One of These Two News Reports Is Wrong

roevwadeAn unusual conflict arose in news reports over an incident Friday on the floor of the Colorado House. As the Colorado Independent’s Marianne Goodland reports, House Democrats paused to observe the 43rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion rights:

Roughly two dozen Colorado House Democrats took to the floor to recognize the 43rd anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision.

Other House Democrats stood in silence while their collegues touted the importance of the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion across the nation.

Colorado Republicans, however, would have nothing of it. More than half of the GOP House members walked off the floor, several expressing disgust at the Democrats’ comments. [Pols emphasis]

Oddly, the Denver Post’s Joey Bunch filed a very different report from the same scene:

House Democrats gathered in the speaker’s well to memorialize the 43rd anniversary of Roe. v. Wade, which could have prompted a backlash of hot words from Republican abortion opponents.

Republicans, however, wouldn’t take the bait on an issue Democrats hope to use against them in this year’s state and national elections. [Pols emphasis] An Associated Press-Gfk poll last month showed support for abortion rights at a two-year high in the wake of a mass shooting at a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood clinic.

Most of the House Republicans meandered out of the chamber for a few minutes, then returned when a proclamation honoring the Denver Broncos was read. Those who left said it was not an organized walkout…

As you can see, two reporters have characterized the same incident in starkly different terms: Goodland describes Republican actions as “storming out” of the House chamber with much anger, where Bunch seems very much interested in downplaying any emotion–to the point of praising them for “not taking the bait.”

So what really happened here? Well, our sources tell us the scene was far closer to Goodland’s description than Joey Bunch’s. In response to the conflict between their reports, Goodland clarified in a Facebook comment Saturday morning:

I was sitting on the Republican side of the House when the Democrats began their Roe v. Wade comments. I saw one lawmaker (Windholz) bow her head as if in prayer. She then shook her head several times and then got up and left the floor. I heard another lawmaker call the Dems’ remarks “disgusting.” By the time the Dems had finished their comments, most of the House Republicans were outside the chamber. They returned to pass a joint resolution on the Broncos.

Bottom line, I stand by what I wrote. I was the only reporter on the Republican side of the House to see what was going on. [Pols emphasis]

Given the corroboration we’ve heard, and what we already know of the players involved, we have little choice but to validate Goodland’s version of this story over Joey Bunch’s. And if that’s right, Bunch’s editorializing on what transpired is not just inappropriate for a news story, it appears to be factually incorrect–depicting the opposite of what actually occurred.

All we can say is, thank goodness there was more than one reporter there.

“Tea Party” Tim Leonard Wins HD-25 Seat

That’s the word from Jefferson County’s Taj Majal this afternoon, where the political machine of U.S. Senate candidate and GOP grassroots leader Tim Neville has succeeding in winning the Colorado House seat of retiring Rep. Jon Keyser–Keyser, of course, resigning to take on Neville in the 2016 GOP U.S. Senate primary.

The appointment of Tim Leonard to succeed Jon Keyser, overwhelmingly and in the first round of balloting, is a huge win for the Jefferson County Neville political coalition. Leonard, a co-founder of the whackjob-friendly American Constitution Party willingly hijacked by Tom Tancredo in 2010, was far enough to the right to lose in SD-16 to Democrat Jeanne Nicholson in the Tea Party year that year but the party’s recent shift rightward under Neville’s influence has, if you will, brought Republicans to him.

In addition to Rep. Leonard making the Colorado General Assembly a very colorful place in the coming months, something Democrats will be happy to record for posterity, this win shows how the Neville machine is in full control of the party in the state’s most important suburban battleground.

And that is a story much bigger than Colorado House District 25.

Vicki Marble Coins “Hateful Eight” in the Senate

State Sen. Vicki Marble isn’t happy that the Denver Post noticed she and seven of her colleagues were a consistent thorn in the side of, well, everybody in the 2015 legislative session.

Take a look at this screenshot of the opening paragraphs of Marble’s Op-Ed for the Colorado Statesman. According to Marble, she belongs to an informal group dubbed the “Hateful Eight” (which also includes Senators Tim Neville, Jerry Sonnenberg, Randy Baumgardner, Chris Holbert, Kevin Lundberg, Laura Woods, and Kent Lambert).

