Amy Stephens Spins The Revolving Door

Former Rep. Amy Stephens (R).

Former Rep. Amy Stephens (R).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Feb. 18)

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Um, sorry to interrupt, but you have something on your forehead. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below (here's a good example).


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

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

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Friday (Feb. 13)

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Today is Friday the 13th, the first of 3 such "unlucky" days in 2015; there's another Friday the 13th in March and again in November. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below.


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

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

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

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Democrats Sound Off On GOP Abortion “T.R.A.P.” Bill

nonono

FRIDAY UPDATE: As the Denver Post's Joey Bunch reports, Rep. Gordon "Dr. Chaps" Klingenschmitt couldn't even hold it together long enough to keep Republicans unified on a plainly anti-abortion message bill with zero chance of passage. That takes skill, ladies and gentlemen:

A bill that aimed to put more regulations on abortion clinics in Colorado failed in a House committee Thursday, after supporters of regulations said it would make the process safer and opponents called it an attempt to make abortions harder and more expensive to get. The bill was killed on a 8-5 vote.

Rep. Gordon Kligenschmitt, R-Colorado Springs, voted with the Democrats, saying the bill appeared to give state approval to abortions. [Pols emphasis]

Awesome, "Dr. Chaps!" You've discovered the only way to make this bill even more pointless.

—–

2015-02-12 13.07.45

A press release from NARAL Pro Choice Colorado today publicizes a bill from Colorado Republicans to pass a host of Texas-style restrictions on abortion in Colorado, House Bill 15-1128:

Among our core values is a belief that government has no right to interfere with our personal, private medical decisions. So when anti-choice male Colorado legislators introduce HB 1128, a ‘women’s health’ bill that would impose unnecessary restrictions on Colorado abortion care providers and reproductive health care access, we stand up and say, No, not in our state. Furthermore, the bill establishes "personhood”, which Coloradans voters have rejected three times at the ballot box.
 
Colorado doctors and health care providers shouldn’t be harassed out of business by anti-choice politicians, and Colorado women shouldn't be denied access to care for political, not medical, reasons. Abortion is one of the safest procedures performed in the United States.  According to the Centers for Disease Control less than half a percent of all abortions lead to complications that might lead to hospital care.Abortion providers are already regulated by their professional licensing boards and follow standards set by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and Centers for Disease Control.
 
In other states, anti- choice Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws have reduced access to reproductive health care, including abortion care. In Texas TRAP legislation resulted in the closure of 32 out of 40 clinics that provided reproductive health and abortion services. Women in those states are now driving hundreds of miles across the state, in some cases across state lines, to get the care they need. Further, these laws impact the most marginalized, low income women and women of color who already experience the greatest barriers to accessing the care they need.

Although this legislation is being pushed by Republicans as "not banning abortion," in fact the entire bill pertains to the regulation of abortion clinics–and imposes regulations like requiring a doctor at an abortion clinic have admitting privileges at a local hospital. In practice, these regulations have resulted in the closure of most abortion clinics in states like Texas where they've been enacted.

Also interesting in this legislation, as the release above alludes to, is a provision that once again seeks to "define" an unborn child. That is, from the moment of conception.

"UNBORN CHILD" MEANS THE OFFSPRING OF HUMAN BEINGS FROM CONCEPTION UNTIL BIRTH.

Conception is also defined thusly:

"CONCEPTION" MEANS THE FUSION OF THE HUMAN SPERMATOZOON WITH A HUMAN OVUM.

Really, folks, it wouldn't be a Colorado Republican abortion bill without a little Personhood! This is where their bill that "doesn't ban abortion" gets tricky–and might, if passed, do exactly what they say it wouldn't. The bill is expected to die today, but not before giving Democrats another opportunity to prove again why that whole "war on women" thing is not, you know, fake. But for a couple of House races and Bob Beauprez, this could have been a very different situation.

And that is a lesson for both sides.

Get More Smarter on Wednesday (Feb. 11)

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Has anyone seen the Denver Nuggets? We still have a team, right? It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below.


