GOP Boots Indifferent Rep. Justin Everett from 2 Committees

Last October the Republican Liberty Caucus of Colorado awarded Jefferson County Republican Rep. Justin Everett with its "Goldwater Award," in recognition of the Colorado elected official who most represents the values of one Barry Goldwater (The RLC of Colorado is so conservative that they recently announced that they won't endorse any of the Republican candidates for Governor).

In announcing their award for Rep. Everett, here's what the RLC of Colorado wrote on their website:

This is not a reward for using “liberty” rhetoric.  The most important lesson an activist can learn is to pay attention to a politician’s votes rather than the words they use.   It takes a principled and diligent legislator to work through this myriad of bad legislation and ensure that he votes consistently for liberty.  In 2013, no one more fulfilled the vision of Barry Goldwater or the words of our Liberty Compact than Representative Justin Everett.

If you ask around you will learn that Justin commits long hours outside of the legislative day to understand these bills.  He serves as a resource for others, both in the chamber and in the public, who want to understand a particular bill.  In this way he is more than one vote in favor of our a principles, he is a leader on their behalf. [Pols emphasis]

Maybe this was all true in 2013. But these days, if you ask about Justin Everett around the Capitol, most people will probably ask you if you've seen him anywhere. Rep. Everett is taking the small government rhetoric to new heights — by doing as little "governing" as possible.

MissingEverett

The smallest government is NO government.

Yesterday, House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso removed Everett from two committees — "Education" and Transportation and Energy" — with little in the way of explanation. DelGrosso replaced Everett on the "Transportation and Energy" committee with Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, but left Republicans with a vacancy on "Education." DelGrosso was so mad at Everett that he asked the Sergeant at Arms to escort Everett out of the committee rooms. (Everett remains a member of the "Public Health Care and Human Services" committee; by statute, legislators must be a member of at least one committee). Here's DelGrosso's statement:

“Representative Everett is dealing with some personal issues and I wanted to give him more time to handle them. He was one of a few of our members who are on three committees, so I decided to remove him from two.Representative Everett remains on the House Public Health Care & Human Services Committee and will be reappointed once the issues are resolved.”

So why such harsh treatment? DelGrosso is apparently fed up with Everett's indifference toward his job, and his willingness to vote against the Republican caucus in favor of whatever the Liberty Caucus demands. Everett is frequently late to, well, everything, and he's completely unprepared when he does show up (and manages to stay awake). Everett sponsored the 2014 version of a bill to ban public employee unions, but in a January hearing he seemed unable to answer basic questions about the legislation, presented no witnesses, and watched as the committee took just 8 minutes to reject the bill outright. A bill to ban public employee unions was never going to get any traction in a Democratic-controlled House, but it's unusual for a sponsor to essentially do nothing to support its cause.

But it's not just committee assignments that Everett has blown off. As you can see in the graphic, Everett has been marked "Absent" in roll call votes a whopping 23 times already this year — once more than the number of "Absent" marks for all other House members combined. A Colorado Pols analysis of House roll call votes shows that Everett has only once been "Present" at least 3 days in a row. At least he's consistent.

Republicans have struggled to convince voters in recent years that they really have Colorado's best interests at heart. This fiasco with Everett is only going to make that impression worse.

Who Is Rep. Libby Szabo Protecting?

libbyszabo

The Denver Post's Anthony Cotton reports on today's passage of a Democratic bill to toughen sentences for child sex offenders:

The reading of a bill designed to create mandatory minimum sentences for those convicted of crimes against children advanced Monday in the House, but not before some heated debate between Democrats and Republicans over how closely it hewed to ground-breaking legislation in Florida…

Both bills were heard in the House's State Affairs committee two weeks ago, with the Democratic-controlled group killing Szabo's bill while moving Foote's.

Szabo sought to mirror the Florida law, which includes a 25-year minimum sentence for offenders over the age of 18 as well as a provision that if the person were released early on parole, he or she would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Foote's bill would stagger sentences that range from 10 to 48 years based on the seriousness of the crime and if it's ruled a class 1, 2 or 3 felony.