Just so we’re clear: Colorado Pols did not come up with this “Hateful Eight” designation. This is all Vicki Marble — which is why the headline has “Hateful, Dissident Eight” in quotations. Enjoy!

Screen shot of opening paragraphs of Sen. Vicki Marble's op-ed in the Colorado Statesman

Screen shot of opening paragraphs of Sen. Vicki Marble’s op-ed in the Colorado Statesman

Get More Smarter on Friday (Jan. 22)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowThe New England Patriots began the day on Friday as 3-point favorites over the Denver Broncos in Sunday’s AFC Championship game; if nothing else, please tell the Patriots not to bring that huge east coast blizzard with them when they come to Denver. 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 43rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade court decision affirming a woman’s constitutional right to get an abortion. The Huffington Post takes a look back at what it was like for women to get an abortion before Roe v. Wade.

 

► The Iowa caucuses are just 10 days away now, and as our friends at “The Fix” explain, the GOP nomination is Donald Trump’s prize to lose:

Trump has had a very good last few weeks. He continues to hone his pitch on the stump and has clearly thrown Cruz off with the eligibility attack. Say what you will about her decidedly unusual speech endorsing Trump, but Sarah Palin remains a potent force (and surrogate) among social conservative and tea party types. Trump has pulled back into a tie with Cruz in Iowa, has extended his lead over the rest of the field in New Hampshire and leads in virtually every state that follows those two. If he wins Iowa and New Hampshire, look out: He’ll almost certainly be the Republican standard-bearer

New Hampshire voters go the polls on Tuesday, Feb. 9 — we could be less than three weeks away from writing “Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump…” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio may actually have to go back to work pretty soon.

 

► Senate Republicans continued their recent tradition of poor decision making when they were unable to secure enough votes to overturn President Obama’s veto of legislation that attempted to subvert the new “Waters of the United States” rule. From the Durango Herald:

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., voted in support of overriding the president’s veto of Senate Joint Resolution 22. The measure would have nullified the proposed changes to the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.

“The responsibility for managing Colorado’s water should be left to state and local governments along with our water districts, not with the federal government through overreaching regulations like WOTUS,” Gardner said in a statement soon after casting his vote. “I will continue to forcefully oppose WOTUS and take any steps possible to block its implementation.”

The 52-40 vote came short of the 60 votes needed to override the president’s veto. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., voted against overriding the veto.

The anti-WOTUS resolution, of which Gardner was a co-sponsor, passed the U.S. Senate in November on a 53-44 vote. Last week, the House of Representatives voted 253-166 in favor of the resolution, sending it to the president.

He’ll probably never admit it, but it says here that Cory Gardner just really likes saying the word “WOTUS.” It is fun to say.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Jan. 20)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowToday is the last day until January 21st. Think about that. 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…

► El Paso County Commissioner Peggy Littleton has officially joined the ever-growing field of Republican candidates for U.S. Senate. By our count, Littleton is the 10th candidate to announce a campaign for the GOP nomination; in January alone, a Republican has announced for U.S. Senate on average once every five days.

 

► State Sen. Morgan Carroll said on Tuesday that she will not resign her seat in the State Senate in order to focus full-time on her Congressional campaign in CD-6. From the Denver Post:

“This is the job the voters elected me to do,” Carroll said Tuesday. “And I think it’s my duty to finish it.”

Carroll gave up her role as State Minority Leader when she first announced her Congressional campaign last summer, but had never indicated that she might step aside from the State Senate altogether. Carroll is term-limited in 2016 regardless.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Emily’s List Endorses Meg Froelich for Colorado House

MEDIA RELEASE

Date 1/20/15

Contact: Meg Froelich, (720)570-6337 meg@froeforco.com

Kulsoom Jafri, (202)419-1056, kjafri@emilyslist.org

 

 

EMILY’s List Endorses Meg Froelich for Colorado House District 3

Three million member group to lend communications and financial support

 

 

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, COLO. – Longtime Arapahoe County leader Meg Froelich was endorsed today by EMILY’s List in her campaign for Colorado House District 3 including Cherry Hills, Englewood, Greenwood Village and Sheridan. EMILY’s List is the nation’s largest resource for women in politics.