TOP OF MIND TODAY…

► Two of the most controversial pieces of legislation in recent memory are being discussed again today under the Capitol Dome. Sen. Tim Neville's "Parent's Bill of Rights" (also known as SB-077 or the "Let Parents Do Anything They Want with their Children" bill) is back on the docket. Also scheduled to be heard in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee is SB-070, Sen. Kevin Lundberg's ridiculous bill to de-regulate small child care centers in Colorado.

► Also expected to be discussed in the State Senate today is SB-020, also known as "Erin's Law." This bill is intended to assist schools in education and response to cases of child sexual abuse, but Democratic proponents of the legislation expect that Republicans will attempt to hijack the discussion by adding amendments intended to weaken sex-education classes in Colorado schools.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Get More Smarter on Monday (Feb. 9)

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Only 7 more shopping days left until President's Day. It's time to Get More Smarter with Colorado Pols. If you think we missed something important, please include the link in the comments below.


GET READY FOR THIS…

► Senator Laura Waters Woods (R-Arvada) presents SB15-069 in the Senate Business, Labor, and Technology committee today. Also known as the "Right to Discriminate" bill, SB-069 would repeal some basic protections for workers in companies with fewer than 15 employees, allowing employers to discriminate based on sex, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and disability…and pretty much anything else you can think of.

► Let's get fracking! Several pieces of legislation focused on fracking are expected to be discussed this week.

Get even more smarter after the jump…

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Reporter puts representative’s eight-hour gun delay in proper context

(What an injustice! – Promoted by Colorado Pols)

Rep. Patrick Neville (R).

Rep. Patrick Neville (R).

The Colorado Statesman’s Marianne Goodland offered up a good tidbit of reporting in an article published yesterday, in which she aired out State Rep. Patrick Neville’s complaint that his gun purchases were twice denied because he failed a background check.

But Goodland put the problem in context by also reporting that Neville’s denial, due to a clerical error, was resolved in fewer than eight hours.

Goodland also reported the testimony of Ron Sloan, Director of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation:

Sloan cited statistics showing that almost 6,000 sales and transfers were halted because the buyer failed the background check. Some of the checks failed, Sloan said, because the buyers had convictions for crimes such as homicide, kidnapping, sexual assault, burglary and drug offenses.

So, in a post last week, I was wrong to write that no gun was denied to anyone who was legally entitled to one. It appears, in Neville’s case, an eight-hour delay occurred, due to a clerical error.

Isolated mistakes like Neville’s will inevitably happen, but is it worth it to keep thousands of real criminals from buying guns? That’s the question that flows from the facts reported by the Statesman. Are we willing to tolerate Neville’s rare inconvenience to keep guns out of the hands of murderers?

Democrats sponsoring magazine ban repeal bill

(This is a user-authored diary. To write your own, select "New Diary" from the menu to the right and spin away! – promoted by Colorado Pols) 

Don't look now, my Bloomberg-loving friends on the left, but some of your fellow Democrats are waving the white flag on gun control. The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

Four Democrats have signed into a Senate bill that repeals a ban on large-capacity ammunition magazines, one of the most controversial measures of the 2013 legislative session.

Senate Democrats co-sponsoring the bill are Kerry Donovan of Vail, Cheri Jahn of Wheat Ridge and Leroy Garcia. In the House, Democrat Ed Vigil of Fort Garland is a co-sponsor. Vigil was vocal in his opposition of his party’s gun-control measures.

What will Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst do? If she sends it to the "kill committee" there will be outrage. If she allows the bill a fair hearing, it will pass the Democrat controlled House with bipartisan support and Hickenlooper will make the call. Hickenlooper has already admitted mistakes in signing the magazine ban bill. I believe if it gets to his desk, he will sign it.

I know most of you don't care what I think, but I am being completely honest with the Democrats who read this blog. LET THE MAG BAN GO. It was horrible policy from the beginning. It offends gun owners more than anything else you passed in 2013. If you allow the Democrats joining with Republicans to repeal the mag ban, it will help you politically. I can't believe I'm admitting that, but in this case I care more about my constitutional rights.

