“Rolling Coal”–Seriously Republicans, WTF?

Rolling coal--ladies, please don't encourage this.

“Rolling coal.”

Nick Coltrain at the Fort Collins Coloradoan reports on the death Tuesday of Rep. Joann Ginal’s House Bill 16-1319, legislation that would have outlawed the practice of intentionally modifying your diesel vehicle to spew black soot on unsuspecting pedestrians, Prius owners, and other such wussies:

Ginal, D-Fort Collins, said she wrote the bill to target the activity, not the modifications. She had input from Fort Collins law enforcement and city officials on the bill. The bill would have created a $35 fine for those who rig light diesel trucks to blast thick, black exhaust and use it to obscure roadways or harass pedestrians, referred to as rolling coal. It would have also tacked two points on the offender’s license. Too many points in a one- or two-year period will lead to license suspension.

The bill passed out of the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives on a bipartisan vote earlier this month. It failed on a party-line vote in the Senate transportation committee, with the three Republicans voting against it. A phone message to the chair of the committee, Sen. Randy Baumgardner, R-Cowdrey, was not immediately returned Wednesday.

Prius-RepellentLet’s have no confusion about about the plain language of HB16-1319:

The bill prohibits “coal rolling”, or “rolling coal”, which is the act of intentionally blowing black smoke through one or more exhaust pipes attached to a diesel vehicle after modifying, disabling, bypassing, or removing the vehicle’s pollution controls, for the purpose of harassing another driver, a bicyclist, or a pedestrian or obstructing or obscuring the view of another driver, a bicyclist, or a pedestrian. A person who violates the prohibition commits a class 2 misdemeanor traffic offense, punishable by 10 to 90 days in jail or a $150 to $300 fine, or both, and is subject to 3 points assessed against the person’s driver’s license.

As you can see, we’re not talking about a new law to bust down poor people with old smoking vehicles. The citizens who would face penalties under this bill have intentionally modified their diesel vehicles to emit vast quantities of sooty diesel smoke from their exhausts at will. There are diesels on the road that emit more than their share of smoke already, but this is a modification that produces far more than any engine problem. If you’ve ever seen someone “rolling coal,” you know that the pall of smoke they generate can dangerously obscure an entire major boulevard–not to mention choke out anyone unfortunate enough to be walking outdoors nearby.

Safe to say, it’s a very bad practice that should most definitely not be legal–any more than it’s legal to defeat your emission controls in a regular car. And since it’s something done with the express purpose of harassing others and creating a nuisance…yeah. It’s ridiculous. Throw the book at ’em.

But no, Sen Randy Baumgardner and his Republicans colleagues on the Senate Transportation Committee chose instead to protect your God-given right to “roll coal.” So remember to keep your Prius’ windows rolled up tight and don’t make eye contact.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 27)

Get More SmarterIf you still have an old Gart Bros. gift certificate, you might want to hurry up and try to redeem that sucker. 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…

► It looks like we are going to have a Hillary Clinton-Donald Trump matchup in the race for President. Trump went 5-for-5 last night in the “Acela Primary,” or whatever the hell you want to call it. By winning in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island, Trump has likely created a scenario where next Tuesday’s Indiana Primary is the last real chance for anti-Trump forces to stop His Hairness from winning the GOP nomination.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had an awful night, finishing in third place in every state but Pennsylvania. Cruz says his campaign will make a “major announcement” this afternoon; there is some speculation that Cruz may announce a potential running mate for the GOP nomination that he is no longer mathematically able to win anyway.

 

► On the Democratic side of the Presidential equation, Clinton all but sealed the nomination with big wins in delegate-rich states on Tuesday. As NBC News reports:

With five Northeast states voting Tuesday, Clinton easily won the two biggest prizes of the night: Pennsylvania and Maryland. She also took home Delaware and Connecticut in tighter races. By 12:15 a.m. ET, NBC News put Clinton at 2,117 delegates and Sanders at 1,330. The nomination requires 2,383 delegates.