 

Meg Froelich has proven that she will be a strong advocate and strategic leader for the district through her work as Greenwood City councilwoman and NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado board member and interim executive director,” said Lucinda Guinn, EMILY’s List Vice President of Campaigns. “The EMILY’s List community is delighted to devote our resources to elect Meg, a strong supporter of gender equality, women’s reproductive rights, and health care for all.”

 

EMILY’s List works to elect pro-choice Democratic women to national, state and local office so families in Colorado and across the nation can benefit from the open-minded, productive contributions that women have consistently made in office. EMILY’s List began in 1985 and elected Barbara Mikulski in 1986 as the first woman US Senator in her own right. With three million members, the organization has helped elect more than 800 women to elected office.

 

“I’ve lived, worked, and raised kids in Arapahoe County for many years, and I’ve seen the struggles and needs of the families here, especially working women. As a longtime advocate for equal pay for equal work, paid sick leave and reproductive rights, I’m honored to have the support of EMILY’s List in my race for House District 3,” said candidate Meg Froelich. “These are woman’s issues and family issues – core values of fairness and opportunity we share as Coloradans. We need an economy that works for everyone, including a diverse district like this one. And as the representative for the families in HD3, I will fight to make that happen.”

 

 

# # #

Questions about the hospital provider fee? Read this

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Reporters have struggled to find a short-hand description for the “hospital provider fee,” because  it’s impossible to describe briefly. And lengthy descriptions of it often require multiple readings. And that’s without trying to understand the intracacies of why it’s such a big deal.

So the Colorado Independent did us all a favor by dedicating a full article to: “What you need to know about Colorado’s biggest political battle. It’s called the hospital provider fee, and it’s complicated. Let’s break it down.”

You should take a few minutes to read the entire piece, by the Independent’s Corey Hutchins, but here are a few paragraphs:

The hospital provider fee is a state program requiring hospitals to pay money each year depending on how many patients stayed in hospital beds overnight and how much outpatient services they provided. That money is then used, among other things, to help Coloradans who can’t afford insurance plans get care, and to help the state pay for people who are on Medicaid, which is a government healthcare program for low-income Coloradans and their families.

Each hospital pays a different amount — some pay a lot, some pay nothing — and the fee hauled in nearly $700 million last year. This money is then matched almost dollar for dollar by the federal government to expand Medicaid, provide health coverage for Coloradans who are using emergency rooms for non-emergency treatment, and reimburse hospitals for care. The more money the fee brings in the more money the feds give Colorado to make sure people who can’t afford healthcare get it. Since 2009, the program has helped more than 300,000 people get insurance coverage….

Democratic Sen. Pat Steadman, who sits on the state’s budget committee, explains it like this: Picture a bucket with water pouring in. The incoming water is state revenues, and when the bucket fills to the top (or hits its TABOR limits) water starts pouring over the edge— and that overflowing water (money) goes back to taxpayers in the form of rebates. Now, picture rocks in the bottom of the bucket. One of those big rocks is money from the hospital provider fee. It’s money that takes up space in the bucket, and those who want to take a big rock out can do so by reclassifying the hospital provider fee into an enterprise…

The context of AFP’s [Americans for Prosperity, which opposes the measure] involvement is that it’s a big-time, strategic pressure group with loads of resources and activists that will keep certain lawmakers holding the line on this issue, especially at a time when they need backing to run for re-election.

Meanwhile, the business lobby in Colorado is speaking in a near-monolithic voice for reclassifying the hospital provider fee into an enterprise, as have editorial boards at some of the state’s regional newspapers.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (Jan. 14)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowThe next time somebody tells you they “won” the Powerball lottery by not playing and saving their money, you have our permission to punch them in the jaw. 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…

► Governor John Hickenlooper delivers his “State of the State” speech today after a day of speechifying and back slapping at the opening day of the Colorado legislature. In the Senate, both Democrats and Republicans are using the ‘B’ word. From John Frank of the Denver Post:

The state’s top Republican lawmaker gaveled the Colorado Senate into session Wednesday, touting the bipartisan accomplishments from a year ago even as election year politics are poised to create a fractious 2016 term.

Senate President Bill Cadman highlighted legislation approved in the 2015 session to reduce student testing; make repeated drunk driving arrests  a felony charge; audit the state’s  health care exchange; and improve  security measures at schools.

