry proved they weren't interested in a compromise or solving problems." So, that went well.

► Despite holding majority control of both chambers of Congress, Republicans continue to fight amongst themselves over whether to authorize funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) before Friday's deadline. As Politico reports, both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Tanning Bed) are pretty well hosed:

McConnell has been quiet for weeks about his next steps. But his new proposal on Tuesday — to extend DHS funding through September while advancing a separate plan to block a portion of Obama’s immigration proposal — signaled that he’s nervous a shutdown could damage his party politically. Twenty-four GOP senators are up for reelection next year.

Boehner is in an even tighter jam: Any sense that he is caving to the White House could further erode confidence in his leadership among the far right, which is furious at Obama’s immigration push. Boehner has not directly addressed whether he’d put a stand-alone funding bill on the floor, and several Republican leadership sources say they favor several short-term measures to try to keep the heat on the White House.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Tuesday (Feb. 24)

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Put down the snowman and get back to work. 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…

► Today the Senate Judiciary Committee will discuss regulating "unmanned aerial vehicles," more commonly known as "drones." Don't tell Vice Chair Kevin Lundberg, but staff at the Capitol expect to be regaled by testimony from tiny little pilots.

No Homeland Security funding for you! Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to figure out what to do after the Senate voted for a fourth time to block funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) because Republicans are still mad that President Obama tried to do something about immigration. Congress has until Feb. 27 to approve appropriations to continue funding DHS. From the Durango Herald:

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has warned that an agency shutdown would result in 75-80 percent of staff members being forced to work without pay, as their jobs are deemed vital to national security. An additional 30,000 would be furloughed.

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Patricia Arquette Oscar Speech Timely for Colorado

Patricia Arquette Oscar

This is the face we imagine Patricia Arquette would make after listening to Colorado Republicans dismiss pay equity concerns.

In case you missed it last night, actress Patricia Arquette gave a rousing acceptance speech that put equality issues front and center. As The Daily Beast explains:

"It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!" the actress proclaimed.

It was the Oscars moment that caused Meryl Streep to jump out of her seat, jab her finger in the air, and scream, “YES!” over and over again.

The 87th annual Academy Awards had reached a critical lull in the proceedings. But the snooze-worthy broadcast was momentarily salvaged by journeywoman actress Patricia Arquette, who delivered a rousing speech upon accepting the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Boyhood.

First Arquette thanked her fellow nominees, the cast and crew of the 12-year project Boyhood, and her friends and family, “who all work so hard to make this world a better place.”

Then she brought the house down.

“To every woman who gave birth, to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” shouted a fiery Arquette. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America!”

The entire place—Streep and seatmate Jennifer Lopez included—rose to their feet for the night’s biggest standing ovation.

Last month, Senate Republicans effectively killed off the Colorado Pay Equity Commission when they used a Party-line vote to prevent renewing the Commission. Senate Republicans' skill for poor timing brought more attention to the issue; the vote against the Commission came one day after new numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that women on average will earn about 77.9% of what men earn. State Rep. Jessie Danielson (D-Wheat RIdge) has since announced her own legislation (HB-1133) to continue the work of the Pay Equity Commission.

If you're wondering why anyone would be opposed to pay equity for women, well, you're not alone. But by 11:00 this morning, conservative activist Jessica Peck had already published an Op-Ed in the online version of the Denver Post in which she said…this:

Time and again, studies and data and antecdotes show that we do have gender equality in the United States. That is, when women act like men, we make as much or more money than men. Here's what we have to do: leave our babies in the hands of others and immediately return to work post-birth; leave our elderly parents in the hands of others to age — and die — so we can work; and aggressively negotiate salary and wage increases…

…Now, let's negotiate wages like the boys and we've got the rest covered. I run my own business. It's tough at times, but never have I ever had a male client suggest I should demand a lower wage just because I'm a girl. [Pols emphasis]

Uhh, come again? Does Peck want to be paid a lower wage because she is a woman?