The Democrats accused the Republicans of trying to "cut and paste" the Florida law onto the Colorado statutes, adding that Foote's proposed legislation has the support of Lunsford's family. [Pols emphasis]

The passage of a so-called "Jessica's Law," mandating long sentences for sex crimes against children this year, came after a disgusting episode in the last legislative session, where Rep. Libby Szabo, the bill's primary sponsor, accused Democratic House Speaker Mark Ferrandino of "obviously protecting someone" after the 2013 bill died in a House committee. In reality, stakeholders including the Colorado District Attorneys' Council, and victim's advocates like the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault opposed Szabo's bill because Colorado already has very tough sentencing for perpetrators of sex crimes against children. The approach favored by Democrats this year, and still supported by advocates for "Jessica's Law," acknowledges the tough status quo and further strengthens sentencing–within a framework that attempts to make the punishment fit the crime.

But that wasn't enough for Szabo today, who warned darkly:

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Alec Garnett Over 50% After Caucus

House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, right, is backing Alec Garnett as his successor in HD-2.

Alec Garnett is 20% taller than Mark Ferrandino and is backed by 54% of caucus-goers.

According to an email sent out today by HD-2 candidate Alec Garnett:

Last Tuesday night was caucus night in Colorado.  Neighbors and friends came together from across the district and we captured more than 50% of the delegates elected. This means at county assembly we should be well above the 30% threshold to make the ballot.  I cannot tell you how deeply humbled I am by the support I’ve earned.  

Garnett is one of three Democrats running to replace term-limited House Speaker Mark Ferrandino in a Denver seat that will be effectively decided by a Primary. The other two Democrats running in HD-2 are Owen Perkins and Aaron Silverstein.

 

We don't really have anything else to say, but this sentence will help balance out the picture on the right.

School Funding

Pols reporting of the ongoing school funding issue in the legislature seems nonexistent. Check out Chalkboard for the news on a united front of Colorado educators asking for no more unfunded mandates and some backfilling of the cuts of the last few years.

Democratic legislators appear to be under increasing pressure to restore funding, WITHOUT requiring implementation of their pet projects. Yesterday's letter to Gov. Hickenlooper signed by almost all superintendents in the state is unprecedented, yet very clear in what educators feel they need.

Today’s Main Event: Banning Abortion in Colorado (Yes, Really)

UPDATE 4:35PM: GOP Reps. Bob Gardner and Mark Waller, both pro-life but “reluctantly” unable to vote for an “unconstitutional” bill to ban abortion, join Democrats in voting against House Bill 14-1133. Bill dies on a final vote of 9-2.

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UPDATE #3: Hearing now underway, this Texas-style rotunda photo sent to us from the press conference prior:

20140311_132523

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UPDATE #2: The Colorado Independent's John Tomasic:

Karen Middleton, NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado director, told the Independent that calling attention to this kind of legislation is important, especially given the way the local and national political landscape on the issue of women’s reproductive rights has shifted in recent years.

“Leadership in the Colorado House and Senate is always in the balance,” she said. “This is a bill that has been introduced in the past and will likely be introduced again. It could get through, maybe not this year, but next year… Voters have to take note.”

…Middleton points to the historic wave of anti-abortion bills passed in statehouses around the country in recent years that, she suggests, voters may not have supported had the consequences of the laws been more clearly spelled out in debate.

“You can see what is happening. You see what happened in Texas,” she said.

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UPDATE: From the release announcing today's opposition press conference:

A diverse coalition of Coloradans, including reproductive health organizations, doctors, and women with stories about their reproductive health experiences will be speaking out in advance of Tuesday’s hearing on HB 1133, the abortion ban bill.
 
HB14-1133, which is being sponsored by Republican leadership, would ban abortion in Colorado in almost all circumstances, including in cases of rape and incest. The bill would make it a Class 3 felony for a physician to perform an abortion, which carries a 4-12 year prison sentence. This bill does not represent the needs of Colorado women and families, or the values of Colorado voters. Coloradans have rejected abortion bans at the ballot box twice, and strong majorities continue to support access to safe abortion services.
 