Of course, none of those things really happened because of Republicans, who consistently voted “NO” at a far greater clip than Democrats. But, whatever. Here’s more from the Post:

In her opening day remarks, the new Senate Democratic leader Lucia Guzmán acknowledged the two parties “severe differences in how we think about getting to a stronger state” warned against “extremism” that dominates the broader political arena…

…Guzmán also outlined a Democratic legislative agenda to reduce college debt, push an equal pay for women measure, improve workforce training as the state transitions to renewable energy sources and address Colorado’s “alarmingly high suicide rate.”

 

► While State Senators pretended to play nice on Wednesday, there was little room for Kumbaya in the State House. As Charles Ashby reports for the Grand Junction Sentinel:

Historically, opening day speeches at the start of any legislative session are filled with a lot of talk about being bipartisan and reaching across the political divide that separates Democrats and Republicans in the 100-member Colorado Legislature.

But instead of continuing that tradition, and offering up a bunch of nebulous ideas that one side or the other says will help move Colorado forward, House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst was very specific ­— and very pointed — about what she wanted to see get passed this year, while also lashing out at extremists’ ideas…

…Hullinghorst called for 10 separate items, saying “let’s pass this bill” each time.

Not surprisingly, Hullinghorst drew applause from her side of the House chamber — sometimes even a standing ovation — while Republicans sat quietly in their seats.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Jan. 13)

GetMoreSmarter-SnowLet’s get this legislative party started! 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 back in session today for a day of speechifying and rhetorical table-setting. Governor John Hickenlooper spoke with reporters on Tuesday in advance of today’s opening day, and as Charles Ashby reports for the Grand Junction Sentinel, Hick publicly endorsed Peyton Manning for quarterback of the Denver Broncos…and also talked about budget stuff:

“I’m pretty optimistic that once they have all the facts, they will write an opinion that confirms what we’ve been working on,” the governor said. “But we’re going to be having to look at the budget and say, ‘Well, we might have the hospital provider fee and we might not.’ At least in the first month or so, we’re going have to assume that we don’t have it … and we’ve got to be discussing what our priorities are.”

The issue is that the provider fee, which is expected to reach more than $750 million this year, has come up against TABOR’s strict revenue limits, forcing a mandatory refund to taxpayers even though taxpayers don’t pay that fee.

Taking that money out from under TABOR and turning the provider fee program into a government-owned business, or enterprise, which the 1992 constitutional allows, would free up more money for other services, the governor said.

Not doing it would mean cuts to such things as higher education, human services, K-12 spending and transportation, the governor said, adding that it could end up costing individual taxpayers more than they would get in a refund.

Elsewhere, a group of Colorado mayors spoke out on Tuesday about the need to “de-Bruce” from TABOR.

 

► President Obama delivered his seventh — and final — “State of the Union” speech on Tuesday evening. Obama deviated from the traditional SOTU speechifying standard of listing a bunch of policy priorities to instead talk about America’s strength and growth in recent years, and to warn Americans about listening too closely to “election year cynicism.” Obama also talked about Congress being a workplace that is wholly unlike anywhere else in the country; he could have been talking about Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora).

Colorado’s Congressional delegation responded to Obama’s speech pretty much exactly how you would have guessed they might. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley delivered the Republican response to the SOTU, and her speech was widely panned by the right-wing.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

NARAL report: national anti-choice groups targeting Colorado

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

prolifevsprochoiceNARAL Pro-Choice Colorado issued a report yesterday exposing the legislative influence in Colorado of two national anti-choice organizations, Americans United for Life (AUL) and Alliance Defending Freedom(ADF), as well as the state-wide network of “crisis pregnancy centers.”

During the last legislative session, five bills and one resolution were modeled on AUL draft legislation, and AUL staff testified at numerous committee hearings, according to the report, titled “Against Our Will: How National Anti-Choice Groups are Targeting the Pro-Choice Majority in Colorado.

None of these bills had much chance of becoming law, as pro-choice Democrats control the governor’s office and state house.

But two of the proposed laws generated serious media attention: a measure requiring women to have an ultrasound prior to obtaining an abotion and a “fetal personhood” bill giving legal rights to a fetus, potentially threatening abortion rights, and allowing prosecutors to bring murder charges if a fetus is destroyed during criminal acts.