This is the most honest advice I will ever give the Democrats, so I hope you take it!

Rube Goldberg, Jr., declines Colorado budget post

(Promoted by Colorado Pols)

DENVER – Troubled by constant comparisons to his contraptionary father, Rube Goldberg Jr. embarked on a more stable career path by earning advanced degrees in finance and economics. His sensible, award-winning work to follow drew attention from governmental offices nationwide, leading to job offers beaucoup with the promises of proper pay and pensions.

Goldberg Jr. accepted many of these offers, not shying away from tough challenges, such as the recession-ravaged City of Detroit or several California cities facing bankruptcy. But in February 2015, his calm and collected demeanor finally showed signs of cracking, after he applied for and disgustedly refused the Director’s position with the Colorado Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB).

“With all due respect, and by that I mean ‘none,’ this is the most f$(%*d-up fiscal structure I’ve ever seen,” said Goldberg Jr., with a look in his eye like black holes in the sky, hair disheveled and chain-smoking Spirits. “If you people really want to live this way, be my guest and I’ll go live in a more sensible place, like Greece or Iceland. But the fact is, even my Dad couldn’t have fathomed a process more convoluted than this, and it made me think of him a lot. So, I sat down and took my best shot at a Rube Goldberg Sr. to illustrate the folly. Now, get me the hell out of here!”

Goldberg the Younger was down the road mere minutes after making his announcement, but didn’t get far since he hit a massive traffic jam, thanks to the gas-tax-related lack of funding for Colorado highways. Luckily for us, he absent-mindedly left behind a stack of notes, and Denver Dooley found the time to summarize some of his key points.

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Republican Legislator Votes Against RMGO Gun Bill

Rep. Dan Thurlow (R).

Rep. Dan Thurlow (R).

Yesterday's action in the Colorado legislature on guns was mostly a party-line affair, with gun law rollback bills passing in the GOP-held Colorado Senate and dying in the Democratic controlled Colorado House. But as the Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby reports, there was one exception to this generally reliable rule:

The House committee also killed an expansion of the state’s law on the use of deadly force to businesses as a defense from prosecution, known as the Make My Day Better Law. Also killed were a bill to protect from liability in a gun-related incident a business that allows guns on its premises, and a measure that would make it easier to transfer military-style firearms, such as machine guns, missiles or grenades, to others. [Pols emphasis]

That last bill was the only one to see a Republican vote against it. That Republican was Rep. Dan Thurlow of Grand Junction.

This wasn't one of the marquee GOP bills repealing 2013 gun safety laws, but rather a significant weakening of protections on the transfer of military-grade weapons, explosives, etc.–weapons that require a much more stringent permitting process than ordinary guns for obvious reasons. The bill would have forced the Colorado Bureau of Investigations to produce a certificate signing off on such a transfer within five days, or a denial. Opponents argued that forcing the checks involved to be completed within five days could result in less thorough screening, which has clear public safety implications when we're talking about machine guns and rockets and stuff.

As Ashby suggests in his Tweet above, it's unusual to see a Republican vote contrary to the desires of the gun lobby, especially when it stands out as prominently as this–the only Republican vote with Democrats on any of these bills. We hope Rep. Dan Thurlow has fully considered the ramifications of defying the powerful Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, an organization that wields the bulk of its power in safe-seat GOP primaries.

You know, like Rep. Thurlow's safe seat.

It's not our intention to criticize Rep. Thurlow's vote, of course. Just a reminder that the gun lobby never forgets.

Once Again, “Gunmageddon” Fizzles At Colorado Capitol

Empty seats in Colorado House gun bill hearing yesterday.

Empty seats in Colorado House gun bill hearing yesterday.

Yesterday's debate over the repeal of 2013 gun safety legislation, as well as a few new bills to deregulate concealed carry permits and make it easier to transfer machine guns (yes, that's right), featured a number of interesting twists–on the way to an outcome that was more or less a foregone conclusion before the day began. As the Denver Post's Lynn Bartels reports:

The family of victims of gun violence provided the most dramatic testimony Monday afternoon as lawmakers in separate House and Senate committees debated seven Republican gun bills that loosened gun restrictions, expanded gun rights or overturned gun-control legislation Democrats passed two years ago.