When & Where: 1:00 pm, Tuesday, March 11, 2014           
Rotunda, 2nd Floor, Outside Old Supreme Court Chambers
 
Who: Physicians, health care providers, Colorado women
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains
NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado
COLOR – Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity & Reproductive Rights (bilingual)

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Today at 1:30PM in the Old Supreme Court Chambers, debate in the Colorado House Judiciary Committee will commence on a key piece of Republican legislation, House Bill 14-1133. As we've discussed in this space already, this bill has a simple purpose:

1133bottomline

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Tancredo, Woods, etc., remain talk-radio heroes, no matter what’s happening in the real world

(Let's set reality aside for a moment – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

POLS UPDATE: Apropos to the original post, here's a flyer circulating for a Laura Woods event hosted by Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, who seems to be throwing down hard in the SD-19 GOP primary against Lang Sias:

Woods Meet and Greet

Come for the meeting, stay for the giveaways! Original post follows.

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In the alternative reality constructed each morning on KNUS' Peter Boyles show, they're busy reliving the glory days of the recall campaigns.

Recall spokespeople Laura Woods and Jennifer Kerns have been on the show re-telling stories about how "grassroots" Republicans fought off establishment Republicans and won.

One of Boyles' favorite things to do is to point out that most of the Republicans who've risen up in recent weeks weren't the ones getting down and dirty during the recall effort.

On Tuesday, for example, Boyles asks Woods for the names of specific Republican candidates and elected officials who were with her:

Woods: Well, I just want to preface by saying, as a candidate [for SD 19] now, I’m not endorsing these guys, but I’ll put on my recall hat and I’ll talk to you about who was out there on the lines with us. We clearly had Victor Head. He wasn’t a candidate then, but he is now. And then we had senator candidates Tim Neville and Tony Sanchez walking the streets, knocking doors, gathering petition signatures. Tom Tancredo was out there, as was Greg Brophy. We had the sheriff candidates, Jim Shires, Jeff Schrader, John Berry, all out there at times. Ken Buck was in the office at times. And Owen Hill was sitting in our office making phone calls. So, there were a lot of candidates, none of whom were involved in this back room deal—other than Ken Buck to move, you know, from the Senate race to the House race.

The good old recall days are gone, and the good old folks are threatened, in Boyle's mind, by back-room-dealing evil-doers, like Bob Beauprez, Cory Gardner, and Ryan Call.

But on Boyles' radio show, regardless of what's happening in the real world, the heroes are still Woods and Tancredo, and the like, and nothing can change that, unless the show is abruptly canceled by Salem Communications Inc., which is as inevitable as a gaffe from you know who. Or someone flipping the bird at you.

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They’ve learned nothing

Every year, we see new battles over women’s reproductive rights. As the former political director for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, I’ve seen it happen over and over. In fact, more states enacted restrictions on abortion between 2011–2013 than in the entire previous decade. [1] They never stop, and we can’t let our guard down for one minute.

Today, I need you to take a stand for women in Colorado.

Next Tuesday, Republicans will once again try to pass a total ban on abortions in Colorado. This has been attempted in previous years, but what’s different about this bill is the support of Republican leadership. In fact, Republican House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso has signed on as a co-sponsor to this dangerous legislation. Instead of respecting the will of the vast majority of Coloradans–we live one of the most pro-women and pro-choice states in the country–Republicans are determined to prove yet again that they don’t believe women are capable of making their own personal, private medical decisions.

Join my fight to protect the rights of women in Colorado. Take a moment right now to contact members of the Colorado House Judiciary Committee, as well as the abortion ban bill's sponsors, and urge them to vote NO on House Bill 14-1133. Let them all know these backward bills have no place in Colorado.

As Thomas Jefferson said, “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.” Thank you for remaining vigilant at this important moment.