These two bills  were co-sponsored by key Republicans in the state, including the leading GOP candidate for U.S. Senate, State Sen. Tim Neville, and Westminster State Sen., Laura Woods, whose race next year will likely determine control of the state senate.

(more…)

Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt Joins The Militia

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Right Wing Watch, we’ll admit that even we were a little surprised by this one:

It seems that at least one more GOP lawmaker has come out in favor of the seizure of a federal building by Ammon Bundy’s makeshift militia in protest of the resentencing of Steven and Dwight Hammond for arson on federal property.

And of course it’s Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Klingenschmitt, the Colorado state representative/televangelist/demon-hunter/exorcist/conspiracy theorist, shared a post on his Facebook page suggesting that the judge presiding over the Hammons’ case is guilty of treason and should therefore be hanged.

Here’s the Facebook post from GOP Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt in question, and the description above sounds pretty disturbingly accurate:

chapsmilitia1 chapsmilitia2

And here’s the key passage from the above post:

ALL JUDGES who do not allow Constitutional law to be cited to the Jury needs to be PROSECUTED for Title 18 U.S. Code section 2381 Capital Felony Treason

Title 18 U.S. Code section 2381
When in the presence of two witnesses to the same overt act or in an open court of law if you fail to timely move to protect and defend the constitution of the United States and honor your oath of office you are subject to the charge of capital felony treason, and upon conviction you will be taken by the posse to the nearest busy intersection and at high noon hung by the neck until dead…The body to remain in state till dusk as an example to anyone who takes his oath of office lightly. [Pols emphasis]

Now obviously, this text is not a verbatim quote of the federal law governing treason. Although treason is technically a capital offense, the law makes no mention of “two witnesses,” a “posse” meting out judgment, or hanging public officials by the neck “at high noon” and leaving the body hanging “in state till dusk as an example.” That sounds like a bunch of crackpot militia gobbledegook to us–like the license plates and “money” some of those groups print up for themselves and occasionally try to pass off on the rest of society.

Unfortunately, though, this was posted by a sitting Republican lawmaker in the Colorado General Assembly.

And that means we are obliged to take it a little more, you know, seriously.

Possible GOP Senate candidate Peggy Littleton solicits backing of Nate Marshall

(Probably don’t want this guy on the “team” – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

littletonmarshall

Nate Marshall, a former Republican state house candidate who was found to have ties to white-supremacy groups, has acccepted an offer from Colorado Springs County Commissioner Peggy Littleton to back her possible U.S. Senate run against Democrat Michael Bennet.

In response to Littleton’s Jan. 3 Facebook comment about an article on a “24-Year-Old RINO Hunter on a Mission to Purge the GOP of Moderates,” Marshall wrote to Littleton, “Now run against Bennet!”

Littleton replied with, “Join my team and make a pledge.”

“I’m in!” Marshall responded.

Marshall, an outspoken right-wing conservative, recently referred to the Planned Parenthood terrorist, who killed three people last year, as a “hero.”

Before his aborted 2014 run for Colorado House District 23, Marshall reportedly founded a white supremecist group on the web called “The Aryan Storm.”

Colorado Lawmakers Stand With President Obama As New Gun Safety Measures Announced

gironmorsefieldsCNN reports from the White House today:

President Barack Obama grew emotional Tuesday as he made a passionate call for a national “sense of urgency” to limit gun violence.

He was introduced by Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was killed in the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Obama circled back to that shooting in the final moments of his speech.

“Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad,” Obama said, pausing to wipe away tears.

He added: “And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day,” referring to his hometown where he began his political career.

The White House is introducing a new requirement that would expand background checks for buyers. The measure mandates that individuals “in the business of selling firearms” register as licensed gun dealers, effectively narrowing the so-called “gun show loophole,” which exempts most small sellers from keeping formal sales records.

Among those in attendance today was Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora, whose son’s violent death a decade ago helped propel her into public office and make her a leading advocate for gun safety legislation. As the Denver Post reports:

In 2013, Democrats passed a law that required Coloradans to undergo a background check when they sold and transferred a firearm, whether the gun was a purchase from a store or a swap between close friends. Colorado closed the gun-show loophole by requiring checks for purchases at gun shows after Columbine.