"My sister had a right to life," said Jane Dougherty of Littleton, whose sibling was killed at Sandy Hook. "My sister had a right to grow old. … Nobody ever died from a background check."

Many of the arguments for or against the bills are the same ones lawmakers have heard before, but this time around there wasn't the vitriol that marked the 2013 hearings. Instead of hundreds of Coloradans descending on the Capitol, forcing staffers to set up overflow rooms, there were seats available in the committee rooms. [Pols emphasis]

A total of seven gun-related bills were debated, five in the House and two in the Senate. Everyone literate in the process in the building yesterday knew the Senate bills would make it out of committee, and the House bills would die. It's likely that the Senate bills will pass on the strength of that chamber's single-seat Republican majority, after which they will be sent to die in the same House State Affairs "kill committee" that killed five bills yesterday. All of this is just a sideshow, of course, since even if gun rights supporters were to somehow get any of these bills through the House and to Gov. John Hickenlooper's desk, he'll veto them and that's the end of it.

Despite this, both the National Rifle Association and Rocky Mountain Gun Owners heavily promoted yesterday's hearings to their members, urging them to turn out and testify in the large numbers seen when the 2013 laws were up for debate. Last year, the GOP introduced a similar slate of repeal bills, but lost face after the vast crowd of gun rights supporters from 2013 failed to turn out again. The excuse offered at that time by the gun lobby was that the efforts of their members were being directed to the upcoming elections.

So what's the excuse now, you ask?

Dudley Brown, head of Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, the state's most strident gun rights group, says the reason Monday appeared fairly tame is many members felt they did their work in last year's election.

Except…they didn't.

After all the promises of vengeance against Democrats after the 2013 gun bill brouhaha, and the subsequent recall elections, it's obvious today that the gun issue did not result in the sweeping success for Republicans that Dudley Brown predicted. During a powerful Republican wave election that had everything to do with national political storylines and little to do with Colorado, Republicans took one chamber of the state legislature by a single seat–just like they did in the last Republican wave year. But they did not take full control of the legislature, and they did not elect a governor who will do their bidding. And for good measure, both Democratic seats lost in the 2013 recalls were retaken by wide margins–one of them by the former state director of the much-reviled Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

So what is this "work" that Dudley Brown has done? We know that Brown has raised tremendous sums of money agitating gun owners. But apart from winning a few more Republican primaries last year, RMGO has done basically nothing to create a political climate that could actually bring about repeal of the 2013 gun safety laws. And if that is not their "work," what is? Where is all that money going?

The fact is, yesterday was their chance: to re-energize the gun owning grassroots after the election, and show that the momentum coming out of the 2013 recalls has not been lost. The failure to even fill these hearings–let alone "overflow" areas to accommodate a larger crowd, and nothing remotely like the massive protests in 2013 in and outside the capitol–tells the story of a battle won two years ago, and a war lost today.

Tomorrow at the Capitol: Gunmageddon Groundhog Day!

cadmangroundhogday

The Denver Post's Lynn Bartels previews tomorrow's main event at the Colorado state capitol–debate on five House and two Senate bills to repeal or otherwise weaken gun safety laws in Colorado, including the repeal legislation passed in 2013 to require background checks on most transfers of guns and restrict gun magazine capacity to 15 rounds.

It's appropriate that Monday is Groundhog Day because the legislature is going to hear a slew of gun bills that will bring back memories of 2013.

It's too early to know whether drivers will circle the Capitol, horns honking, or whether a plane will fly overhead with a message for Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, all of which happened two years ago. But among the seven bills to be presented by Republicans, three will try to overturn some of the most debated measures of that session, which involve ammunition magazines and background checks.