The added delegates create a virtually unbridgeable gap for Sanders, who had already moved on to West Virginia, which holds its primary May 10…

…Meanwhile, Sanders addressed more than 6,400 people and made it clear he has no interest in dropping out. Notably, he spoke about his campaign as a movement with more important goals than winning.

 

► Lawyers for Republican Jon Keyser were in a Denver courtroom on Tuesday making the case that their client deserves to appear on the Primary ballot even though his campaign failed to collect enough valid petition signatures before the April 4th deadline. There was no official ruling on Tuesday, though a judge said that a decision would come within 72 hours. Two more Republican Senate candidates — Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier — are still waiting to hear from the Secretary of State’s office in regards to the validity of their own petitions.

 

 

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So You Want a Presidential Primary, Do You?

Rush Limbaugh's "Operation Chaos."

Rush Limbaugh’s “Operation Chaos.”

The Durango Herald’s Peter Marcus reports on debate over House Bill 16-1454, legislation that would restore the state’s presidential primary elections–a timely push after both Republicans and Democrats found their own things to hate about the caucus process in 2016:

While the legislation has bipartisan sponsorship, it passed the Democratic-controlled committee on a party-line vote.

Sponsors of the legislation introduced the measure after chaotic March 1 caucuses, where many voters expressed frustration. Reports of long lines and confusion swept the state…

Most everyone agrees that the long lines, low participation rates, and general confusion in the party-operated caucus process stymie the voting public’s access to the presidential nomination process. With that agreed upon, restoring a presidential primary comes down to a much stickier question–who would be able to participate? Presently voters must declare their party affiliation well in advance of the caucus.

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton.

Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton.

Under the proposed new system, there would be at least some opportunity for crossover voting shenanigans–but proponents say it beats the alternative.

The legislation would stop short of creating a full, open primary, but it would allow unaffiliated voters to temporarily choose a party preference in order to participate.

Thirty days after the election, the preference would default back to unaffiliated. There would, however, be a public record of what preference that voter chose for the election.

One thing that makes it more difficult to “protect” the partisan primary from malicious “Operation Chaos” style meddling by the other party is Colorado’s progressive voter registration law passed in 2013–which allows eligible voters to register and vote on Election Day. If you want same-day registration, some other provision must be made for primary elections unless you want to throw the doors wide open and have a fully “open” primary. The “temporary affiliation” proposal is an admittedly awkward workaround, but would at least try to uphold these competing ideals of access vs. party participation.

Ted Cruz, Donald Trump.

Ted Cruz, Donald Trump.

We recognize that one’s preference for or against an open primary in this presidential election year may well be biased by circumstances that might help or hurt a favored candidate. But insofar as political parties continue to exist, the logical argument still resolves in favor of parties retaining control over their nominating process–including preferring primary voters be bonafide party members.

And as the Denver Post’s Joey Bunch reports, if you don’t like this idea, there are much worse ideas in the wings:

A group called Let Colorado Vote is proposing a ballot initiative to allow unaffiliated voters to vote in every race and receive ballots from major parties.

“I think the proposed system is infinitely better than the system that has gone through my office during the ballot-title setting that would involve sending everyone multiple ballots,” said Secretary of State Wayne Williams.

There’s no question that mailing both primary ballots to every voter would be a much more sinister blow to the power of political parties in Colorado, and an open invitation to crossover voting games beyond Rush Limbaugh’s wildest dreams. Even if you rankle at the idea of weakening party membership requirements to vote in a presidential primary, the compromise represented in HB16-1454 may well be your best shot at retaining some measure of control in today’s fluid political landscape.

Because whether you’re a fan of the status quo or not, it’s going to change. Whatever the solution is, the train wreck of this year’s caucuses for both parties is not to be repeated.

Get More Smarter on Tuesday (April 26)

Get More SmarterTomorrow is Administrative Professionals’ Day; don’t say we didn’t warn you. 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…

► Politicos around the state are still buzzing about Republican Jon Keyser’s failure to submit enough valid petition signatures to make it onto the June 28th Primary ballot for U.S. Senate. Keyser’s campaign is challenging a Secretary of State (SOS) ruling that he came up 86 valid signatures short in Congressional District 3 (GOP Senate candidates must collect a minimum of 1,500 valid signatures from registered Republicans in each of Colorado’s 7 congressional districts). Keyser also barely collected enough scribbles to meet the requirement in CD-1, CD-5, and CD-6.