Sincerely,

Amy Runyon-Harms
Executive Director, ProgressNow Colorado

P.S. It’s so important you let these legislators know that you stand with the women of Colorado, and these anti-woman efforts aren’t welcome in 2014. Please don’t wait–contact our legislators now. This is a numbers game, and your voice makes a difference.

Danielson, Teegardin Battle Over Endorsements in HD-24

Back in January, Democratic Rep. Sue Schafer made a surprising announcement that she would not be running for re-election for a final term in HD-24. Two Democrats quickly jumped into the race to succeed Schaffer in a district that has historically been decided in a Democratic primary, and heading into Tuesday's caucuses, both candidates are touting strong endorsements.

Jessie Danielson announced today that she has been endorsed by Rep. Brittany Pettersen, a Democrat from Lakewood whose star has been rising in the state legislature. Pettersen is among a host of current and former legislators who are backing Danielson, including former state Sens. Joan Fitz-Gerald and Betty Boyd.

At the same time, Edgewater City Council member Kristian Teegardin has been picking up his own support, most notably from Schafer herself (though her less-than-sterling record as a Democrat in a Democratic district makes the effect of her support difficult to handicap).

We have yet to see fundraising reports from either candidate, since both won't be required to report their totals until April, but if both are able to raise decent money, this looks like it's heading for a competitive June Primary.

Finally, The End Of The Endless “Jessica’s Law” Drama

UPDATE: Release from House Democrats, Rep. Mike Foote's "Jessica's Law" passes unanimously:

“As a deputy district attorney, I have prosecuted some of these crimes, and I have seen how devastating they can be for victims and their families,” Rep. Foote said. “I want to help them heal by knowing that Colorado has no tolerance for those who prey on our children. And I want DAs and law enforcement to have every available tool to maximize the safety of our kids and to put the worst of the worst behind bars for a very long time.”

…Members of the criminal justice and law enforcement communities, as well as victims’ rights advocates, testified in support of the bill.

“House Bill 1260 brings Jessica’s Law to Colorado in a way that makes sense for Colorado,” Rep. Foote told the committee. “We’re not going to cut and paste any provision of any other state’s criminal law without making allowances for our structure and the way things work in Colorado.” [Pols emphasis]

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Rep. Mike Foote (D).

Rep. Mike Foote (D).

​CBS4's Shaun Boyd reported Friday about legislation, two pieces of legislation actually, up for debate in the Colorado House today. Both call themselves "Jessica's Law," named after a Florida child who was murdered by a convicted sex offender out of prison on parole:

The intent of both bills is the same — to make sure anyone who sexually assaults a child spends a long time behind bars.

Both bills are named after Jessica Lunsford, a young girl from Florida who was raped and murdered by a sex offender on parole…

“For these types of offenders a longer sentence is something that’s necessary,” said Rep. Mike Foote, D-Boulder.

Foote is among those who voted against the Szabo bill, calling it “one size fits all.” But he also promised Mark Lunsford he would try to do something. He’s now introduced his own “Jessica’s Law.” His bill would put child molesters away for 10 to 24 years depending on the seriousness of the crime.

“My bill treats different types of actions differently, but also makes sure to target those who are committing the worst of the worst offenses,” Foote said.

Boyd's report, while a fair look at this year's bills, leaves out a number of important details from the debate last year over the GOP version of "Jessica's Law"–details that few under the Dome can forget. The fact is, law enforcement representatives including Colorado District Attorneys' Council, and victim's advocates like the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault opposed last year's version the bill. The reason is simple: Colorado already has very tough sentencing laws for sex offenders. What GOP Rep. Libby Szabo proposed last year was more about stripping away judicial sentencing discretion in an undifferentiated way. Rep. Mike Foote's bill, though we haven't heard if it's considered any more necessary by the DAs and victims than Szabo's, at least tries to look objectively at the types of crimes committed.