Arquette's speech should only bring more attention to Rep. Danielson's legislation, and it's going to make a House vote on HB-1133 pretty interesting. Democrats can pass this bill out of the House on their own, but how could any Republican in an even halfway competitive district go on the record with a 'NO' vote now?

Get More Smarter on Monday (Feb. 23)

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Snowy enough for 'ya? The Colorado Pols Quadruple Doppler (with cheese) predicted snowfall totals somewhere between 2 inches to 17 feet, so we were right on target. 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 Colorado Legislature is out today due to inclement weather and poor road conditions. In Washington D.C., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will push for another budget vote in an attempt to avoid a partial government shutdown that could have broad impacts across the country. As Politico reports:

The Kentucky Republican could cave to Democrats’ demands and abandon the GOP’s attempt to tie the Department of Homeland Security’s funding to an attack on President Barack Obama’s immigration policies. But pushing through a short-term continuing resolution for DHS would bring howls from the right, postpone the immigration showdown for only a couple of weeks or months, and most likely fail in the House. McConnell would gain nothing even if he could pass such a CR, which is far from a sure thing.

Or, as some conservatives outside the Senate want, McConnell could employ the “nuclear option” to abolish the filibuster on legislation, allowing Republicans to pass the $39.7 billion DHS bill with a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than 60. But that would mean destroying the Senate traditions he’s vowed so loudly over the years to protect — and Obama would still veto the bill.

► State Governors are also in Washington D.C. today to blame their problems on President Obama. The Associated Press reports on the annual winter gathering of the National Governor's Association (NGA), where a showdown over the $40 billion Department of Homeland Security budget should be the main topic of discussion. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is the Chair of the NGA, and will try to steer conversations at the White House in a positve direction. Says Hickenlooper, "When we go to the president our goal is to try to be more constructive."

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Caption This “Dr. Chaps” Photobomb

From the conservative Leadership Program of the Rockies' annual retreat this weekend at the swanky Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. The lovely couple Rep. Clarice Navarro is posing with are innocent bystanders–at least that's what Rep. Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt thinks! One can never be too cautious. After all, look at their potentially demonic glowing red eyes:

chapsphotobomb

Perhaps we should exorcise all of them just to be safe.

Get More Smarter on Friday (Feb. 20)

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The Colorado Pols Quadruple Doppler (with cheese) predicts anywhere from 2 inches to 17 feet of snow this weekend. 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 Denver Post editorial board thinks that Colorado Republican legislators are playing "a dangerous game that must stop" by using the budget process in an attempt to derail legislation they don't like but don't have the votes to defeat outright:

Republicans should keep in mind that history has a way of turning the tables, particularly when it comes to political power.

The tactics they are using to thwart policies they disagree with could well come back to haunt them.

Jefferson County students are not convinced that the conservative school board is really retreating on their attempts at rewriting history curriculums.

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Get More Smarter on Thursday (Feb. 19)

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Don't answer your phone before 3:00 pm (EST) today; the Denver Nuggets can't trade you if they can't find you, right? 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 Republicans continue to take their cue from Washington D.C. in using the state budget process to muddle legislation that they don't have the votes to actually defeat. As John Frank of the Denver Post explains, funding for necessary public safety issues is now being held hostage by Senate Republicans:

The party-line Senate vote against a bill that won unanimous approval in the House puts in jeopardy more than $2 million for the Colorado Department of Public Safety and escalates a political tension at the General Assembly that is drawing comparisons to a gridlocked Washington.

► Legislation to allow Coloradans to carry a concealed weapon without a permit gained approval in the State Senate yesterday. Senator Vicki "Lost" Marble, the sponsor of SB-032, needs some better talking points, which is clear after reading this story by Kristen Wyatt of the Associated Press:

The requirements, passed in 2003, also bar concealed-carry permits to anyone who “chronically and habitually uses alcoholic beverages to the extent that the applicant’s normal facilities are impaired.”