While Keyser’s campaign is busy trying to work out a challenge to the SOS ruling, two other Republican Senate candidates are gnawing their fingernails to the bone waiting for good news; Robert Blaha and Ryan Frazier should hear from the SOS any day now regarding their petitions, but after Keyser’s stumble and Jack Graham’s piss-poor 56.6% “validity rate”, both candidates have every reason to worry about the future of their own campaigns.

 

► Voters are going to the polls today in the “Acela Primary” or “Amtrak Primary” or whatever you want to call it. Republican Presidential frontrunner Donald Trump is expected to grow his lead after ballots are counted in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island.

On the Democratic side of the equation, Hillary Clinton appears to be riding a wave of momentum after her decisive victory in New York last Tuesday; polls suggest that Clinton could defeat Bernie Sanders in all five states voting today. Should Clinton sweep today’s Primaries, Sanders’ math problem is going to get much more complicated.

Meanwhile, as the Washington Post reports, down-ballot Democratic women are looking to ride some Clinton coattails in several important Primary fights today.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Majorities Matter: Anti-Vaxxers Win As GOP Senate Locks Down

Measles.

Measles.

AP reports via the Greeley Tribune on the death yesterday of House Bill 16-1164, which would have given the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment control of the state’s system of documenting self-claimed exemptions from childhood immunization guidelines:

The state House backed off the proposed database Monday, when it was scheduled for a vote. The legislative maneuver means the database proposal is dead for the year.

Democratic sponsors had enough support to steer the database through the House. But the proposal faced certain death in the GOP Senate, where some Republicans complain the state Health Department has already overreached by contacting parents about their children’s immunizations. [Pols emphasis]

“The public health of Colorado was not enough to convince opponents of the bill,” said Rep. Dan Pabon, a Denver Democrat who proposed the database. “The politics around the ‘I word,’ or immunizations, just got to be too intense.”

Colorado law on childhood vaccinations is among the most lenient of any state in America. Parents are allowed to claim an “exemption” from school immunization requirements for any personal reason they choose, beyond more common exemptions granted elsewhere for religious or other specific objections. This bill wouldn’t have changed that, simply centralizing the gathering of the information so as to better understand why the state has one of the lowest rates of vaccinations in the nation.

The failure of the vaccine database bill makes Colorado one of only three states with no central tracking of childhood immunizations, Pabon said. [Pols emphasis]

In short, this was a battle between public health experts defending science, and politicians protecting those who reject or at least question the science behind vaccines in public health policy.

“It has to do with what authority the state has over parents” who object to vaccines, said Sen. Kevin Lundberg, R-Berthoud. “A lot of parents don’t disagree necessarily with all vaccinations. But they do disagree with the volume and schedule of vaccinations.”

In 2015, legislation that would have made it even easier for parents to “exempt” their children from vaccines and attend public school failed against the backdrop of outbreaks of measles and other diseases preventable by vaccination. The issue hasn’t been in the headlines to the same degree in 2016, but the passion on both sides of this issue is never more than one headline away.

With that said, the political consequences of being on the wrong side of this fundamental public health issue appear very serious to us. Polls show the overwhelming majority of the public supports vaccination of school-age children, with almost 80% saying vaccination should be mandatory for healthy kids.

Worth keeping in mind when Republicans celebrate how they “protected” our “right” to not vaccinate our kids.