This is also the debate in which Rep. Szabo appeared on the FOX News O'Reilly Factor, and made the scurrilous allegation that Speaker Mark Ferrandino was "obviously protecting someone" after the bill died in a House committee. Especially given the opinion among law enforcement and victims advocates that the law isn't necessary in Colorado, we hope that Rep. Foote's generous attempt to accommodate proponents means this is the last we'll ever have to hear about "Jessica's Law."

The Colorado Independent Gets It Wrong On HB1258

I am writing this to briefly rebut several points made in the Colorado Independent’s February 28, 2014 report on HB1258.  For those of you who are not aware, HB1258 is a bill sponsored by Representative Amy Stephens, which mandates various procedural due process rights that a respondent has in a proceeding before the Independent Ethics Commission (“IEC”).  Such rights include the ability to have a state-provided attorney and to be informed of the elements of the offense an IEC Respondent is charged with.  As an enforcement mechanism to protect these rights, and any other right clearly established under federal or state law, any IEC Commissioner who recklessly, intentionally, or willfully violates such rights will have personal liability.

The points that I will be rebutting are as follows:

Contention #1 (by Robert Wechsler): HB1258 Will Allow Citizens To Be Sued For Bringing A Complaint
Reality: This is absolutely false.  The bill creates liability for IEC commissioners (not complainants) who willfully, recklessly, or intentionally violate clearly established rights of IEC respondents.

Contention #2 (by Luis Toro): The IEC is being singled out for doing their job.
Reality: The IEC’s job, under Colorado Constitution Article XXIX is “to hear complaints, issue findings, and assess penalties, and also to issue advisory opinions, on ethics issues arising under this article and under any other standards of conduct and reporting requirements as provided by law.”  Just as a Police Officer’s job duties of keeping the peace do not require him to violate the rights of suspects in his custody, an IEC Commissioner’s job duties do not require him to deny such basic due process rights as providing an attorney or informing a respondent of the elements of the offenses such a respondent is charged with.

Contention #3 (by Luis Toro): HB1258 is a “messaging bill” that does not address any of the “real” problems with the IEC
Reality: Given that Luis Toro did not specify what the “real” problems of the IEC are, whether the bill addresses them or not in his view is impossible to evaluate.  To the extent observers believe that this bill is merely a dog and pony show, they should review the policy reasons behind why we have due process in this country.

Contention #4 (by Luis Toro): IEC Defendants have received a “Cadillac” legal defense in the past
Reality: Just as politicians are bound by Colorado Ethics Rules under Article XXIX, Attorneys are bound under the ethics rules found in the Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct.  Under Colorado Rule of Professional Conduct 1.3, Comment 1, “A lawyer must . . . act with commitment and dedication to the interests of the client and with zeal in advocacy upon the client’s behalf.” (emphasis added)  Although Luis Toro’s comments are unclear, it appears he would term a dedicated legal counsel as “Cadillac”.  Practicing attorneys, on the other hand, usually term it as providing what is “ethically required.” 

Contention #5 (by the Colorado Independent): the bill is all about Scott Gessler.
Reality: Progressives have long claimed that Gessler violated substantive ethics law, and was not subsequently done in by any procedural “gotcha” tricks in the IEC prosecution, by attending an election law class at a partisan organization.  HB1258 does not change substantive ethics law.  Thus, under Progressives’ assumptions, this bill should not have had any effect on Gessler’s ethics case.

If I am missing any points, please feel free to message me and I will seek to address them.  My email is ElliotFladen at gmail.

Note -this is my own original work that I posted originally at the Colorado Independent

Buh-Bye: Rep. Jared Wright Drops Re-Election Bid

Rep. Jared Wright (R-Fruita).

Rep. Jared Wright (R-Fruita).

Just in from the Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby, Rep. Jared Wright is officially one-and-done:

Rep. Jared Wright is dropping out of his race for re-election, and is instead endorsing his GOP opponent, Yeulin Willett, the freshman legislator announced at a hastily called press conference today.