In 2013, the debate over gun safety bills consumed a large part of that year's legislative session. The fight over bills introduced in the wake of the Aurora and Newtown, Connecticut mass shootings the prior year was by far the most contentious seen at the capitol in many years on any subject, with families and survivors affected by gun violence pitted in emotional testimony against irate and heavily misinformed (see below) supporters of gun rights. Over several days throughout the session, gun rights supporters staged noisy and disruptive rallies, flew a banner over the capitol that read "Hick–don't take our guns," and circled the capitol in caravans of vehicles blaring their horns.

One of the most important things to understand about the fury from gun rights supporters in 2013, which may or may not be repeated in the capitol in the coming days, is that it has always been heavily based on deliberately incendiary misinformation about what the laws in question actually do. This is most easily demonstrated in the case of the universal background check law, House Bill 13-1229. During last year's debate over a bill to repeal this law, Victor Head, the principal organizer of the successful recall campaign against Sen. Angela Giron, testified that telling voters this law would prevent transfers between immediate family members–his examples was one's "brother"–was highly persuasive in getting them to sign the recall petition. Likewise, Bartels quotes the sponsor of this year's universal background check repeal bill, Rep. Janak "Dr. Nick" Joshi, claiming that transferring a gun "within a family" is not permitted without a background check:

"If someone wants to transfer a gun within a family, [Pols emphasis] or transfer heirloom guns or antique guns, [Pols emphasis] why do they need to pay for a background check when it's a Second Amendment right?" said Rep. Janak Joshi, R-Colorado Springs.

It appears that the sponsor of legislation to repeal universal background checks is not aware that transfers of guns between immediate family, as well as transfers of antique guns as defined by federal law, are allowed without a background check. Two years after its passage, Rep. Joshi is simply not telling the truth about what this law does. When Victor Head admitted that he used this same outright lie to get recall petition signatures, the controversy that ensued in the local press resulted in clarification from Gov. John Hickenlooper's office that yes, transfers between family members are perfectly legal under HB13-1229.

So why is Joshi still saying the opposite? And why doesn't this news story check his facts?

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BREAKING: Lang Sias Finally Wins An Election (Sort Of)

UPDATE: It's worth taking a moment to acknowledge the long-sought triumph Lang Sias' appointment to the Colorado House represents for his high ranking GOP kingpin supporters, who have been trying to get Sias into office–any office–for several years. Sias lost the 2010 7th Congressional District primary to Ryan Frazier, who went on to be pummeled by Ed Perlmutter. Sias then lost two successive bid for an Arvada state senate seat, one to Democrat Evie Hudak and the other last year to now highly targeted Sen. Laura Waters Woods. One consequence of Sias' appointment to HD-27 is that Waters Woods is now operating without a net–if she melts down at the Capitol as many expect before going up again for election in 2016, Sias is already busy holding down this House seat.

But for today, it's enough to celebrate along with what's affectionately known in some circles as the "Sias Zombies." After years of rejection by the voters, they've finally found a way to get Lang Sias into the club.

Treehouse-of-Horror-XXIV-Couch-Gag-by-Guillermo-del-Toro-3

"Must…elect…LANG!"

—–

Lang Sias (before and after).

Lang Sias (before and after).

As the Denver Post reports, three-peat election loser Lang Sias has finally won a ticket to the Colorado General Assembly, appointed today to the HD-27 seat being vacated by Libby Szabo. Szabo was herself appointed to the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners to replace "serial office jumper" Faye Griffin, setting the whole game of musical chairs in motion:

Former Top Gun pilot Lang Sias has finally won an election after a vacancy committee on Saturday elected him to former Rep. Libby Szabo's seat in the state House.

"I'm very excited and humbled — and hoping to stay that way," he said.

The 14-member committee selected Sias over mortgage banker Christine Jensen. The vote count was not announced.

Says Lang Sias,

"I've taken my poundings, that's for sure," Sias said. "I finally found an election where I could actually speak to every voter." [Pols emphasis]

Congratulations Rep. Sias, and may all your elections be decided by fourteen voters.

That's unlikely, of course.