Get More Smarter on Monday (April 25)

Get More SmarterEnjoy the weather today; the sun is going on hiatus for the rest of the week. 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…

► Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich say that they have formed some sort of alliance in hopes of preventing Republican frontrunner Donald Trump from capturing the GOP nomination for President. As our friends at “The Fix” explain, this isn’t likely to turn out well:

When most of the country — including me — was watching the season 6 premiere of “Game of Thrones,” the campaigns of Ted Cruz and John Kasich announced a major strategic alliance. Kasich would stop campaigning in — and trying to win — Indiana’s primary on May 3. Cruz would do the same in Oregon on May 17 and New Mexico on June 7

…This is a massive gamble born entirely of desperation. What likely became clear to the Cruz campaign and, to a lesser extent, the Kasich campaign, is that they weren’t going to beat Trump in Indiana’s winner-take-most primary and, by losing, would put the real estate billionaire on a reasonable path to the GOP nomination.

And so, they acted. Which they deserve credit for — since most of the time politicians in unwinnable/untenable situations continue to cling to the idea that everyone else is wrong and they are right, right up until they lose.

But, action doesn’t always produce the desired results.  And, I think that’s what is going to happen here.

As “The Fix” notes, there are a number of strategic problems with this so-called alliance, not the least of which is the general lack of overlap between Kasich voters and Cruz voters (i.e., if you like Kasich, you probably don’t like Cruz, and vice-versa). The other big problem here is that this “alliance” feeds directly into Trump’s narrative that the entire process for selecting a Republican nominee is rigged against him.

 

► The race for President takes another big step on Tuesday with the “Acela Primary” as voters go to the polls in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island to cast ballots in both the Democratic and Republican Primaries.

There is also a big Democratic Primary for a U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania, where Katie McGinty hopes to use endorsements from President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to defeat former Congressman Joe Sestak. The winner of the Democratic Primary will face Republican Sen. Pat Toomey in a General Election that is expected to be one of the most expensive of the 2016 cycle.

 

► Campaign finance reports are a good indicator of the state of a political campaign, and the details of these reports can be particularly revealing. In the case of Republican Senate candidate Jon Keyser, his Q1 fundraising report tells the story of a campaign that is barely functioning from a financial perspective.

 

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Shark Attack: Who’s Taking Loan Shark Money in Colorado?

sharkattack

As another late bill, Senate Bill 16-185, to allow subprime personal lenders to charge higher interest rates on bigger loans makes its way through the Colorado Senate–debate of the whole chamber on the bill was scheduled for yesterday but punted to Monday–Colorado Ethics Watch released a detailed report on the influence of the subprime personal lending industry over both parties in the Colorado General Assembly. It’s a must-read: if you have the stomach for it, that is.

Because if you’re a liberal Democrat, you’ve got some friends on the list.

While the initial increase that would be permitted if SB 16-185 passes is smaller than the increase House Bill 15-1390 would have authorized, lenders would be able to continually increase loan sizes subject to 36% APR because the cap number would be indexed to inflation. As a result, the effective interest rate for loans greater than $1,000 would continue to increase as inflation increases, trapping greater numbers of Coloradans in the cycle of debt.

Spurred by these incidents, Colorado Ethics Watch investigated lobbying spending and campaign contributions by the major proponents of House Bill 15-1390, Springleaf Finance and Independent Bankers of Colorado, along with other organizations known to be involved in subprime lending from their participation in lobbying on the 2010 payday lending reforms. These lenders and their associated PACs spent more than $730,000 on lobbying from fiscal year 2012 through 2015…

The big sum spent on lobbying is what funded the efforts of Democratic-friendly lobbyists like former Deputy House Communications Director Megan Dubray–who were key to successfully rushing the 2015 bill through the Democratic-controlled House without the scrutiny it deserved. Studies by the Center for Responsible Lending and others have identified a deliberate strategy of courting Democratic support for predatory lending bills, under the pretense of providing “access to credit” for persons who wouldn’t otherwise be able to get a loan.