So ends one of the shorter legislative careers in recent memory, which nearly didn't get off the ground at all after revelations about goldbricking work habits as a Fruita police officer and questionable personal financial decisions almost derailed his election in 2012. Since then, Rep. Wright has been a steadfast member of the "clown car caucus" of less-than-serious far right legislators, whose proposed bills have done much to harm the entire Republican brand on their way to the nearest "kill committee."

Most recently, Rep. Wright's embarrassing negligence with his concealed weapon at the Colorado Capitol has reportedly infuriated a large number of fellow Republicans–unsurprisingly, starting with the many legislators who themselves pack heat under the Gold Dome. Wright's "misplacing" of a loaded pistol in a committee hearing room has cast an unwelcome light on the dubious practice of lawmakers carrying weapons in a public building where the general public–even those with concealed weapons permits of their own–cannot.

Despite what seemed to be some support for Wright as an incumbent, which included a fundraising appearance from Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, it looks like the plug has finally been pulled. We can tell you that Democrats have entertained the hope of a longshot pickup in this race, owing in addition to Wright's weakness to a good candidate in the form of Palisade vintner Brad Webb. As a result, they might have been the ones pulling most for Wright to win the primary. As an open seat, this district leans heavily Republican, but we expect Webb to campaign vigorously nonetheless.

And we'll have to see who the longsuffering residents of Laura Bradford's former district want next.

Head Games – Voting Rights 3, Head 0

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Victor Head, "Pueblo Plumber", recall proponent, and County Clerk candidate, has been lying again, and digging through trash for ballots to make the case that only he can prevent election fraud.  

HB1128 , Reduce Voter Identity Theft

In the State, Veterans, and Military Affairs Committee of the Colorado legislature, on February 12, Head testified on behalf of HB1128, a thinly-disguised "voter ID" bill. Szabo and Harvey were the sponsors. The bill, thankfully, is parked in the State committee, and unlikely to come out of it.

The facts were not with this bill. There is not, and never has been, a problem of "voter identity theft" in Colorado. Over the last 10 years, there have been no instances of someone voting under an assumed name. Yet, Head, with an eye on the Clerk position supervising elections in Pueblo, wants voters to believe that he  has expertise in this area, and will help protect us from the dreaded (but nonexistent) problem of voter identity theft.

In order to create a problem only he can solve, Victor Head lied again  in HB1128  hearing testimony.  He told Representative Salazar that signature cards weren't used in Pueblo County when Pueblans began voting in the Recall election. This is demonstrably not true.

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Today’s Main Event: Repealing “Amycare”

Rep. Amy Stephens (R).

Rep. Amy Stephens (R).

UPDATE #3: StokolsAmy Stephens stoutly defended the health insurance exchange from fellow Republican detractors before departing today's hearing; the final vote on House Bill 14-1192 has been postponed until Stephens can be present to vote.

[As Rep. Janak] Joshi presented the bill, Stephens fired away with tough questions and offered a full-throated defense of the bill that created the state’s own health insurance exchange.

“How can we in this climate, in this reality actually [repeal the exchange] when this is the law of the land?” Stephens asked Joshi, noting that repealing the state exchange would just force Coloradans, still subject to Obamacare mandates, to use the federal healthcare marketplace instead.

In 2011, Stephens sponsored Senate Bill 200, which created the exchange, based on her belief that a state-specific exchange would be preferable to the federal marketplace.

“Do the right thing for the people,” one witness testifying in support of Joshi’s bill told Stephens.

“I believe I did,” she responded. [Pols emphasis]

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UPDATE #2: FOX 31's Eli Stokols–will Amy Stephens escape a vote on the "Amycare" repeal bill after all?

Democrats, who have poked Stephens repeatedly on this issue, are eagerly awaiting this bit of political theater.

There’s just one thing: Stephens may not be there when the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee votes on Joshi’s bill Tuesday afternoon.

She was excused from being at the Capitol Tuesday morning, according to House GOP spokesman Joel Malecka, in order to prepare for a Denver Post debate Tuesday night featuring all the GOP U.S. Senate candidates.