“I think it’s insulting to the people of Colorado,” said Sen. Vicki Marble, R-Fort Collins and sponsor of the bill.

In related news, Marble is a lock to receive the endorsement of the fictitious group "Alcoholics with Guns."

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Amy Stephens Spins The Revolving Door

Former Rep. Amy Stephens (R).

Former Rep. Amy Stephens (R).

The Denver Business Journal's Mark Harden reports that recently term-limited Rep. Amy Stephens is taking a new job with the prestigious law firm of McKenna, Long and Aldridge–but not as a lawyer, since she has no law degree. Stephens will be heading up the firm's Colorado government affairs office:

Amy Stephens, a former majority leader of the Colorado House of Representatives, has joined the Denver office of law firm McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP as managing director of its Colorado government affairs practice.

Stephens, a Republican, left the Legislature after the 2014 session because of term-limit rules. She served eight years in the House and was elected majority leader in 2010…

From the firm's release yesterday, a description of the office Stephens will be heading up:

The Colorado Government Affairs team develops and implements successful legal, legislative, regulatory, and public policy strategies to assist clients at the state and local levels. Our experience and knowledge extends across such fields as legislation, environmental compliance, health care, pharmaceuticals, transportation, labor, economic development, housing, real estate, energy, racing and wagering, not-for-profits, state procurement, government contracts, post-secondary education and compliance with state and federal ethics, lobbying, and election law. The Colorado team has represented a wide range of clients in front of the executive and legislative branches of Colorado state government, including state regulatory agencies, as well as matters involving county and city government and special districts.

In short, Stephens is heading up the firm's Colorado lobbying office.

Now, because this is one of the nation's most prominent political law firms, we're going to assume that they have devised some kind of clever sleight-of-hand by which newly-minted head lobbyist Amy Stephens is not, you know, a "lobbyist" in the most formal sense? Because under Colorado's Amendment 41, the ethics in government constitutional amendment passed in 2006, departing legislators are not allowed to lobby their colleagues for two years after leaving office–what's known as the "revolving door" provision. Back in 2010, GOP Senate candidate Jane Norton relied on a similarly thin distinction to claim she was "never a lobbyist," after Norton served as the head of another firm's Office of State Government Relations. Which was also known as "the lobbying arm of the organization," but for Norton, merely being the boss of lobbyists didn't count.

Will the Colorado Independent Ethics Commission be so generous? That remains to be seen.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Feb. 18)

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Um, sorry to interrupt, but you have something on your forehead. 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…

► Republicans in the State Senate gave initial approval to Sen. Vicki "Lost" Marble's bill (SB15-032) to eliminate the permitting process for anyone who wants to carry a concealed weapon. Said Sen. Lucia Guzman (D-Denver), "The permitting process allows us to know that Coloradans carrying loaded firearms have shot a gun before, are trained, aren’t domestic violence offenders, don’t have a criminal record, or aren’t drunk drivers." Colorado is currently one of 46 states that require a permit for concealed carry.  

► Former Sen. Mark Udall will see work on one of his pet issues finally come to fruition this week. President Obama plans to designate Brown's Canyon as a National Monument.

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Get More Smarter on Friday (Feb. 13)

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Today is Friday the 13th, the first of 3 such "unlucky" days in 2015; there's another Friday the 13th in March and again in November. 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.


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Legislation to regulate abortion clinics in Colorado failed in a State House committee yesterday. Super-conservative Rep. Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt voted with Democrats to kill the bill on Thursday, apparently because he was concerned that the legislation would give state approval for abortions.

Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Wheat Ridge) introduced legislation on Thursday that would ban the use of red-light cameras across the country. FOX 31's Eli Stokols speculates that the bill may be an early sign of a potential Perlmutter campaign for Governor in 2018. Rumors of Perlmutter's interest in the Governor's Mansion have been on the rise since Gov. John Hickenlooper's re-election last November. Former Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is a likely 2018 candidate as well.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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