“The nation has to catch up with Colorado,” Fields said. [Pols emphasis]

And it wasn’t just Rep. Fields representing Colorado at the White House today. Two Democratic state senators who lost seats in the 2013 recall elections initiated by the gun lobby in retaliation for the passing of that year’s gun safety bills, former Sens. John Morse and Angela Giron, were also on hand for Obama’s announcement.

Because Colorado already has in place most of what Obama announced today, there’s nothing new for local gun rights supporters to complain about–which won’t stop them, of course. But it should also be noted that the specific policy Obama is strengthening, so far as he can without legislative support, is overwhelmingly supported by voters even as they express disdain for the concept of “gun control.” Background checks to screen out persons who are already prohibited from owning guns is a no-brainer in the eyes of an overwhelming percentage of respondents to every poll that asks the question.

Going on three years later, there is still debate among Colorado Democrats as to whether the 2013 gun safety bills were worth the political damage. Both seats lost in the recalls were retaken by Democrats in 2014, and another state senate seat that was narrowly lost to the GOP as an indirect result of the 2013 gun debate is ripe to be picked back up this year. The personal sacrifices of Sens. Morse, Giron, and Evie Hudak notwithstanding, the predictions of political catastrophe for Democrats after taking on the gun issue have not come true in Colorado.

And today, the President of the United States powerfully backed them up. Is it the end of the debate? Of course not. Starting next week, Colorado Republicans are going to take their perennial shot at repealing everything that was passed in 2013, invoking the names Morse, Giron, and Hudak the whole way. But the longsuffering public servants in the photo you see above should be proud. The laws they gave everything to pass are still on the books. Colorado’s success in passing common-sense gun safety laws stands as a hard-won model that may yet be emulated in other states.

It was not for nothing.

Get More Smarter on Monday (Jan. 4)

Get More SmarterThe Brockweiler hits a snag, but the Denver Broncos are still the #1 seed in the AFC playoffs. 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 business leaders are pushing again for an overhaul of the so-called Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights, or TABOR, that has handcuffed Colorado’s budget for decades. As John Frank reports for the Denver Post:

An organization backed by prominent Colorado leaders is moving toward ballot initiatives in 2016 to roll back the state’s TABOR spending caps and make it harder to amend the constitution.

A possible third ballot question from Building a Better Colorado may allow the state’s 1.3 million unaffiliated voters to play a larger role in selecting candidates at the political primary level…

…The move to eliminate the inflation-plus-population revenue limit in the  Taxpayer’s Bill of Rightslikely would include a provision to direct surplus money that would have gone to taxpayer refunds to certain priority areas, rather than give state lawmakers free rein to spend it.

Reeves Brown, the director of the Building a Better Colorado group, says polling conducted in December showed strong support from voters for removing the troublesome “revenue caps” created by TABOR.

 

► A group of heavily-armed terrorists (let’s call it like it is, shall we?) continue to occupy a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon. If you missed the Saturday takeover, Rolling Stone has a Q&A to help you catch up with the news. Militia members are upset because two Oregon ranchers were convicted of federal arson charges for allegedly setting fire to a huge swath of land in order to cover up illegal poaching activities. The Oregonian has a good deeper dive of the issues behind this terrorist occupation.

Ammon Bundy, the son of Nevada rancher and armed lunatic Cliven Bundy, is among a group of about 150 armed white dudes holed up in the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near Burns, Oregon. Twitter users quickly responded to the terrorist takeover over the weekend, labeling the group #YallQaeda.

Republican Presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are both speaking out against the militants. “Every one of us has a constitutional right to protest, to speak our minds. But we don’t have a constitutional right to use force and violence and to threaten force and violence on others,” said Cruz.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

(more…)

Top Ten Stories of 2015 #8: Off the Rails in the Colorado Legislature

colorado-state-capitolIn 2015, Republicans retook control of the Colorado Senate for the first time since 2004. This impressive-sounding feat is tempered by the reality that their control of the chamber was won by a single seat, in a race decided by well under 1,000 votes. In 2010, the GOP wrested control of the Colorado House from Democrats by a similar narrow margin in a single swing Jefferson County House race–in fact a district that largely overlaps the Senate district that proved decisive in 2014. In the 2012 elections, Democrats punished majority House Republicans with two years of aggregated misdeeds from their time in power, expanding the Democratic Senate majority and retaking the House by a wide margin.