Malecka told FOX31 Denver that Stephens is planning to attend the committee meeting, which begins at 1:30 p.m., but that she is also planning to leave around 3 p.m.

Surely there's a way to move it up?

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UPDATE: A press release moments ago from health care reform advocate group Protect Your Care slams today's repeal attempt:

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“Money Badger”–Gessler/JBC Conflict Escalates

Scott Gessler.

Scott Gessler.

The story of Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler's multimillion-dollar budget shortfall, and subsequent battle with the powerful bipartisan Joint Budget Committee seeking taxpayer funds to cover it, escalated dramatically this week. As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

A simmering feud between Republican Secretary of State Scott Gessler and the Joint Budget Committee erupted again this week over letters from Gessler accusing lawmakers of "political posturing."

But two members of the JBC — Sen. Pat Steadman, D-Denver, and Rep. Cheri Gerou, R-Evergreen — said the Republican secretary of state is the one playing political games.

"I'm disgusted, totally disgusted by the tone, the rudeness, calling us liars," Gerou said Thursday. "He doesn't sound like a governor." [Pols emphasis]

Late Monday, after we last visited the story, Gessler responded to the Joint Budget Committee with an angry letter accusing the committee of all manner of slights against him, both procedural and personal (embedded after the jump via the Colorado Independent).

“I am sorely disappointed with your committee’s behavior,” Gessler writes to open his letter, and “I am frustrated that the committee squelched any opportunity to directly discuss these issues with me.

He argues, as he has in the past, that his budget was thrown off, not by his decision to slash fees on businesses and nonprofits, but by an election-reform bill passed last year by Democratic lawmakers that has overburdened his office.

Just a year ago, he says,  “we carried a comfortable $1.9 million surplus. But… the legislature shoved through a partisan election bill that severely damaged our budget.”

But as the Durango Herald's Joe Hanel ably reported in January, that's just not the case. Gessler slashed fees on businesses to a much greater extent than was necessary to keep his office's former surplus within allowable limits. While a tempting idea for a politician seeking higher office, Gessler's fee cuts are the real reason his office ran into the red implementing House Bill 13-1303, last year's election modernization bill endorsed by and authored in consultation with county clerks from both parties. Gessler "severely damaged" his own budget, long before this bill was ever introduced. As fellow Republican Rep. Cheri Gerou makes clear above, nobody's buying Gessler's political posturing–and Gessler is the one doing the posturing.

Bottom line: Gessler is wildly overplaying his hand by getting snooty with the JBC, and the absolute last thing he needs now is to incur the open wrath of powerful fellow Republicans on fiscal responsibility as he battles Tom Tancredo, Greg Brophy, and those other guys for the GOP gubernatorial nomination. But to be honest, this boorish, thin-skinned combativeness may just plain be who Scott Gessler is at the end of the day.

Gessler reportedly likes being called "Honey Badger," but "Money Badger" may not go over so well.

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LGBT Equality “Baby Step” Wins Final Passage

AP via the Denver Post:

Gay couples in Colorado who are married in another state and in a civil union here could file joint state tax returns under a measure headed to the governor's desk.

The Colorado House passed the measure Monday on a largely party-line vote with Democrats in favor. The bill already cleared the Senate so it's now up to Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper to decide whether to sign it.

A press release from Colorado House Democrats Friday celebrated initial passage of Senate Bill 14-019:

SB14-019, sponsored in the House by Reps. Joann Ginal (D-Fort Collins) and Dominick Moreno (D-Commerce City), amends state law to direct legally married same-sex couples living in Colorado to file their state taxes in the same way they file their federal taxes.

Rep. Moreno got a laugh when he asked the House, “What could be more romantic on Valentine’s Day than asking someone to joint-file your taxes?” Joking aside, he added, “Same sex couples share their income and share their expenses. Why not let them file jointly?”

For what it's worth, here are GOP Rep. Bob Gardner and ex-House Speaker Frank McNulty with the GOP's answer:

Despite their studious objections, the bill is now headed to Gov. John Hickenlooper's desk.