And be assured, Colorado’s strict campaign finance limits have not cut off the direct flow of campaign cash to lawmakers–just spread it out a little:

In addition to lobbying, subprime and payday lenders gave $126,925.01 in contributions to various candidates and committees between 2012 and 2015. For example, industry participants and associated groups such as political action committees gave $32,526.32 in contributions to legislators in the 2016 Colorado General Assembly. Even though political contribution amounts were not large due to Colorado’s strict campaign contribution limits, they were widely distributed among members of the 2016 legislature. More than two-thirds of the 2016 legislature, including 37 Democrats and 31 Republicans, [Pols emphasis] received contributions from industry participants or their associated PACs…

Here are the top 12 recipients of predatory lender cash in the Colorado General Assembly, listed with their vote on House Bill 15-1390:

loansharkdonations

The underlying point here is that Republicans can be fully expected to receive support from predatory lenders, and to reciprocate freely with votes that support the industry’s legislative agenda. But in Colorado’s divided legislature, support of at least some Democrats is necessary to pass anything. Consequently of the top six recipients of predatory lending cash on this list, four are Democrats. The top recipient just so happens to have been a Democratic “no” vote on last year’s bill.

It’s important to recognize that nothing we’re describing here is out of the ordinary for an industry seeking favorable treatment in the legislature. Lobbyists with good relationships with lawmakers work their connections. People and companies make perfectly legal donations. Lawmakers vote on stuff. There’s no conspiracy.

The problem is that, while legally operating, these lenders are objectively bad actors. Their products do not help people, they hurt them by strapping them with unaffordable and often inescapable debtby design. The extreme and in many cases hidden costs of borrowing money from predatory lenders is a moral as well as an economic problem, and the decision to regulate interest rates and keep loan terms fair is a moral judgment also made with the demonstrable best economic interests of consumers in mind.

So yes, there’s a lot at stake. And legislators–especially self-professed progressive Democratic legislators–who side with these loan sharks over their constituents should pay their own price.

Hot Mic, Asshole! Tensions Spike As Session Nears End

UPDATE: Via 9NEWS’ Brandon Rittiman:

A “no comment” for the weekend to chill out is probably a good idea.

—–

House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso.

House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso.

As the Denver Business Journal’s Ed Sealover reports, debate today in the Colorado House over House Bill 16-1388, the “ban the box” bill to disallow questions about a job applicant’s criminal history on the initial application, took a turn for the ugly:

House Bill 1388, sponsored by Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, would ban employers from asking people to check a box on job-application forms if they have a criminal record.

It would not ban those same companies from checking applicants’ criminal histories independently or from asking during in-person interviews about such histories…

Rep. Joe Salazar, D-Thornton, however, said that the boxes on these application forms are no different than boxes that asked people about their age and disability status and were used to weed out older and disabled candidates before the federal government put a stop to that several decades ago. Those who oppose the bill “are on the wrong side of history,” he said.

House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso, R-Loveland, shot back that people don’t have a choice on how old they are or whether they suffer from a disability — unlike felons who have criminal histories because of their chosen actions.

From there, things got a little more, uh, personal:

MELTON: Thank you, Madam Chair, and wow, Representative DelGrosso. You gave me so much material. Where do I start…

I don’t know if you read the bill, but turn to page 3 line 6, and it talks about how this does not apply if federal, state or local law prohibits employment of a person with a specific criminal conviction. Read the bill!

…If you don’t understand the bill, take five minutes and read it.

COURT: I think Representative Buckner was next, Representative DelGrosso, and then you’re next after Representative Buckner.

DELGROSSO: But that asshole called me out, I just… [unintelligible]

COURT: Oh, Shh Shh Shh Shh Shh.

(Pause)

COURT: Shh Shh Shh Shh Shh. Representative Melton, you did make an error in what you just said, it was inappropriate to insult people by suggesting they haven’t read the bill. And I do want to point that out.

We’re pretty sure House Minority Leader Brian DelGrosso did not realize there was a microphone in close enough proximity to pick up his calling another representative an “asshole” on the floor of the Colorado House. We’d call that a fairly substantial breach of etiquette, though it’s true also that Rep. Jovan Melton really isn’t supposed to suggest that his colleagues haven’t read a bill in a floor debate.

Every year as the legislative session nears its end, but especially in frustrating split-control years when just about everybody’s bills are unceremoniously killed, things get kind of tense. Oftentimes, the annual “Hummer” sketch comedy routines break the tension–except when they get cancelled because things are, you know, too tense.

Assuming they’re not cancelled, this will make for a fine “Hummer.”