For a host of reasons, 2016 is setting up to look a lot like 2012.

Obviously, it’s a presidential election year, which has in recent elections given Democrats an edge–even in 2004 when Colorado voters put Democrats in power in the state legislature while re-electing George W. Bush. But in addition, perhaps even more than going into 2012, the GOP has given Democrats an arsenal of devastating attacks with which to turn out their voters. Just like after 2010, and if anything to a far worse extent, the GOP has squandered its chance to shape policy with a split legislature, and used their one-seat majority in the Colorado Senate for hopeless ideological crusades that play directly into Democratic hands.

When we say that it was worse this year than in previous years, we objectively mean what we say. We’re not sure if Republicans are relying on dwindling local press coverage, counting on pleasing their base voters enough to not have to rely on any sane ones, or–and this may be the most likely scenario–they’ve simply lost control of their message, on just about every issue relevant to the electorate except the always-popular slogan of “lower taxes.” But it is worse this year, and no amount of false equivalence from lazy/overworked (sometimes not mutually exclusive) local reporters can conceal it.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

A few events from the 2015 legislative session help bring this into focus. At the same time as an outbreak of measles in California was making headlines, a disease preventable by vaccination but rising again as the “anti-vaxxer” movement claims minds in defiance of all scientific consensus, Republicans in the Colorado Senate were pushing a bill that would make it even easier for unvaccinated kids in Colorado to attend public schools. Led by the same highly vulnerable Sen. Laura Woods of Arvada who gave them the majority in 2014, and Sen. Tim Neville, a hard-right frontrunning 2016 U.S. Senate candidate, the Senate GOP pushed repeals of discrimination protections and killed the state’s unfinished pay equity study commission.

One of the worst self-made public relations disasters for Colorado Republicans this year was the killing of a bill to fund a program to provide long-acting reversible contraception (LARC) to low-income women in Colorado. Private seed funding for this program was running out, and every expert in the field recommended the state pick up the tab to continue reaping the enormous cost savings from the massive reduction in unintended pregnancy the program was responsible for. The GOP’s refusal to fund this program ripped the scab off of an ugly fact that gets suppressed in election years: they don’t like birth control. Sen. Kevin Lundberg, another hard-right icon, eagerly pronounced his belief that IUDs “kill babies,” setting Republicans back several decades on this issue–or at least back to Bob Beauprez’s gubernatorial campaign.

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt.

In the Colorado House, all eyes this year were on a man Republicans either love to hate or find a great subject to change: Rep. Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt. After Klingenschmitt’s election in 2014 succeeding outgoing Rep. Mark Waller in beet-red House District 15, Democrats eagerly anticipated his arrival–and he didn’t disappoint. From the moment of his swearing in, reportedly with a Bluetooth headset still in his ear, Klingenschmitt’s continuation of his batshit demon-exorcising Youtube “ministry” as a sworn Colorado Republican lawmaker became a slow-motion disaster that no disclaimer can save them from.

After Klingenschmitt stated that an horrific attack on a pregnant Longmont woman last March was the “curse of God” for abortion, he was stripped of one committee assignment–a pathetic slap on the wrist that was itself quietly rescinded a couple of weeks later. Klingenschmitt said that gay scoutmasters should prefer to be “drowned in the sea” rather than face God’s wrath. We could write a book on all the ways Klingenschmitt has embarrassed his party in such a short time in office. But today, Klingenschmitt is hoping to trade up, running for Senate President Bill Cadman’s SD-12 seat. For all his antics, locals tell us not to underestimate “Dr. Chaps'” considerable base of support.

Senate President Cadman, for his part, hasn’t commented about Klingenschmitt at all. That fact stands out.

As the year came to a close, Woods, Klingenschmitt, and other Republicans in the legislature became part of much larger and even more damaging events–as we’ll discuss in a later post. But that shouldn’t overshadow what came before the domestic terror attack on the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. In ways we we struggle to enumerate, Colorado Republicans have set themselves up for disaster at the polls next November.