DU Study: State Lax In Enforcing Setback Rules For Drilling

setbackstudy

A new study from the University of Denver Environmental Law Clinic asserts that "Gov. John Hickenlooper’s administration is approving oil and gas drilling near homes, schools and businesses without following its own regulations." From their joint press release with the Sierra Club yesterday:

The study recommends the Colorado Oil & Gas Commission (COGCC) reject incomplete drilling permit applications, increase and standardize notification of residents near drilling and fracking, improve online information access and base setback requirements on science and necessary precautions to protect public health and environment.  
 
“The COGCC has a job to do, which is to implement strong regulations and enforce those regulations to protect public health, safety and the environment. When it comes to drilling and fracking near communities, citizens and local government are the ones living with the impacts and their voices need to be ones that are given the most weight in the process,” said Catherine Collentine of the Sierra Club.
 
Colorado regulations, in effect since August, 2013, require pads with multiple oil and gas wells located within 1,000 feet from homes, schools and businesses be placed “as far as possible” from those buildings. The governor and COGCC promised increased enforcement of the regulation last fall, but the analysis found no evidence of additional rigor in permit reviews. [Pols emphasis]
 
Student attorneys at DU Environmental Law Clinic conducted a legal review of 1300 permits issued since August, 2013 and discovered 181 were granted, despite incomplete documentation. Those 181 permits accounted for an immense amount of development: 951 wells, 1221 tanks and 932 separators. Most of the 181 permits for oil and gas wells are located in Weld County – others originated in Adams, Garfield, Larimer and La Plata Counties…
 
“We hope that our analysis will help inform the COGCC as it works to meet its goal of protecting the health and safety of all Coloradoans,” said Lauren Bushong, student attorney with DU’s Environmental Law Clinic. “If followed, our recommendations should allow for greater, and more meaningful, public participation in the permitting process.” 

Read the details of DU's study here. The commission tasked with coming up with legislative proposals to improve local control of oil and gas drilling, which resulted form last year's compromise between proponents of ballot initiatives for that purpose and Gov. John Hickenlooper, is set to deliver their report next month. Should the local control commission not produce a satisfactory result in the legislature, it's likely there will be major combat at the ballot box in 2016 over initiatives to enhance local control and/or further regulate drilling at the state level.

You'll recall that one of the ballot measures last year was to increase setbacks for drilling from existing development.

The principal argument made by supporters of the oil and gas industry in Colorado is that the state "already has" strict regulations on drilling. Obviously, the central claim of this study–that the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission (COGCC) under Gov. Hickenlooper is not properly enforcing drilling regulations as they exist today–does not inspire confidence in their willingness to enforce stronger protections. But this is information that the legislature and (if necessary) the voting public needs to know.

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21 White Republicans (And Janak Joshi) Sponsor Affirmative Action Repeal Legislation

Up on the calendar of the always-entertaining Senate Education Committee this afternoon is Senate Bill 15-117, "Concerning prohibiting discrimination in public financing of systems of higher education." 

The bill prohibits the general assembly and the Colorado commission on higher education (commission) from appropriating or distributing state moneys to or for the benefit of students or state or private institutions of higher education based solely on the race, color, national origin, or sex of a student.

The bill requires the commission to prohibit such discrimination in higher education funding in implementing part 3 of article 18 of title 23, Colorado Revised Statutes.

This is a bill with origins in American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) stock language to prohibit funding for affirmative action policies in higher education. The national proponent of this kind of legislation, conservative activist Ward Connerly, was also behind a Colorado ballot initiative in 2008 to broadly outlaw any kind of gender or race-based affirmative action. That initiative was defeated, handing Connerly a major defeat in what has been a successful drive to eliminate affirmative action in some other states.

There are a few ways to approach this legislation, which may well pass the GOP-controlled Colorado Senate on its way to certain death in the Democratic-controlled House. We could cite the studies and large body of opinion that affirmative action remains necessary, insofar as discrimination remains a problem in America. But there's something more basic about Senate Bill 117 that struck us as we read the list of sponsors:

sb117sponsors

With the sole exception of Rep. Janak Joshi of Colorado Springs, they're all white people.

To which you might respond, "Well, that's pretty much all Republicans have got!"

And you would be right–about both the cause and the effect of their problem.