“Really Small Government”–Abortion Ultrasound Bill Dies

To wit–government small enough to fit in, well…as NARAL Pro Choice Colorado’s Karen Middleton memorably described yesterday:

Karen Middleton HB 1218 Press Conf April 21 State Cap

Places you probably don’t want it.

Here’s the press release from NARAL Pro Choice Colorado on the defeat yesterday of House Bill 16-1218, a bill that would have required ultrasounds and non-medical waiting periods for women seeking an abortion:

For the second straight year, a bill introduced by anti-choice legislators that would mandate transvaginal ultrasounds, a 24 hour waiting period, and non-medical propaganda being read to women seeking abortion care has failed in Committee. HB 1218 was defeated in the House Health Committee on an 8-5 vote. All the Democrats on the Committee are women.

According to Karen Middleton, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, “HB 1218 is designed to shame and humiliate women who seek abortion care and to trap doctors in red tape and regulations. It crosses a line for Colorado women and I am glad legislators saw it that way as well.”

Dr. Aaron Lazorwitz, a Denver Ob-Gyn, testified in opposition to the bill. According to Dr. Lazorwitz, “There is no medical reason to mandate a 24 hour waiting period or to force a woman to view an ultrasound. HB 1218 would also introduce non-medical language such as ‘unborn child’ into legislation that could be used to establish fetal personhood, an idea that has already been rejected by Colorado voters three times.”

HB 1218 is yet another “model bill” from the national anti-choice group Americans United for Life, as detailed in NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado’s report, “Against Our Will: How National Anti-Choice Groups Are Targeting the Pro-Choice Majority in Colorado.”

As everyone knows, this legislation was never going to get far in the Democratic-controlled House. The decision to introduce this legislation in the House instead of the GOP-held Colorado Senate was deliberate, part of the delicate balance Republicans try to achieve between pleasing their fervently anti-choice base and remaining viable in general elections where anti-abortion bills become significant liabilities.

What we can tell you about House Bill 16-1218, despite the fact that it was killed in committee yesterday, is that it was sponsored in the House by Reps. Lori Saine, Patrick Neville, Steve Humphrey, JoAnn Windholz, Kevin Priola, Justin Everett, Clarice Navarro, Dan Nordberg, and Kim Ransom. In the Senate, the bill was sponsored by Sens. Tim Neville, Laura Woods, Chris Holbert, Kent Lambert, Kevin Grantham, Vicki Marble, Kevin Lundberg, and Randy Baumgardner.

In short, many of the sponsors of this bill to require a highly invasive ultrasound for nonmedical reasons of women seeking an abortion are running in some of 2016’s most competitive legislative races. Races where the last thing you want to have is an extreme record on wedge issues. We can’t honestly tell you if they have evaluated the full political consequences of sponsoring a bill like this, or if that have done so, you know, realistically.

But if it’s not used against them with swing voters to devastating effect between now and November, we’ll be very surprised.

Get More Smarter on Thursday (April 21)

Get More SmarterWe really can’t recommend eating something off the ground in the best of situations, but you should be particularly careful the day after 4/20. 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…

► Republican Senate candidate Jack Graham is officially on the June 28th Primary ballot, joining GOP State Convention winner Darryl Glenn. The Colorado Secretary of State’s office announced Wednesday that Graham had enough valid petition signatures to make the ballot, but if the other petitioning candidates (Robert Blaha, Jon Keyser, and Ryan Frazier) don’t have a better “validity rate” than Graham’s campaign, we could be looking at a pretty thin group of Senate candidates after all. The Denver Post ponders the same question we brought up a few weeks ago.

 

► Would Democrat Hillary Clinton consider a woman as a running mate in a General Election? The popular parlor game, “Who Gets to be Vice-President” is picking up steam. As the Boston Globe reports:

Hillary Clinton’s short list of vice presidential options will include a woman, a top campaign official said in an interview — creating the possibility of an all-female ticket emerging from the Democratic convention in Philadelphia.

Clinton wants “the best person to make the case to the American people,” her campaign chairman, John Podesta, told the Globe. “We’ll start with a broad list and then begin to narrow it. But there is no question that there will be women on that list,” he said, adding that staffers are still focused on clinching the primary.

The development immediately injects liberal darling Senator Elizabeth Warren’s name into the growing speculation about who Clinton will choose as her running mate now that she is almost certainly on track to become the nominee.

While it may be fun to speculate on a potential Clinton ticket with Sen. Elizabeth Warren as her running mate, our friends at “The Fix” think it would be a long shot.

 

► House Speaker Paul Ryan says he doesn’t have the votes to pass a budget. Great work, Congressional Republicans. Really, really, great work.

 

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

Ready For Your Mandatory Transvaginal Ultrasound, Ladies?

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

Sen. Laura Waters-Woods.

A release from NARAL Pro Choice Colorado announces a press conference tomorrow on House Bill 16-1218, which they describe as a “mandatory transvaginal ultrasound” abortion restriction bill, ahead of debate in a Colorado House committee:

For the second straight year, anti-choice legislators have introduced legislation that would mandate transvaginal ultrasounds, a 24 hour waiting period, and non-medical propaganda being read to women seeking abortion care. HB 1218 is yet another “model bill” from the national anti-choice group Americans United for Life, as detailed in NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado’s report, “Against Our Will: How National Anti-Choice Groups Are Targeting the Pro-Choice Majority in Colorado.”

The bill will be heard Thursday afternoon in the House Health Committee. All the Democrats on the Committee are women.

According to Karen Middleton, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, “When Donald Trump talked about punishing women for having abortions, these are exactly the types of bills he was talking about. HB 1218’s only purpose is to shame and humiliate women in order to discourage them from seeking abortion care.”

Before the hearing, legislators and physicians will be holding a press conference to highlight how these kinds of bills both harm women’s health and contradict the will of Colorado voters. And for those unfamiliar with what the bill actually does – as sponsors have been in the past – advocates will have an actual ultrasound wand on hand to illustrate the point.

transvaginalHouse Bill 1218 is sponsored by a number of vulnerable Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Kevin Priola, Clarice Navarro, and JoAnn Windholz, as well as Sen. Laura Woods of Arvada–arguably the top Democratic target of the 2016 elections in either chamber. Their well-known personal anti-choice convictions notwithstanding, it is nonetheless a real surprise to see these politically vulnerable legislators up for election this year sponsoring such distasteful legislation as a bill to require medically unnecessary ultrasounds of women seeking an abortion.

But at least for one Colorado House committee’s worth of distaste, we’re going there.

Post reporter stands out for asking predatory lender about Colorado profits

(Credit where due – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

loanshark2A predatory-lending bill, allowing lenders to make more money on high-interest loans, passed a state senate committee yesterday, with supporters of the bill telling reporters that increased profits are necessary to keep personal-loan lenders in Colorado.

That’s the major argument for the bill. Specifically, backers told the Durango Herald that the one company offering such loans will leave Colorado if it’s not allowed to make millions more here.

The Denver Post’s Joey Bunch was the only reporter to ask Springleaf Holdings, Colorado’s only lender of personal loans (after a merger last year with its competitor), how the company was doing. I mean, that’s the key question.

Is it struggling to make ends meet, like many of the folks it lends money to are? People who pay the company 36 percent interest on a $1,000 loan as it is?

Bunch reported:

Phil Hitz, who represented Springleaf Holdings, acknowledged that the company is very profitable nationally and confirmed the 30 percent Colorado growth over the past four years.

Bunch apparently didn’t ask Hitz if Springleaf would leave Colorado if the bill didn’t pass, but all indications are that it would not.

(more…)

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (April 20)

Get More SmarterGood news: Colorado Pols is now 93% gluten-free! 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…

► Yes, we know today is 4/20. No, we’re not going to make any obvious weed jokes…well, maybe a few.

► The New York Primary is in the books, and it was a good night for Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, both of whom cruised to easy victories on Tuesday.  Next up is the “Acela Primary,” as the Washington Post reports:

Emboldened by dominant victories in New York, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump plunged swiftly Wednesday into the next batch of primaries in five states along the Northeast Corridor, where they hope to bury or break their challengers for the Democratic and Republican presidential nominations.

Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Delaware and Rhode Island will vote next Tuesday in what many are dubbing the “Acela primary,” putting Clinton and Trump on terrain well-tailored to their campaigns.

For Clinton, it’s a chance to effectively end Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s long-shot hopes in the Democratic race. For Trump, the contests are an opportunity to further pad his delegate lead over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and send him tumbling into the final six weeks of the campaign. That crucial period will determine whether the mogul will clinch the GOP nomination outright or if the race will head to a contested convention.

 

► A bipartisan group of Colorado legislators are preparing a bill that would end the confusing precinct caucus system for selecting Presidential candidates in favor of a good old fashioned Primary election.

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Get More Smarter on Monday (April 18)

MoreSmarter-RainFrom Snowmageddon to Slushpocalypse. Try not to get too squishy today. 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…

► Because April 15th fell on a Friday this year, today is Tax Day in the United States (unless you are a huge corporation, in which case today is just like any other day). Good luck scrounging up some stamps from your desk drawer.

 

► The legislature gave final approval to the 2016 state budget on Friday, but not without controversy. A last-minute request from the Governor’s office to give $3 million to the Kit Carson Correctional Center on the Eastern Plains — a privately-run prison that apparently cannot exist without government help — nearly upset final negotiations on the “Long Bill.”

 

► Colorado Democrats didn’t let something like a little Snowmageddon keep them from turning out to various Congressional District Assemblies on Friday nor the Democratic State Convention in Loveland on Saturday. Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders performed well, as expected, and can lay claim to 39 of Colorado’s 66 Democratic delegates.

 

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Predatory-lending bill shouldn’t fly under journalists’ late-session radar

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

predatorylendingSometimes reporters ignore bills in the state legislature that look like they would surely die quickly in the hands of divided government. But here’s a piece of right-wing legislation that surprisingly cleared Colorado’s divided legislature last year, before a being vetoed by Gov. John Hickenlooper: a “predatory-lending” bill.

Similar legislation, introduced just last week, should be scrutinized by journalists, despite the end-of-session onslaught on top of the usual onslaught.

This year’s predatory-lending bill (SB16-185), which could be heard this week, would allow for an increase in interest rates on subprime “personal loans,” which are sold to people whose credit problems preclude them from obtaining loans with more favorable interest rates.

Such loans are convenient–and can actually help struggling families improve their credit ratings. But they’re costly, with the potential to be devastating economically for low-income people.

Lenders are getting 36 percent on the first $1,000 in a personal loan, and 21 percent on such loans from $1,000 to $3,000. Yet the senate bill would set up a mechanism to jack up the rates even more. Last year’s failed bill aimed to set the interest rate at 36 percent for all personal loans up to $3,000.

Personal loans average $6,000 in Colorado. They shouldn’t be confused with pay-day loans, which typically carry an even higher interest rate and can be no more than $500, under state law. So these are completely different types of loans.

In vetoing the measure last year, Hickenlooper was “particularly struck” by the Colorado Attorney General’s assessment that higher interest rates on personal loans would not make them more readily available to consumers.

This validates statements by the bill’s opponents that lenders of personal loans are profitable and thriving–despite allegations by the bill’s opponents last year that higher interest rates are needed to keep lenders from abandoning the business. And the number of personal loans sold last year is the highest since 2009, so the market is actually growing under the current regulatory structure, opponents say.

A number of groups have lined up against the predatory lending bill, including AARP Colorado, Bell Policy Center, Center for Responsible Lending, CLLARO, Colorado Catholic Conference, Colorado Center for Law and Policy, Colorado Council of Churches, Colorado Fiscal Institute, Gary Community Investments, Company, Interfaith Alliance of Colorado, One Colorado, ProgressNow Colorado, and Small Business Majority.

Given what happened last year, and the public’s well-known demand to know what lawmakers are doing to help (or in this case hurt) working families, journalists should keep a close eye on this year’s predatory-lending legislation.